This is really a pretty amazing story, though it’s one that probably won’t have a happy ending.
According to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, the Twins and infielder Jamey Carroll have agreed to terms on a two-year, $7 million contract.
That in itself doesn’t seem like a particularly bad move. However, according to both Rosenthal and Crasnick, the Twins are signing Carroll to serve as an everyday shortstop.
It’ll be the first time in his entire career that Carroll has been anointed an everyday shortstop. He’s never really been an everyday anything. His most career starts at one position in any year was 102 games at second base with the Rockies in 2006. Next after that was 66 games at second base with the Indians in 2008.
And Carroll is turning 38 in February!
Since 1901, there have been a total of 26 seasons in which a shortstop 38 or older has played in at least 100 games. The majority of them were by future Hall of Famers. Five of them were Honus Wagner seasons. Three were Luis Aparicio seasons. The last three were Omar Vizquel seasons. There certainly isn’t a Carroll in the bunch.
So, this is quite an experiment the Twins are undertaking. In their defense, Carroll, who rarely played shortstop prior to 2010, has started 118 games at the position the last two years without embarrassing himself in the least. According to the numbers, he’s been only a bit below average.
But the Twins are betting against history in a big way here. 38-year-olds aren’t typically legitimate shortstops, and Carroll wasn’t very rangey even in his youth. It might be best for the team if Trevor Plouffe solves his errant ways and becomes a legitimate shortstop, allowing Carroll to slide over to second base and start over Tsuyoshi Nishioka there. Carroll might well be pretty decent as a starter at second these next two seasons. At shortstop, he has some long odds to defy.
Last night the Detroit Lions played the New York Giants. During the game Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford called an audible. The call itself referenced Stafford’s childhood friend and high school baseball teammate, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. From the Freep:
Matthew Stafford stepped to the line of scrimmage late in the third quarter and surveyed the Giants defense.
With five pass rushers across the front and three Giants cornerbacks showing a press-man look, Stafford looked at his two receivers to the left and invoked the name of his childhood friend, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw.
“Give me Kershaw here, Kershaw,” Stafford said, repeating his friend’s name two more times as he spun around at the line of scrimmage.
The audible did not result in a pick-4 to Aaron Altherr. It called for a run up the middle. And it worked nicely, gaining eight yards.
You may suggest the results of other starting pitcher-themed audibles in the comments. I’ll start: “Harvey! Harvey!” is where the QB fakes a handoff, drops back, looks deep and then his arm falls completely off. Damndest thing.
Matt Harvey‘s season was mostly a loss due to extended time on the disabled list. He’s been given a chance, however, to end the season strong and make a case for himself in the Mets’ future plans. Unfortunately, he has been unable to make that case. He was shelled again last night, and his late season opportunity has been a disaster.
Last night Harvey gave up seven runs on 12 hits and struck out only two batters in four innings against a Marlins team that, until facing him anyway, had been reeling. It was his fourth start since going on the shelf in mid-June and in those four starts he’s allowed 21 runs, all earned, on 32 hits in 14.2 innings, for an ERA of 13.19. In that time he’s struck out only eight batters while walking seven. His average fastball velocity, while ticking up slightly in each of his past four starts, is still below 95. Back when he was an ace he was consistently above that. His command has been terrible.
Injury is clearly the culprit. He had Tommy John surgery just as he was reaching his maximum level of dominance in 2013. While he came back strong in 2015, he was used pretty heavily for a guy with a brand new ligament. Last year he was felled by thoracic outlet syndrome and this year a stress injury to his shoulder. Any one of those ailments have ended pitchers’ careers and even among those who bounce back from them, many are diminished. To go through all three and remain dominant is practically unheard of.
Yet this is where Matt Harvey is. He’s 28. He’s still arbitration eligible, for a team that is, to put it politely, sensitive to large financial outlays. While his 4-5 start opportunity to end the year may very well have been seen as a chance to shop Harvey to another team, his trade value is at an all-time low. It would not be shocking if, on the basis of his recent ineffectiveness, the Mets considered non-tendering him this offseason, making him a free agent.
Someone would probably take a chance on him because famous names who once showed tremendous promise are often given multiple chances in the big leagues (See, Willis, Dontrelle). But at the moment, there is nothing in Harvey’s game to suggest that he is capable of taking advantage of such a chance. All one can hope is that an offseason of rest and conditioning will allow Harvey to reclaim at least a portion of his old form.