Carter will follow teammates back to obscurity

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Journeymen, career minor leaguers and washed out prospects should all instruct their agents to find a way to get them to the Oakland Athletics.

First baseman Chris Carter is the latest unheralded player this season to pull on the white, green and gold and suddenly start blasting balls out of the park with the type of ease not seen in Oakland since the Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada and Eric Chavez era.

Josh Reddick started all this madness by hitting 14 home runs in his first 47 games with the A's after coming over from the Red Sox in the Andrew Bailey trade last offseason. But the outfielder isn't quite the focus of this story, considering he's managed to be useful after his initial surge.

The same cannot be said about the two Brandons, Inge and Moss.

Inge has been more of a punch line than a fantasy option most of his career, and Moss has never mattered enough for anyone to even make a joke about his shortcomings. However, Oakland brought both of them in to help its flailing offense, and the two have each spent time as flash-in-the-pan sensations after moving to the Bay Area.

Carter has followed suit with eight homers, 16 RBIs and 14 runs scored in his first 19 games since he was called up from Triple-A in late June. Unfortunately, following in the footsteps of Inge and Moss any further will mean Carter is no longer fantasy relevant come mid-August.

I covered Inge's binge back in May after the third baseman hit four homers (two grand slams) and had four four-RBI days in a span of five games a week after Oakland brought him in. The unreal stretch put Inge back on fantasy radars in deeper leagues, but that train was immediately derailed when he had to go on the disabled list with a groin strain.

In 51 games since he's returned from the DL, Inge is batting .214 with just six homers and 29 RBIs. In other words, typical Brandon Inge numbers.

Moss, a former Red Sox farmhand who was traded to the Pirates as part of the Manny Ramirez-Jason Bay three-team trade in 2008, must have taken the magic wand from Inge in June. After coming up from Triple-A, Moss hit seven homers in his first 13 games with the team, tying his previous career high set in 133 games with the Pirates in 2009.

Moss added four more homers to his total in a seven games stretch at the beginning of July, but he's hit zero while batting .231 in his last 11 games.

Carter has more in common with Moss than just the hot streak. The first baseman was also traded with some high profile names, having been traded from Chicago to Arizona for Carlos Quentin and from Arizona to Oakland with Carlos Gonzalez and Brett Anderson for Dan Haren. Neither player was ever considered to be a super prospect, and neither has had success in limited big league experience (Carter collected 114 at-bats combined in 2010 and 2011 for Oakland and hit just .167 with three home runs and 41 strikeouts).

The thing is, even while Inge and Moss were on their torrid streaks, they were still striking out a ton, which put an expiration date on those stretches. In Inge's first 10 games with the A's, he whiffed 11 times. Moss, meanwhile, fanned 32 times in his first 27 games this season.

So, how many times in 19 games has Carter been sent back to the dugout after taking or swinging at strike three? Seventeen, including 10 in the last seven games.

These three players' impressive starts with the Athletics are all too eerily similar to each other to view Carter as anything more than an injury replacement first baseman in deeper mixed and AL-only leagues. Let someone else take the flier on Carter in hopes that he's the next Josh Reddick, because it's way more likely he'll join the Brandons in their free-swinging misery.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at

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