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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

TCN blog 2013 top story #9: Chris Carpenter finally gives in

Though it will never be proven conclusively, I believe that 38-year-old Chris Carpenter shot his final bullets in a final blaze of glory as he led the St. Louis Cardinals to the 2011 World Championship.

Despite an inspirational comeback after surgery in an attempt to relieve the numbing symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome, Carpenter was relatively ineffective in the final days of the 2012 season and the playoffs.

Unable to pitch in the spring again in 2013, the veteran right-hander’s career was deemed to be likely over due to continued nerve-related weakness and swelling in his neck, shoulder, arm and hand.

Carpenter did not get the memo – or if he did, he refused to read it. He gamely attempted a July rehab stint in the minor leagues, but the results were not there. After two outings, the numbness returned and Carpenter was shut down. He ended the season as essentially a non-playing player-coach.

Rather than repeat Carpenter’s many career accomplishments, I direct you to this article in which I documented his highlights, stats, awards, contracts, injury history and more: “Carpenter’s career in words and images”.

His retirement was first disclosed by his agent, then later confirmed by Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak. Carpenter himself has yet to meet with the media to confirm his plans personally. When that does occur, the occasion will likely be topped off with good news.

The Cardinals would like Carpenter to remain in the organization and he has expressed an interest as well. If that occurs, details will be disclosed later this winter. Either way, Carpenter was one of the club’s toughest and best competitors ever.

Link to The Cardinal Nation Blog’s top 20 stories of the year countdown

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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24 Responses to “TCN blog 2013 top story #9: Chris Carpenter finally gives in”

  1. […] middle 12. The Freese-Bourjos trade 11. Young bullpen guns 10. Seamless closer transition 9. Chris Carpenter finally gives in 8. 7. 6. 5. 4. 3. 2. […]

  2. crdswmn says:

    Someone want to speculate (reasonably) as to whether Mozeliak is done for the offseason? I think he is unless something great just falls into his lap.

    I need to get away from absurd trade proposals. I didn’t want to wait for the Jay and Adams for Mike Trout discussions to get started on the other forum.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Yes, I agree that the Cards are likely done this winter. That still means two months for the restless to continue to itch before camp opens.

      The intent on the message board has been to give those with imagination one thread where they could post their ideas. Best to keep all the speculation in one place. I don’t spend much time on the thread personally, but I accept that some enjoy the talk no matter how unlikely.

      • crdswmn says:

        Okay, but do you think Mozeliak is done? Is that an acceptable question?

        • crdswmn says:

          You edited while I was typing.

          I think he is done too.

          • Brian Walton says:

            Yeah, I realized I did not initially answer your question…

          • Brian Walton says:

            Every spring, Jerry Modene does his grumpy old man thing, blaming fantasy baseball for unrealistic fan expectations and I try to put him back in his place. I will give him one point though. I think fantasy sports has fostered a generation of junior GMs who believe they know how to propose trades. Too many confuse quantity with quality – as if four average to below average guys equal one superstar. Of course, their side always gets the superstar. I was in a football league this fall with a guy like that who drove me crazy with ridiculous trade proposals.

            • crdswmn says:

              I think fantasy baseball has to an extent influenced the way fans look at real baseball. I grew up in a time when both good offense and good defense was heavily prized. Nowadays, it is just offense, offense, and more offense, and defense is undervalued—-just put anyone at any position and as long as they don’t embarrass themselves, that is acceptable defense. You can’t make me believe that fantasy baseball isn’t to blame for some of this.

              I do not play fantasy baseball, and I don’t intend to start.

              • Brian Walton says:

                Fantasy baseball is a factor, but its contribution is overestimated by some. Think about how we first learned of detailed game results – box scores in the morning paper and/or the weekly Sporting News. What percentage of a box score is dedicated to hitting, to pitching and to defense? My guess is something like 79%, 20% and 1% respectively.

                It has everything to do with what is easiest to quantify.

                • crdswmn says:

                  I don’t disagree with that, but there is still an undervaluing of defense that wasn’t the norm 20 or 30 years ago. The argument about Kozma is a good example of what I am talking about. Nearly everyone agrees that Kozma’s defense is above average, better than any shortstop we’ve had in many seasons. But when it comes down to having him on the roster, even as a bench player only, the outcry is deafening because the only things that matters AT ALL with regard to Kozma for most is that he can’t hit, and therefore has NO value.

                  Even if defense were better quantified, I don’t think the disregard for defense would change much.

                  • Brian Walton says:

                    I don’t think the evolution of the shortstop position can be charged to fantasy baseball. I recall that discussion really taking hold when Ripken came to prominence. Big guys who sacrifice some defense but bring much bigger bats became more desirable to organizations.

                    • crdswmn says:

                      We will have to agree to disagree. More and more I hear fans say they don’t care much about defense. The disappointment many have expressed over trading for Bourjos because he doesn’t come with a big bat, despite being one of the best defensive CFers in baseball. No love for Kozma’s defense; the only defense that gets any attention is Yadi’s.

                      There is a definite change in attitude about defense. Whether it is due to fantasy baseball or not we will have to leave to argument.

                    • Nutlaw says:

                      As was stated, defensive metrics clearly need some work. With viable sample sizes extending multiple seasons, there are fewer conclusive numbers to point to. In addition, the fact of the matter is that a player’s defense does have significantly less impact upon a game than his bat. The pitcher alone is responsible for a majority of the outcome on that side of the ball. Certainly, one needs a good catcher, good middle infielders, and a good centerfielder in order to have an elite defense. However, they have to be very, very strong defenders to overcome a complete lack of a bat. There are also plenty of glove only guys out there if teams so desire them.

                      Looking at Fangraphs, to choose the first one that came up on a Google search, Kozma had a 0.0 WAR last year. That’s replacement level, and thus rightfully dismissed. Now, with a questionable defender set to make starts at shortstop, Kozma undoubtedly holds more value as a defensive replacement. If you’re going to keep a bat out of his hands entirely, however, is Kozma the very best of possible defensive shortstops out there? Probably not. I’m also concerned after he choked defensively in the playoffs last season.

                  • CariocaCardinal says:

                    I respectfully disagree. I think defense is more valued than ever.

                    A few examples:

                    The rise of defensive metrics. If people didn’t value defense why would they bother
                    to try to quantify it?

                    The use of WAR. WAR has a significant defensive component that doesn’t show up in
                    conventional stats. 20-30 years ago all we had was standar offensive statistics.

                    The proliferation of TV coverage (live/taped and highlights). When we previously only
                    had the above mentioned offensive stats we also had little more than one game a week
                    in order to do first hand observation of a player’s defensive ability (for those of us
                    unable to attend games). Now many more people can watch almost every game and
                    see first hand the defense prowess or lack there of nearly all their team’s players.

                    • crdswmn says:

                      I think we have a disconnect here. I wasn’t saying defense is disregarded among those closest to baseball, team organizations, media or the analytical community. My comments were strictly referencing fans/casual blogger types. I meant those people I interact with on a daily basis on Twitter, blogs and message boards. I am constantly getting into arguments with people who don’t see defense as important. These are the “fantasy players” I am talking about. I know for instance that Brian plays fantasy baseball, and I never once considered him as a part of the group I was talking about. Those people who work in the business have a better understanding of how it works in the real world, and so those people are not the ones I was referring to.

  3. crdswmn says:

    As for the topic of the blog post, Mozeliak said he will be meeting with Carpenter in January. I imagine something will be announced then.

  4. Bw52 says:

    I think Cards will sign another minor league FA or two for Memphis.Memphis has no 1B unless Xavier (whiff) Scruggs is going to start.AAA also needs another 3B type with Moore.Maybe another veteran minor league arm.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Yes, I could also see a minor leaguer or two being added. I meant “done” in terms of St. Louis.

      Regarding first base at Memphis, Scruggs has spent two entire seasons at Springfield. It is now or never. Couple that with at least seven very good outfielders for three starting jobs and one could easily envision first base being a partial relief value for the outfield pressure.

      I don’t think they need more 3B depth, either. For three positions at Memphis, 2B/SS/3B, they have at least six players already – the Kozma/Descalso loser, Miclat, Garcia, Albitz, Curtis and Moore. That doesn’t include Luis Mateo, who has already been up with Memphis once.

      The current roster matrix, which during the off-season keeps players at the level at which they finished the year before, already has 26 players at St. Louis and 26 at Memphis. That doesn’t even include Grichuk, who is almost certain to move up from Double-A, Piscotty, Mateo, Scruggs or a single pitching promotion from Springfield.

  5. JumboShrimp says:

    Carpenter retires, meanwhile two all time non-favorites Mark Mulder and Brett Tomko are rarin’ to get back in action.

  6. Bw52 says:

    Tomko certainly was no star pitcher but the man did have a long major league career.You got to give him credit for that.

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