Friday, November 03, 2006

Cards to talk to Mulder, Luis Gonzalez

The Post-Dispatch reports today that Walt Jocketty will talk with Greg Clifton, agent for Mark Mulder. Clifton also represents Luis Gonzalez. If you remember, during the NLCS, Gonzalez was the second analyst in the booth with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.
Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty said he's had a similar conversation with lefty Mark Mulder since, but Tony La Russa recalled a specific exchange during the NL Division Series against San Diego.

Mulder, his manager and the GM were talking and inevitably Mulder's future came up by way of his past.

"He was saying how Cardinals fans have never seen him, the real him," La Russa said this past weekend. "He won 16 games (in 2005), but they never saw him at his best. He has the desire, and I think we have a desire for the Cardinals' fans to see him.

"To see the real Mark Mulder."[...]

Jocketty on Thursday reaffirmed the Cardinals' interest in having Mulder return for a third season with his club and said the Cardinals may be interested in doing something different from the one-year, incentive-rich offers Mulder is bound to receive. Jocketty will travel to Arizona next week to meet with the organization's pro scouts and see the Arizona Fall League, but if the schedules can mesh, he and Clifton plan to meet. Clifton said he imagines Mulder would attend any meeting as well.

Whenever the GM and agent talk, another name is expected to come up: Luis Gonzalez.

The veteran outfielder, who will turn 40 next September, is also represented by Clifton and apparently caught Cardinals fever while broadcasting playoff games last month. Clifton said nine teams have contacted him about Gonzalez, who finished second in the NL with a career-high 52 doubles this season. Cleveland, Baltimore, Texas, Cincinnati and San Francisco are five of the nine.

The Cardinals are not, for now. Jocketty did attempt to trade for Gonzalez, a lefthanded-hitting left fielder, this past summer and said Thursday he still had interest in Gonzalez.

"I saw him during the playoffs, and he said in St. Louis that he'd never seen fans like that," Clifton said. "I've said all along, for me, I think Luis, well, you talk about a perfect fit for a guy and for a franchise. That's it. Veteran guy. In that atmosphere. He's got a lot left in the tank."

Fresh from a 16-win 2005 season that gave him a 75-35 career record, Mulder, 29, started this season a lefty in his prime with a jackpot awaiting him this winter. Clifton told Mulder recently that instead of a few fat-wallet teams being in the bidding for him, now more teams are going to be interested because "it could act like a year trial for everyone."[...]

With only two members of the starting rotation under contract for 2007, Jocketty must remake the staff, and he said Mulder's uncertain availability means he'd be signed to augment a staff, not complete it.

"You don't count on him for that need," Jocketty said. "He would be an additional guy that you would sign. You plan your staff for who you need on opening day. He would be the additional guy because when he does come back you cannot expect him to be the Mark Mulder of two years ago. You expect him to have to need time to get back to that level."

The contract comparisons that have been made are Matt Morris and Kevin Millwood, both of whom signed incentive-laden, one-year deals after injury. The Cardinals may turn to another contract for inspiration — Chris Carpenter's. Twice the Cardinals signed Carpenter as a free agent coming off a year missed because of injury.

Jocketty said it would not be prudent for the Cardinals to have Mulder signed for just the coming year. The Orioles are reportedly interested, and the Arizona Diamondbacks, with their ballpark and location, could be an attractive suitor for Mulder, who winters in the area.
Mark Mulder, when he is at his best, is one of the best left-handed pitchers in the game today. Unfortunately, this year was an off year for him but I look forward to many seasons of Mulder pitching for us and putting up HOF numbers.

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