Over Spilled Milk: Mark Mulder to the Cardinals

Over Spilled Milk is a feature where we will look back on previous drafts and trades to see how well the teams involved fared.  Essentially, we will rehash issues like the Scott Kazmir trade to the Devil Rays that are still making Mets fans ‘cry over spilled milk’.

Recently, pitcher Mark Mulder announced his retirement from baseball.  Telling Jeff Fletcher of AOL FanHouse that he has decided to devote himself to becoming a better golfer, a pretty nice change in focus for the 32-year-old.  He should be able to afford it with his approximate $33 million in career earnings.  But his retirement announcement reminded me of the trade in 2004 that showcased him as the centerpiece.

The break up of Oakland’s Big 3 was one of the major story lines of the 2004-2005 off-season.  The Oakland A’s sent Tim Hudson to the Atlanta Braves and Mark Mulder to the St. Louis Cardinals, leaving Barry Zito in Oakland until he left via free agency. 

In Mark Mulder the Cardinals received a pitcher that had won 81 games over five seasons.  With Woody Williams leaving for free agency, Mulder was seen as an obvious improvement and further deepened an already good rotation.  His first season as a Cardinal, Mulder won 16 games and helped propel the team to a 100-win season and a playoff berth.  But then Mulder’s injuries kicked in and after 17 starts in 2006 he had a 7.14 ERA.  He would attempt to make come backs in 2007 and 2008, but they didn’t go well and injuries flared up again. 

Eventually the Cardinals gave up on the reclamation project and let him go.  The Cardinals invested $25, 300,000 in him for 22 wins and 311 innings of 5.04 ERA ball.

Oakland GM Billy Beane snatched up three prospects as part of the deal.  Pitchers Dan Haren and Kiko Calero, and first baseman Daric Barton.  Haren was the top prospect in a mediocre Cardinals farm system, but that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t good.  After the trade, Haren would quickly emerge as one of the A’s top pitchers, winning 43 games in three years.  But as Haren started to get expensive, Beane and the A’s realized they couldn’t keep him.  Billy traded him with Connor Robertson to Diamondbacks for Brett Anderson, Dana Eveland, Greg Smith, Aaron Cunningham, Carlos Gonzalez and Chris Carter.  A pretty nice haul would you look back on it.

Kiko Calero has had a pretty decent career as a middle-reliever for a few different clubs.  During his major league career, Calero has a 14-12 record with a 3.24 ERA in 302.2 innings.  Shoulder issues have sidelined him, but the Dodgers have recently signed him to a minor league contract.   

Daric Barton was a notable prospect from 2005 to 2008 as his named graced Baseball America’s top prospect lists for the team he played for and the majors as a whole.  But he hasn’t impressed much in the majors.  Although he’s adjusting well, his power statistics are far from what you expect from a first baseman.

It’s pretty clear that Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s won this trade.  As stated earlier, the Cardinals spent over $25 million on Mulder with only 22 wins to show for it.  As for Beane, he received 42 wins from Haren, as well as Brett Anderson, Dana Eveland, Greg Smith, Carlos Gonzalez, Chris Carter and Aaron Cunningham.  Anderson is emerging an ace for the staff, when healthy.  Greg Smith and Carlos Gonzalez helped the team get Matt Holliday, then Brett Wallace, and finally Michael Taylor.  Although both Taylor and Carter are struggling at Triple-A this season, they both still have plenty of potential.  Cunningham was involved in a trade package that netted the team’s current third baseman, Kevin Kouzmanoff, and infielder Eric Sogard.  The benefits of the Haren trade just keep coming.

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One Response to “Over Spilled Milk: Mark Mulder to the Cardinals”

  1. jatchwy Says:

    “It’s pretty clear that Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s won this trade.” Only if you say winning the battle is more important than winning the war!

    How many World Series have the A’s won since the trade?….hmmmmmmm. They have won ONE Division Championship (2006) while the Cardinals WON the WORLD SERIES that year. The Cardinals also played in the World Series in 2005 and won another Division Championship in 2009.

    The A’s haven’t won anything that matters. Period.

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