Cards reward Carpenter with $63.5M extension

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- St. Louis Cardinals general
manager Walt Jocketty looked at the price of pitching on the
free-agent market and decided to throw his money at a guy he
already had.

The Cardinals announced a $63.5 million, five-year deal with
2005 NL Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter on Monday, locking
him up through the 2011 season. The deal also includes a club
option for 2012 that would bring the total value to $77.5 million.

"It was important for us to show what we think of him,"
Jocketty said on the first day of baseball's winter meetings.

Carpenter was 15-8 with a 3.09 ERA last season, finishing third
in Cy Young balloting and helping the Cardinals win their first
World Series title in 24 years. He was 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA in five
postseason starts, including the clincher in the division series
against the Padres and eight shutout innings in Game 3 of the World
Series against the Tigers.

St. Louis has made the playoffs in each of his three years
there, reaching the World Series twice.

"This is a place you're going to have an opportunity to win
every year," Carpenter said during a conference call with
reporters stationed at the meetings outside of Orlando. "Winning
the World Series is the best feeling I've ever had playing sports.
I'd love to do it again."

Carpenter had been signed for $7 million in 2007 , a deal that
included an $8 million option for '08. But with pitchers such as
Adam Eaton getting more than $8 million per year from the Phillies,
Carpenter might have made more if he pitched out his contract and
hit the free-agent market.

"I don't know how much is enough," he said. "I'm comfortable
here, my family's comfortable here, and we have an opportunity to
win here."

His new deal calls for salaries of $8.5 million in 2007, $10.5
million in 2008, $14 million in 2009, $14.5 million in 2010 and $15
million in 2011. The Cardinals have a $15 million option for 2012
with a $1 million buyout.

Carpenter led the NL with a 1.81 ERA at home last season, and
was tied for the league lead with three shutouts overall. In three
years with St. Louis he is 51-18 with a 3.10 ERA in 93 starts and
the Cardinals are 65-27, a winning percentage of .707, during that

His 36 victories the last two seasons are tied for first in the
major leagues with Jon Garland of the Chicago White Sox.

"Chris is one of the elite pitchers in all of baseball,"
Cardinals chairman William O. DeWitt said. "In addition to
becoming just the second Cardinal to win a Cy Young Award, Chris
has been the leader of our pitching staff and we are pleased that
he will continue in that role for the next five seasons."

The Cardinals signed Carpenter as a free agent in 2003 even
though he was recovering from shoulder surgery, and he missed that
entire season. He rewarded them with a 15-win season in 2004 before
a biceps injury knocked him out of the postseason.

"It's an honor. It's nice to know they believe in me this much
to keep me around for five more years," he said. "Any security is
good security, no matter how long it is. Getting here from the
situation I've been in, it's a great feeling. It lets you relax and
concentrate on what you need to do, and that's relax and pitch.
There's no other worry."

Jocketty said taking a chance on Carpenter and Jeff Suppan made
the championship possible. Suppan, the MVP of the NL Championship
Series, was originally signed for two years and $6 million.

"We wouldn't have had the success we've had if we hadn't signed
those guys," he said.