The Newest Yankees Folk Champion He’s been living at the La Quinta Inn next to Triple-A Stadium for less than a month. That was Matt Carpenter’s stay in the season until Mitch Garver came back off the injured list.
Garver, a catcher by trade, was out with a bent strain in his elbow. So when he came back he could hit, but not throw. Rangers still want his racket and active Garver on May 19th to be their DH. He hit right, but the Texans already had a left-handed in a major league deal as much as Carpenter’s in Brad Miller – a left-handed, multi-position slingshot that has made his career on his racket and not his gauntlet.
Carpenter was playing the Triple-A Round Rock Express with Josh Smith, a key piece the Yankees sent to Texas last July for Joey Gallo. And Smith was (yes) a multi-centre left-back instrumental nearing the call-up (which came on May 30th).
Carpenter agreed to a Triple A contract to play for the Rangers because Round Rock was closest to his home in Fort Worth. However, it was more than two hours away. That plus Garver’s decision and other easy alternatives was too much. Carpenter had allowed the May 1 withdrawal date to pass, believing it was too early to create an ultimatum with a late start, a short spring as well as a late start to the season.
But his relationship with Rangers was such that they wouldn’t stop him if he wanted out. On May 19 – with Garver back – Carpenter requested and received his release. He was unemployed. He was 35 years old. He was coming off three seasons getting worse with the Cardinal when, in total, he hit .203 with 22 players in 309 games.
Who would have imagined that this was a new beginning and not an end? Who could have imagined that in less than four weeks, Rangers head of baseball operations John Daniels will admit via text message: “We may have underestimated Matt in the short term. He showed in New York that he can hit major league stadiums.”
Carpenter, who had seven players in 418 games between 2020 and 21, made six of 34 games for the Yankees after playing 0-4 on Tuesday night at The Yankees’ inaugural 2-0 win over Rays. A helpless in 48 limited appearances for the board against the left in the Cardinals’ last two seasons (.128 batting average, no homers), Carpenter was 3-for-10 with a weakness, two creeps and two walks for yanks.
In 2013, coming off two seasons hitting .222 with 86 OPS-plus for the Angels, Vernon Wells had an impressive first six weeks for the Yankees at age 34: .301, 10 homers and .895 OPS in 38 games. In the next 92 he hit 0.199 with one Homer and ended the .495 OPS and Wells career.
So maybe Carpenter is just Welles (they’re both three times All-Stars) and enjoys his peak boom before the curtain falls. But Aaron Boone is tempted to find out. He pinned him as a DH against Tampa Bay and said, “He’s definitely pushing himself into the mix and earning more and more reps.”
The players whose playing time must be affected for Carpenter to start a lot – Josh Donaldson, DJ Limaheu, Anthony Rizzo and/or Gleiber Torres – all have good seasons. Giancarlo Stanton could be put on the field (as it was on Tuesday) more regularly with Carpenter de Eching, but this weakens the defense while increasing the possibility of an injury to Stanton.
But Carpenter’s appetizer is – strength plus a cool bat – to spur Yank’s account to see if they’ve added an effect any club could have had for a proportional minimum a few weeks ago as long as he came up with a major league job.
When Carpenter was released, his agent, Brian Cahill, began emailing teams that had expressed interest in the off-season. The Yankees did not wait. Brian Cashman dubbed Carpenter the “White Whale,” a player they’d been hunting for years in vain because they couldn’t get the Cardinals to pay off enough of his multi-year contract.
“We had an interest in him in the off season [on a minor league deal] Before he signed with Rangers,” said Mike Fishman, Yankees vice president/assistant GM. “In addition to his core skills, he was a particularly good fit for Yankee Stadium as a left-handed volleyball batsman. We’ve been aware of all the work Carpenter has done this season [to remake his swing] And the steps he took to improve himself, and we were witnessing the results of his work in Triple-A, especially in May [.324 average/.1.265 OPS/four homers in 43 plate appearances]. As soon as we heard that he was being released, I reached out to express my wish.”
Despite this, the Yankees did not have a big place in the league roster. No team did. Some hinted that when the rules changed on May 29, all teams had to concede 13 throws so that a spot slot could be opened. On May 26, this rule was postponed to June 19. But Yank had signed Carpenter by then after Stanton joined Donaldson in IL while Joey Gallo was out with COVID.
Opening the door to luck for both sides. The carpenter exploded in the beating. It’s a great short story. Could it be more than that?