(This blog item was updated on Oct. 13, 2013.)
Eleven years ago, Mike Matheny helped recruit Chris Carpenter to the Cardinals.
Today, Carpenter, 38, has retired as a Cardinals starting pitcher _ and Matheny is the team’s manager.
Departing the Blue Jays after becoming a free agent, Carpenter, 27, signed a one-year incentive-laden contract (with a club option for a second year) with St. Louis on Dec. 13, 2002.
Carpenter had undergone shoulder surgery in September 2002 and the Cardinals were gambling he would recover and be able to pitch for them in the second half of the 2003 season as “a potential swing man,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported at the time.
Matheny, the Cardinals’ starting catcher from 2000-2004, had been Carepnter’s teammate with the Blue Jays in 1999. Before signing with the Cardinals, Carpenter went to St. Louis at the club’s request to have a magnetic resonance imaging test on his shoulder. While in the city, he met with Matheny, who urged him to accept the Cardinals’ deal, the Post-Dispatch reported.
Carpenter also spoke with two other former Blue Jays teammates, pitchers Woody Williams (a Cardinal from 2001-2004) and Pat Hentgen (a Cardinal in 2000). Like Matheny, they endorsed the Cardinals as the right fit for Carpenter.
“They all said it was the best city, the best fans, the best organization,” Carpenter told Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch in December 2002. “It wasn’t a financial decision at all. It was because it was the best situation.”
The Cardinals were interested in acquiring Carpenter in July 2002, the Post-Dispatch reported, before they traded for Chuck Finley of the Indians. Soon after that, Carpenter was sidelined for the season because of the shoulder problems.
“He’s somebody we’ve liked for a while,” Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty told Strauss.
The Sporting News quoted a big-league scout as saying Carpenter was “a steal” for the Cardinals.
Carpenter didn’t return to form as quickly as the Cardinals had expected. He didn’t pitch for them in 2003. Instead, he was limited to eight minor-league starts totaling 18.2 innings that year. But the move paid off in the long term.
As a Cardinal, Carpenter has a 95-44 regular-season record and a 10-4 postseason mark.