I love Greg Bird as much as anybody else, and pray to the baseball gods that he will be the Yankees’ starting first baseman for the next decade. However, why is everybody writing Chris Carter’s obituary after a healthy and productive dose of Bird has emerged from the gates of spring training?
NJ.com published an article on Monday predicting that the free agent signing of Carter will prove to be “a $3.5 million dollar waste.” How a player can be considered a waste when not a single pitch of meaningful baseball has been thrown yet is beyond me.
Of course, the fact that Bird is raking at the plate (batting .462 with three homers in six games) hurts Carter’s workload, and will continue to do so if Bird carries this hot hitting into the regular season, especially if he is playing well against lefties. Still, why does Bird’s production immediately make Carter a waste of space?
Carter signed a $3.5 million dollar deal for one year. He is simply an insurance rental to provide some added power to a lineup that needs time to grow into themselves. One of those pieces expected to contribute to the future of the Yankees (Tyler Austin) is already out for a few weeks with a broken foot, so on days when Bird needs rest (or doesn’t need rest, Girardi is going to give him some anyway), Carter will be waiting in the wings to man the first base spot.
Austin is perfect evidence that freak injuries happen, and the Yankees don’t exactly have the deepest bench in the league, so Carter is a perfectly serviceable piece to give you a few dingers here and there when other players need rest. Girardi has already talked with Carter about what his role will be on the team, so the Yankees aren’t throwing him any curveballs here.
I know Bird looks phenomenal right now, and I’m thrilled, but Carter is still going to see some at-bats against tougher lefties in the league (Sale?), and if his role is diminished due to Bird continuing his hot hitting, then so be it. A signing of $3.5 million for just one year is not the end of the world for a team like the Yankees, regardless of their new “budgets.”
Fansided also posted a recent article discussing Carter and how he is taking up space. It even suggests that Carter is not needed because if Bird needs rest, Matt Holliday can assume the duties at first base. Look, I know Carter isn’t Mark Teixeira or Don Mattingly at first base, but Holliday has played 10 games at first base in the past five years!
Holliday will hit for a better average, but Carter has more power and experience at first than Holliday. Oh, and Holliday doesn’t exactly have the cleanest injury history either, which solidifies Carter’s use as an insurance policy, as he would be an excellent candidate to step in for regular time at DH if Holliday hits the DL.
Before we try and force Carter out of town after two weeks of spring training play, let’s remember the exact nature of an insurance policy. We all pay car insurance for something we hope never happens, but are relieved to have it when the undesirable occurs.
If Carter isn’t seeing a lot of play, so what? His absence from the lineup means that Plan A for the Yankees is working out, and everyone is healthy and producing. If another injury or slump occurs and Carter is called upon for a few homers, then Yankees fans will be thankful that he was “taking up space” on the bench.