For someone who shares a name--right down to the "John" in the middle--with one of the National League's best starters, Boston's Chris Carpenter will likely find himself with a rather lackluster legacy. After five years of professional baseball, it seems probable that the lasting memory of Carpenter will for his role as the disappointing compensation for Theo Epstein rather than for anything he does on the mound.
After all, though once well-regarded, Carpenter has fallen off the prospecting map thanks to his failure to develop much in the way of control. He may be able to throw the ball awfully hard, but if you can't place it then you're simply not going to have success at a major league level.
Carpenter provided some small evidence of that when he made his way to the majors. 10 walks in six innings of work leading to six runs. Frankly, he's lucky to come out of his cup of coffee with even a 9.00 ERA.
Still, perhaps this is not the best season to judge Carpenter on. After all, he underwent surgery to remove a bone spur in his throwing elbow before the season began, leaving him out for much of the year and holding him to just 21.2 innings in the minor leagues. His fastball never hit more than 97 at the majors, suggesting that perhaps he was not entirely up to speed in his time here.
This would be a pretty solid piece of mitigating evidence were it not for the fact that it just leaves us with Carpenter's past performances to rely on, including his career 4.87 ERA and 5.9 BB/9 at Triple-A. When it comes down to it, Chris Carpenter is a pitcher who, nearing his 27th birthday, still can't find the strike zone if his life depended on it.
At the very least, though, Carpenter as compensation to Theo did not so much break the trend as it did reinforce it. As much as it may not do a good job of representing the actual value of the people involved, trades involving managers or front office personnel are simply not going to be allowed to involve major value in terms of players. Bud Selig doesn't like the idea of it, and so we'll keep seeing nominal returns. If the Sox had ended up giving something significant away for John Farrell then maybe we'd have room to complain, but if Carpenter was nothing, Mike Aviles was not much more.