Three major pitching moves a 72-hour period in the NL Central -- Milwaukee trading for CC Sabathia, the Cubs snapping up Rich Harden and, sadly, Mark Mulder leading Wednesday night's game with more pain in his left shoulder.
Mulder's comeback bid lasted only three batters before he was forced out, and in a suddenly fast-moving division, the ramifications could be far-reaching.
One of them is obvious.
One of them, not so much -- but it could have important repercussions for Chicago Cubs fans.
The obvious one, of course, is that the Cardinals are probably going to have to figure out a way to acquire more pitching help if they plan to stay in the race. They are still hoping ace Chris Carpenter returns sometime in the next month, but Mulder's setback, if it is as serious as it appears, still leaves them lacking.
St. Louis probably doesn't have the resources to trade for Toronto's A.J. Burnett, who scouts continue to say has one of the best arms in the game but never has been able to figure out how to be a winner. Seattle's Erik Bedard will be pricey. San Diego probably will be offering Greg Maddux and Randy Wolf, and wouldn't Maddux, the former Cub, be a fascinating addition in St. Louis? Cincinnati's Bronson Arroyo is another possibility, but Cards GM John Mozeliak would have to convince ownership to crack open its piggy bank.
It's clear that the Cubs, with a healthy Harden, and Brewers, with Sabathia, have gotten better. St. Louis, with Mulder again hurting, hasn't. Plus, the Cardinals have problems at the back end of their bullpen -- their 19 blown saves leads the majors.
Now ... how might Mulder's latest setback be related to the Cubs?
Like this: Mulder walking off that mound in Philadelphia is simply one more reminder that Oakland GM Billy Beane's track record of trading away ace pitchers is nearly impeccable. He got peak years from Mulder, Tim Hudson and Barry Zito before cutting ties with them -- Hudson and Mulder via trades, Zito via free agency. He traded Dan Haren, starting pitcher for the AL in last year's All-Star Game, to Arizona over the winter and got back two starters, Dana Eveland and Greg Smith, who are contributing this year.
Beane does not make mistakes when he trades away pitching. That doesn’t mean Harden won't help the Cubs. But if you're a Cubs fan, it should give you pause -- and maybe even make you shudder when you consider Harden's injury history.
Likes: The All-Star break. ... The All-Star Game. ... The All-Star arguments -- who should make it, who shouldn't. ... Luis Gonzalez mentoring the kids in the Florida Marlins clubhouse. ... CC Sabathia now going by CC instead of C.C. OK, whatever, dude. ... Early action on the trade market. ... Brad Lidge coming back strong in Philadelphia. ... Mid-summer, when everyone seems to slow down and take a breath. There's no rush to get home when you're at the ballpark -- no school for the kids in the morning -- and you see all sorts of people out running, walking their dogs and gardening throughout the neighborhood. ... Summer nights, and darkness not arriving until late. ... Fresh strawberries over vanilla ice cream.
Dislikes: The construction folks beginning to tear down Tiger Stadium. It's been long overdue -- Detroit despicably allowed a treasure to become just one more abandoned building over the past nine years -- but it's still gut-wrenching.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"She acts like summer and walks like rain
Reminds me that there’s time to change"
-- Train, Drops of Jupiter