Feldman: If this is it for Carpenter, what a ride it's been

Feldman: If this is it for Carpenter, what a ride it's been

Credit: Getty Images

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 28: Chris Carpenter #29 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates after defeating the Texas Rangers 6-2 to win Game Seven of the MLB World Series at Busch Stadium on October 28, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

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by Brian Feldman, BaseballStL

BaseballStL

Posted on February 5, 2013 at 3:15 PM

Updated Sunday, Nov 3 at 5:51 PM

(BaseballStL) -- The Cardinals' announcement that Chris Carpenter is "unlikely" to pitch in 2013, and maybe never again for that matter, was like a kick to the gut. Just when you thought the team had found a cure for what had been ailing him these last few years, he STILL is having discomfort.

It's sad. So sad. We might have seen the last of arguably the greatest competitor since Bob Gibson.

What should the Cards do now that Carpenter is out? Share your thoughts.

I could go on and on about what he's meant to the organization on the field as a pitcher. He's got a Cy Young under his belt (2005) and a career 3.76 ERA. But undeniable proof that he was a gamer when things mattered most is the fact his career ERA in the postseason was just 3.00.

However, Carp didn't pitch for the Cards really in 2012 aside from a handful of innings down the stretch so it's not terribly different from an on-field perspective.

The big difference will be felt in the clubhouse. In the dugout. Just his presence in general.

You see, during that ridiculous comeback against the Nationals in game five of the NLDS last year, it was Carpenter (who didn't step on the field) who was going up and down the bench telling everyone how they were about to do something epic.

It's impossible to quantify exactly how much of a difference that speech (or speeches) made. It's impossible to know what would've transpired had #29 not been there. But something tells me things may not have turned out the same way.

His mere presence gets guys to play harder, play better. Carpenter's probably the only guy who could earn his salary in leadership alone. He really didn't even have to step on the field to make the Cardinals better.

Now, though, the Redbirds won't have that. And that frightens me for the season.

It's up to Adam Wainwright to assume that role. It's up to Yadier Molina to assume even more leadership than he already has. It's up to everyone else to look themselves in the mirror and ratchet up their presence in the clubhouse just a little bit.

I'm not sure where things are going to go with this Cards rotation. GM John Mozeliak doesn't really know. It seems they're willing to go to spring training with this current group - Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Jake Westbrook, Jaime Garcia - and let the three kids duke it out for the final spot. It could be Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly or Trevor Rosenthal.

Should the prospects not be ready - or should Garcia experience more medical issues - then an external addition might be needed. Hey, Kyle Lohse is still available.

But that's neither here nor there right now. This is one heck of a ball club and they'll find a way to make this work. There's a lot of talent.

Talent isn't the issue.

It's the fact we might have seen the last of one of the best (certainly most competitive) pitchers in baseball.

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