A's trade Mulder to Cardinals for Haren, Calero
Posted: Saturday December 18, 2004 7:42PM; Updated: Saturday December 18, 2004 8:27PM
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- The Oakland Athletics traded their second top starter in three days, sending left-hander Mark Mulder to the National League champion St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday for a package of prospects.
Mulder follows Tim Hudson out of town, leaving Barry Zito as the only remaining member of Oakland's vaunted "Big Three" pitchers. Hudson was dealt to Atlanta on Thursday for three mostly unproven players.
Mulder could be the top-notch pitcher the Cardinals sorely lacked when they got swept by the Boston Red Sox in the World Series, but that's if he's healthy.
Mulder's finish last season was perplexing.
The 6-foot-6 lefty, the AL starter in the All-Star Game, seemed destined for Cy Young award consideration midway through the season, but went winless in his last seven starts -- 0-4 with a 7.27 ERA.
On Aug. 24, he became the first 17-game winner in the majors, then didn't win again. There was speculation he was hurt and not telling anyone.
Mulder missed the end of the 2003 season with a stress fracture in his right leg near the hip, then pitched a team-high 225 2/3 innings in 2004.
He repeatedly claimed to be healthy despite a drop in his velocity late in the year. Manager Ken Macha said the day after the season Mulder probably did become worn down by his heavy work load.
Mulder (17-8) pitched so poorly during the playoff push, the A's briefly considered skipping his turn and using September callup Joe Blanton during the final weekend against Anaheim. Mulder did get the call, but was knocked out after two innings, his shortest outing of the season -- and the A's wound up missing the playoffs for the first time in five years.
He was drafted second overall by the A's in 1998 and was signed through the 2005 season with a club option to return in 2006.
After Hudson was swapped to the Braves, the news of Mulder's departure was even more shocking. At least in Hudson's case, there had been rumors swirling.
"What, you've got to be kidding me," outfielder Eric Byrnes said of Mulder being traded. "Wow. I don't know what to tell you."
Haren, a 24-year-old right-hander, was 3-3 with a 4.50 ERA in 14 games, including five starts, in three stints with the Cardinals last season.
Calero went 3-1 with two saves and a 2.78 ERA in 41 relief appearances for St. Louis in 2004, allowing a .176 opponent batting average.
Barton was the Cardinals' first-round pick (28th overall) in 2003. He spent last season at Class A Peoria, where he batted .313 with 13 home runs and 77 RBIs.
This was the first major league trade between the clubs since the A's dealt Mark McGwire to St. Louis on July 31, 1997, for T.J. Mathews and minor league pitchers Blake Stein and Eric Ludwick.
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