Mailbag: Will A's bring Mulder back?
Beat reporter Mychael Urban answers A's fans' questions
The Cardinals have said they aren't going to pick up Mark Mulder's option for next season. Do you think the A's might bring him back to Oakland?
-- Janice T., Martinez, Calif.
Mulder, who remains close with several members of the organization, loved his time in the Bay Area, so he'd certainly be open to the idea under the right circumstances. But first things first. I got close to 100 e-mails about the possibility of Mulder returning, so I asked him last week, via text message, if I could chat about it with him.
He politely declined an interview, and in doing so, texted back that he won't even consider signing anywhere until he's physically able to pitch the way he's capable of pitching.
It's anybody's guess if that will ever happen. Mulder, 31, has made six appearances in the past two seasons, 21 starts in the past three, and he's had multiple shoulder surgeries since winning 16 games for the Cards in 2005.
If he ever feels like he's ready for the big leagues again, my guess is that Oakland would be his first choice, and the best the A's could offer him would be an incentive-loaded contract similar to the one Frank Thomas signed before the 2006 season. But I seriously doubt that the team would have an interest in Mulder. I think they've had their fill of injury risks.
I can't believe you mentioned Eric Chavez as a cleanup hitter for the 2009 A's. He's a No. 6 hitter at best. You're also an unabashed Bobby Crosby backer.
-- Lance H., Arizona State University
I got quite a few e-mails on this topic, too, and that's typically how I decide which questions to answer each week, so here we go ...
Chavez, when he's healthy, is a cleanup hitter or a No. 5 hitter. A healthy Chavez in the No. 6 spot would be a waste. Granted, he hasn't been healthy in a while, but what I wrote was based on the supposition that he will be healthy in 2009; if he's not healthy, he won't be playing at all. But if he's playing, he's Oakland's No. 4 or No. 5 hitter, no question about it.
As for Crosby, I've taken a ton of heat from fans for believing in his ability over the past several seasons, and for good reason. He's been hurt a lot, and he hasn't yet played up to his potential. But I still believe he's a very talented player. Maybe he needs a change of scenery or new coaching or a new approach; I don't know. But I do know he's got all the physical and mental tools to succeed at this level.
I have heard that the Rockies are wanting to trade Matt Holliday. What do you think the A's would have to give up for him, and what kind of extension would he command? I would only be in favor for that trade if we were able to extend him.
-- Dan G., Livermore, Calif.
The Rockies always seem to need pitching, and the A's do have quite a bit of young pitching. But with the exception of Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson, the scouts to whom I've spoken about all of the pitching in the Minor League system probably isn't enough to entice a team to trade a proven star.
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Money is a big factor here, too. Holliday, 28, is entering the last year of a contract that will pay him $13.5 million in 2009, and that's pretty rich for the A's blood considering they don't have any huge contracts coming off the books or that are tradeable. And as one of the better right-handed sticks in the game right now, Holliday probably will be looking for a four- to five-year deal worth at least what he's getting next year, annually.
He'd be a terrific fit in Oakland on the field for 2009, and general manager Billy Beane has said he's open to bringing in guys who can help for only a year or two, but signing Holliday to an extension would be a dramatic departure from the team's business approach.
Was it really wise to trade Joe Blanton?
-- Justin D., Stockton, Calif.
Thirty-four readers sent in a version of this question during a 12-hour span that followed Blanton's performance in Game 4 of the World Series, and many mentioned that they watched big-boned Joe with a mixture of pride and sadness. I'm sure many felt the same way watching Carlos Pena help the Rays beat Mark Kotsay's Red Sox.
I can't say if it was a wise trade or not. I don't think it's fair to evaluate any trade in which one team gets prospects in return for an established player until a few years have passed. But I can say that I didn't like the trade.
Blanton wasn't having a good year for the A's when he was shipped out, but I think he's as good or better than every starter currently on the Oakland roster.
While we're on this topic, thanks to Jimmy in Berkeley for remembering that I said Blanton would excel in Philly. Joe's not a superstar, but he's a really solid pitcher who will win a lot more than he'll lose when he's pitching for a team with a decent offense.
Will Dan Meyer be in the mix for a rotation spot next spring?
-- Taylor N., Seattle
I asked assistant general manager David Forst this very question last week, and the short answer is yes. Meyer, however, could be removed from the 40-man roster this winter if the team needs to make room for someone they're either adding or protecting from the Rule 5 Draft, and if that happens, Meyer would have to clear waivers. If he cleared waivers, the A's would want him back and bring him to camp.
By the way, I'm working on a feature story about the struggles that Meyer has dealt with since being the centerpiece of the package the A's got in the Tim Hudson trade with Atlanta, so expect to see that in the next week or so.
Last week you answered two questions about the "Moneyball" movie and ignored my question about which free agents the A's might pursue. Can we please talk about baseball this week?
-- Paul D., Carson, Nev.
We talk baseball every week, Paul, but at this point in the offseason, it's almost impossible to get any credible information about any teams' free-agent targets -- and the A's don't discuss them as a matter of policy. We'll get into that topic more and more as the winter wears on.
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.