<
>

Mulder says being moved was inevitable

ST. LOUIS -- Mark Mulder thinks his late-season swoon had
nothing to do with his trade from Oakland to the St. Louis Cardinals.

The left-hander, acquired from the Athletics on Saturday, was
the AL starter in the All-Star Game and the first 17-game winner in
the major leagues. But he was 0-4 with a 7.27 ERA in his last seven
starts, a big reason the Athletics missed the playoffs for the
first time in five years.

"I wasn't hurt at all, there was absolutely nothing wrong with
me," Mulder said Monday. "Did I get tired? I don't know. This
game will jump up and bite you at times."

Mulder said it might have been more of a mental slump.

"There was nothing wrong with me and there is nothing wrong
with me, it was just one of those things where I just flat-out
struggled," he said. "I hit a bump in the road and it was a big
bump.

"I laugh about it now, but it was tough working my way through
that."

Mulder said Athletics general manager Billy Beane told him his
finish didn't factor into the deal that brought pitchers Dan Haren
and Kiko Calero plus catching prospect Daric Barton to Oakland.

"Why it's happened, it's just something that Billy thought
would be best," Mulder said. "I don't think anything that
happened at the end of the year had anything to do with this trade,
and he told me that."

Mulder was the second member of Oakland's "Big Three" to be
traded, after the Braves acquired Tim Hudson only two days earlier.
Mulder thinks the deals were more about money: he'll make $12.75
million the next two years and Hudson will earn $5 million next
season.

Plus, Hudson said the Athletics never approached him about
extending his contract.

"We all knew this was going to happen sooner or later," Mulder
said. "We were all going to be free agents in the next few years.
I didn't think we thought it was going to happen this quickly."

Mulder hadn't been aware he was on the block and thought that
once Hudson was traded he'd certainly be part of the Athletics'
staff next year. So when Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty
called the left-hander about the trade on Saturday, he might not
have seemed excited.

"I was very shocked at first," Mulder said. "After that
initial shock and coming to grips with it, I got pretty excited.
This was a team that was in the World Series last year and it's
definitely one of the best baseball cities there is."

The Cardinals won 105 games this year, one off the franchise
record, before getting swept by the Boston Red Sox in the Series.

"It's not knocking what we had in Oakland, but the St. Louis
offense is a lot better all around," Mulder said. "I know they
were one of the better defensive teams also. I look forward to
winning a lot of games there."

Mulder joins a staff that features four other pitchers who won
at least 15 games last season. Behind him in the rotation are Chris
Carpenter, Matt Morris, Jason Marquis and Jeff Suppan.

Mulder believes the Athletics will be just fine without him and
Hudson.

"They got a handful of good players in these trades," Mulder
said. "Billy will do his thing and they'll be good. They're not
going to lose 100 games."