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Mulder Signs Contract in Arizona (well, sort of...)

I felt obliged to tack the bit in brackets on to the end of the headline, to prevent apoplectic fits among the readership. Because, otherwise, it could be the most misleading headline in the history of media content - while still being accurate, rather than those "WW2 Bomber Found on Moon" ones in the Weekly World News [which, I must confess, is a publication to which we actually subscribe...]. Yes, Mark Mulder is in Arizona. And he will be signing a contract today. Just not a baseball one - it's a marital one, since he's getting hitched in Scottsdale this afternoon to his fiancee, Lindsey Pringle, heir to the snack fortune. Okay, I did make the last bit up.

But don't expect anything fresh on the Mulder front this weekend, and the local media are pretty silent on it - or, indeed, the Diamondbacks at all. We turn to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for the latest, courtesy of TAP on DBBP, which says [emphasis added]:

Arizona, San Diego and Texas, which has come on strong, have emerged with the Cardinals as favorites in the pursuit of Mulder. San Francisco and Cleveland have also expressed interest. Location is the question. Contract duration is not. Gregg Clifton, the lefty's representative, said he and Mulder have decided that a two-year deal is most attractive to the lefty, who is coming off shoulder surgery and will not be available to pitch for the first several months of the coming season. According to a report in the Arizona Republic, the Diamondbacks offered a five-year deal and will not have to tweak it to meet Mulder's preference.

I believe that five-year deal is a couple guaranteed, with team options rolling down the line beyond then. And if location is the key issue, then Arizona has an inside track, in that Mulder already lives here, so clearly likes it. However, we should probably be asking Jenny what she thinks, since this will weigh heavily on the final decision. Remember the Javier Vazquez case, where Mrs. Vazquez decided Arizona was too far from her relatives in Haiti or wherever it was? [Writing tip #342: use hyperbole in lieu of actual research. It's easier to claim literary license if you're wildly wrong, than merely incorrect] Multiply by five for "new brideness", and Mulder will probably end up where Mrs. Mulder tells him. At least, if he has any sense. :-)

All is also quiet on the Otsuka negotiations with Texas. A report from elsewhere suggests that we had been talking to Pittsburgh about their closer, Mike Gonzalez; we offered Chad Tracy and were turned down, but it's not clear if we were also asking for a studlike prospect. I would like to think so, but I believe in trading for closers about as much as in signing free-agent ones, i.e. not very much. Closers are over-valued in the marketplace either way, so you're going to end up paying too much for them, whether it's in cash or other players. The question should not be, "Does he pitch the 9th inning?", but "Is this a good pitcher?" Though in both the cases of Otsuka and Gonzalez, I think the answer is yes.

Gonzalez is younger, only 27 - I also note he was only a 30th-round pick - and has seriously kicked ass (ERA+ of 182), so I can see why the Pirates want to hang on to him. But let's face it: fourteen losing seasons in a row, and back-to-back 95-loss years? They're clearly not going anywhere. So, my message to Pittsburgh is as follows. Reload! Give us your good players in exchange for prospects! You know it makes sense! Thank you for listening. But how much difference does having a good closer really make? I just crunched some numbers on that, and the results may surprise you. More on that tomorrow or Monday, I think.

Not much else going on in the Diamondbacks universe. Instead, I've been playing a bit with Baseball-Reference.com's "neutralize stats" feature, which lets you take a player's figures and transport them to a neutral park, or to any other stadium and time. For example, Brandon Webb's 2006 season, in San Diego, would have been an ERA of 2.69. And Luis Gonzalez's 57-homer season in 2001, would have been a 62-homer one in Coors Field that year. He'd also have batted .346 with 164 RBI. On the other hand, if he'd played this year in Los Angeles, his line would be only .266/.346/.438. Or take the Big Unit's 2001 season, and move it Bob Gibson's era [1968 in St. Louis] - the result is a 1.56 ERA and 396 strikeouts, the most by any pitcher since 1886. To play with this, click on 'Neutralize Stats' in any player's record at baseball-reference.com.

I'll leave you with today's trivia question: again, it's "what's the link?" time. Craig Counsell, David Dellucci, Steve Finley, Luis Gonzalez, Randy Johnson, Mike Koplove, Matt Mantei and Matt Williams. Answer in the comments if you know, otherwise, I'll reveal the connection next time out.