Bernie Carbo cemented his legend, such as it is, in the 1975 World Series. The Red Sox were on the brink of losing Game 6 and the series to the Reds when Carbo hit a three-run
pinch hit home run to tie the score and to set up Carlton Fisk’s famous extra-innings shot. Thank God Carbo was prepared for his big moment:
“I probably smoked two joints, drank about three or four beers, got to
the ballpark, took some [amphetamines], took a pain pill, drank a cup of
coffee, chewed some tobacco, had a cigarette, and got up to the plate
and hit . . . I played every game high. I was addicted to anything you
could possibly be addicted to. I played the out field sometimes where it
looked like the stars were falling from the sky.”
Never a full-time player, Carbo was a career .264/.387/.427 hitter, playing his whole career in an environment that favored pitching. One wonders how good he could have been if he hadn’t thrown it all away like he did.
Not that he didn’t have some help. He had a horrible childhood, was abused by a relative and had a father who was never there. Carbo says that as soon as he came up with the Reds, team trainers supplied him with amphetamines — calling them vitamins — and said that he more or less had to take them. He was soon hooked, and from there moved on to pain pills, sleeping pills cocaine and just about everything else you can imagine. We’re all ultimately the authors of our own destiny, but we have a lot of editors and uncredited contributors. Carbo had more than most.
Carbo has his life in order now — he’s been sober for 15 years — but his is a harrowing story of lost youth and lost promise. Great job by the Globe’s Stan Grossfeld. Definitely a must-read today.
The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.
The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.
For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.
The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.
St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.
The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.
Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?
Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.