Mulder says arm is perfectly healthy

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

ST. LOUIS -- Mark Mulder believes his late-season swoon had nothing to do with being traded to the Cardinals.

The left-hander, acquired from Oakland on Saturday, was the AL starter in the All-Star game and was the first 17-game winner in the major leagues. But he was 0-4 with a 7.27 ERA in his last seven starts and was a reason why the Athletics missed the playoffs for the first time in five years.

"I wasn't hurt at all, there was absolutely nothing wrong with me," Mulder said Monday. "Did I get tired? I don't know. This game will jump up and bite you at times."

Mulder said it might have been more of a mental slump.

"There was nothing wrong with me and there is nothing wrong with me, it was just one of those things where I just flat-out struggled," he said. "I hit a bump in the road, and it was a big bump.

"I laugh about it now, but it was tough working my way through that."

Mulder said Athletics general manager Billy Beane told him his finish didn't factor into the deal that brought pitchers Dan Haren and Kiko Calero plus catching prospect Daric Barton to Oakland.

"Why it's happened, it's just something that Billy thought would be best," Mulder said. "I don't think anything that happened at the end of the year had anything to do with this trade, and he told me that."

Mulder was the second member of Oakland's big three to be traded, after the Braves acquired Tim Hudson only two days earlier. He thinks the deals were more about money: he'll make $12.75 million the next two years and Hudson will earn $5 million next season.

Plus, Hudson said the Athletics never approached him about extending his contract.

"We all knew this was going to happen sooner or later," Mulder said. "We were all going to be free agents in the next few years. I didn't think we thought it was going to happen this quickly."

Mulder hadn't been aware he'd been on the block and thought that once Hudson was traded that he'd be part of the Athletics' staff next year. So when Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty telephoned him about the trade on Saturday, he might not have seemed excited.

"I was very shocked at first," he said. "After that initial shock and coming to grips with it, I got pretty excited. This was a team that was in the World Series last year, and it's definitely one of the best baseball cities there is."

The Cardinals won 105 games last year, one off the franchise record, before getting swept by the Boston Red Sox.

"It's not knocking what we had in Oakland, but the St. Louis offense is a lot better all around," Mulder said. "I know they were one of the better defensive teams also. I look forward to winning a lot of games there."

Mulder joins a staff that features four other pitchers who won at least 15 games last year. Behind him in the rotation are Chris Carpenter, Matt Morris, Jason Marquis and Jeff Suppan.

He believes the Athletics will be just fine without he and Hudson.

"They got a handful of good players in these trades," Mulder said. "Billy will do his thing and they'll be good. They're not going to lose 100 games."

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