You’ve all probably heard by now that Carlos Carrasco will be suspended for eight games after hitting Kevin Youkilis with a pitch on Tuesday night. It seemed somewhat harsh, but I guess that Major League Baseball wanted to send a message. Even though Carrasco maintains his innocence, the fact that he has a history dating back to his pre-Tommy John incident in 2011 likely weighed heavily in the decision. MLB felt it was intentional, and they wanted to make sure that he thought twice before he lost control in the future.
When I first heard about the length of the suspension, I just kind of shrugged my shoulders. It’s not my job to determine Carrasco’s guilt or innocence (although I’ll admit that it didn’t look too good for him, given his track record). It seemed sort of severe, but for a repeat offender that just finished serving a five game suspension left over from a year and a half ago, it wasn’t completely unexpected. Or at least I felt that way until Friday evening, when I happened to hear about another suspension.
On Thursday night, there was a major fight between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres – Padre Carlos Quentin was hit by a pitch in the shoulder by LA starter Zack Greinke, who then decided to charge the mound. While you can debate Carrasco’s intent, it seemed pretty clear that Greinke did not do it intentionally. It was a 3-2 count in a one-run game; just a pitch that happened to get away. When Quentin charged Greinke, you can see Greinke drop his shoulder to prepare for the collision with an outfielder that’s roughly 30 lbs. heavier. At that point, Greinke broke his collar bone and will likely miss a month or two of action.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly suggested that Quentin’s suspension match Greinke’s stay on the DL. I know that the Dodgers must be frustrated that their new $147 million pitcher is shelved for a significant amount of time, despite the fact that they’ve tossed money around like confetti lately. So what was Quentin’s suspension for charging the mound and breaking a $147 million pitcher’s collar bone? Eight games. He gets exactly the same amount of time out as Carlos Carrasco.
I guess there are a lot of things you could compare in this situation, but I was wondering – are these two incidents equal? (Or at least deserve an equal amount of punishment?) I guess you could argue that eight games for a starting pitcher is less than eight games for a position player since the starter only pitches once every five games. I guess you could also take into account that Carrasco was considered a “repeat offender” and that’s why he was hit with such a lengthy suspension. Quentin does get hit by pitches quite frequently, and Greinke’s errant throw could have been his breaking point (even though despite Quentin’s claims of a “history” Greinke hadn’t hit Quentin since 2009. I can barely remember where I was in 2009.) For me though, I guess I can’t understand how Quentin got off with just eight games for starting a rather vicious fight and breaking a pitcher’s collar bone. If Carrasco’s throw was intentional, yes it means that he’s immature and can’t control his temper. He shouldn’t have thrown so close to Youkilis’s head if he meant to hit him. On the other hand, Carrasco’s actions come across as a petulant tantrum to me. Quentin’s outburst showed a level of rage and violence that you didn’t see from Carrasco.
I’m not sure what this all means for Carrasco, at least in terms of his season with the major league club at this point. The Indians played short staffed to get his five game suspension out of the way; I can’t imagine them making that sacrifice again any time soon. What if there are injuries to current pitchers on the staff? What if Carrasco starts dominating in Columbus, and could really help the club? They’ll have to bring him up to sit for at least eight games. And if they’re not buying his “accident” claims, they’d have to worry that he still wouldn’t be able to control his temper if he got knocked around up in Cleveland. It’s a shame too; while I think he needs a bit more time in the minors at this point, I still think that Carrasco has good stuff. It’s a shame that his temper is directly interfering with his ability to perform on the mound. With that being said, I still don’t think that he and Quentin deserve identical suspensions. I think some sins are just greater than others.