Tag:Chris Carpenter
Posted on: August 19, 2009 2:47 pm
Edited on: August 19, 2009 3:09 pm
 

Cardinals sign John Smoltz

Determined to prove he's not finished, veteran pitcher John Smoltz has signed with the St. Louis Cardinals after being released by Boston. The deal was finalized Wednesday afternoon.

Smoltz is expected to join the Cardinals' rotation, though he also is capable of working out of the bullpen. St. Louis, in Los Angeles for a night game against the Dodgers on Wednesday, is hoping that Smoltz will help provide the depth it will need for a strong stretch run.

The Cardinals lead the Chicago Cubs by six games in the NL Central and, having already added outfielder Matt Holliday, swingman Mark DeRosa and shortstop Julio Lugo, Smoltz would represent the fourth significant move by a club swinging for the fences and threatening to run away with the division.

How significant a move it will be, if it happens, is yet to be determined. Smoltz, 42, flamed out in Boston, going 2-5 with an 8.32 ERA after coming back from shoulder surgery.

The Cards are expected to plug Smoltz into the back end of their rotation, after Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Kyle Lohse and Joel Pineiro. A return to the National League, where lineups are softer and there is no designated hitter, should be beneficial to Smoltz. And, the Cardinals are hoping, the more he pitches, the sharper he will get.

Even if Smoltz continues to struggle like he did in Boston -- he surrendered 59 hits, including eight home runs, in only 40 innings -- the move really carries very little risk for the Cardinals. They would be responsible for only a pro-rated portion of the major-league minimum -- about $100,000 -- and the Red Sox would be on the hook for the rest of his $5.5 million salary.

It is a relatively inexpensive gamble that the Cardinals hope pays off big: Smoltz is one of the best postseason pitchers in history (15-4 career record in October) and could be a lethal weapon either in the rotation or in relief for Tony La Russa's club at some point in the fall.

Posted on: July 9, 2008 11:10 pm
 

Billy Beane and the NL Central arms race

Three major pitching moves a 72-hour period in the NL Central -- Milwaukee trading for CC Sabathia, the Cubs snapping up Rich Harden and, sadly, Mark Mulder leading Wednesday night's game with more pain in his left shoulder.

Mulder's comeback bid lasted only three batters before he was forced out, and in a suddenly fast-moving division, the ramifications could be far-reaching.

One of them is obvious.

One of them, not so much -- but it could have important repercussions for Chicago Cubs fans.

The obvious one, of course, is that the Cardinals are probably going to have to figure out a way to acquire more pitching help if they plan to stay in the race. They are still hoping ace Chris Carpenter returns sometime in the next month, but Mulder's setback, if it is as serious as it appears, still leaves them lacking.

St. Louis probably doesn't have the resources to trade for Toronto's A.J. Burnett, who scouts continue to say has one of the best arms in the game but never has been able to figure out how to be a winner. Seattle's Erik Bedard will be pricey. San Diego probably will be offering Greg Maddux and Randy Wolf, and wouldn't Maddux, the former Cub, be a fascinating addition in St. Louis? Cincinnati's Bronson Arroyo is another possibility, but Cards GM John Mozeliak would have to convince ownership to crack open its piggy bank.

It's clear that the Cubs, with a healthy Harden, and Brewers, with Sabathia, have gotten better. St. Louis, with Mulder again hurting, hasn't. Plus, the Cardinals have problems at the back end of their bullpen -- their 19 blown saves leads the majors.

Now ... how might Mulder's latest setback be related to the Cubs?

Like this: Mulder walking off that mound in Philadelphia is simply one more reminder that Oakland GM Billy Beane's track record of trading away ace pitchers is nearly impeccable. He got peak years from Mulder, Tim Hudson and Barry Zito before cutting ties with them -- Hudson and Mulder via trades, Zito via free agency. He traded Dan Haren, starting pitcher for the AL in last year's All-Star Game, to Arizona over the winter and got back two starters, Dana Eveland and Greg Smith, who are contributing this year.

Beane does not make mistakes when he trades away pitching. That doesn’t mean Harden won't help the Cubs. But if you're a Cubs fan, it should give you pause -- and maybe even make you shudder when you consider Harden's injury history.

Likes: The All-Star break. ... The All-Star Game. ... The All-Star arguments -- who should make it, who shouldn't. ... Luis Gonzalez mentoring the kids in the Florida Marlins clubhouse. ... CC Sabathia now going by CC instead of C.C. OK, whatever, dude. ... Early action on the trade market. ... Brad Lidge coming back strong in Philadelphia. ... Mid-summer, when everyone seems to slow down and take a breath. There's no rush to get home when you're at the ballpark -- no school for the kids in the morning -- and you see all sorts of people out running, walking their dogs and gardening throughout the neighborhood. ... Summer nights, and darkness not arriving until late. ... Fresh strawberries over vanilla ice cream.

Dislikes: The construction folks beginning to tear down Tiger Stadium. It's been long overdue -- Detroit despicably allowed a treasure to become just one more abandoned building over the past nine years -- but it's still gut-wrenching.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"She acts like summer and walks like rain
Reminds me that there’s time to change"

-- Train, Drops of Jupiter

 
 
 
 
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