Cheap Seats

Is the rumor of Chris Carpenter's return too good to be true?

I sure hope the Cardinals aren't serving us another heaping helping of their over optimism with the news that former ace Chris Carpenter is feeling much better and working toward a return to the mound in 2013.

After all, doesn't it seem just a little too good to be true that the day after the Redbirds announce that their closer is in need of Tommy John surgery that a guy whose career was written off in February is ready to ride in on a white horse and pick up the slack?

Not only does Carpenter think he can pitch, the Cardinals say. But a guy who has been a front end of the rotation starter for his entire career says he's willing to take a seat in the bullpen where he's needed most.

If Carpenter is able to pitch at the quality he did in 2011, he's be an incredible addition to the bullpen. He's potentially be a five-star closer on a team desperately in need of back end of the bullpen help -- but lso one that is unwilling to mortgage its future by dealing top prospects for a rental.

Plus you'd get the benefit of having one of the best natural leaders in baseball back in the mix. For some reason, regardless of their resume, inactive players don't carry the weight in the clubhouse as guys who are fighting along side of the players on the field. Carpenter could be the glue that turned a bunch of of nifty parts into a single, championship quality unit.

But the last time Carpenter tried to come back at the end of the 2012 season, he was throwing in the mid 80s and wasn't exactly his dominating former self. Also, the numbness in his pitching arm tends to surface the day after he throws. So will he be able to bounce back from shorter stints as a reliever? Or will he be able to pitch only once or twice a week?

These are all questions that must be answered before I'm going to allow myself to get too excited about the triumphant return of one of the best pitchers in St. Louis history.

But I sure hope it becomes reality.