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Archive for the ‘Pitchers’ Category

Four years after impressing the Angels as rookie sensations, reliever Jordan Walden and outfielder Peter Bourjos are being reunited on the 2015 Cardinals. If they produce for the Cardinals like they did for the 2011 Angels, it would help St. Louis remain an elite contender in the National League.

jordan_waldenWalden and Bourjos both made their major-league debuts with the Angels in August 2010. In their first full big-league seasons, Walden was the closer and Bourjos was the regular center fielder for a 2011 Angels team that achieved 86 wins.

The Cardinals acquired Walden and outfielder Jason Heyward from the Braves on Nov. 17, 2014, for pitchers Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins. Walden is expected to excel in a setup role in the 2015 Cardinals bullpen. He also serves as insurance in case closer Trevor Rosenthal is hurt or ineffective.

Bourjos, acquired by the Cardinals with outfielder Randal Grichuk from the Angels for third baseman David Freese and reliever Fernando Salas on Nov. 22, 2013, hit .231 with nine doubles and five triples in 119 games for the 2014 Cardinals.

The 2015 Cardinals would like to see Bourjos perform like he did in 2011 when he hit .271 with 26 doubles and 11 triples in 147 games for the Angels.

Walden also was stellar that season, producing a 5-5 record with 32 saves and a 2.98 ERA for the 2011 Angels. He broke the Angels’ rookie record for saves (22) set by Ken Tatum in 1969.

Walden, 27, is 12-13 with 38 saves and a 3.10 ERA in five big-league seasons with the Angels and Braves.

Here are 5 key items Cardinals fans should know about Jordan Walden:

1. Dazzling debut

With the Twins leading the Angels, 4-0, on Aug. 22, 2010, at Minneapolis, Walden was brought in to pitch the bottom of the eighth in his big-league debut.

He threw a fastball clocked at 99 mph to the first batter he faced, Joe Mauer.

Mauer walked and Jason Kubel singled, putting runners on first and third with no outs.

Walden then struck out Michael Cuddyer and Jim Thome before getting Delmon Young on a ground out, stranding the runners.

Asked afterward how Walden ranked among Angels pitching prospects, manager Mike Scioscia told the Orange County Register, “Jordan is a guy who has the most upside of the guys we were looking at.” Boxscore

2. Cardinals connections

On June 17, 2011, Walden and Bourjos combined to help Angels starting pitcher Joel Pineiro, a former Cardinal, earn his 100th win in the majors.

Facing the Mets at New York, Bourjos hit a RBI-double off starter Chris Capuano in the top of the sixth, giving the Angels a 3-2 lead. In the bottom half of the inning, Bourjos made a leaping grab of a Ronny Paulino drive off Pineiro before crashing into the center field wall.

In the ninth, with the Angels ahead, 4-3, Walden came in for the save. He walked the first two batters, Jose Reyes and Justin Turner. He then struck out Carlos Beltran, Daniel Murphy and Angel Pagan on sliders.

“He threw some terrific breaking balls,” Scioscia said of Walden. Boxscore

3. Replacing Rivera

Walden was named to the 2011 American League all-star team as a replacement for the Yankees’ Mariano Rivera, who had a triceps injury. “Even being mentioned in the same sentence with him is pretty awesome,” Walden said.

Walden, who had 19 saves, a 2.95 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 36.2 innings at the time of his selection, was the sixth Angels rookie to make an AL all-star team and the first since pitcher Jason Dickson in 1997.

4. Change of pace

Walden, a right-hander, has held left-handed batters to a .199 average in his career in the majors. Right-handed batters have hit .232 against him.

One reason for his success against left-handed batters is his changeup, which darts down when thrown well. “I like to show it to lefties because it fades away from them,” Walden said.

5. Angels angst

With the signing of free agent Albert Pujols from the Cardinals, the 2012 Angels were considered a certain pennant contender. Instead, despite the addition of a second wild-card team, the Angels failed to qualify for the postseason.

Part of the blame was placed on Bourjos, who slumped to a .220 batting mark with 37 hits in 101 games, and on Walden, who had an 8.31 ERA after his first six appearances.

Walden was replaced as the closer by Ernesto Frieri.

So desperate for relief help were the 2012 Angels that 40-year-old Jason Isringhausen, the former Cardinals closer, made 50 appearances for them.

Walden did recover and finished the 2012 season at 3-2 with a 3.46 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 39 innings. Still, the Angels traded him to the Braves for pitcher Tommy Hanson on Nov. 30, 2012.

In two seasons with the Braves in a setup role for closer Craig Kimbrel, Walden was 4-5 with a 3.15 ERA, four saves and 116 strikeouts in 97 innings.

Previously: How Jason Heyward, Hank Aaron made powerful connection

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For Cardinals pinch-hitter Gerald Perry, a controversial feat against a future ace salvaged an afternoon that began with a gaffe.

pedro_martinezOn April 13, 1993, Perry hit the first big-league home run yielded by Pedro Martinez, then a Dodgers rookie.

Twenty-two years later, on Jan. 6, 2015, Martinez was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot. In 18 seasons with the Dodgers, Expos, Red Sox, Mets and Phillies, Martinez produced a 219-100 record and 2.93 ERA with 3,154 strikeouts. He ranks sixth all-time in winning percentage.

In 1993, Martinez was 21, a relief pitcher in his first full big-league season with the Dodgers.

Perry, 32, was an 11-year big-league veteran, an established professional.

On this Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles, he made a rookie mistake.

Room service, please

Perry thought the Cardinals and Dodgers were playing a night game. Instead, it was a rare weekday afternoon starting time because the game was the Dodgers’ home opener.

According to Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Perry “was resting at the Century Plaza Hotel, having room service and watching a movie (“The Bodyguard”) on television” when he got a call from Cardinals equipment manager Buddy Bates, informing him he was about 90 minutes late.

Perry took a cab to Dodger Stadium and arrived in the clubhouse about 45 minutes before the start of the game. “I was very embarrassed walking in,” Perry said.

The Dodgers led, 7-5, after six innings. Martinez, the Dodgers’ third pitcher of the game, had held St. Louis scoreless in the fifth and sixth. The right-hander was making his second appearance of the season and his fourth overall in the big leagues.

In the seventh, the Cardinals had two runners on base with two outs when manager Joe Torre called on Perry, a left-handed batter, to pinch-hit for reliever Les Lancaster.

Tom Lasorda, the Dodgers’ manager, stuck with Martinez.

Trouble if it’s fair

Perry swung at a high changeup and lined a deep drive down the right-field line.

As the ball carried toward the foul pole, Darryl Strawberry, the 6-foot-6 right fielder, “leaned over the waist-high wall” and reached for the ball, Hummel reported.

On KMOX radio, Cardinals broadcaster Mike Shannon told his audience, “Swing and a long one down the right-field line. It’s trouble if it stays fair … Well, we can’t tell.”

A fan with a glove caught the ball.

It landed just inside the foul line _ a three-run home run, giving the Cardinals an 8-7 lead.

Strawberry claimed the fan interfered.

“I would have had it,” said Strawberry. “I had it all the way. He just took it away.”

An inning after the home run, ushers escorted the fan from his seat. “Perhaps for his own safety,” Hummel wrote.

Cardinals catcher Hector Villanueva, who was in the bullpen, witnessed the fan being harassed by fellow spectators. “They were throwing stuff at him,” Villanueva said.

After viewing a video replay of Perry’s home run, Cardinals catcher Tom Pagnozzi opined, “There’s no way Strawberry would have caught that ball because the ball was already by him. What’s he whining about?”

Said Perry to the Orange County Register: “I was hoping and praying (Strawberry) wouldn’t catch it. Thanks to the fan, too.”

Martinez was lifted after completing the seventh. In the ninth, Pagnozzi hit a solo home run off Ricky Trlicek, extending the St. Louis lead to 9-7, and Lee Smith shut down the Dodgers in their half of the inning, earning his 358th save, then a major league record. Boxscore

When Perry got back to the clubhouse, he found a sign, created by his teammates, taped over his locker that informed him of the next Cardinals-Dodgers game. It read: “Night game, Rookie.”

Redbirds vs. Pedro

Martinez took the loss. Against the Cardinals in his career, he would finish 4-4 with a 3.62 ERA in 16 regular-season appearances, including 11 starts. He also earned a win against them with seven shutout innings in Game 3 of the 2004 World Series. Boxscore

Martinez gave up 10 career home runs versus the Cardinals. Six of those 10 occurred in three games.

_ John Mabry and Gary Gaetti connected for home runs against Martinez on July 28, 1996, in a 6-4 Cardinals victory over the Expos at St. Louis. Boxscore

_ Mark Grudzielanek and Abraham Nunez homered for the Cardinals against Martinez in a 7-6 St. Louis victory over the Mets on May 14, 2005, at New York. Boxscore

_ Troy Glaus and Rick Ankiel hit home runs off Martinez in an 8-7 Cardinals triumph over the Mets at St. Louis on July 2, 2008. Boxscore

Previously: How Joe Girardi became a member of Cardinals’ family

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In a last hurrah to a stellar career, John Smoltz got one win for the Cardinals and, in so doing, set a franchise record.

john_smoltzOn Jan. 6, 2015, Smoltz was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot. The right-hander is the only big-league pitcher with 200 wins and 150 saves. He also earned 15 postseason wins: seven in the National League Division Series, six in the NL Championship Series and two in the World Series.

If not for the opportunity given to him by the Cardinals, Smoltz would have had a sour ending to his career.

Saved by St. Louis

Smoltz pitched for the Braves from 1988 through 2008. He made his last appearance for them on June 2, 2008, vs. the Marlins, then had season-ending shoulder surgery.

A free agent, Smoltz signed with the Red Sox in 2009. He was a flop, posting a 2-5 record and a 8.32 ERA in eight starts. He yielded 25 earned runs and 35 hits in his last 20 innings.

On Aug. 7, 2009, the Red Sox designated Smoltz for assignment. Ten days later, they released him.

The Cardinals, in first place in the NL Central, were seeking pitching depth. They had tried four pitchers as the fifth starter _ Todd Wellemeyer, Brad Thompson, Mitchell Boggs and P.J. Walters _ and weren’t satisfied with any. They also wanted to bolster the bullpen.

Third baseman Mark DeRosa, acquired by the Cardinals in June, had played with Smoltz for seven seasons with the Braves. DeRosa suggested to general manager John Mozeliak and manager Tony La Russa that the pitcher would be a good fit with the Cardinals, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. DeRosa and Smoltz also were represented by the same agency.

On Aug. 19, 2009, two days after his release from the Red Sox, Smoltz, 42, signed with the Cardinals for $100,000. The team planned to give Smoltz two starts and then determine whether he would remain in a rotation with Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Joel Pineiro and Kyle Lohse, or move to the bullpen in a setup role for closer Ryan Franklin.

“There is no down side to this move,” Carpenter said.

Mozeliak called it “a unique opportunity” and “too inviting not to take a chance on.”

Said Smoltz: “You’re going to get a nasty guy on the mound … I still believe in everything I’m doing to get myself prepared for battle … You’ve got to want it. I still want it.”

To the rescue

Two days after Smoltz signed, Lohse suffered a groin injury running the bases and was placed on the disabled list. The Cardinals now were looking at Smoltz as the replacement for Lohse as the fourth starter. The question was whether Smoltz could be effective.

On Aug. 23, 2009, Smoltz provided the answer. In his first Cardinals appearance, Smoltz started against the Padres at San Diego and displayed the form that had made him an eight-time all-star with the Braves.

Smoltz struck out nine, including seven in a row, in five innings and held the Padres scoreless. Using a mix of split-fingered pitches with a slider, curve and fastball, Smoltz struck out the last batter of the second inning and struck out the side in the third and fourth innings. The seven consecutive strikeouts are a Cardinals franchise record, according to ESPN.com.

Departing with a 5-0 lead, Smoltz earned the win _ the 213th and last of his career in the majors _ in a 5-2 Cardinals victory. Boxscore

“I couldn’t ask for a better beginning (with St. Louis),” Smoltz said. “All the pitches that were giving me trouble, I was able to throw.”

Wrote columnist Bryan Burwell of the Post-Dispatch: “No one could have seen this coming. I mean no one.” Video

Postseason finale

Smoltz stayed in the Cardinals rotation, made seven total starts and finished 1-3 with a 4.26 ERA. His ERA was 3.18 before he got shelled for six runs in four innings in his final career start on Sept. 30, 2009, against the Reds at Cincinnati.

The last pitching appearance for Smoltz came in a relief stint for the Cardinals in Game 3 of the 2009 NL Division Series against the Dodgers at St. Louis. Smoltz, pitching the sixth and seventh innings, struck out five in a row _ Ronnie Belliard, Russell Martin and Vicente Padilla to end the sixth and Rafael Furcal and Matt Kemp to start the seventh. Boxscore

“For me personally, this was an incredible opportunity after surgery,” Smoltz said to Dan O’Neill of the Post-Dispatch. “No one thought I could come back … I got a chance and I thank the organization for giving me that chance.’

His final career numbers: 213-155 with 154 saves, 3,084 strikeouts and a 3.33 ERA. In the postseason, Smoltz was 15-4 with a 2.67 ERA and 199 strikeouts in 41 games.

Against the Cardinals, Smoltz was 11-11 with a 4.13 ERA in 40 regular-season appearances, including 29 starts. He was 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA vs. St. Louis in the 1996 NL Championship Series.

Previously: Reaching 3,000 strikeouts was low-key event for Bob Gibson

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A master at changing speeds and controlling his pitches, Stu Miller was a remarkable rookie for the 1952 Cardinals. He earned complete-game wins in each of his first three appearances for St. Louis, yielding a total of one earned run.

stu_miller2In a 16-year big-league career, primarily with the Giants and Orioles, Miller produced 105 wins and 154 saves, led the National League in ERA (2.47) in 1958 and led each league in saves (a NL-best 17 in 1961 and an American League-high 27 in 1963).

It was the Cardinals, though, who developed him and brought him to the majors.

This post is a tribute to the Cardinals career of Stu Miller, 87, who died Jan. 4, 2015.

Road to Redbirds

At 21, Miller signed with the Cardinals in 1949 after attending a tryout camp in his home state, Massachusetts.

He quickly rose through their minor-league system, posting records of 16-13 with Class D Hamilton in 1950, 13-10 with Class B Winston-Salem in 1951 and 11-5 with Class AAA Columbus in 1952.

After winning eight of his last 10 starts at Columbus for manager Johnny Keane, Miller, 24, was promoted to the Cardinals in August 1952. Cardinals manager Eddie Stanky was surprised to see his new right-hander was slight (5 feet 10, 150 pounds) and, according to St. Louis writer Bob Broeg, “looks more like a ribbon clerk than a pitcher.”

Dazzling debut

Stanky tabbed Miller to make his big-league debut in a start against the Cubs at Chicago on Aug. 12, 1952.

“Stu’s got ice water in his veins,” Cardinals pitcher Harry Brecheen said to The Sporting News. “I went over the Chicago lineup with him at dinner before his first major-league start and asked him if he’d be nervous. ‘Maybe for one pitch,’ he told me. But the way he curved that first strike past Tommy Brown, I don’t think he was tense at all.”

Miller struck out Brown and settled into a groove, baffling the Cubs with a fastball, changeup and curve.

In the bottom of the ninth, with the Cardinals ahead, 1-0, the Cubs put runners on first and third with two outs. Brecheen was warming in the bullpen.

With Bill Serena at the plate, Stanky went to the mound and stared into the eyes of Miller.

“I’m all right,” Miller told the manager.

Stanky stayed with Miller.

Serena worked the count to 3-and-2. Miller threw a fastball and Serena struck out, ending the game and securing the shutout win for Miller. Boxscore

“I warmed up in the ninth inning and worked up more of a sweat than he did pitching nine innings,” Brecheen said of Miller.

The Cubs were limited to six hits _ five singles and a Hank Sauer double _ and two walks. Sauer, who would win the 1952 NL Most Valuable Player Award, had three of the Cubs’ hits.

“I bet he showed me eight or nine different speeds,” Cardinals catcher Del Rice said of Miller. “He was really right when he said he could get his slow stuff over nine out of every 10 pitches.”

Plenty of poise

Five days later, Aug. 17, 1952, Miller made his second start, facing the Reds at St. Louis.

Again, he took a shutout into the ninth.

This time, with the Cardinals ahead, 2-0, the Reds put runners on first and second with two outs.

The batter, Roy McMillan, hit a grounder to shortstop Solly Hemus, who booted the ball, retrieved it and then made a wild throw. Joe Adcock scored from second, Andy Seminick went from first to third and McMillan made it to second.

Miller, who would have had his second consecutive shutout if Hemus hadn’t made two errors on the play, now had two runners in scoring position and a one-run lead.

With Bob Borkowski at the plate, Stanky went to the mound and peered into the eyes of Miller.

“I’ll get him out,” Miller said.

Borkowski struck out looking, giving Miller his second straight complete-game win and the Cardinals a 2-1 victory. Boxscore

“He must be more than 24,” Stanky said of Miller, “because he’s too smart and too calm to be that young.”

Said Cardinals farm director Joe Mathes, who was among those who had recommended the Cardinals call up Miller: “Hitting is timing and how the hell can they time something that comes up there at a different speed each time?”

It’s Miller time

In his third start, Aug. 22, 1952, against the Giants at St. Louis, Miller pitched another gem _ striking out nine in a complete-game three-hitter _ and got the win in a 3-1 Cardinals victory.

This time, the ninth was relatively uneventful for Miller, who, with one out and a runner at first, struck out the final two batters. Boxscore

After his first three appearances in the big leagues, Miller was 3-0 with a 0.33 ERA in 27 innings.

In his fourth start, a 4-3 Dodgers triumph over the Cardinals on Aug. 26, 1952, Miller took the loss, even though he again pitched well, holding Brooklyn to four hits and striking out 10 in another complete game. Two of the four Dodgers runs were unearned. Boxscore

Miller finished 6-3 with a 2.05 ERA for the 1952 Cardinals.

Ended as started

The remainder of his Cardinals career wasn’t nearly as successful. Miller was 7-8 with a 5.56 ERA for St. Louis in 1953 and 2-3 with a 5.79 ERA in 1954. He spent the 1955 season at Class AAA Omaha, where he was 17-14 pitching again for Keane.

With an 0-1 record and 4.91 ERA for the 1956 Cardinals, Miller was traded with pitchers Harvey Haddix and Ben Flowers to the Phillies for pitchers Murry Dickson and Herm Wehmeier.

In four seasons with St. Louis, Miller was 15-15 with seven saves and a 4.47 ERA in 74 games, including 33 starts. In 16 years with the Cardinals, Phillies, Giants, Orioles and Braves, Miller was 105-103 with a 3.24 ERA.

At age 40 in 1968, Miller ended his professional playing career as it started _ in the Cardinals organization. Released by the Braves, Miller signed with the Cardinals’ Class AAA Tulsa team, managed by Warren Spahn, and was 1-2 with a 6.43 ERA in 13 games.

Previously: Take a look at the worst bullpen in Cardinals history

Previously: Shelby Miller leads Cardinals rookies to 36 wins

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(Updated Jan. 6, 2015)

The Cardinals were a tough opponent for Randy Johnson.

randy_johnsonThe 6-foot-10 left-hander had a 7-7 record and 4.17 ERA versus the Cardinals in 16 regular-season career starts. He also was 0-2 against St. Louis in two postseason starts.

Johnson, who has 303 wins, five Cy Young awards and ranks second all-time in strikeouts (4,875), was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Jan. 6, 2015.

Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols was a Johnson nemesis. Pujols has a career .458 batting average (11-for-24) against Johnson in the regular season, with five home runs and 13 RBI. He also hit a home run versus Johnson in the postseason.

Johnson has only three wins in eight regular-season career decisions at St. Louis. He was 2-4 at Busch Stadium II, which closed after the 2005 season; 1-1 at Busch Stadium III.

Here is a look at some memorable matchups between Johnson and the Cardinals:

Roughed up by Redbirds

Mike Matheny and Eli Marrero hit solo home runs on consecutive pitches off Johnson in the third inning and Edgar Renteria knocked him from the game with a three-run homer in the sixth, powering the Cardinals to a 9-4 victory over the Diamondbacks on April 8, 2001, at Phoenix.

Johnson yielded 11 hits and nine runs in 5.2 innings. He also walked two and hit two with pitches. Pujols, batting fourth for the first time in the big leagues, had a two-run double off Johnson and Fernando Vina contributed a two-run single. Rick Ankiel got the win, his last as a big-league starter. Boxscore

The nine earned runs were the most Johnson had yielded in a game since April 10, 1994, when the Blue Jays scored 10 in 2.1 innings against him.

“A game like this will stick with you a little while … I pitched real bad,” Johnson said to the Arizona Daily Star after the loss to the Cardinals.

Johnson, 38, recovered from the pounding and posted one of his best seasons. He was 21-6 with a National League-leading 2.49 ERA for the 2001 Diamondbacks. He struck out a career-best 372 and earned his third consecutive NL Cy Young Award.

Pujols delivers

In Game 2 of the NL Division Series at Phoenix on Oct. 10, 2001, Pujols hit his first postseason home run, a two-run shot off a high fastball from Johnson in the first inning, and sparked the Cardinals to a 4-1 victory over the Diamondbacks.

“I wish I could have that pitch back,” Johnson said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Said Pujols: “That was my pitch.”

Johnson also yielded a run in the third. Pitcher Woody Williams doubled, advanced to third on a bunt by Vina and scored on a sacrifice fly by Placido Polanco.

Johnson went eight innings, surrendering three runs on six hits and two walks. He struck out nine. Boxscore

“He made two mistakes the whole game, to Pujols and Woody Williams,” said Diamondbacks catcher Damian Miller. “The only two bad pitches.”

Good game plan

Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen each hit a two-run home run off Johnson, leading the Cardinals to a 12-2 triumph against the Diamondbacks in Game 1 of the 2002 NL Division Series on Oct. 1 at Phoenix. Matheny contributed a RBI-single and a double against Johnson.

In six innings, Johnson allowed 10 hits, six runs and two walks. Boxscore

The Cardinals benefitted from a disciplined approach, laying off sliders and waiting for fastballs, according to Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch.

“We did a great job of sticking to our game plan,” said Edmonds. “We made him pitch and tried to hit strikes instead of being overaggressive and trying to match his power.”

Said Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly: “It appeared to me that he was rushing a little bit. When he does that, his velocity drops (and) his slider is not quite as sharp as it usually is. They were a very unforgiving team to him.”

Escape act

The Cardinals hit four home runs off Johnson, but he escaped with a no-decision in an 8-6 Diamondbacks victory on Sept. 1, 2008, at Phoenix.

Pujols hit a two-run home run and Yadier Molina, Joe Mather and Felipe Lopez each hit solo shots against Johnson. He gave up six hits and five runs in 3.2 innings. Eight of the 11 outs Johnson recorded were on strikeouts. Boxscore

Last win

In his last career appearance against the Cardinals, Johnson gave up two home runs to Pujols but earned the win _ the last of his big-league career _ in a 6-3 Giants victory on June 30, 2009, at St. Louis.

Johnson gave up four hits, four walks and three runs in 5.1 innings. Pujols hit a solo home run in the fourth and a two-run shot in the sixth. Ryan Ludwick accounted for the other two hits off Johnson: a double and a triple. Boxscore

The first home run by Pujols carried an estimated 445 feet. “I didn’t make the pitch I wanted to make,” Johnson said to the San Jose Mercury News. “I think it will probably be landing sometime shortly.”

Johnson has the most career strikeouts of any left-hander. Only right-hander Nolan Ryan (5,714) has more. Johnson and Steve Carlton (4,136) are the only left-handers with more than 3,000 strikeouts.

Johnson ranks fifth all-time among left-handers in wins, trailing Warren Spahn (363), Carlton (329), Eddie Plank (326) and Tom Glavine (305).

Previously: Rick Ankiel and his last hurrah as a pitcher

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Seeking a starter to replace Woody Williams in the rotation, the Cardinals used a prospect, Dan Haren, to help land an ace, Mark Mulder. In retrospect, they would have done better to keep Haren.

mark_mulderTen years ago, on Dec. 18, 2004, the Cardinals acquired Mulder from the Athletics for Haren, reliever Kiko Calero and first baseman Daric Barton.

The Cardinals were praised for adding Mulder to a rotation of Chris Carpenter, Jason Marquis, Jeff Suppan and Matt Morris.

Haren, though, turned out to be more durable than Mulder.

Mulder had one strong season for the Cardinals, suffered shoulder ailments and pitched his final game for them in 2008 at age 31.

Haren, who was 6-10 over two seasons (2003-2004) for St. Louis, developed into one of the most consistent pitchers in the majors. Since leaving the Cardinals, Haren has had 10 seasons in a row of double-digit wins and has made 30 starts or more in each of those years. At 34, Haren has a career record of 142-122 in 12 big-league seasons. He is 136-112 since leaving St. Louis. The right-hander was traded by the Dodgers to the Marlins for the 2015 season.

After compiling an 81-42 record in five years with the Athletics, Mulder was 16-8 in 32 starts for the 2005 Cardinals. The left-hander then went a combined 6-10 for the Cardinals from 2006 to 2008.

Making a splash

By December 2004, four prominent free agents _ Woody Williams (11-8 in 2004), shortstop Edgar Renteria, catcher Mike Matheny and second baseman Tony Womack _ had departed the Cardinals since they faced the Red Sox in the World Series two months earlier.

Eager to make a splashy move to show that the Cardinals would fight to repeat as National League champions, general manager Walt Jocketty spoke with his Athletics counterpart, Billy Beane, about Mulder and fellow starting pitcher Tim Hudson.

On Dec. 16, 2004, the Athletics dealt Hudson to the Braves for pitchers Juan Cruz and Dan Meyer and outfielder Charles Thomas. Two days later, the Cardinals got Mulder.

Elite starter

“This is something we’ve been working on for two or three weeks,” Jocketty said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We’ve been going back and forth between Hudson and Mulder and we felt like, in our case, we had control of Mulder for an extra year (on his contract) … Both are quality, top of the rotation starters.”

Bernie Miklasz, columnist for the Post-Dispatch, described Mulder as “an elite starting pitcher” and “a legitimate front-of-rotation starter.”

From 2001-2004, only Curt Schilling had more wins (74) than Mulder (72).

“He’s an intelligent guy, a great athlete, a great fit,” Jocketty said of Mulder.

Red flag

Miklasz and his colleague, reporter Derrick Goold, did note, however, that Mulder had faltered in the second half of the 2004 season after starting the All-Star Game for the American League. Mulder was winless in his last seven 2004 starts, posting an 0-4 record and 7.27 ERA. Overall, Mulder was 17-8 in 2004 but with a 4.43 ERA.

Wrote Miklasz: “Is he wearing down after averaging 212 innings over the past four seasons?”

Jocketty and Mulder denied that the pitcher was weakened or injured.

“We took our time and thoroughly researched this … As far as we’re concerned, he’s fine,” Jocketty said of Mulder. “There are no physical problems at all. We made sure.”

Said Mulder: “I wasn’t hurt at all … There was nothing wrong with me.”

Asked to explain why Mulder was ineffective in the second half of 2004, Jocketty replied, “He put a lot of pressure on himself … He tried to do too much.”

Swift start

Any concerns about Mulder were erased early in the 2005 season. He won seven of his first nine decisions for the Cardinals. After stumbling in June (2-3, 7.18 ERA), Mulder recovered and was a combined 7-3 over the last three months of the season. He was especially effective against left-handed batters, limiting them to a .191 average in 2005.

Haren, meanwhile, had 14 wins for the 2005 Athletics, posting a 3.73 ERA in 34 starts. Calero contributed four wins and a save in 58 relief appearances.

In 2006, Mulder won five of his first six decisions for St. Louis. Then the shoulder woes began. Mulder made just two starts after June 20 and finished the 2006 season at 6-7 with a 7.14 ERA. He was 0-3 with a 12.27 ERA for the 2007 Cardinals; 0-0 with a 10.80 for the 2008 Cardinals.

Previously: Why Mike Matheny ended his playing career as a Giant

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