As one of the most dominant pitchers at the beginning of the millennium, Mark Mulder was going to look great in a Cardinals uniform. Walt Jocketty had pulled off another scam.
Jocketty traded bullpen arm Kiko Calero and prospects Dan Haren and Daric Barton for Mulder in the winter of 2004, and all of Cardinal nation was sure they had landed a gem.
Not so fast…
Mulder, who went 88-47 between 2001 and 2005, completely collapsed early in the 2006 season and hasn’t been the same since. Although he returned to make a brief appearance in the majors for three disgraceful starts late last fall, the real hope was that he would get “tuned up” for this season.
To every Redbirds fan that was banking on Mulder coming and triumphantly returning to his Cy Young form…
Don’t bet on it guys.
Mulder returned to St. Louis today to meet with doctors to discuss “fatigue” that he felt after another rocky Triple-A start last night.
But I’m not buying simple fatigue. Every pitcher feels fatigue after they throw. That’s why they can’t throw everyday.
Mulder has been pretty bad after making it to the upper tiers of the minors on his rehab assignment, going 9.2 innings with an ERA of 13.03 in two starts at the Memphis Redbirds affiliate.
Mulder has never really thrown hard, just deceptively, with a lot of movement. This actually makes his problems more concerning. I’m hardly a medical expert, but I know that his arm is required to be more flexible and durable with that type of repertoire.
That means that the damage done after multiple injuries and surgeries might be permanent.
The lanky left-hander claims that he’ll be fine, and I understand his reasoning. If he was having a six inning, seven earned-run start in March, I wouldn’t be that concerned, and he says he has that mentality. But I’d be much happier if he was throwing blanks and feeling great as well.
I really hope Mulder can come back and contribute to the Cardinals this season, or ever. I’m just not sure if he’ll ever be the same. We might be looking at a Mark Prior or Kerry Wood type of situation in a Cardinals uniform.
The Cardinals starting pitching has been good this season, even though the men responsible aren’t highly regarded. Matt Clement and Chris Carpenter are also due back before the All-Star break, so the Cardinals should be alright either way.
Hopefully, Mulder will be up at Busch Stadium too, gracefully throwing strikes again.
Just don’t count on it.