A few months ago, I started a Facebook profile. I soon realized the magnitude of this social network when I began to “befriend” a lot of Sabernomics readers. It’s been a really fun to get in touch with so many new people.
One of my new friends turns out to be someone with a lot of knowledge about baseball, San Diego Padres prospect Brent Carter. I am curious about the player perspective, so I asked Brent if he would be willing to do an interview on the blog. He was kind enough to say yes. So, here is the interview.
JC: How are you feeling? Has your Achilles healed or is there more rehab in your future? (Brent blew out his Achilles last season.) How have you worked through the mental anguish of having a good year cut short?
BC: My Achilles is feeling really good. I worked really hard in my rehab to be where I am at, which is about a month and a half or so ahead of schedule. Dealing with the injury was tough at first, especially when you are going through a very good stretch of about 4 very good starts in a row. But, it’s one of those things where you ask yourself if the glass is half empty or half full. I was determined to not let this hamper my development and so far everything is going good.
JC: Where do you plan to start the year? Finish the year?
BC: I have been told by a number of people in the organization that they put my name in to start in San Antonio (AA). But I would not be surprised to start back out in Lake Elsinore. I think it will be based on my performance in spring training. As far as finishing the year goes….of course PETCO Park, but realistically it would be San Antonio with around 175-180 innings.
JC: Tell me what it’s like to be a minor league ballplayer. Is it fun, or does it get old?
BC: Being a minor leaguer is not what it’s made out to be. You hear stories about the long bus rides, crappy hotels, etc. But it’s really a blast. The friendships you make, playing against the stars of tomorrow, being only a couple of levels away from your childhood dreams unfolding in front of you. I would not trade this for anything.
JC: What is the best thing about the Padres organization?
BC: There are a lot things I would put here. The coaches, players, front office people, trainers. Their approach to evaluating players.
JC: You are from Georgia. Did you grow up a Braves fan, possibly idolizing future HOF lefty Tom Glavine? If not, whom did you follow?
BC: Big Braves fan. I still follow them as much as I can. And I pattern my game after Tom Glavine. I throw the same pitches he does—mid 80s fastball, low to mid 70s change (best pitch), and upper 70s, low 80s cutter. Big Glavine fan—wish he would have signed back with the Braves this year.
JC: You list Moneyball as one of your favorite books. Is it because of some familiarity with sabermetrics or for some other reason?
BC: If you’re a baseball fan, it’s hard not to like Moneyball. It’s been a few years since I have read it, but I remember the Chad Bradford story, and Giambi’s Hole pretty well. When it was first published it seemed the “Moneyball” concept was cutting edge stuff, so that’s what I really liked about it
JC: If you have some familiarity with sabermetrics, did you learn about sabermetrics from the book or have you always been interested in this type of thing?
BC: I have been interested in it since I first heard about it. I have a brief understanding about it. There is a lot more that I have yet to learn about it all.
JC: Do you keep up with sabermetric websites? If so, which ones? What do most players think of stat-heads?
BC: I think your website and the links you have are the only sabermetric websites I know about. Stat-heads are looked at differently. Some people think it’s a waste of time, but others, like me, try to use it as a tool I can use to help me get better. Perfect example—my batting average against (BAA) lefties last year was .377. That really hit home with me and told me that as soon as my Achilles got well enough for me to throw, then I have got to start working on a pitch that runs away from lefties. But I know some guys that only know what the scoreboard posts.
JC: Did you know Jeremy Brown when you played at Alabama?
BC: I played with Jeremy my freshman year (his Senior year). Unbelievable eye at the plate and very good to throw to. But I have not talked to him since then.
JC: I consider SD to be a stat-savvy organization—there are two major characters from Moneyball in the Padres front office (Sandy Alderson and Paul DePodesta). Do you get much stat-driven advice? Do you talk to anyone in SD, or is all of your contact through minor league officials?
BC: We don’t get too much stat-driven advice. The main thing they try to get across to pitchers is force contact in 3 pitches or less. They want strike throwers. My personal goal is innings. Look at Ted Lilly, Gil Meche, Jason Marquis. They are paid $10 million a year just because they will give you 6 innings of 3 run baseball most every time out. Teams nowadays want their guys to be innings-eaters to conserve the pen. It’s amazing how the game is evolving away from CG’s.
JC: As a pitcher, what do you think of DIPS? From looking at your stats, you seem to be doing well in all of the DIPS categories. Is this something you do on purpose or something that just happens? Do you pay attention to the stats during the season?
BC: I honestly had to google DIPS to see what it meant. That is something that is important for guys like me who aren’t going to win the league in K’s year in and year out. I pay attention to stats in the season, but I mainly focus on walks. There is nothing worse that a “pitch to contact” pitcher can do than give free passes. And for me, the stats act as a motivation. I look at them, but am not consumed by them.
JC: Can you hit? I can’t find any hitting stats for you. Also, do you bat righty or lefty? I’ve seen it both ways. If you bat right, how did this happen?
BC: Haha, I have not hit since high school. I do bat RH because my older brother was a lefty thrower and righty hitter, so I got it from him.
I’d like to thank Brent for taking the time to talk with me and for being so candid. This was informative. If you have a question for Brent, feel free to leave one in the comments. He may or may not respond, but it’s fine with me if it happens. I’ll be rooting hard for Brent this year. I can’t wait to post “Brent Carter Called Up!”