Have We Seen The End of Mark Mulder? Some Candid Comments From Dave Duncan

Tim McKernan, Thu, 29 May 2008 05:00:00 GMT

It may fly under the radar a little bit more than, say, Neil Allen for Keith Hernandez, but the Mark Mulder trade and ensuing signing to a 2 year contract is turning out to be one of the worst deals in modern Cardinal baseball history. The Cardinals’ success in 2005 and 2006 took the attention away from just how poorly Mulder has performed since coming over—if he’s been able to perform—in comparison to the main player he was traded for, 2007 All Star Dan Haren.

That, of course, is not breaking news.

but, yesterday on the itd morning after on team 1380, we had cardinal pitching coach dave duncan join us, and in what turned out to be a candid, 20 minute interview, duncan expressed clear concern about mulder’s ability to ever really be a major league pitcher again…much less a pitcher in 2008 for the cardinals.

Here’s the exchange I had with Duncan regarding Mulder:

McKernan: “Dave, on the outside looking in, and you mentioned earlier that you’re in close contact with these guys
daily, but on the outside looking in, from a fan and media perspective, Mark Mulder’s long-term situation with not just the Cardinals, but the game of baseball seems to be really in question. Is that something that has you, has other people in the organization, and has other people in baseball wondering if he’ll ever really be able to get back after so many setbacks?”

Duncan: “I think there’s a question. I think there’s a legitimate question as to what’s going to happen with
Mark Mulder. We’re all hoping that he can turn the corner and be o.k. But, right now there’s some concerns about what he’s going through with his shoulder.”

“we sat down and talked for a long time yesterday, and he said, ‘i just can’t get my arm into the right position,
and i have no control over it.'”

“We’re just kind of hoping that there’s something that can be done that enables him to get his arm into the right
position. But, if it doesn’t happen, then we’re just going to have to look for some kind of alternative.”

McKernan: “Some guys, when they deal with things like that, just keep battling no matter what. Like, for example,
an Alan Benes. He just kept battling and battling and battling until he said, ‘You know what? I just can’t do it anymore.’ How is Mulder mentally handlingn what he’s going through in your opinion?”

Duncan: “I think he’s handling it o.k., but I think he is getting frustrated with really not getting to the place
that he wants to be. I think it is frustrating for him and what happens is when you have some positive things happen, it keeps you going and keeps you encouraged. But, when everything you have happening is not positive, you tend to get frustrated and disappointed, and it makes it much more difficult to keep your nose to the grindstone.”

I don’t know about you, but you don’t even need to do any reading between the lines to get the vibe that the Cardinals—and specifically Duncan—think Mulder may be done.

Honestly, I also wonder if Mulder will ever pitch in the Major Leagues again. When you consider what the Cardinalsgave up to get him, what they got, in terms of production, in return, and then what they spent in 2007 and 2008 for what very well may result in nearly 3 million dollars per start (that’s right…3 million dollars per start should Mulder not start a game this year, the trade with Oakland should go down as one of the worst in the organization’s history. Just imagine if the Cardinals would’ve had Dan Haren instead of Mulder over the last 4 seasons.

┬áThe shame of it is that Mulder was virtually unhittable in the first half of the 2004 season…right before he came to the Cardinals in the offseason of ’05. In his first 5 seasons in baseball, Mulder had 96 wins. Since coming to St. Louis, he has 22…and not one since the first half of 2006.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like he’s going to ever get a chance to change that statistic.

If you have any questions, comments, or something for The Friday Mail Bag, email me at tmckernan@insidestl.com, or log in and post your comments below.