Chris Carpenter looks good, preparing to return as a starter

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Not only is Chris Carpenter hoping to pitch this season after making a remarkably fast recovery from July surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, the former Cy Young winner is preparing to return as a starter rather than simply trying to get some innings in out of the Cardinals’ bullpen.

Here’s what general manager John Mozeliak told Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com about Carpenter’s status:

Given the guys we have now in our bullpen, you can see some sort of piggyback scenario if it worked out that way. He has to build up his pitch count. Given the fact he hasn’t been able to throw much prior to surgery, he does feel good. It looks like he’s on track to contribute. We’re hopeful that’s what happens. When you look at how Carp was throwing, it was screaming that this deserved an opportunity for consideration. It was really what he was doing [that] allowed us to sort of rethink it.

In other words Carpenter has looked really good throwing bullpen sessions and live batting practice, which is one helluva change from the initial belief that he’d definitely miss all of this season and might not be ready to begin 2013 on the active roster.

Of course, it’s a long way from “looks good throwing on the side” to “looks good enough to trust starting games in a pennant race” but so far so good.

The Dodgers do not have a general manager, but they have an assistant general manager

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LAS VEGAS — Farhan Zaidi left his job as the general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers to become the president of baseball operations for the San Francisco Giants. While Dodgers president Andrew Friedman remains at the top of the baseball operations department, Zaidi’s departure has left the Dodgers without a general manager. It happens. It also happens that the Dodgers do not plan to replace Zaidi with a new general manager any time soon. They just said so last week.

They do, however, have an assistant general manager now. It’s Jeff Kingston, late of the Seattle Mariners, where he served as Jerry Dipoto’s assistant. Now he is an assistant with no one, nominally, to assist. Seems like some sort of dividing by zero error, philosophically speaking, but we’ll just assume it’ll sort itself out.

Two less cosmic takeaways from this: 1. Kingston is an analytics guy who has typically advised the wheeler-dealer — Dipoto — so it’s fairly safe to assume he’ll do that in Los Angeles too; and 2. that a team is happy to proceed without a general manager should tell you where general managers, well, in general, stand in this age of title inflation in baseball front offices.

I imagine that, after some time in the organization, Kingston will be named the actual general manager with no real change in his duties, further underscoring that, in this day and age, the title of GM is like the value of a Zimbabwean dollar.