Shoulder injuries - Mulder vs. Carpenter

I missed this somehow, but Mulder's rehab was very similar to Chris Carpenters.

I was curious to see if there were any differences or similarities in Mulder and Carpenters injury history. Here is what I found:

Carp had elbow problems in 1999 (surgery to remove bone spurs); he had a rough year in 2000 and had a great year in 2001. Then, in 2002 he came down with shoulder troubles. He had shoulder surger to repair a torn labrum to end the season in September 02.

The Blue Jays DFA'd him to AAA and he elected free agency. The cards picked him up for the minimum and he rehabbed through July in 2003 until he had to have a second shoulder surgery to remove scar tissue (sound familiar?) in July. He missed the rest of the year; before the surgery he was AWEFUL in his rehab assignment in the minors.

All this information is from the Cardinals bio page on Carp/Mulder.

Basically, Carp was terrible in 2002 (he was injured) and then was out from September 2002 through all of 2003 and started the season with the Cardinals in 2004. His injury and two surgeries kept him from being effective for two years.

Knowing this now, I'm really surprised that the Cardinals extended him long term. I was all for it when it happened, but that was a bad contract. They are now examining the higher risk mechanics and the hightened risk that bad mechanics bring with it (or so I've heard/Classic Mechanics), but hopefully that will allow them to make smarter decisions on signing pitchers (although it didn't help much with Wainwright, if Chris O'Leary is to be believed).

Mulder had a similar track record. He lost effectiveness in 2006 and went in for shoulder surgery in September. After coming back in late 2007 he had surgery again to repair scar tissue in September. His injury has kept him from being effective for two plus years.

Similar to Carp with a few significant differences. Mulder had the shoulder problems that lead to reduced performance, like Carpenter. He also had a second surgery to remove scar tissue. As I see it, there are some differences in their injuries:

  1. Carpenter also had elbow troubles. O'Leary says the inverted L causes both shoulder and elbow troubles, but I'm no expert. Hopefully Carp's shoulder is in good shape now.
  2. Mulder had to change his mechanics. I have not seen anything that shows that Carp had to change his mechanics after should surgery, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen.
  3. Carpenter had from July to spring training to recover from his surgery, 7 months; Mulder has had from September to May, roughly 8 months. Its a wash.

My point is this - pitchers can recover from shoulder trouble and be effective. I would hate to cut bait on Mulder before confirming that his shoulder is in tatters and he won't be an effective pitcher. I would hate to see him move to another team and regain his former self. Both of these guys are great guys, and its a shame to see them struggle due to injury (which is completely out of their control).

That said - I'll be the first to wave goodbye and move on if he is not effective. I will still quietly hate Billy Beane for what he did to us. I remember hearing the news about the trade and thinking "Carpenter & Mulder. Wow."

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