Chris Carter, 1B
Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Wouldn’t it be great if the St. Louis Cardinals could sign a player from the Houston Astros on the cheap and watch that player blossom as he never had before? Enter new Jeff Luhnow castoff Chris Carter. Houston Chronicle Astros beat writer Evan Drellich reported on Carter’s release earlier in the week, giving the St. Louis Cardinals and other potential suitors guidelines on getting more out of him:
"Carter’s best value lies in everyday at-bats, which the Astros stopped giving him for most of the second half in 2015 — until he went off at the end. He hit .333 with .400 on-base percentage, .822 slugging percentage and six home runs from September through the end of the regular season."
The 6-4, 250-lb. Carter provides a nice, big target at first base, and he made improvements in his work around the bag last year. But while he isn’t the defensive liability Alvarez is, Carter is more strikeout prone. And if he’s not hitting long balls, he’s making outs. In 2001 career plate appearances, his career batting average is .217.
Here’s the thing, though. Carter’s powerful stroke is nice and easy. It’s not like he’s throwing himself off balance to yank the ball out of the park. He seems as if he doesn’t make adjustments within at bats to be able to hit breaking balls and pitches on the inner half.
Maybe a season with John Mabry and Bill Mueller can help fix that. Maybe Carter can learn something from watching another big and powerful hitter, Matt Holliday, take at-bats every day. It feels as if it’s something worth exploring.
Next: Yusmeiro Petit, RHP