Entering the 2011 season, the Oakland A’s are likely going to feature an outfield that includes the likes of Coco Crisp, David DeJesus, and Josh Willingham. While that’s definitely good news for the team, many fans are wondering what is going to happen to 1B/LF Chris Carter.
Carter, 24, hit .186/.256/.329 with three home runs and 7 RBIs in 24 games with Oakland last season. Carter was the A’s top-prospect entering the 2010 season, and while he struggled in his first initial stint with the big league club, Carter’s finishing surge illustrated the young slugger’s potential.
The A’s have Ryan Sweeney and Connor Jackson as part of their outfield plans this season as well, and Carter’s playing time is definitely in question. Carter was converted to the outfield last season as the team’s incumbent first-baseman, Daric Barton, proved that he was capable of playing at a solid level. Barton, 25, was a former top-prospect for the A’s, but he hasn’t lived up to all the hype that once surrounded his name. Last season, however, was a step in the right direction, as he hit .273/.393/.405 with 10 home runs and 57 RBIs.
The A’s acquisition of DH Hideki Matsui, who takes over for Jack Cust, is another ‘road-block’ for Carter. Matsui, 36, hit .274 with 21 home runs and 84 RBIs last season for the Angels. Matsui will be the A’s primary DH option, and the team is banking on Matsui’s clutch bat to inject some life into its punch-less offense. Some argue, however, that Carter could fit in at DH for the A’s in 2011 since the outfield is so crowded. However, that does not seem likely, and it is expected that Matsui will be played exclusively as a DH and not an outfielder.
Carter’s playing time this year seems very clouded, but the year is still young. Spring training has yet to come, and a lot can still happen. It could be possible that the A’s trade away Barton, who could have some value since he did have a solid ’10 campaign, which would open the door for Carter at 1B. At the moment, however, it looks like Carter will have to prove his worth, and hope for the best in spring training.
What do you think? Where does Carter fit in at best for the A’s in 2011?