Chris Carpenter ignites a ruckus in the Cardinals-Diamondbacks game

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Chris Carpenter angry.jpgIt wasn’t really a fracas, and it was far short of a brawl, so ruckus is the best I can do.

It started when Edwin Jackson hit Chris Carpenter with a pitch in the second inning. Actually, it may have started when Jackson hit Ryan Ludwick in the first, but hitting Carpenter is what set things off.  The pitch trailed in and smacked Carpenter on the left wrist, actually opening up a little cut. Carpenter stepped towards Jackson and barked at him as he took his base.

The next batter — Skip Schumaker — grounded into a double play.  Carpenter came in hard on Kelly Johnson with the intention of breaking it up and doing a little damage, but no one was the worse for wear. But the benches cleared all the same, baseball players milled around as though they could fight if they wanted to, but really, it’s been a good while since we’ve had a really fun display of fisticuffsmanship in Major League Baseball. Everyone makes too much money and doesn’t want to risk it, I suppose. Either that or they’re just better at being professionals who realize that rolling around the ground and punching one another doesn’t get you too far.

Carpenter admitted after the game that his slide was, as they say in baseball circles, horses—:

“It was an unprofessional move. I shouldn’t have done it. I told
[first-base coach] Matt Williams at first to tell Kelly that it
was unprofessional and I shouldn’t have done that. I was in a position
where I didn’t control my emotions enough to not do something stupid.”

Still, Carpenter was none too happy about the pitch that hit him:

“I hit .100. It’s not like I can hit. Throw the ball down and away.
Throw a slider, whatever it is. It’s different if
you’re Carlos Zambrano, Adam Wainwright, Dan Haren, guys that can hit.
You throw 95 miles per hour, chucking balls up high, never mind you
can’t control it. Come on. He’s missing by three feet. It’s not right.”

I understand why he’s mad, but I can’t see any good adding another rule to baseball’s already thick unwritten rulebook (i.e. thou shalt not pitch inside to the opposing pitcher). Effective or not, Carpenter, and all pitchers, have bats in their hand when they come to the plate and mean to do violence to the baseball. If the seven of us who still take the concept of pitchers hitting for themselves seriously wish for the concept to be maintained, the last thing we need is to start treating them with kid gloves. It didn’t seem to me that Jackson was trying to hit Carpenter. He just had lousy stuff last night.

The only remaining question is whether Carpenter gets fined or suspended or anything for the slide. Or, rather, for admitting that he had bad intent when he did it.  I would hope not — this was really a case of no-harm, no-foul — but I long ago gave up trying to figure out any method behind the madness of baseball discipline.

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom is headed to the free-spending Texas Rangers, who believe the health risk is worth the potential reward in trying to end a six-year run of losing.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday, leaving the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

“We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob’s caliber.”

Texas announced the signing after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

The team said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings in San Diego.

“It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need,” Young said. “He’s a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he’s going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans.”

Texas had modest expectations after adding Seager, Semien and starter Jon Gray ($56 million, four years) last offseason but still fell short of them.

The Rangers went 68-94, firing manager Chris Woodward during the season, and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Texas’ six straight losing seasons are its worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Rangers owner Ray Davis said the club wouldn’t hesitate to keep adding payroll. Including the $19.65 million qualifying offer accepted by Martin Perez, the team’s best pitcher last season, the Rangers have spent nearly $761 million in free agency over the past year.

“I hate losing, but I think there’s one person in our organization who hates losing worse than me, and I think it’s Ray Davis,” Young said. “He’s tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. Our organization is tired of losing.”

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

That ended his deal with the Mets at $107 million over four years, and deGrom rejected their $19.65 million qualifying offer in November. New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

The Rangers visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

The addition of deGrom gives the Rangers three proven starters along with Gray and Perez, who went 12-8 with a career-best 2.89 ERA in his return to the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela. Young didn’t rule out the addition of another starter.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation.

Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.