Chicago Cubs: Chris Carpenter
A source with knowledge of the situation indicated the Cubs would be interested in signing him if he is put on waivers.
Carpenter was the final compensation that the Red Sox received for allowing former general manager Theo Epstein to leave in order to become the Cubs' president of baseball operations.
Carpenter, who had elbow surgery in the summer of 2011, pitched for the Red Sox's Triple-A affiliate in Pawtucket and with the parent club briefly toward the end of the 2012 season. He appeared in eight games and had a 1-0 record with a 9.00 ERA, recording 10 walks and two strikeouts.
The Red Sox have 10 days to trade Carpenter before they must put him on waivers. If no club claims Carpenter, Boston could re-sign him to a minor league contract.
Like Boston, the Cubs also have a full 40-man roster, which would most likely preclude a trade between the clubs.
The Cubs would not comment on interest in Carpenter when contacted by ESPN Chicago.com.
A shoulder injury had Carpenter out since the start of the season and he eventually had surgery in July.
The Cubs don’t plan on feeling sorry for the veteran, whose 144 career victories rank 14th among active pitchers.
“I’m sure he’s not here unless he’s back to normal,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “He might not be 100 percent but I’m sure he’s 90 percent with all his pitches or he wouldn’t be here down the stretch for these last 12, 13 games so I don’t think you approach him any different.”
To make room for Carpenter, former Cubs pitcher John Gaub was removed from the Cardinals’ 40-man roster.
The compensation discussions between the Red Sox and Cubs -- stemming from Theo Epstein taking the president of baseball operations position in Chicago while he was still under contract in Boston – have
been a farce from the outset.
First and foremost, Larry Lucchino, Boston’s president and CEO, could not wait to fire manager Terry Francona and see Epstein move on after the epic melt down that cost Boston a playoff berth on the final day of the 2011 season. Francona quit, after a no-confidence message was delivered to him by ownership. Epstein, who had locked horns with Lucchino for years, still had one year remaining on his contract as the Red Sox’s GM.
As much as Epstein leaving Boston for Chicago was a home run for the North Siders, the Cubs made one vital error; they did not understand Boston wanted a lot more for their former executive than a prospect and a few dollars.
We now have advanced five months down the road with the two teams still fighting each other on the issue. The latest problem centers on an injury to pitching prospect Chris Carpenter. The centerpiece of the compensation package sent to Boston, Carpenter had surgery to remove a bone spur from his throwing elbow on Thursday.When asked if he believed the Cubs knew of Carpenter’s arm issues, Luccino told reporters, "I'm not going to comment on it. We assume everyone acted in good faith."
That’s not to say Luccino is finally putting the issue to rest. He also told reporters in Red Sox camp that GM Ben Cherington is “exploring” Boston’s options and called the situation “on-going.”
Nothing about Carpenter should have been a mystery to the Red Sox.
The organization scouted all of his outings in the Arizona Fall League. The Red Sox looked at all the medicals on the pitcher going back to November. They also looked at his talent, having seen him average 100 mph when he did pitch.
It is true that Carpenter’s history of arm issues predates his move to Boston. He had a forearm strain that landed him on the DL last summer. It is also true that elbow issues are almost always connected to forearm strains. That being the case, it is even more obvious that the Red Sox knew what they were getting.
It is time, once and for all, for Bud Selig to put an end to this nonsense. Selig should have the Cubs write a small check and be done with it forever. Compensation of a player for a front-office person never has made sense.
Lucchino, who was in attendance at Boston's exhibition game with the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium, the Twins' spring park, made the comment in the aftermath of elbow surgery for pitcher Chris Carpenter, one of two players the Red Sox had received as compensation for Epstein.
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The Cubs received 19-year-old first baseman Jair Bogaerts from the Red Sox to finish all aspects of the deal, but the conversation over the entire episode might not be complete.
Larry Lucchino, the very bright and overbearing Red Sox president and CEO, wanted a big-time player in return for an executive he no longer wanted. On Tuesday, the clubs agreed on 26-year-old relief pitcher Chris Carpenter along with players to be named from each team by April 15.
The Red Sox could have had this deal done in late November when the teams were discussing compensation at that point. Only the stubbornness of Lucchino prevented Carpenter from going to Boston then, according to major league sources.
The Cubs messed up by not getting Lucchino’s approval on compensation before they named Epstein the new president on Oct. 21. The Lucchino-Epstein power struggle has been going on for years with Lucchino never wanting to give his protege any credit for the team's world championships in 2004 and 2007. That attitude led to Epstein leaving the Red Sox for three months in 2008 before signing long-term deal through 2012.
Giving up a young pitcher such as Carpenter was too much in this case. A lower-level player and cash would have been proper compensation. There is no doubt that Epstein is a great talent, but as he said, he has never played one inning of organized baseball. Why should any team give up a player for a suit?
In the future, money would be the best way to compensate a team for a team president.
The Chicago Cubs' bullpen was a strength of the 2011 team. But gone from the mix is lefthander Sean Marshall, who was one of baseball’s best set–up men the past two seasons. The back of the pen will be a question mark with the loss of Marshall and the uncertain status of Carlos Marmol's arm strength. The pen will really have to tighten up if Jeff Samardzija goes into the rotation.
1. Carlos Marmol, RHP: He must bounce back with a better season and fewer blown saves. The 29-year-old right-hander had 10 blown saves in 2011, tied for the most in the majors. Marmol also has been baseball's most overused bullpen arm with 27 back-to-back outings last season, by far the most in all of baseball. Since 2008, Marmol has the most appearances of any pitcher, a foolish number when you consider that for two and a half of those four years he was a closer. Marmol told ESPNChicago.com that he has lost 10 pounds since last October. Expect a rebound if manager Dale Sveum and pitching coach Chris Bosio watch how they use him.
3. John Gaub, LHP: He will get a shot as the team's main set-up man along with Wood. Gaub fanned 75 batters in 55 innings at Triple-A Iowa in 2011. Finding a power arm from the left side was a pleasant surprise for the new Cubs brass.
4. James Russell, LHP: The lefthander learned how to pitch at this level through trial and error last season. Russell, who started five games for the Cubs last season, will set up Marmol if Gaub falters.
5. Manny Corpas, RHP: He will get a chance to regain his form this spring. A closer for the Rockies in 2007, Corpas, 29, has been throwing hard since sitting out 2011 following arm surgery. He could set up or close if anyone gets hurt.
6. Andy Sonnanstine, RHP: The former Tampa Ray has had experience as a starter and reliever. He will be available in either role.
7. Chris Carpenter, RHP: He can hit 100 mph with his fastball and could be the sleeper in the Cubs bullpen this season. Carpenter pitched in 10 games for the Cubs in 2011 before going back to Triple-A. He impressed scouts in the Arizona Fall League.
The rest of the bullpen will depend on which pitchers make the rotation. Samardzija goes back to a setup role if he is not part of the rotation. Randy Wells and Casey Coleman might also go to the bullpen if they don't crack the rotation. Chris Volstad is a part of the same mix as the rest of this group. Scott Maine is a situation lefty who could squeeze his way on the 25-man roster.
Cashner is expected to be in uniform Tuesday, but he is unlikely to pitch until Wednesday at the earliest. He has been throwing every third day as part of his rehab.
Cashner was placed on the DL on April 8 (retroactive to April 6) with a right rotator cuff strain. He re-aggravated the injury while rehabbing in mid-May. He is expected to stay in the bullpen for the remainder of this season.
Cashner’s activation could be one of many roster moves the team makes in the coming days.
Infielder D.J. Lemahieu and relief pitcher John Gaub are expected to be called up Tuesday from Triple-A Iowa. After that, the team likely will wait until the end of the Double-A playoffs before promoting two players on the Tennessee Smokies. Right-handed pitcher Rafael Dolis and catcher Steve Clevenger are on track to get promoted after the conclusion of those playoffs. Clevenger must be added to the roster before he is eligible to play in the major leagues.
Cashner’s coming off the DL and Celvenger’s eventual addition will max out the Cubs’ 40-man roster. With that, the team may consider designating players currently on the 40-man roster for assignment.
One player who will not be ascending to the 40-man roster is outfielder Brett Jackson. Rated as the organization’s top prospect, the Cubs have decided to keep Jackson in the minors for the remainder of this season. The team also canceled Jackson’s Arizona Fall League slot. The young outfielder will instead play with Team USA in the Pan Am Games this fall.
On Sunday, Sept. 11, a roster spot will have to be opened for Carlos Zambrano’s return to the active roster. Zambrano will be coming off the disqualified list after 30 days. He will not re-join the team, however.
Joining Cashner and Jackson are infielders Junior Lake and DJ LeMahieu as well as pitchers Trey McNutt and Chris Carpenter.
Cashner injured his right rotator cuff in his first major league start on April 5. He was put on the disabled list on April 8. During a rehab session on May 16, Cashner re-injured the rotator cuff and had not pitched competitively until last week. He is pitching out of the bullpen at Triple-A Iowa and is expected to re-join the Cubs sometime in early September.
Jackson, the Cubs's first-round pick of the 2009 draft and the organization's top prospect, is batting .319 with six home runs, 25 RBIs and six stolen bases at Triple-A Iowa. He split the 2011 season between Iowa and Double-A Tennessee.
LeMahieu is batting .316 overall between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa. He hit .243 in 23 games with the Cubs earlier this season.
Lake is batting .281 with 12 home runs, 51 RBIs and 36 stolen bases overall this season in stints at Single-A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee.
Carpenter had a 2.79 ERA in 10 games with the Cubs earlier this season. McNutt is 5-5 with a 4.35 ERA in 22 starts with Double-A Tennessee.
Pitcher Jeff Beliveau is on the taxi squad, meaning he's eligible to play Wednesday and Saturdays.
However, unless your name is Mariano Rivera, even that so-called shut down closer will hit some bumps in the road.
With the Cubs 18 games under .500 and many veterans expected to be dangled before the trade deadline, the question must be asked if it would be worth it to the Cubs to gauge the market for struggling closer Carlos Marmol. If trading Marmol means the Cubs would acquire a top prospect who could help in 2012 and beyond, it might be the right move.
Of course then the issue then becomes who would fit into the closer's role for the Cubs in the future. Sean Marshall and Kerry Wood will be used in that capacity for the time being, but if Marmol is moved, Marshall and Wood may be holding the position for Chris Carpenter.
Carpenter, who was recently sent down to the minors to make room for Carlos Zambrano, has an electric fastball that every team covets for their closer. It's that second pitch that manager Mike Quade is looking for Carpenter to use effectively with more regularity.
"You see enough quality once in a while in [his slider] to be really excited," Quade said. "He's not consistent, but one out of every five or six he'll snap off where you'll go, ‘Woah, that's like unhittable stuff.' When he can make that three or four out of six, look out."
Of course the Cubs once felt that pitchers like Kyle Farsnworth and David Aardsma would be closers of the future. While both have had moments of success in the big leagues as a closer -- Farnsworth is currently filling the role for the Tampa Bay Rays -- neither has proven to be capable of filling the spot on a long-term basis.
One NL scout familiar with Carpenter had a different outlook for his future than Quade.
"If you twist my arm, he's more of an eighth inning guy for me," said the scout. "He's always been a guy that's slower to adjust and he's never missed as many bats as you'd expect for how great his stuff can be. I think he will settle in and be a good late inning guy, but if I'm a manager, I feel better about him in the seventh or eighth rather than the ninth."
Marmol is suffering through some rough times right now. But Quade is confident he can get back to the dominant closer he showed he could be in 2010 when he converted 38 of 43 saves and racked up an eye-popping 16.0 K/9.
"It's a lot of fun to dominate the way he has for several years and it's no fun when you're not," Quade said. "It'll probably be tough on him a bit, but he'll get through it. He'll be the same guy at some point that he has been for some years."
Quade indicated that Marmol's mechanics are off which is leading to a drop in the quality of his breaking ball as well as less velocity on his fastball, adding up to disaster when he's on the mound.
Marmol went through similar struggles in 2008 when he was the primary setup man for the Cubs. Prior to that season's All-Star break, Marmol made 12 appearances giving up 15 runs (11 earned) while walking 10 batters in 9 1/3 innings pitched.
Quade said this year's struggles are a bit different because in '08 his stuff was good but it was primarily command that was the issue. This season, he seems to have a dip in his stuff, and while he is issuing some walks, he's giving up more hits than he normally does as well. His .229 batting average against this year isn't horrible, but considering that his previous season high since becoming a staple in the Cubs bullpen was .170, it's definitely something to watch.
Marmol has lasted only three innings in his last six outings, giving up eight runs, seven walks and allowing all three runners he's inherited to score. What's most concerning about Marmol's recent struggles is that he has no strikeouts in that period.
"An alarm goes off, they're not swinging and missing the way they were," Quade said. "Normally that points to the depth of his breaking ball, the quality of his breaking ball because that's where he gets most of his strikeouts. He's just got to get that back, that's all."
Despite that fact that Marmol has been moved out of his closer's role, Quade reiterated that the move is expected to be just temporary.
"He's a closer," Quade said. "He's getting paid as a closer, he's got closer stuff. He's going through a rough time right now. "
It's clear the Cubs believe Marmol will regain the form that made him one of the most dominant strikeout artists in the history of the game. At 28, Marmol is still young and signed through the 2013 season. It's never an easy decision to trade a proven commodity to go with the unknown. However, for a team that's clearly looking towards the future, the Cubs' best bet may just be to move Marmol and take a gamble on Carpenter.
Injuries often lead to the spotlight shining on a player who is not quite ready for its intensity. That was the case on Sunday night for the Chicago Cubs, as manager Mike Quade was forced to go to young reliever Chris Carpenter in a role injured pitcher Kerry Wood would normally have filled.
With two men on and nobody out in the eighth inning, Quade pulled Sean Marshall and brought Carpenter in to face New York Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher. Carpenter quickly fell behind 2-0 and Swisher took advantage of the favorable count, hitting the next pitch into the right field bleachers. The home run untied the game, giving the Yankees a three-run lead. The Bronx Bombers proceeded to tack on three more runs in the ninth to secure a 10-4 victory.
“As we’ve said all along, with some of the issues we’ve had here injury-wise, it is an opportunity,” Quade said. “Doesn’t mean that kids are ready to compete at a high level yet, but some of these guys we’re talking about are going to [in the future] and they’re going to get chances. So, we have to piece together those innings to get to Marmol.”
Quade said he didn’t think about keeping Marshall in to face the switch-hitting Swisher because he wanted to turn Swisher around and have him hit as a lefty. Swisher is hitting .173 from the left side of the plate as opposed to .348 as a righty in 2011.
Quade also emphasized that he wanted to limit Marshall’s pitch count (Marshall combined to throw 47 pitches on Thursday and Friday), because he didn’t want Marshall unavailable against the Chicago White Sox on Monday.
“I told Marsh, I’m looking for five hitters from you, then one of the kids is going to have to pick it up,” Quade said. “The question is, do you put one of the kids in first or let Marshall go through that tough part of the lineup and he’s good at it. Come hell or high water, Carpenter was going to get Swisher, it worked out numbers wise, but it didn’t work out results wise.”
Marshall retired Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, and Mark Teixeira in order to get through the seventh, but allowed singles to both Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano to start off the eighth. Carpenter said despite the bad results, he would do his best to learn from the situation.
“You never want to just look at the negatives, you want to take some positive out of everything,” Carpenter said. “Trust me, nobody felt worse than I did giving up a home run in that situation. But I’m gonna try and take some positives out of it and hopefully (the next time) I’ll come out and do my job.”
One batter after Swisher, Quade came out to get Carpenter and stood on the mound for a while talking to his young reliever.
“He just told me to keep trusting in my stuff every time you go out there, adjust, and get better every time you go out,” Carpenter said. “Use today as a stepping stone or learning curve, whatever you want to call it. Just don’t get down on yourself and stay positive out there.”
Carpenter was converted to a full-time reliever this year after he lit up the Arizona Fall League this past November in the same role. Quade said he believed that there is a lot of young talent on this Cubs roster and Carpenter is a part of that. Scouts raved about Carpenter’s AFL performance, especially his 100-plus mph fastball and said he had the potential to be a dominant reliever.
“I told him that he’s gonna be on this mound celebrating some day and I believe that, but it’s going to take time,” Quade said. “(He needs to work on) the development of his breaking ball and his command. But that’s another good power arm to have.”
Unfortunately for Carpenter and the Cubs, those celebrations are going to have to wait at least another day.
Hendry, who has two years remaining on his contract, knows that having a subpar 2011 season could impact his job status, and he understands the pressure to win.
Entering his ninth year as general manager, Hendry added pitcher Matt Garza in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays and signed free agents Kerry Wood and Carlos Pena. Somehow Hendry was able to get all three for a total of $10.4 million against his 2011 payroll (Pena's contract is paid over three seasons).
"We didn't have a ton of payroll flexibility in the offseason. Understandably so," said Hendry, whose payroll was cut somewhere around 10 percent by ownership in 2011. "It was a lot of work for the guys upstairs [in management]. [Assistant GM] Randy [Bush] was great. Our scouting meetings were tremendous early in the process. You hope it all works out, the plan that we had in mind and the pieces that we needed. We thought we did the best we could."
Quade is excited about his first camp as a big-league manager. Still, he understands the pressure at this level.
"You can't underestimate the challenge of winning a division," Quade said. "I don't even look at that as pressure. I just look at it as one heck of a challenge. If I get everything I'm supposed to out of this club then you believe things will work out."
Quade signed a two-year, $2 million contract after posting a 24-13 mark as interim manager following the retirement of Lou Piniella.
A good part of the Cubs' and Quade's success will depend on the pitching staff which was a strength in the last third of the season. A big part of that was success of Carlos Zambrano, who finished the season with an 8-0 mark in his last 11 starts.
Quade will have the challenge of trying to find pitchers to fit in the fourth and fifth rotation spots along with Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Garza. The choices are plentiful; the quality of those choices remains to be seen.
Quade refused to pick out an Opening Day starter on his first day of camp in Mesa. He said at the Cubs Convention in January that whoever started that day was the ace of the staff.
Hendry must now sit back and watch the season unfold. However, unlike in the past, the Cubs have minor-league player options available. Center fielder Brett Jackson could be this season's version of Starlin Castro. Jackson, a first-round pick of the 2009 draft, made great strides in 2010, showing power and speed as he combined for 12 home runs and 30 stolen bases in stops at Single-A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee.
Pitching in the minors appears to be a strength as well. Trey McNutt, Jay Jackson and Chris Carpenter could all be major league contributors before the season ends.
Quade is Hendry's fourth and most likely last manager he has hired since taking over as GM midway through the 2002. Hendry has raised the bar in Cubs Nation, winning three divisions in eight seasons, a feat no Cubs executive has ever done.
A slow start could put a crimp in Quade's ability to handle a still veteran club and have a major effect on the team's future as far as who leads the front office.