Chris Carpenter and battle for perception

Television cameras caught Chris Carpenter shouting something after Mike Napoli flied out to the deepest part of the ballpark to end the sixth inning.
Several Rangers players thought Carpenter was yelling at Napoli, though it’s unclear if that’s the case. The Rangers’ catcher said he didn’t hear anything but was told about it later.
“Somebody brought it to my attention” – Napoli said. “It’s kind of unfortunate. I don’t really know him. I don’t know why he’d be yelling at me like that. I’m not going to get involved in anything like that. I don’t know. I didn’t hear anything. I don’t know what I’ve ever done to make him think that. I’m not going to get involved in that.”
Carpenter continued to yell – just to no one in particular – as he headed back to the Cardinals dugout and was clearly frustrated that the Rangers had tied the score in that inning.
Mitch Moreland saw Carpenter yelling but figured it was more about firing himself up.
“He’s a fiery guy and you’re in the heat of the moment” – Moreland said. “Sometimes that can happen. We don’t react to that kind of stuff. You just go out and play.”

Chris Carpenter and battle for perception
Chris Carpenter.

Mocking the suggestion that a postseason performance might have a big impact on impeding free-agent earnings has become such a blogosphere mainstay that it has almost become cliche.
No matter how C.J. Wilson does in Monday night’s Game 5 of the World Series, it is not going to produce a 20 million dollars swing in his payday.
No matter the result, Wilson will still be a 30-year-old lefty and arguably the market’s top available pitcher depending on what happens with CC Sabathia. His work ethic and ability to pitch over
200 innings a season will still be the same and the biggest check mark working against him will still exist. He has only spent two full seasons as a starter. Teams will still have money to spend this offseason and Wilson is still equipped with the biggest basket when it comes time to catch it.
Of course, if we want to talk about the narrative and how Wilson will be perceived during that moneygrab, then I think that’s fair game. As a guy who still hasn’t had everyone buy into his ‘ace’ label, Wilson’s performance against Chris Carpenter — a guy who also had to earn his own ace reputation over time — will go a long way to determining that storyline.
Even Wilson agreed with that assessment during a Sunday press conference.
“True story” – he said when it was suggested Game 5 is the biggest start of his life.
“That’s what the commercial says, that legends are born in the postseason or whatever” – he added.

When you’re the third Hall of Famer on the team, you can get lost.
When one of them is your telegenic, innovative manager, the other the best hitter since Willie Mays, you can get positively buried.
It is Chris Carpenter’s fortunate fate to be managed by Tony La Russa and to be outshined by Albert Pujols.
Without them, certainly, Carpenter and the Cardinals are a lesser team.
Without Carpenter, La Russa and Pujols aren’t where they are, either.
When Carpenter entered his 14th postseason start last night, in Game 5 of a tied World Series, the Cardinals had won 11 times behind him. Only one of those losses was a real clunker, in the 2009 Division Series.
After his seven innings and two solo homers allowed last night, he is 8-2 with a 3,05 ERA in the postseason.
To compare: Cliff Lee is 7-3 with a 2,52 ERA in 11 starts; Jim Palmer, 8-3 with a 2,61 ERA in 17 games.
And neither of them ever faced these Rangers, baseball’s best offensive team, at their home park, the most offense-friendly joint in the game. The Rangers won, 4-2, and took a 3-2 Series lead, but only after Carpenter defined himself further as one of the premier playoff pitchers of the age.
“I did the best I could” – Carpenter said, against a “super-powerful lineup.”
“He was great” – said Lance Berkman, a linchpin of the offense that now has scored two runs in the last two games after tagging the Rangers for 16 in Game 3. “That’s what he’s done his entire career. That was not unexpected.”
Somewhat disingenuously, perhaps, Carpenter dismissed the magnification of postseason effectiveness.
“I don’t think it defines who you are. I think what defines who you are is, one, the consistency you put in day in and day out as a professional, and two, how you go about your business on and off the field. That defines who you are” – Carpenter said Sunday. “Postseason is just at a different level.”
He pitches on a different level.
He went 3-1 with a 2,78 ERA in the Cardinals’ 2006 championship run. He went 4-0 with a 2,10 ERA in his first five playoff starts. He is 3-0 with a 3,30 ERA in five starts this postseason, including a three-inning, four-run managerial mistake when he pitched on 3 days’ rest against the Phillies.
Carpenter’s regular-season runs have been as good as anyone’s in the past eight seasons, with a .693 winning percentage as a Cardinal. He won the Cy Young Award in 2005. His 15 shutouts trail only Roy Halladay, the best pitcher of this generation.

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