In all the Jenrry Mejia hype, I haven’t spent a lot of time discussing the Mets’ 25th roster spot, which will ostensibly go to a left-handed bench bat.
According to Newsday’s David Lennon, the race is between Frank Catalonotto and Mike Jacobs, and Chris Carter has “no shot.”
Given the choice between the two, I’d take Catalonotto. Jacobs’ lone skill — his power — is not as valuable as Catalonotto’s combination of on-base ability and defensive flexibility. The Long Island native plays first base way more capably than Jacobs, plus can play the corner outfield spots and backup second base in a pinch.
It’s too bad if Carter really has no shot, though, because though he can’t boast the Major League experience of his competitors, he seems to blend a nice mix of their assets. He’s got power, as evidenced by the .493 slugging percentage he’s posted at Triple-A over the past four seasons. He can get on base, based on the .373 OBP he’s posted in that time.
And though he’s certainly no Keith Hernandez, he’s likely a better defender than Jacobs at first, and he can back up the corner outfield spots as well.
So why doesn’t Carter have a shot? Beats me. A bad attitude? Mental mistakes? His work ethic has earned him the nickname “The Animal” from Jerry Manuel, and he graduated from Stanford in three years.
Most likely, Chris Carter has no shot because Chris Carter is not a Major Leaguer. He only has 26 Major League plate appearances.
And that’s a funny thing.
What makes people Major Leaguers? Why is Mike Jacobs a Major Leaguer?
Mike Jacobs is a Major Leaguer because he was on the Mets’ 40-man roster and so got called up from Double-A at 24 in 2005 when Mike Piazza got hurt but didn’t go on the Disabled List. Jacobs hit a pinch-hit home run and then, when the Mets tried to send him back to the Minors, Pedro Martinez threw a hissy fit. So Jacobs stuck.
He went on a tear that lasted the rest of the season, and so from then on, Mike Jacobs was a Major Leaguer.
Maybe if Piazza didn’t get hurt, or if Esteban Loiaza didn’t leave that pitch over the plate or if Pedro wasn’t Pedro, Jacobs would’ve ended up in the Majors anyway. After all, he was crushing the ball in Double-A when he got the call. He had a .965 OPS. Mighty stuff.
But you know who else could crush the ball at Double-A? Chris Carter did. He posted a .960 OPS in his one brief stint there in 2005, then followed it up with four straight solid-to-excellent performances at Triple-A.
And so it’s not hard to imagine a situation in which Carter, and not Jacobs, could have been blessed with a timely opportunity, a whimsical ace and a month-long hot streak to carry him to four years of big-league fortune.
It was not that way, though. It was the other way. Jacobs is the Major Leaguer, Carter the career Minor Leaguer. Maybe the superior player and maybe the better fit for the Mets, but seemingly the less likely candidate for the Opening Day nonetheless.
Carter leads all Mets still in camp this spring with a 1.476 OPS. Of course he hasn’t had very many opportunities.
But I guess that’s just the thing.
And I’m not alone:
A poll on Amazin’ Avenue today on the matter yielded a shocking 80-percent support for Carter. Patrick Flood wrote a post a few weeks ago that touched on similar topics to this one and combined two of my favorite subjects: Quadruple-A players and The Clash.
Sign up. Join the movement. Free Chris Carter.