This was going to be an important season for Mike Carp, remember? It was going to be an important season for lots of Seattle Mariners, but Mike Carp especially. It was not going to be an unimportant season for any Seattle Mariner, except maybe Kevin Millwood, but I just remembered Carlos Guillen. Remember Carlos Guillen? Remember how Carlos Guillen signed with the Mariners and seemed like a lock for the bench? Anyway, last year down the stretch Carp showed that he could hit for power, and the Mariners have wanted power so they came into 2012 with Carp looking more or less like an everyday player. This was Carp's big chance to establish himself as a regular threat.
Carp hurt himself on Opening Day. He's been hurt a few times, totaling just 188 plate appearances. That's three fewer plate appearances than Chone Figgins has, and about a hundred fewer plate appearances than Casper Wells has. The last time Carp came through with an extra-base hit was August 4. The last time Carp went deep was July 27. Mike Carp hasn't had the kind of season he really needed to have, and now the season's almost over. Can you believe that the season is actually almost over?
So instead of moving forward, and instead of even moving laterally, in 2012 Mike Carp has moved backward. At the end of June he turned 26 years old, which is either a point in favor of Carp or not in favor of Carp depending on your perspective. He might still be able to turn into a legitimately above-average hitter, but this has been an unproductive season and Carp has done nothing to lock himself anywhere on the Mariners' organizational depth chart. This has all been building to a trade rumor. Not even a trade rumor. A rumor of a trade rumor. Sometimes Nick Cafardo does really long and detailed articles for The Boston Globe and this was included in his latest one.
[Carp] has proven to be an average outfielder, and clearly the big lefthanded hitter’s position is first base. He’s starting to appear on a few teams’ wish lists. “He’s an interesting name,” said an NL scout. “He’s been buried on that roster in a big ballpark, and if you take him out of there, he may break out. He’s someone you’d take a chance on.”
You can't really argue with anything in there aside from "proven to be an average outfielder," as Carp is almost certainly a first baseman if he's anything. He is an interesting name, he has been kind of buried, Safeco is a big ballpark, and Carp very well may break out. The Mariners were hoping he'd break out for them in 2012. He could break out for them or for someone else in 2013. Anybody could conceivably break out, and Carp's odds are better than many other players' odds.
One wonders what Carp's value is to the Mariners these days. The Mariners can't think of Justin Smoak as their starting first baseman in 2013, but they can't think that about Carp, either, nor can they think of him as a starting outfielder. Carp, of course, is out of options, meaning he's a bench bat with limited flexibility, and maybe there's a team out there that thinks he could be more than that. A team with patience and a smaller ballpark.
You move Mike Carp and you're not going to bring back very much. You might be able to bring back a reliever, but the Mariners don't really need a new reliever. You might be able to bring back a younger position player who might one day have something similar to Mike Carp's offensive potential. Carp's stock is down, see, so he's not a valuable chip. But he is a chip, and he could be packaged with another chip or two. This offseason, the Mariners will be mulling over countless different trade scenarios, and who knows how Carp could be involved? He was involved in a wild one before.
There's not a lot here to really go on, and truth be told the main reason I'm writing this is because Carp seems like an excellent candidate to be the next Mariner to come into his own as a baseball player after he leaves the Mariners. I'm referring to that whole "why do they always get better after they leave" meme, which is demonstrably untrue but still stubbornly unkillable. Carp could easily get traded somewhere and put up an .850 OPS next season over hundreds of plate appearances. That's what makes him interesting and worthy of a shot. Because he'd play first base, and because he'd play first base like Mike Carp, that still wouldn't be an ultra-valuable player, but Mike Carp and that meme are just made for one another. You know what I'm talking about. You can see it too. Don't pretend like you can't see it.