Remembering: Chris Carpenter

Chris Carpenter was drafted 15th overall in 1993 by your Toronto Blue Jays.  He pitched for us from 1997 to 2002.  He compiled a record of 49-50 with an ERA of 4.83.  He was the 2002 opening day starter for us in Boston.  In September, after a tough season in which he only made 13 starts, he had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder.  A potential career ending injury for a pitcher, some pegged his chances as low as 25 percent to come back.  His rehabilitation was scheduled to take the entire 2003 season which would have been his final arbitration year before entering free agency.

In his first year on the job, J.P. was in full blown cost cutting modeThe total team salary for 2002 was $76,864,333 and by the start of 2003 he had got it all the way down to: $ 51,269,000.  Carpenter, due to his injury status and $3.45 million salary for the 2002 season, had a big target on his back.  He was exactly the type of player J.P. was hired to make disappear.

What happened next depends on who you ask.  The details are a little sketchy in terms of facts.....

Baseball Reference says: October 9, 2002: Released by the Toronto Blue Jays.  December 13, 2002: Signed as a Free Agent with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Baseball Almanac says: 10-09-2002: Released by Toronto Blue Jays. 12-13-2002: Signed by St. Louis Cardinals.
TSN says: 09-Oct-02 Declined outright assignment to Syracuse (AAA) became a free agent.
Cot's Baseball Contracts says: refused assignment to AAA 10/02, electing free agency.
Bob Elliot says: all he wanted was the $300,000 league minimum.
Some article says: Carpenter rejected a contract offer from the team and became a free agent.
I say: Service Time is the main reason why Carp is no longer in a Blue Jays uniform.  J.P. was trying to stop the clock on his service time so that he could hold onto him for another season.  To do that he needed to get Carp off the 40 man roster and avoid salary arbitration.  The only way to get that done was to outright him to the minors and hope he accept the assignment.  Had Carp signed any type of major league contract, he would have needed to be placed on the 60 day DL while he rehab his wing.  But he would have collected his treasured final year of service time and been granted free agency.  Which as it turns out is exactly what happened anyways.
Carpenter says: “They decided to let me go, and I didn’t know what was going to happen. I was in a sling and I didn’t think a whole a lot of teams would be interested in a pitcher with a sling on. Fortunately, there was.”

Since joining the Cardinals in 2004, he is 68-24 with a 2.91 ERA.  He won the Cy Young in 2005 with a 21-5 record and was a two time All-Star.  In the post season he is a lifetime 5-2 with a 2.93 ERA all with the Cardinals.  He helped the team win the World Series in 2006.

Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out sir.


  1. Seriously, you're still blaming J.P. for letting Carpenter go? Come on. Hindsight is way too easy on this one, bro. NOBODY at that time figured Carp would go on to do what he has done. NOBODY.

    Carpenter has come out and said it himself. You posted his comment about being in a sling. He was in a sling!!!1

    Let it go. It happens. This is not Ricciardi's legacy.

  2. I agree with you to a point. Looking in the rear view mirror is easy. However, letting a future Cy Young winner walk and getting nothing in return is and rightfully should be part of J.P.'s legacy with this team.

  3. Carpenter was a .500 pitcher with a bad ERA. JP was cutting costs. Of course he's going to cut him.

  4. Would it have killed J.P. to show some empathy to Carp's situation? Instead of designating him for assignment, could not a deal been worked out? Looks to me like the Cardinals had no problem doing just that by paying him the minimum while he rehabbed with the understanding he wouldn't forget the gesture. He then signs a two year deal for $300 grand in 2004 and $2 million in his Cy Young year 2005.
    At least the Jays seemed to learn their lesson because they have not given up on McGowan just yet...

  5. What a fantastic analysis of how much of a douche bag JP Ricciardi is... I applaud every ounce of success Chris Carpenter has

  6. ashermerlin,

    Thanks for stopping by!

    Yeah fuck J.P. That's all I got right now.