When Mike Carp has a beard he looks like what Brian Posehn would look like if Brian Posehn was skinny. Skinnier, anyways.
Mike Carp is gone. That’s really only terrible news if you rode the wave and bought a Carp jersey in mid-August 2011. That would be the month when Carp was amid his second consecutive month with an incredibly unsustainable BABIP (.392 in August) and an even less sustainable HR/FB (24.0 percent). It’s only shocking if you didn’t read that the team DFA’d Carp.
For some historical reference, the highest ever BABIP for a player with more than 5,000 plate appearances is Ty Cobb at .378, and only Jim Thome and Ryan Howard have higher HR/FB since batted ball type has been recorded in box scores, considerably after Ty Cobb’s career ended. Carp was truly incredible in those months, and he has the 169 and 152 wRC+ to prove it.
He’s been significantly worse outside of those two months, but he’s not a bad hitter overall. He’s got a career 109 wRC+ and some of his 2012 struggles can be written off to injury, or even bad luck.
It’s also very possible that Carp will always be better than Justin Smoak, who has become the go-to comparison for Carp since Carp got DFA’d. Smoak, however, has a remaining minor league option. His potential is arguably higher. His ceiling upon entering the league was believed be higher at least. It won’t take coaxing much of that potential out before Smoak could be a better player than Carp.
Of the players without options: Carp, Casper Wells, Robert Andino, and Josh Kinney, it is easy to conceive that Carp’s chances of being on the 25 man roster—a necessity to keep him within the organization—was the worst of the four. Only Andino is really safe on that list, though.
So Carp was a bad fielding left-fielder on a team that added a two bad fielding corner-outfielders (Mike Morse, Jason Bay) or a weak-hitting first baseman on a team that added two power hitters that can play the position (Morse, Kendrys Morales).
Carp was a surplus part. He wasn’t the 41st worst player in the organization, but he was a ways down the first base depth chart. I’m no happier that Justin Smoak is going to get every chance (again) available to keep first base his own than anyone else, but even if he failed, or fails, Carp wasn’t the next guy in line.
Carp has been worth 1.1 WAR in 609 career plate appearances, but he’d be a downgrade from Kendrys Morales at the plate, a downgrade from Casper Wells in the field, and a downgrade from what Jesus Montero may be some day.
This isn’t really unlike the trade that sent Trayvon Robinson (who has since been DFA’d) to the Orioles for Andino. The Mariners cut Carp a month early, and in exchange for that Mariners will get a player to be named later or cash, and Carp will get to play for the Red Sox. The Mariners haul in this trades translates in baseball terms to “almost nothing,” but the Mariners get something. Something is better than nothing. We don’t know what something is, but we know that it isn’t nothing.