The Cardinals’ General Manager John Mozeliak announced this afternoon that he didn’t expect Chris Carpenter to pitch for the team in 2013. The issues surrounding his arm with stingers and tingling have returned. It may be the answer to the question I asked earlier this offseason of what do you do about Chris Carpenter.
While the “R” word wasn’t mentioned as many speculated it would be, it was pretty clear listening to Mozeliak and Mike Matheny that they believe that Carpenter has thrown his last major league pitch. I read some reports that Carpenter was close to calling it a career after the rib surgery last year, but was convinced to push and come back for a playoff run.
The team immediately loses a big part of their psyche. Wainwright can step up into the leadership position in the pitching staff and likely was there last year. Many may believe that losing Carpenter hurts the teams chances, I don’t think you’ll see a big difference on the field. I think at this point what you can get out of Shelby Miller or Trevor Rosenthal over 32 starts is the same as you’d be able to squeeze out of Carpenter.
The immediate effect is that it opens up a spot in the rotation for competition. With the abundance of young pitching talent the Cardinals have, it was a question where guys like Miller, Rosenthal, and Joe Kelly were going to start their 2013 seasons. The team now has two spots open, a bullpen spot and a rotation spot. It provides an opportunity for those guys to earn a spot.
Preferably, I’d like Miller and Rosenthal to battle for the rotation spot with the loser heading to the rotation in Memphis and give the bullpen spot to Kelly. I think the team’s long-term plan is better off with Rosenthal stretched out to start than it would be with him in the bullpen. That way Rosenthal is ready to take over if Jaime Garcia continues to have shoulder issues or next year when Westbrook or Wainwright become free agents.