Results tagged ‘ Mark Mulder ’

Report: Mulder retiring (or not)

The agent for left-hander Mark Mulder refuted reports that the former All-Star had decided to retire, but a former teammate spoke with Mulder on Monday and confirmed that he’s, “done.”
That former teammate was Oakland A’s infielder Eric Chavez, who spoke via telephone with Mulder after reports began swirling that Mulder, who has been dogged by a shoulder injury since 2006, was calling it a career instead of attempting another comeback.  
Chavez can relate to Mulder’s difficult decision. Chavez has been limited to 121 games over the past three seasons by back and shoulder injuries.  
“I know one thing for sure was that if Mark didn’t feel right, he wasn’t going to come back,” Chavez said. “He wanted to come back 100 percent and didn’t want to suffer like he has been the last couple of years. Once you’ve played a game at a certain level and dominated, it becomes a lot tougher to come back. You want to tap into your abilities and know you can still perform well. He wasn’t going to do it if he knew he couldn’t be successful and contribute.
“It must have been a really hard decision, especially considering how short his career was. I can definitely relate to what he’s been going through, and I know how hard it is to weigh all the factors and decide if it’s worth it to go through with everything.”
The Milwaukee television station Today’s TMJ-4 first reported on Sunday that Mulder planned to hang up his spikes. Not so fast, agent Gregg Clifton said later in the day.  
“Mark has not decided to retire,” Clifton wrote in an e-mail to MLB.com. “He is reassessing his options in his efforts to come back.”  
In separate comments to the San Francisco Chronicle, Clifton said, “I’m not saying Mark won’t [retire]. But he has not made any decision.” 
 
Mulder, 32, was the American League Cy Young Award runner-up in 2001 and an All-Star in 2003 and 2004. He has been limited to six appearances since 2006 because of rotator cuff woes and didn’t pitch at all in 2009.  
Brewers officials, including Peterson, met with Mulder in Arizona in early January and later extended him a Minor League offer with an invitation to big league camp. But he was slow to respond, leaving club officials to wonder about his commitment to a comeback. Then came Sunday’s report that Mulder was to retire.  
“It doesn’t surprise me,” Peterson said. “He really had to think about whether he wanted to go through this.” 
Peterson worked with Mulder as recently as last summer on correcting some flaws in his delivery. Mulder has another backer in Brewers manager Ken Macha, another former Oakland colleague.  
“I would feel really bad about that [if Mulder retired],” Macha said. “He was a good person and a pretty darn good pitcher for me in Oakland. He’s too young to call it a career.”  
The second overall pick in the 1998 Draft, Mulder is 103-60 with a 4.18 ERA in parts of nine seasons with the A’s and Cardinals. He won at least 15 games in five consecutive seasons from 2001-2005, four of those working with Peterson in Oakland. In 2005, Mulder went 16-8 with a 3.64 ERA in 32 starts with the Cardinals, but he was limited to 17 starts the following season as shoulder injuries derailed his career. 
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Other NL clubs 'monitroring' Mulder

The Brewers aren’t the only team showing some interest in rehabbing left-hander Mark Mulder, according to a FoxSports.com report. 

The website cited a Major League source who said that the Cubs, Dodgers and Cardinals are among the clubs “monitoring” Mulder, who has been limited to six Major League appearances since 2006 because of a rotator cuff injury. It’s the first report I’ve seen of a club other than the Brewers showing interest in Mulder as a bounce-back candidate. 
Mulder has ties to new Brewers pitching coach Rick Peterson, who served the same role in Oakland during Mulder’s rise to the Majors. Peterson and Brewers GM Doug Melvin met with Mulder last week in Phoenix, but Melvin said later that he wanted to see Mulder throw off a mound before committing even to a Minor League contract. 
Melvin said he plans to check back in with Mulder and agent Gregg Clifton in February. 
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Mulder talks tabled for now

The Brewers will wait until next month to consider making a Minor League offer to rehabbing left-hander Mark Mulder, general manager Doug Melvin said Friday.  
Melvin and Brewers pitching coach Rick Peterson met with Mulder in Phoenix on Thursday night and there remains mutual interest in striking a Minor League deal at some point. But Mulder, who has been limited to six Major League appearances since 2006 because of shoulder injuries, is still too early in his throwing program for the Brewers to commit even to a Minors deal, Melvin said.  
“He continues to throw but he’s doing long tossing and flat ground,” Melvin said. “We just haven’t had a chance to see him throw [off a mound]. As soon as he does that, we could talk about a contract.  
“Mark is in agreement with that. He understands that there is no rush to do a contract. He knows we have a good guy in place to help get him back where he wants to be.”  
That would be Peterson, Mulder’s former pitching coach in Oakland. Under Peterson’s tutelage, Mulder finished second in American League Cy Young Award balloting in 2001 and made a pair of All-Star teams. They reunited last summer while Mulder was looking for answers about his mechanics.  
In a sign of mutual interest, Melvin said that Mulder might use the Brewers’ facilities at Maryvale Baseball Park once he’s ready to progress to the next level in his program.  
“We had a nice visit with him,” Melvin said. “We’re interested and he’s interested.”  
Mulder’s agent, Gregg Clifton, was not available for comment on Friday afternoon. 
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Brewers, Mulder to meet Thursday

mulder.jpg

The Brewers’ long-awaited sit-down with free agent left-hander Mark Mulder is set for Thursday evening, when the sides will meet to begin discussing whether Mulder’s road back from injury will continue to Milwaukee’s Spring Training hub. 
Mulder, who didn’t pitch at all in 2009 while he recovered from shoulder surgery, lives in Scottsdale, Ariz. and Brewers officials gathered this week at Maryvale Baseball Park in neighboring Phoenix for a pitching symposium. The confluence offers an opportunity for a face-to-face meeting with Mulder and his agent, Gregg Clifton, that could kick-start talks toward a contract. 
“I think it will just be a nice chance to get together and talk and then we’ll go from there,” Clifton said. “But I don’t think it will take weeks and weeks to figure out, assuming they are interested in getting something done.”  
Given Mulder’s medical history, the Brewers are planning to offer a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. The team’s contingent at Thursday’s meeting is likely to include general manager Doug Melvin and assistant GM Gord Ash, plus pitching coach Rick Peterson, whose relationship with Mulder dates back to their years together in Oakland.  
Clifton, speaking via telephone on Tuesday while watching Mulder throw a side session at home off a backyard mound, indicated a willingness to discuss a Minor League offer.  
“If the parties want to be together, we can always make the financial side of it work,” Clifton said. 
The Brewers are interested in the 32-year-old as a bounce-back candidate. Mulder has made only four starts since Aug. 29, 2006 because of shoulder injuries, but he won 15 games in five straight seasons from 2001-2005 and Brewers officials are intrigued by the notion that he could rediscover his form with help from Peterson.  
That relationship goes back to 1998, when Peterson was the A’s pitching coach and Mulder was the second overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft. Mulder joined Peterson in the big leagues in 2000, and in 2001 Mulder went 21-8 with a 3.45 ERA and finished second in American League MVP balloting. He made the AL All-Star team in 2003 and 2004 before Oakland traded Mulder to the Cardinals for a package of players highlighted by pitcher Dan Haren in December 2004, and Mulder made 32 starts for St. Louis in 2005 before shoulder woes set in.  
He was limited to 17 starts in 2006 and eventually underwent rotator cuff surgery. He signed a two-year free agent deal with the Cardinals but made only three appearances in 2007 before a second surgical fix, then made three more appearances in 2008 before another shut-down. 
At some point last summer, Mulder reunited with Peterson for help with his mechanics. Peterson is an expert in biomechanics, a process intended in part to help pitchers avoid injuries, and spent most of the year founding a company called 3P Sports that offers training services to amateur and professional athletes. The Brewers hired him in October.  
Mulder, meanwhile, continued his rehab.  
“He’s feeling wonderful,” Clifton said. “The final phase is finalizing his mechanics to the point where he can be successful on an every-outing basis. He feels healthy and as strong as he’s ever felt. If we can figure something out and get something finalized with the Brewers, I know he’s very excited about the chance to work with Rick and get back with people he’s very comfortable with.” 
Brewers starters combined for a 5.37 ERA in 2009, the worst mark in the National League. Melvin has already added left-handed free agent Randy Wolf to the mix as a replacement for righty Braden Looper, whose option was declined after the season. For now, Wolf and right-hander Yovani Gallardo are projected to top a starting rotation that also includes right-handers Dave Bush and Jeff Suppan and left-hander Manny Parra
The Brewers also have left-hander Chris Narveson on the 40-man roster, and former All-Star Chris Capuano will be in camp as a non-roster invitee who, like Mulder, is attempting a comeback from injury. Capuano hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2007 and underwent his second career Tommy John surgery in May 2008. 
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Gregg, Gonzalez, Mulder getting a look?

Two sources said that right-hander Kevin Gregg and left-hander Mike Gonzalez are among the relievers being at least internally discussed by the Brewers, who were also reportedly to meet Tuesday with representatives of free agent starter Mark Mulder.

Gregg or Gonzalez are among a number of names being debated by Brewers officials as they look to bolster a bullpen that will be without injured right-hander Mark DiFelice next season. The Brewers already have their closer in all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman, who finalized a one-year deal soon in the days following the regular season to return for a second year in Milwaukee, and a reliable right-handed setup man in Todd Coffey, who posted a 2.90 ERA while leading the NL with 83 2/3 relief innings.

The 31-year-old Gregg began last season as the Cubs’ closer and went 5-6 with a 4.72 ERA and 23 saves while pitching in 72 games, his third straight season of at least 70 appearances. He suffered seven blown saves before the Cubs lifted him from the closer’s role in August.

Gregg would probably not be the right-handed specialist that DiFelice was. Right-handed hitters batted .257 against him in 2009 with 11 home runs in 144 plate appearances. Lefties only hit him at a .195 clip, with two home runs in 118 at-bats. For his career, right-handers have batted .252 against Gregg versus .277 by left-handers.

Gregg was a Type A free agent but the Cubs didn’t offer him arbitration. That means Milwaukee would not have to forfeit a Draft pick to sign him.

They would, however, have to make that sacrifice for Gonzalez, who declined the Braves’ offer of arbitration to seek employment on the open market. Because the Brewers’ 2009 record put them in the bottom half of baseball’s 30 teams, they would only have to surrender a second-round pick.

Gonzalez split closer duties in Atlanta last season with right-hander Rafael Soriano and posted a 2.42 ERA and 10 saves in 80 games. He’s tough against hitters on both sides of the plate, holding left-handed batters to a .201 average and left-handers to .213.

The Brewers already have one in-house left-hander in Mitch Stetter, who had a 3.60 ERA in 71 appearances last year.

Another left-hander on Milwaukee’s radar for some time is Mulder, whose representatives were to meet with Brewers officials on Tuesday, according to SI.com. Mulder could be a bounce-back candidate to help Milwaukee’s starting rotation.

Mulder has been limited to four starts since 2006 because of shoulder injuries and did not pitch at all in 2009. He did work during a summer of rehab with his former Oakland A’s pitching coach, Rick Peterson, who was hired by the Brewers earlier this winter. According to SI.com, Peterson was to take park in Tuesday’s sit-down.

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin was to meet with reporters at the Winter Meetings after 4 p.m. CT.

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Melvin heard back from Mulder's rep

Some quick hits about the Brewers’ quest to improve their pitching:

- There remains dialogue between Brewers GM Doug Melvin and the agent for Mark Mulder, the former A’s and Cardinals left-hander who has been limited to four starts since 2006 because of injury. The Brewers are intrigued by Mulder as a bounce-back candidate, and he has worked as recently as this past summer with incoming Brewers pitching coach Rick Peterson, so Melvin placed a call after the season to agent Gregg Clifton, who represents Mulder. At some point within the last week, Clifton returned that call, though Melvin wouldn’t say much about it.

Mulder would be the ultimate high-risk, high-reward pick-up, and the Brewers would only be interested at the right price. Given that there is ongoing communication, he’s a name to watch.

- The Brewers might have been in better position to trade for Tigers right-hander Edwin Jackson before J.J. Hardy went to Minnesota in a trade, but Melvin told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Friday that has been in contact with Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski. The Tigers may be shopping Jackson in a move to manage their own payroll.

- Another potential trade partner is Atlanta, as the pitching-rich Braves field offers for either Derek Lowe or Javier Vazquez. Mark Bowman, our MLB.com Braves reporter, speculates that the Brewers or Angels would make sense for Lowe, though Melvin may be turned off by the three years and $45 million left on the sinkerballer’s contract. Lowe was 15-10 with a 4.67 ERA in his first season in Atlanta and has made at least 32 starts in all eight seasons since he converted from relief. Melvin loves durability.

But as Mark points out, there are indications that Brewers would almost certainly favor Vazquez, who is owed $11.5 million in the final year of his contract. He should get some Cy Young Award votes after going 15-10 in 2009 with a 2.87 ERA and a remarkable 238-to-44 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. Melvin loves strike-throwers.

As for what the Braves would seek? Pure speculation here, but they are looking at corner outfielders with power and Corey Hart could fit the bill if the Braves are convinced he can bounce back from a season marred by inconsistency and then an appendectomy. Hart has been involved in trade rumors with the Braves before. Perhaps the Brewers could also dangle one of their third base prospects as a future replacement for Chipper Jones, who has three years remaining on his deal. Melvin has previously resisted trading Mat Gamel, but the emergence of Casey McGehee and Adam Heether in 2009 at least gives the Brewers more options. I hear that Braves scouts are split on Gamel’s worth. Taylor Green is also a good prospect despite some recent injury troubles. 

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Brewers eye free agent pitching market

Surprise, surprise. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin spent his time at this week’s General Managers Meetings in Chicago focused on pitching.

Melvin spoke this week with agent Arn Tellem, who represents free agent left-hander Randy Wolf, and Steve Canter, the agent for free-agent left-hander Doug Davis, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. At some point he also expressed interest in left-hander Jarrod Washburn, Washburn’s agent Scott Boras told the newspaper.

According to a Major League source, Melvin also met with Steve Hilliard, who represents righty John Lackey, the top available pitcher. In a chat with the Journal Sentinel before heading home to Milwaukee, Melvin downplayed the Brewers’ chances of landing Lackey. 

“It depends what they’re asking for,” Melvin said. “I don’t know if it could fit or not. I might have to make some other moves to make it fit.” 

The Brewers may have jumped to the top of the list of teams expected to pursue Lackey last week, when Melvin brought up Lackey’s name in a discussion of his plan to bolster a pitching staff that ranked next-to-last in the National League in 2009. 

Melvin said he would have to focus on bounce-back candidates coming off poor- or injury-plagued seasons, and indeed he has already checked in with the agent for Mark Mulder, who missed all of 2009 with shoulder woes. At some point Milwaukee could also check in with former Brewer Ben Sheets, who never pitched in 2009 after undergoing elbow surgery.

But at the same time, Melvin would not rule out a look at the top shelf of free agents. 

“There’s one guy that stands out and it’s John Lackey,” Melvin told reporters on a conference call last Friday. “He’s head and shoulders above the others. … You look at the consistency of pitchers who are out there and John Lackey is a great competitor, but we’ll have to take a look at that and see.” 

Since Melvin raised Lackey’s name without being asked, he was pressed on the matter. Is he a free agent of interest to the Brewers? 

“We’ll leave that discussion internally for ourselves,” Melvin said. “When you get involved in free agency and you talk about people, then all you’re doing is letting people know you’re interested and it drives the prices up. So I’m not going to say who we’re interested in or who we’re not.” 

It’s a two-way street, said Melvin, who believes most free agents enter the market with a short list of teams they prefer. 

“It’s our job to find out if we’re on that list of teams,” Melvin said.  

If the Brewers are on Lackey’s list, then Melvin might have to move some more payroll, as he suggested to the Journal Sentinel on Wednesday. 

Melvin has already said he won’t pursue center fielder Mike Cameron, who earned $10 million last year, and has hinted that Jason Kendall’s $5 million salary might not fit next year, either. His highest-paid returning players are starter Jeff Suppan (due $12.5 million in 2010, the final year of his four-year contract), first baseman Prince Fielder ($10.5 million), closer Trevor Hoffman ($7.5 million) and reliever David Riske ($4.5 million in the final year of his three-year deal). 

More decisions are coming. The Brewers have until Saturday to exercise their half of starter Braden Looper’s $6.5 million mutual option, and pitcher Dave Bush (who made $4 million in 2009), outfielder Corey Hart ($3.25 million) and second baseman Rickie Weeks ($2.45 million) head the list of arbitration-eligible players whose salaries could jump again. 

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