Carp Season Over

by on July 3, 2012 · 5 comments

Chris Carpenter on Opening Day 2012 at Busch

Chris Carpenter will have season-ending surgery which means that he will not throw a truly meaningful pitch in the 2012 season.  Lesser men might call it quits.  Lesser men do not throw a masterpiece together for game 5 of the NLDS while facing Roy Halladay and the Phillies.  Lesser men do not have postseason records of 9-2 with a 3.05 ERA and a 1.219 WHIP when it matters the most.  If for some reason Carp does not make it back, just keep in mind that his last game was a 2011 World Series game 7 victory.

More important than his achievements thus far in his career is his status among the faithful of Cardinal Nation.  For the past 8 seasons, Carp has been the rock upon which championship teams were built.  In those 8 years, Carpenter went 95-42 with an ERA of 3.06 and a 1.125 WHIP.  Not bad for a guy who missed the equivalent of 2 full seasons during that span.  His 162 game average is 17-8 with 188 SO and an ERA+ of 134.

To maintain the integrity of the fairy tale ending, Carp must come back.  He doesn’t have to finish on a spectacularly high note.  There need not be a perfect game to clinch a series.  He just needs to have his named called over the public address system at Busch 1 more time.  He needs to walk from the bullpen to the dugout while accompanied by Yadier Molina on one side, and a pitching coach on the other.  He needs to take the mound.  And if he does not need all this, then maybe we do.  Maybe we just need him to roll back time just once, reach back, and throw something by a professional baseball player seeking to make a name for himself.  At this point, I’d save all the change in my Teletubby piggy bank to be at Busch for that moment.  So would you.

Before we get carried away with an obituary for either Carp or the Cardinals, I should remind you that all is not lost.  Consider the starting pitching the Cardinals got from the staff in 2011.

This is what they have so far this season:

  • Kyle Lohse – 8-2, 2.80 ERA, 109.1 IP, 1.116 WHIP
  • Jake Westbrook – 7-6, 3.91 ERA, 99.0 IP, 1.343 WHIP
  • Lance Lynn – 10-4, 3.62 ERA, 97.0 IP, 1.247 WHIP
  • Adam Wainwright – 6-8, 4.75 ERA, 96.2 IP, 1.345 WHIP
  • Jaime Garcia – 3-4, 4.48 ERA, 66.1 IP, 1.462 WHIP
  • Joe Kelly – 1-0, 3.38 ERA, 21.1 IP, 1.500 WHIP

Maybe I’ve been drinking the kool-aid for too long, but I don’t see a reason for panic.  The team has 4 starters with ERAs under 4.00, and you would have to work hard to convince me that Wainwright won’t finish the season below 4 as well.  Perhaps this team can get there with a combination of luck, prayer, and duct tape.  Maybe it only needs good health.  The team has the starting pitching to make it to the finish ahead of enough teams to make the playoffs.

Maybe Carp’s season is over, but it would be incredibly silly to hit the panic button this early.  Certainly some will disagree with that assessment.  Certainly some have pitchforks and signs ready to call on the team to fire John Mozeliak.  Then again, people drive cars without using seatbelts, too.  Perhaps the demographics overlap a little (or completely).  The point I’m trying to make is that there is a reason why they play the games, even when Carp season has ended.

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Cardinals fan since I could hold a fishing pole steady. Accidental blogger. Opinionated. I could care less about what you think of me. Constantly confounded, bemused, and confuzzled (ie I'm a pc and a mac). I'm an IT infrastructure analyst with a penchant for breaking tech toys. I ate a sabermetric primer for breakfast. I love playing "All-powerful GM of MLB". The 2010 Cardinals represented a good, practical definition "cognitive dissonance". The 2011 version got by on duct tape and a prayer, and I'm fine with that. They just need new tape for #12 in 12.
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Spencer Hendricks July 3, 2012

At this point I think it’d be fine to get either Carpenter or Garcia back in there; hoping for both was kind of, you know, delusional. Hopefully Lynn puts it back together and remains a solid starter through the season’s end, but I’m not liking the prospect of needing Joe Kelly in the rotation the rest of the way as well. There’s no need for panic for sure, but if Garcia doesn’t come back, I wouldn’t mind a move to bolster the rotation. And no, Kyle McClellan is not who I have in mind.

Dennis July 3, 2012

The real problem I see is that shopping for a SP means Jaime is a ways away from returning. If that’s the case, then I’m still not convinced a bullpen upgrade wouldn’t be enough. Adding 1 guy to Boggs/Motte gets part of the job done. They just need KMac and 1 current guy to heat up.

When I look through the list of potential additions, there seems like a lot of low reward/ medium-to-high risk guys likely available. As for Joe Kelly, I don’t think he has to go through the end of the season. Another 3-4 solid starts should get them far enough down the road to see the big picture better. The longer they stay in this, the better things look when rosters expand. Lots of guys at Memphis have had a taste of life at the MLB level now. Just need to bide time for everyone to be healthy.

OtterMatt July 8, 2012

The problem to me is that Carpenter doesn’t represent as solid an investment as he would have a year or two ago. He’s 37, and he’s already missed two full seasons due to injury since coming to StL. Granted, his full seasons have been good (generally around 3 ERA and good WAR), but I guess I got woken up by Wainright this year. Coming back from any injury is hardly a sure thing, and he’s only getting older. I wouldn’t put him to anything more than a 1 year contract.
I agree that he’s a fixture in StL, and I wouldn’t mind seeing him as a major league pitching coach in a decade or so.

Dennis July 8, 2012

No, he certainly isn’t the same pitcher he once was, but they have him next season for $10.5M. That kind of helps provide hin with some assurance that he has a job to come back to, and the guy is probably just as motivated as one can be to go out on a good note. Even at a diminished skill level, he can be better than most #3 options by the end if next year.

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