JUPITER, Fla. — Cardinals Hall of Famer Chris Carpenter, now a special assistant in the front office, has dropped into Cardinals’ camp for the first of two week-long visits this spring. He he had some interesting thoughts Friday on some prospective members of the rotation.
On Jack Flaherty:
World Series hero and former Cy Young Award winner Carpenter said, “You saw great growth in what Jack did last year. But you have to be super careful in hoping that he’s going to repeat an 0.91 ERA in the second half. The expectation should be on him is that he’s going to be that solid guy who’s going to take the ball every fifth day.
“I think his growth also is going to take place in that clubhouse where he starts to handle himself as that professional, the one who’s going to take (Adam Wainwright’s) spot when Waino is gone. That’s Jack’s next role.
“I think it’s going to be a big step for Jack this year. He’s going to be pulled on by you (media) guys more. Everybody’s going to be talking about money. Everybody’s going to be talking about him repeating what he did last year, that he’s going to be Bob Gibson consistently. Even Bob Gibson can’t do that. And he’s Bob Gibson.
“Jack just needs to continually grow in all areas.”
On Dakota Hudson:
“You saw in Dakota as a starter that he was able to make some really good strides,” said Carpenter. “You saw some inconsistencies which are going to happen when you’re young. But you expect to see him grow again.”
On Miles Mikolas:
Mikolas slipped to 9-14 from 18-4 in his second season back from Japan, but Carpenter said, “Miles has No. 1 type stuff. Part of that is command. He can command all of his pitches.
“When he comes over and did what he did that first year, I don’t think anybody expected him to be that good, right? Now all of a sudden, there are extra pressures and expectations coming into last year and people thinking, ‘We have to repeat this.’ You’re still talking about a very inexperienced big-league pitcher. He’s going to grow maturity-wise. Part of the maturing process is that you’ve got to learn how to deal with those expectations of success.
“That’s just as hard as dealing with failure.”
On Carlos Martinez:
Carpenter said, “There’s no question that if you throw Carlos in like he was a few years ago, with health and maturity and the ability to do what he does and put him with Jack and Dakota and Waino and Miles, you’re talking about an elite five guys.
“And that’s pretty exciting. We’ve gotten some greatness from Carlos and if we get that, it’s going to make us that much better.
“With Carlos and Alex Reyes, we’ve got some outliers that could really change the dynamic of our staff.”
Carpenter’s spring schedule calls for him to make another week-long visit in March and then he plans to drop in for a Cardinals series about once a month during the season, family matters permitting.
“Chris Carpenter’s career path after he was through playing is really up to him,” said president of baseball operations John Mozeliak, who is one of many who values Carpenter's input.
“Understanding his commitment he still has at home, it’s difficult to transition to maybe something full-time. But having him exposed to more each year is just part of the curriculum for him to grow.”