Chris Carpenter will not pitch in 2013 and is considering retirement

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The St. Louis Cardinals just announced in a press conference that it is “very unlikely” that Chris Carpenter will pitch in the 2013 season after suffering physical setbacks during his offseason throwing program.

As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported a few minutes ago, Carpenter said earlier this winter that, if he suffered such setbacks, he would not attempt to rehab and come back and would likely retire. That said, Mozeliak just noted that the subject of retirement did not come up in his most recent talk with Carpenter. It’s also worth noting that Carpenter is in the final year of his contract with the Cardinals and is owed $12.5 million for 2013 if he does not retire.

General Manager John Mozeliak said that the issue is continuing numbness and “zingers” in his shoulder and neck, much like what he suffered last year.  Mozeliak says that his role going forward will as a “cheeleader” and a “mentor” but that he will not be pitching.

Carpenter’s career was often brilliant but just as often plagued by injury. Coming up with the Blue Jays, Carpenter missed ample time with various ailments, including shoulder trouble that effectively ended his time there. He finishined his career with the Jays with a 49-50 record in 152 games spread over six seasons. The Cardinals signed him before the 2003 season.

After missing all of 2003 with a torn labrum, he won 15 games in 2004. In 2005 he won 21 games posted an ERA of 2.83 and won the Cy Young Award.  He won 15 again in 2006, finishing third in the Cy Young race, but then the injuries came back to haunt him anew. He made one start in 2007 before being sidelined with bone spurs. While attempting to come back from that he tore his UCL requiring Tommy John surgery. 2007 and almost all of 2008 were a loss.

Back to form in 2009, Carpenter won 17 games, led the league in ERA and finished second in the Cy Young balloting. He threw 235 innings in 2010 and 237.1 innings in 2011, leading the league in starts each year. In Game 7 of the 2011 World Series, Carpenter pitched six innings on three days rest, leading the Cardinals to a 6–2 win over the Texas Rangers.

Carpenter missed most of 2012 following midseason surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. He came back in September and pitched in the postseason.  But, in light of today’s news, that may very well be the end.

If it is the end, Carpenter finishes his career with a record of 144-94 and and ERA of 3.76 in 350 games, 332 of which came as a starter. He threw 2219.1 innings striking out 1697 batters while walking 627.  In the postseason he was 10-4, 3.00 with a K/BB ratio of 68/36 in 108 innings. He’s a three time All-Star, a Cy Young Winner and the 2009 Comeback Player of the Year.

Injuries often preclude greatness. It’s not often that you find a player who was plagued by injuries but, those injuries notwithstanding, can still be called great.  I think Chris Carpenter qualifies.  When he was healthy, he was a wonderful pitcher.  If he had remained healthy, we’d be talking about him as a potential Hall of Famer.  Some things, however, are just not to be.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.