2014: The year of the formerly Successful Cardinals pitcher comeback

Posted on February 3, 2014 

2014 seems to be the year of former;y successful St. Louis Cardinals pitchers making comebacks.

 

Mark Mulder was arguably the best lefty starter in baseball from 2001 through the first half of the 2004 season. Unfortunately, the Cardinals weren't scared off by his lousy second half -- 5-6 with a 6.13 ERA compared to a 12-2 mark with a 3.21 ERA before the All-Star Break -- and they gave up promising young hurler Danny Haren to get him. Mulder had a nice 16-8 record with a 3.64 ERA in 2005 with St. Louis, although it looked like he was getting by on smoke and mirrors. Mulder went down to shoulder surgery in 2006 and, seemingly trying to salvage their trade for the southpaw, the redbirds signed him to a two-year contract extension that over-optimistically counted on a miraculous recovery. Mulder pitched 12 2/3 innings over the life of the extension. He hasn't been in baseball since 2008 but is attempting a comeback in 2014 at the age of 36.

Joel Pineiro hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2011 thanks to a shoulder injury. But he's back on the mound again and hopes to make a comeback. He pitched well in the Puerto Rican Winter League but acknowledged in an mlb.com report that, at 35, this is likely his last chance to play try to make a club.

Chris Perez seemed to have a a good thing going in Cleveland after the Cardinals shipped him there in 2009 as part of another ill-fated trade. This time it was for utility player Mark DeRosa who was ineffective and then lost to injury after precious few contributions on the field. But first he couldn't stop bad-mouthing the fans. And then there was the pot shipment to his house -- in his dog's name. If there is one thing MLB teams care for less than players on performance enhancing drugs it's players on performance inhibiting drugs. Perez signed with the Dodgers on a make-good deal and is currently third or fourth on LA's closer depth chart.

The most important comeback of all is the effort by current St. Louis southpaw Jaime Garcia who tried to pitch last season with his shoulder held together with scotch tape and dental floss. Garcia was an up and coming young talent before the Cardinals were all about up and coming young talent. Despite the fact that he's been around since 2008, he's only 27 years old. If Garcia's arm is finally fixed, he could be a huge difference maker for the Cardinals who are rich on talent but young on experience behind Adam Wainwright in the starting rotation.

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