As a player who spent the majority of his career with the Montreal Expos, many feel he didn't play for the Mets long enough. Others didn't see him as the backbone of that team (which I couldn't disagree more) citing Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden and Keith Hernandez as whom the team revolved around. Others site the fact that he only had three very good seasons for the Mets. To me, the last statement is the most convincing of all. The question is: Should a New York Mets player who had three very good seasons with the Mets have his number retired?
To me its not a matter of seniority in my book. Carter was hurt and near the end of his career in 1989 with the Mets. He had a down year in 1988, hitting .242, 11, 46. Though his impact on the team cannot be overstated, the quest to have his number retired has to bring reasons that are above and beyond his time with the Mets. I do think he was the backbone of that team, but he shared it with Hernandez and the team could not have won in 1986 and the division in 1988 without Strawberry and Gooden, amongst others.
Here is the reason to retire his number. Once he was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame in 2003, the Mets decided they were not issuing his number 8 again. Prior to that, after leaving the Mets after the 1989 season, the number eight was issued to three players (Dave Gallagher, Carlos Baegra and Desi Reliford- all for short periods of time) and briefly to three coaches (Cookie Rojas, Steve Swisher and Matt Gallante.) The fact that 8 is not being issued again because of Carter is a reason in my opinion to retire it. Numbers are retired as an honor to that player and by not issuing the number again, the Mets have essentially retired it. Why not go the extra mile and put it up at Citi Field? Its not being issued again (I know I keep repeating this.) If not, it should be re-issued just like 16,17, and 18.
While we are at, the Mets have honored Willie Mays by only issuing his number 24 twice (once by accident and once to Rickey Henderson) since he retired after the 1973 season. I understand Mays was nothing more than a symbol of his name in his season and a half with the Mets. While his number being retired is not a symbol of what he did for the Mets, it should be retired because the number is not being issued because of Mays. But, if not, similarly to Carter, if the number is not being retired, it should be issued again. The Mets are one of the only teams that almost never retire their players' numbers and have to be the only team to not issue a number again in honor of a player and not retire it.
I agree with Matt Cerrone of Mets Blog, who says Carter's number should not be retired just because he is sick. That being said, I think either one of two things have to happen. Retire his number because the decision was made not to issue the number again in Carter's honor. Or, issue the number again as he has been honored already, amongst others, in the Mets Hall of Fame.