Mark Mulder to retire . . . Maybe

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Mark Mulder.jpgUPDATE: The Chron’s Susan Slusser reports that Mark Mulder’s agent is saying that reports that Mulder is retiring are “not accurate” and that “Mark has not made a decision.”

Interesting. Earlier Brewers’ pitching coach Rick Peterson said Mulder was retiring, but maybe he misinterpreted.  Or maybe it’s like when I told my buddy at work that I was going to quit and become a blogger on a Monday but didn’t tell the bosses until Friday.

UPDATE II: Slusser spoke with Eric Chavez, who spoke with Mulder today, and Chavez says Mulder is “done.”

Mark Mulder: call your agent.

11:00 A.M. It’s being reported by a Milwaukee television station this morning that Mark Mulder is retiring.  The Journal-Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt tweets that while the Brewers haven’t heard anything of it, “a club official said he wouldn’t be surprised if that’s his decision.”

The reason this is coming out of Milwaukee is that Mulder had been flirting with joining the Brewers this winter due to his connection to Brewers’ pitching coach Rick Peterson, but it’s not happening now.

Mulder, of course, came up as one of the “Big Three” alongside Tim Hudson and Barry Zito in Oakland. You know, the guys who got surprisingly little press while they took turns winning 20 games and carrying the team while their general manager was being canonized for trading for John Mabry. OK, I kid Moneyball because I kid everyone, but really, the extent to which the Big Three were overlooked on those take-and-rake A’s teams borders on the criminal.

And Mulder may have been the most overlooked of the Big Three.  Hudson was considered the ace and Zito got his gigantic contract, but Mulder was a damn fine pitcher there for a couple of years. He won 21 games in 2001 and 19 the next year while keeping the ball in the yard, posting some pretty healthy K/BB ratios and pitching well in the playoffs.

Sadly, his shoulder went pop a year after joining the Cardinals. After a good 2005 season, 2006 was cut short, 2007 and 2008 were near total losses for him. He didn’t pitch at all last year.

While Zito still chugs along in San Francisco and Hudson looks to be on the comeback trail in Atlanta, Mark Mulder’s long absence from the stage makes him seem so much older than the 32 he is. It’s a shame we didn’t get to see more of him.

Clayton Kershaw’s initial prognosis: 4-6 weeks on the disabled list

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Some seriously bad news for the Dodgers: Ken Rosenthal reports that the initial prognosis on Clayton Kershaw is that he will miss 4-6 weeks with his bad back. A final determination will be made after he gets a second medical consultation.

Kershaw exited Sunday’s start against the Braves with back tightness after just two innings of work. He was seen talking with trainers in the dugout after completing the top of the second inning and did not return to the mound for the third. Kershaw has a history of back problems. Last year he missed over two months with a herniated disc in his back.

Assuming the preliminary schedule holds, Kershaw would be on the shelf until late August at the earliest, but more likely early-to-mid September. The Dodgers currently hold a 10.5 game lead in the NL West so they can withstand his absence. But if they have any hopes of advancing in the playoffs, they’ll need a fully armed and operational Clayton Kershaw to do it.

David Price was a complete jackass to Dennis Eckersley

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In late June, Red Sox pitcher David Price confronted Hall of Famer and NESN analyst Dennis Eckersley during a team flight to Toronto. The circumstances of the argument were not clear at the time and at least one report said that it was a “back and forth,” presumably about some critical comments Eckersley made on the air about Price. We learned a few days after that it was less of a “back and forth” than it was Price merely berating Eckersley.

Now, via this story from Dan Shaugnessy of the Boston Globe, we get the true flavor of the exchange. It does not reflect well on Price or his teammates:

On the day of the episode, Price was standing near the middle of the team aircraft, surrounded by fellow players, waiting for Eckersley. When Eckersley approached, on his way to the back of the plane (Sox broadcasters traditionally sit in the rear of the aircraft), a grandstanding Price stood in front of Eckersley and shouted, “Here he is — the greatest pitcher who ever lived! This game is easy for him!’’

When a stunned Eckersley tried to speak, Price shot back with, “Get the [expletive] out of here!’’

Many players applauded.

Eckersley made his way to the back of the plane as players in the middle of the plane started their card games. In the middle of the short flight, Eckersley got up and walked toward the front where Sox boss Dave Dombrowski was seated. When Eckersley passed through the card-playing section in the middle, Price went at him again, shouting, “Get the [expletive] out of here!’’

Assuming this account is accurate, Price’s behavior was nothing short of disgraceful. Disgraceful in that Price was too much of a coward to take his issues up with Ecklersley one-on-one. Beyond that, it’s classic bully behavior, with Price waiting until he was surrounded by lackeys to hurl insults in a situation where Eckersley had no opportunity to effectively respond.

But it’s mostly just sad. Sad that David Price is so painfully sensitive that he cannot handle criticism from a man who is, without question, one of the best who has ever played the game. One of the few men who has been in his shoes and stood on that same mound and faced the same sorts of challenges Price has attempted to face. And, it should be noted, faced them with more success in his career than Price has so far.

No one likes criticism, but David Price is at a place in his life where he is, inevitably, going to receive it. And unlike virtually every other person who may offer it to him, Dennis Eckersley knows, quite personally, of what he speaks.

Shame on David Price for acting like a child. Shame on his teammates for backing him up. Shame on John Farrell and the rest of the Red Sox organization for not sitting Price down, explaining that he messed up and encouraging him to apologize. And, of course, if he apologizes now, it’s not because he means it. He’s had a month to reflect. It’s simply because his disgraceful behavior is now all over the pages of the Boston Globe.

What a pathetic display.