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Carter To Winter Ball Could Be A Breaking Development

What do I mean by this? Well knowing me, there's probably a pun in there somewhere. And sure enough, knowing that he's a member of the A's organization, I am fully expecting that when Chris Carter plays Winter Ball he will pull a Juan Rivera and break a leg. (Should I wish him good luck?)

But in the extremely unlikely off-chance that Carter comes out of Winter Ball with all his body parts intact -- let's just say he doesn't frequent the same bars as Angel Villanova does -- Winter Ball could be just what the doctor ordered for Chris Carter: the chance to see a ton of breaking pitches.

Here's what I wonder. When we look at how much minor league time a player has had at various levels, in order to help determine how likely he is to be ready, how much should one factor in Winter League play? Carter has spent just part of one season at AA and part of one season at AAA, yet by spring training he will also have spent a full season (or at least until he breaks a leg) against a similar level of competition.

If Carter comes to spring training handling breaking pitches like a guy whose Winter Ball time got him over a major hurdle, and he "looks ready for prime time," is he still "not ready because he's only had one season above A-ball," or is he "ready like you might expect after more like 2 seasons above A-ball"?

I'm not especially suggesting that Carter should be seriously considered for the April, 2010 roster; I'm just wondering how valuable it might be -- including how valuable in speeding up the timetable for him being truly ready for the big leagues -- for Carter to get a full Winter Ball season to hone his skill at recognizing and hitting offspeed pitches. Because whenever that falls into place, the BEAST will officially be on the loose and the A's will suddenly have a big piece of their future -- literally and figuratively -- in the big league lineup.