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What to think of Mark Mulder?

"It is invariably saddening to look through new eyes at things upon which you have expended your own powers of adjustment."

As the winter turns to spring, we find ourselves again on the 'Mark Mulder Arm Reattachment' watch.  Some will say, "I've given up on expecting anything from Mark Mulder" others will believe that he is a wild card that could make this team a contender.

I find it dubious that anyone can 'not care', not because of a belief that Mark Mulder can be a savior or anything like that but anyone who has been a fan of this team longer than 5 years has to appreciate what this team has invested in the left arm of Mark.  He's cost them over $24 M.  He cost them an average reliever and a first basemen that hasn't really found health or playing time yet.  He cost them this generations Carlton for Wise swap.  He was relied upon to be the 'Ace' when it was thought Carpenter was a very good #2 starter.  He was relied upon to provid the Cardinals with a Top 3 (Carpenter, Mulder, Morris) in 2005 to rival what they had seen from the Red Sox in 2004 (Schilling, Pedro, Lowe).  They counted on him to keep the season alive against Roy Oswalt after Pujols had blasted Brad Lidge's ego into the stratosphere.

If you don't care what Mark Mulder can do for this club, I have to ask "WHY!?!?!".  They've invested too much and come too far to be flippant about it.

Which brings me to rash of "good news" the Cardinals have been dropping on us of late.

Mark Mulder (January 21 - stlcardinals.com)

"Even when I played catch [before the last operation] it felt funny," Mulder said Monday at the Cardinals annual Winter Warm-Up. "Just playing catch. Where you're landing is different. I'm playing catch now, and it feels completely normal. I think the whole mechanics thing is kind of blown out of proportion, because if your arm is working right, everything else is fine.

Derrick Goold (February 29 - Post Dispatch)

Mark Mulder increased the intensity of his bullpen sessions with a 45-pitch outing Thursday that left teammates and coaches impressed. He was only droll. "Compared to what they've had to watch the last couple years," the lefty said, "a lot of things would look good."

George Paletta (March 5 - MLB.com)

"If he continues to progress the way he has, which is a fairly straight line and a very steady forward progression, by the time we break camp, [his status] should be a baseball decision [as opposed to a medical decision]," Paletta said.

Dave Duncan (March 15 - Post Dispatch)

"The way he's throwing you can start seeing an end to his rehab and a beginning to getting him ready to pitch," pitching coach Dave Duncan said.

Derrick Goold (March 15 - Post Dispatch)

The lefty, coming off his second shoulder surgery in as many seasons, no longer has a drag in his delivery and looks far smoother from windup to throw.

Duncan said his delivery is the best it's been since Mulder came to the Cardinals in a trade before the 2005 season.

So, with all those carefully crafted quotes creating mild optimism that Mark Mulder might be the pitcher he was in 2003, heck most would settle for 2005, Two questions must be answered:

1) Mark Mulder's arm may be reattached (finally) and his mechanics may be fixed (if they were really broken), but does that mean he can actually be the successful pitcher he once was or just a healthy pitcher who can eat innings with very little positive from it.

2) What is the timetable now?  Is it still May 1?  Is it sooner?  With Mark down in Florida or in AAA, who takes the training wheels off?  Does Mark take 2 good starts and pronounce himself in 'fighting shape' and show up in the rotation in April?  Does the organization start him on a more excellerate program that has him getting some relief work in ST games before the Cardinals break camp?

What's your take on the Mulder situation?

 

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