Oakland A’s 1B/OF/DH monster masher Chris Carter has finished his rehab stint at High-A Stockton (three HR in six games) and rejoined his teammates at AAA Sacramento on Monday night where he singled, walked twice and drove in two runs. The following night was even better. Carter hit two solo HR, his third and fourth for the Rivercats this season, and he walked two more times, scoring three of Sacramento’s 10 runs in the game.
Carter missed nearly two months with a badly sprained thumb, the same digit he injured last season, and in that time the market for his 2007 first year cards and 2008 Donruss Threads autographed cards (#/499), have depreciated significantly. Last year, the 2007 Bowman Chrome cards sold regularly at $3-4 each and refractors (#/500) sold for $20 and up prior to his call up. Currently those cards can be had for less than half that much. The same goes for Carter’s only certified auto in the 2008 Donruss Threads set. I sold four of these last year for $40 each within hours of putting them up on line. Since Carter’s injury, I have purchased three for prices ranging from $11-13.50.
The injury, I believe, is only a part of the blandness in the demand for Carter’s cards. When he made his debut last season, Carter was expected to be a major source of power right out of the gate. Instead, the 6-4 245 lb. prospect suffered through a 0-33 start to his major league career and looked awkward as a left fielder. Though he finished the season on a 13-37 stretch that included three HR, the resonance of his epically slow start began to sour the market for his cards. A slow spring training and even slower April in Sacramento has rendered his stuff at their all time lows, but I believe there is a very bright light at the end of the tunnel. Carter’s gotten off to a good start coming off of the injury and he’s showing an ability to be more selective at the plate. This is something that bears watching over the next few weeks. If he can continue that trend, the A’s will have to call him up.
I mean….look at the A’s now.
With a 28-40 record, the A’s have only the Minnesota Twins as a buffer between them and the American League basement. This was a team that was built to be a serious contender in the A.L. West. Veteran free agent and trade acquistions like Hideki Matsui, Josh Willingham, and David DeJesus have not performed well enough to pull Oakland out of the bottom of the league in almost every offensive statistical catagory. Couple with that injuries to ace Brett Anderson, Andrew Bailey and Dallas Braden, and it becomes easy to see that 2011 is soon to become a lost cause. The A’s have tons of contracts expiring at the end of this season (Matsui, Willingham, DeJesus, Mark Ellis, Coco Crisp, Conor Jackson, Rich Harden) and their continued descent in the standings should soon prompt GM Billy Beane to do what he does best—make deals.
Once this starts happening, expect to see more Sacramento River Cats earning significant playing opportunities in the green and gold jerseys. Chris Carter should be at the head of that list, and my guess is that he’ll fare quite a bit better in his second go around. Collectors take note, your bargain basement buying opportunities for his cards may be soon coming to an end.