I admit, Mark Mulder is hardly a shell of his former self.
But he's better then Ron Villone.
That is why I propose that Mulder make one more rehab start before making his return to the St. Louis Cardinals big-league club.
Villone has been completely disgraceful in his last 14 innings pitched with an ERA of almost eight. At the ripe old age of 38, Villone is definitely not going to get any better, and there is little hope of rebuilding the confidence that he clearly no longer has.
Mulder has been pretty bad in Triple-A Memphis, but there's reason for hope. He allowed six ER in almost four innings of work in his most recent start there, but didn't allow a run after the first inning. Additionally, he's had added velocity on his pitches and better movement after changing his pitching motion to a different slot.
If Mark Mulder isn't going to be a big-league pitcher ever again, let's figure it out now. I'm sick of reading updates about him, giving me false hope or more bad news.
Villone is contributing almost nothing to the team as of now. Why not call Mulder up and put him into the equivalent of "garbage time" in the MLB? Give him some meaningless innings when the club is way ahead or behind, and give him a chance.
Regardless of what the team does with Mulder, the lefty roles in the bullpen must be addressed. Randy Flores had another worthless outing for the Cardinals on Friday, giving up a single and walking two batters before Russ Springer came in and cleaned up his mess.
It's not that I think Mulder will come in and be lights out in his new role. It's that I think this move would benefit the club more than leaving a player like Villone in to get knocked around. In the new scenario, Mulder could sink or swim, and the Cards would learn a lot about what they're dealing with for the future.
Hopefully the problem can be addressed before the deadline, as the Redbirds should have an excess of talent once bodies start getting healthy again.