At a Tuesday afternoon press conference, the St. Louis Cardinals and GM John Mozeliak announced that veteran right-hander Chris Carpenter would likely miss the entire 2013 season due to continued problems in his surgically repaired right shoulder. Carpenter will be placed on the DL but there have been reports that this injury could likely end his career.
Carpenter made just three starts for the Cardinals last season before needing to be shut down after the discovery of thoracic outlet syndrome. He’d undergo surgery and miss the remainder of the season, though he did return to make three more starts for the team during their playoff run. He’s also missed significant time during the 2007 and 2008 seasons. Otherwise he’s been one of the top pitchers in the National League since the Cardinals signed him following the 2003 season, another one he missed to injury. Carpenter made 198 starts with St. Louis, going 95-44 with a 3.07 ERA and 1.125 WHIP while finishing in the top three in Cy Young Award voting three times, including winning the award in 2005.
St. Louis twice won the World Series with Carpenter in their rotation. He was 3-0 in his four WS starts.
It goes without saying that Cardinals fans everywhere are distraught over the loss of Carpenter – a man who’s led the pitching staff for the past nine seasons. Carpenter was a leader in the clubhouse and a leader on the field. His value to the franchise goes beyond the dollars he earned in his career as he’s arguably the greatest Cardinals starter since Bob Gibson tormented the National League. Carpenter was only signed for one more season, so Cardinals fans knew that the time was coming near that his career would come to an end. They just thought there was more time, as Marilyn Green summarized at Redbird Rants:
I knew it would come sooner or later, but I envisioned being eased into it, kind of like the Chipper Jones Farewell Tour of 2012, only with more testosterone. Just one more season for Reds fans to hate on him, so we could all mock them and tell them they wish he was on their team. Just one more season with both Carpenter and Wainwright, co-pitching aces extraordinaire.
Numerous reports suggested shortly after the team’s press conference that Carpenter will “consider his options” in the coming months but is likely to retire. He will wait until the end of the season (and the team will let him) to formalize the announcement, as retiring now would mean he’d forfeit the $12.5 Million he is scheduled to earn. Most of that figure is believed to be insured, so the Cardinals will not be on the hook for the entirety of that figure.
Carpenter informed team officials that he was still feeling numbness and discomfort in his shoulder during some recent bullpen sessions. Nerve damage has made it so he simply cannot throw anymore.
Initial reaction to the news was just as expected – assumptions that the team would re-sign Kyle Lohse considering the free agent is surprisingly still available with Spring Training just a week away – but Mozeliak quickly diverted around such suggestions, though he didn’t rule out an outside addition. The Cardinals feel they have the depth to withstand such a loss and will have a true battle in Spring Training for the final spot in the rotation. Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook, and Lance Lynn will fill out the front four spots. Either Trevor Rosenthal or Shelby Miller will win the 5th spot.