Carlos Pena at one point early in his career was supposed to be the next great Ranger first baseman. The Rangers really let him develop too, he started his career in 1998 where he moved all the way up to high A ball. He then mashed balls in A+, AA and finally AAA. By 2002 he was the 5th best prospect in the minors. In 2002 the Rangers after seeing him struggle in AAA ball decided to move him the the A’s who were hoping to find a power hitting first baseman, and had lots of prospects to move.
The A’s then handed him the starting job. He rewarded them by hitting 0.218/7/16, they were worried he wasn’t going to fit what they were looking for at first. He was then moved to the Tigers that same year in the Bonderman / Weaver / Pena three way trade. The Tigers inserted him at first immediately it was there that he learned to hit for power against major league hitting. He may not have learned to hit for average, but he did learn to mash. Over the stretch of three years there, he hit 45 homers and 132 RBIs.
Unfortunately during his fourth year in Detroit, he got injured, never really recovered and was finally released. 2006 was a tough year for the once great Pena. He moved through the Yankees and Red Sox organization, getting released by both teams. in 2007 though his luck changed for good as he signed with the Rays. He had a MVP worthy season in 2007, when he hit for 0.282/42/121 and finished 9th in MVP voting.
He stayed with the Rays for two more seasons, neither as good as his first season with the team. He still had the power but his average dropped every year following and finally dipped below 0.200 in 2010, he was granted free agency after that seasons and signed with the Cubs, trying to get his swing straightened out. He still was clobbering the ball but could only move his average up to 0.228. This year he is with the Rays again, in his first game back against the Yankees, he hit a grand slam against CC Sabathia and then tagged Mariano for the game winning hit.
I’m not saying he is back, he is going to probably hit 30 homers, drive in 90 plus runs and hit for 0.225. I think though, that the Rays are probably going to be good with that. They know he is not going to put up MVP numbers again, but with the lineup they have, they really don’t need him to do much more than to be the isolated power in their lineup. In the world of our hobby, he is nothing more than dollar bin fodder, at a buck for the autograph or any game used, what the heck. He has essentially become our generation’s Pete Incaviglia / Tony Clark / Gorman Thomas.