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Free Agent Profile: Mark Mulder

Mark Mulder

Mark Mulder is one of this year’s top free agent pitchers, but he comes with a rather hefty risk.  Mulder had surgery on his shoulder and rotator cuff; a rather invasive procedure which will likely keep him away from pitching for several more months and out of baseball until the All-Star Break, if not July-August of 2007.  That means the price for Mulder could be cheap, due in part to the surgery, but also to the fact that he hasn’t even shown a glimpse of his dominance as part of Oakland’s Big 3 since coming to St. Louis. 

It’s hard to judge Mark Mulder by his 2006 statistics, because he was pitching with pain in his shoulder and an array of other nagging injuries throughout the year.  Nevertheless, here are his 2006 numbers…

  • Record: 6-7
  • ERA: 7.14 — YUCK
  • WHIP: 1.70 — that’s just sad
  • BA Against: .327 — opponents might’ve hit worse off a tee
  • Games: 17 (17 starts) — this is part of the reason you can’t judge Mulder by 2006…
  • Innings Pitched: 93.1 — …here’s another
  • Hits: 124
  • Runs: 77 (74 earned)
  • Walks: 35
  • Strikeouts: 50
  • Homeruns allowed: 19

Don’t jump to conclusions too quickly.  As I said, judging Mulder by his 2006 statistics is like judging a book by its cover.  Mulder’s stuff was crushed by the nagging shoulder pain he faced for the better part of the season, and at times he said he felt “too stiff to move, let alone throw a curveball”.  So why did the Cardinals continue pitching Mulder and risking a serious injury to his shoulder?  Because they had no one that was better and decided to use Mulder until his arm fell off. 

I’m not going to write about Mulder’s situational statistics nor about his monthly numbers because it would be pointless.  There’s no reason to judge Mulder by his 2006, so instead, here are his numbers for 2003-5…

  • 2003: (15-9)/3.13ERA/1.18WHIP/.259BAA — 186.2IP over 26 starts
  • 2004: (17-8)/4.43ERA/1.36WHIP/.264BAA — 225.2IP over 33 starts
  • 2005: (16-8)/3.64ERA/1.38WHIP/.273BAA — 205IP over 32 starts

As you can see, Mulder was quite good in 2003, as a member of the Oakland A’s amazing trio that also included Barry Zito and Tim Hudson.  He was still with Oakland in 2004 and I think this is where things started to turn downhill for Mulder.  This is evidenced not only in his suddenly disappointing 4.43ERA, but also in his innings-pitched (225.2) which to me indicate severe overuse and, to a degree, abuse of his arm.  Mulder hasn’t been the same since that work-filled 2004 season and though his numbers improved slightly in 2005, that .273BAA left much to be desired in his first season as a St. Louis Cardinal.  I’ve already told you about 2006, about Mulder’s struggles on and off the field, and I’m not alone in believing that the grueling 225.2 innings Mulder threw in 2004 caused his shoulder trouble and caused his stuff to dwindle. 

I believe however, that Mulder will be worth the risk after he recovers from shoulder surgery.  He’s a proven quality starter and a patient team that can get by without Mulder for half a season might be pleasantly surprised when he returns to the rotation in July.  There should be a wide array of teams that will show interest in the 28-year-old lefthander, and below you’ll find my prediction for where Mulder will go and how he’ll fare in 2007. 

Where’s Mark Mulder headed?

Assuming the Cardinals maintain their prior decision to let Mulder go, I believe there will be 5-7 teams that show varying amounts of interest for the veteran southpaw.  These should include the San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Mets, and (don’t discount their attachment to him) the Oakland Athletics.  Mulder could come relatively cheap because of the long recovery road he’s on right now, and he could be one of the steals of this offseason if he is able to comeback from a difficult ailment.  The team with the best shot at him…

My prediction: The San Diego Padres will sign Mark Mulder to a 3year deal worth 18Million.  The Friars can afford to wait for Mulder to come back, as San Diego has a relatively deep starting staff.

Stats prediction: In the half season he pitches, I think Mulder will go (5-4) with a 4.00ERA and a 1.33WHIP.   This is a tough call to make because nobody knows how Mulder’s return to the mound will go, but I think those are reasonable numbers for him to hit. 

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Tomorrow’s Profile: Mark Loretta

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Trivia Time!

Yesterday’s question (see — Free Agent Profile: Aubrey Huff) was…

Aubrey Huff graduated from Brewer High School in Ft. Worth, Texas.  He starred in baseball, but also excelled in another sport.  What was it?

The correct answer…

Aubrey Huff was an all-District basketball player in a tough conference during his high school career. 

Today’s question is…

Mark Mulder was traded by Oakland to St. Louis after the 2004 season for 3 players.  Two of them were reliever Kiko Calero and catching prospect Daric Barton.  Can you name the 3rd?

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The remaining profiles for this week…

Friday: Mark Loretta

Saturday: Andy Pettitte

Sunday: JD Drew*

*I’ll do JD Drew instead of Gary Matthews Jr. on Sunday since Drew just opted-out of his contract with the Dodgers.  Matthews Jr. will be my profile for next Tuesday

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