Let the United Cardinal Bloggers Roundtable Begin!

UCB Roundtable Begins

The United Cardinals Bloggers Roundtable has begun. Cardinalsgm.com is pleased to be able to ask the first question. Let get right to it. Here is the question that I posed to the UCB participant bloggers:

Branch Rickey wrote that it is better to trade a player one year too soon than one year too late.

  1. Is this the year the Cardinals should consider looking to deal Chris Carpenter?
  2. Could the Cardinals get some key pieces in return for him?
  3. Would trading him dilute the starting rotation too much?

Chime in.

Let’s look at the varied responses….

From Mark at http://retrosimba.com

Great question .As much as I respect Carpenter and always enjoy watching him pitch, the answer is “yes,” the Cardinals should consider looking to deal Carpenter. Here’s why:

_ He turns 36 in April. It’s reasonable to expect that his greatest seasons are behind him.

_ The Cardinals need to clear room on the payroll in order to re-sign Albert Pujols.

_ Carpenter’s trade value is high now. It’s not likely to get any higher.

_  To really improve the lineup, the Cardinals must trade value to get value. Carpenter can bring value _  perhaps for a much-needed middle infield bat such as Ian Kinsler of Texas or Stephen Drew of Arizona.

_ I believe Carpenter and Ryan Franklin are the Cardinals’ best bargaining chips this off-season, and would help them free up payroll to re-sign Pujols.

Daniel from C70 At The Bat also known as the godfather of UCB followed with this:

For my part, I’d be open to a Carpenter deal, but I think for the most part I’d lean against it.  For the following reasons:

–Mark’s right, Carp is on the backside of his career.  Now, we can hope that since he had so many arm troubles in his career, he’s still got more bullets in the gun than a normal 36 year old and he could be productive for years to come.  However, if I’m a rival GM, I’m not sure I give up big-time talent on that estimation.  If Texas traded Kinsler, for example, then Carp came up lame in ’11, that could really hurt a franchise.

–I’m not completely sure that a bat+replacement pitcher is better than a weaker bat+Carpenter.  In other words, whatever gain we would get from a Carpenter trade might be more than lost in the drop off between Carpenter and his replacement.

–The intangible aspect of Carpenter is hard to get a grip on as well.  There’s no doubt that his example has made Wainwright a better pitcher and I believe it’s been a boon to Garcia as well.  He’s a respected member of the clubhouse and taking him out of it could affect the chemistry that already is lacking something, at least according to the front office.

I’m just not sure the reward is worth the risk of moving him.

Mike from ial’s Stance answers with this:

Currently the Cardinals have 4 starters returning for 2011:  Carp, Wainwright, Garcia, and Lohse. Whether they sign Westbrook will depend on his price. If they do sign Westbrook and trade Carpenter, you’ve essentially swapped the two in the rotation while still needing a 5th starter.

So the first part of this question becomes is swapping Westbrook for Carpenter a good move?

Both have injury history. Carp has been a rock on the Cardinal rotation since 2004 and Westbrook pitched very well after the Cardinals acquired him. Westbrook is 33, Carp 36. So essentially you get 3 years younger and less expensive on the rotation by trading Carp.

So I think that’s worth it.

The problem is what Dan mentioned. Carp’s injury history is well known.  Will another GM take a chance, and give up a major league infielder who can hit for him?  I don’t know. Mo will need to test the market.

A long winded way of saying, they should put Carp on the market to see what kind of return is possible. If they can get an infielder with a good bat for him then I think they make the deal.

Let’s look at the perspective from Dustin.

Very nice question. A scenario which hadn’t crossed my mind. As Mike listed our 4 returning starters for 2011 are Carp, Waino, Garcia and Kyle Lohse keeping in mind that Lohse is in this rotation due to contract and not recent performance. Jake Westbrook has publicly expressed a desire to return to the Cardinals. I have a good feeling that the club will indeed bring him back unless the asking price becomes too steep which would give us our 5. Then the club can concentrate on adding and developing starting pitching depth to go along with Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller. I guess I wouldn’t mind Mo sending out feelers around the league to see what Carp could potentially bring but I’m going to say no to a trade and here’s why:

Carp finished 16th among NL starters in ERA(3.22)  but also was 2nd in IP(235) finishing only behind probable Cy Young winner Roy Halladay who had 250. I may eat my words but I’m more concerned about Jaime Garcia’s durability than Carp’s. Next year is the last year of his guaranteed contract with the club holding the option in 2012. Even with Wainwright’s success and leadership qualities I still consider Chris Carpenter the captain of the pitching staff and would worry about clubhouse chemistry without him. A similar scenario to what we experienced with the loss of Luddy, which I believe was mentioned earlier. My money’s on another strong campaign from Carp next year and just can’t see being able to compensate for his loss. I would think that if he were to be shopped it would certainly have to be as a staff ace and I just don’t see that kind of return with his age and injury history.

I understand the need to bring in bats, especially in the middle infield but I can’t see sacrificing Carp unless it was just an offer that just blew away Mo.

The McBrayer-Baseball Blog was very succinct in his analysis.

Like the question. I think right now would be a good time to trade Carp. Still has value but seems to be declining. The Yankees would take Carp in a heart beat. We could grab Cano for 2B or Gardner for the outfield. On the other hand, I would hate to lose him.

Erika from Cardinal Diamond Diaries doesn’t like the idea much as she writes:

Wow.  The idea that Chris Carpenter might be dealt this year had not crossed my worry radar yet. From my sentimental fan point of view, I would be shocked and sad to see Carp go.  While that time may come, this had better not be that year for several reasons.  First, the team is already suffering from some alleged mysterious internal issues.  Carp and Wainwright together bring as much positive clubhouse energy and leadership as they bring talent to the mound.  Chris Carpenter and his volcanic temper are indeed entertaining.  However just as Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina are a solid core of steadfast stability among the Cardinal position players, so Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright are the anchors of the pitching staff.  Together Carp and Waino lead by example through their intense work ethic, focus and determination.  Unless the front office wants to really shake up the team dynamic, they would not trade Carpenter. Plus, with the pending circus of the Albert Pujols contract discussions looming, giving up a veteran Ace such as Carp could backfire and send the wrong message to the fans and Albert.

The second reason is less emotional and more tactical.  The Cardinals just traded away our dear Ryan Ludwick for a ‘lesser’ starting arm mid-season, showing pitching depth to be a priority then. Not much has changed.  And while the Redbirds may still be looking for a bat to add some offensive bang or just an improvement in on-base-percentage, giving up Carpenter would be too great a price.  Carp (finally) had a healthy season, pitched incredibly well and logged a tremendous number of innings.  During the last week of the season, Carp commented that he was feeling strong and better this September than he had in many prior seasons.  Is Carp getting older? Yes. Should we ditch him now for some unknown bat or handful of potential prospects? Absolutely not.

Chris Carpenter still has the fire.  I expect him to keep mowing down batters with his typical hot-headed intensity for at least a couple more seasons as a Cardinal. And I am not ready to give up listening to his undeniably awesome Carp voice in the pre- and post-game interviews.

I vote ‘No Deal!’

Andrew of Busch Birds

I cannot sign onto the idea of trading Carpenter.  Maybe there is a team out there that would give us a fair price for Carpenter, but I think he is more valuable to the Cardinals than any other team at this point.  I am certainly concerned that Carpenter will have declining results next year, but other teams have that same concern.

I also echo the sentiment that dealing Ludwick and Carpenter in a matter of months would be a lot for the locker room to absorb.  I hope that Westbrook comes back for 2011, but I don’t think that would necessitate Carpenter’s departure.  While Carpenter makes a good amount of money, the club is either able to afford a Pujols extension or it isn’t; trading Carpenter should not be a requirement for signing players like Pujols and Westbrook or we are in trouble.

It is a good question to ask and Mozeliak should at least kick the tires around the league as part of his due diligence, but unless another team is willing to give up an elite bat for our elite pitcher it just doesn’t make sense for the 2011 Cardinals to trade Carpenter.

Pip of fungoes

If the Cardinals are honest with themselves, they’ll acknowledge that they got way more than they could’ve expected from Carpenter in 2010. At age 35 and with a lot of mileage on his odometer, Carp faced a career-high 969 batters. He did so with clout, posting a fine 3.22 ERA. But that ERA disguised a 3.84 expected FIP, his highest (in a qualifying year) as a Cardinal. Realistically, the odds of him facing anywhere near that many batters in 2011 or improving on that xFIP are bad. He has had two outstanding seasons following two non-seasons. How many non-seasons remain in the chamber of the Carpenter revolver?

I tend to agree with the sentiment that trading Carpenter likely wouldn’t be worth it. The Cardinals picked their poison when they extended his contract after the 2006 season; now they must live or die with its effects. The only exception I can see is if the Pujols situation degenerates into a trade, thus setting off a chain reaction of a wider overhaul. In that case, the team might move Carpenter for a younger arm. Is it unlikely? Sure. But so is Carpenter putting in a third-consecutive full season.

Redbird Report finds Cole with this:

Very good question.

This is something I’ve thought about myself. When you look at Carpenter, you see a guy who most likely has his best stuff behind him, and is certainly not getting any younger. In my opinion, he’s no longer the ace of that staff – Adam Wainwright is. His leadership and competitiveness can certainly not be matched, and has certainly been a vital part of this Cardinals team (as we saw during the whole Cincinnati fiasco).

I’m not sold either way completely, but I would certainly be open to the idea of trading him, as long as it’s worth it. He still has good stuff left in the tank and is a clubhouse leader, so I would only want to see him traded if we get equal or greater value in return. I know that sounds like common sense, but it’s happened too many times where guys like Carpenter are traded just to be traded, and the return is nothing more than a pack of Big League Chew and some baseballs. I’m simply saying that I’d hope the Cardinals’ Front Office would be smarter than to pull a stunt like that.

Nonetheless, this offseason is sure to be a big one for the Cardinals, as they’ll find out what the future holds for Tony La Russa, and most likely Dave Duncan as well, and of course finding the money for Albert Pujols. And I’m sure this topic isn’t new to the Front Office, so I wouldn’t be surprised if a decision is made one way or the other on Carpenter as well.

Bill from i70baseball.com rationalizes it this way:

Everyone brings up good points let me try and put together some thoughts…

The answer to the first question of “should the Cardinals consider trading Carp” is yes.  Any team that does not “consider” trading a player his age of his caliber needs to evaluate their GM.

The more important question is “Should they trade him?”  I say no.

Dustin pointed out that this is the last year on the contract for Carp.  So, allowing him to play it out, declining and option year, and allowing him to sign elsewhere will most certainly net the redbirds a few draft picks in Type “A” or “B” status.  In addition, if this is his last year and Pujols extension does not begin until 2011, trading him this year simply saves the team from turning down the option on his contract, thus saving face.

The Cards are not going to get enough talent back in a trade for Carp to justify him wearing a different uniform and putting up 14 wins.  He is a solid leader, a dominant (at times) pitcher, and a player that proves to the firstbaseman that the team is committed to winning.

Eugene Tierney of http://85percentsports.com/

I have not problem with Mozeliak throwing Carps name on the market, but I would hope that he’d only trade him if he received an overwhelming offer.  With the 4 guys under contract, I’m definitely worried that moving Carp would move the rotation back.  It’s nice having a 1-2-3 of Wainwright, Carp, and Garcia.  I don’t think we could find a comparable replacement for Carp on the open market.  Garcia may be that guy down the line – at least performance-wise – but I need one more healthy season from him before I’d put him there.

I also agree that it’d be hard to find the right deal.  I don’t see us getting someone like Kinsler for Carp.  I think the best we could get would be some prospects, and I don’t think we’d be able to get a “sure thing” out of it.

From Ryne at Redbird Rants

While Carpenter is getting older and his health is always a question, I can’t see the Cards trading him with one year left on his deal. He should be a productive pitcher again in 2011 after a great season this year. Even if he falters slightly, I think he’ll tally double-digit wins and keep the Cards in games. A replacement in the rotation is no sure thing, whether that would be a young kid from the farm or a free agent — look what happened to Brad Penny this year. Carpenter is too important to this team trying to bounce back and the return in a trade likely wouldn’t be enough.

I think it would be wise for the Cardinals to shop him, but the only way they should pull the trigger is if they can get a proven bat and a young arm in return. As Mark mentioned earlier, Stephen Drew would be a nice and worthy pick-up. He is pretty young, has a solid bat, and a good glove and fills the Cards biggest hole. If they could get Arizona to throw in a young starter for fun, it would make it even more enticing. But if they can’t get someone of Drew’s caliber or better, I say stick with Brendan Ryan at shortstop for now and trust Carpenter to get the job done again. I think he will because of his winning mentality and competitive nature. Tell him he’s old and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him win around 15 games next year.

Justin of Intangiball has this to say about the issue.

You can’t trade Chris Carpenter for two primary reasons:

One, there is no one positioned to replace him. While his numbers certainly settled late in the season, one could argue that for a significant portion of the year he was on the cusp of Cy Young consideration. He is your number two guy, and only one season removed from being, effectively, tied for ace of the staff with Adam Wainwright. The farm is depleted. There are no guarantees that Westbrook or Penny return, and even less assurance that the health of both is a non-factor. And while we would all like to believe that Lohse’s last couple starts are a sign of things to come and that Garcia’s phenomenal season is a precursor as well, we are not Cubs fans and therefore do not have the luxury of such fantastical beliefs.

Second, he’s Chris Carpenter. A gamer…a bulldog…a guy who can say more to a restless, young player in a subtle glance than Bernie Miklasz can in a one-hour special on meatball sandwiches. Few teams have proven the need for “clubhouse presence” guys over a season than the Cardinals team did in 2010.

Do you consider any and all trades if you’re the GM? Of course you do. That’s your job. But John Mozeliak will simply not be offered a package that negates what Carpenter more than likely brings to the table.

Finally Erik at Play A Hard Nine talks about the difficulties of trading Carpenter:

I’m not so sure the Cardinals could trade Carpenter. If I were a
general manager, I’d be scared off from making a deal for Carpenter
for several reasons:

-His checkered injury history (we know this all too well)
-His age. 36 years old is no longer a spring chicken.
-His declining velocity. His fastball went down from an average of 93
MPH last season to 91.
-His declining peripherals. Pip already mentioned the jump in his FIP.
Carpenter is still a good pitcher, but I wouldn’t expect Cy Young
caliber performance going forward. His fWAR was 3.7, his rWAR was 3.0.
-And add in the fact that he faced a career high 969 batters.

The amount of risk factors involved in dealing for Carpenter are so
high that it doesn’t justify his $15 mil salary ($1 million if his
option is declined). Maybe these are reason FOR trading Carpenter, but
I don’t see how it’s feasible unless the Cardinals are willing to eat
some salary.

The Astros eat a considerable amount of salary in trading Oswalt, a
comparable talent, and get a pretty underwhelming returning in my
opinion. The trade market for pitchers just hasn’t been good. Consider
the case of the underwhelming trade return on Dan Haren as well.


This has been a doozie to hear all the well produced replies to this question. I am going to give my thoughts and then wait anxiously for the next question.

My initial thoughts: I am leaning towards not trading him but not for sentimental reasons. It is a business and we tend to forget that.  I do believe that ALL players should never be untouchable. It just depends on what the return bounty is for them. Carpenter is a concern to me that he may up and retire after next year and the leaves us out of any Type A or B players and nothing comes back in return. This is the year to look at it, in my opinion. However, we trade him and we have a gaping hole in the starting pitcher corps.

Many writers are an outright NO, but some are……

REMEMBER to check out the bloggers and our host website at www.unitedcardinalbloggers.com and follow the roundtable discussion. If you have something to say then post a comment. Enjoy.

Tom @ www.cardinalsgm.com