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Cardinals acquire Mulder

The Oakland Athletics traded their second top starter in three days, sending lefthander Mark Mulder to the St. Louis Cardinals yesterday for a package of prospects. Mulder follows Tim Hudson out of town, leaving Barry Zito as the only remaining member of Oakland's vaunted "Big Three" pitchers. Hudson was dealt to Atlanta Thursday.

In return for Mulder, the A's acquired pitchers Danny Haren and Kiko Calero and minor league catcher Daric Barton. "We're extremely excited to have obtained a pitcher of Mark's caliber," Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty said. "He is the top of the rotation-type pitcher we've been working hard to obtain this offseason. It was difficult to part with the three players we traded, but to acquire someone like Mulder we felt that this deal worked for us in several ways."

The 6-foot-6-inch lefty, the AL starter in the All-Star Game, seemed destined for Cy Young Award consideration midway through the season, but went winless in his last seven starts -- 0-4 with a 7.27 ERA. On Aug. 24, he became the first 17-game winner in the majors, then didn't win again. There was speculation he was hurt and not telling anyone.

Mulder missed the end of the 2003 season with a stress fracture in his right leg near the hip, then pitched a team-high 225 2/3 innings in 2004.

He repeatedly claimed to be healthy despite a drop in his velocity late in the year. Manager Ken Macha said the day after the season Mulder probably did become worn down by his heavy workload.

After Hudson was swapped to the Braves, the news of Mulder's departure was even more shocking. At least in Hudson's case, there had been rumors swirling. "What, you've got to be kidding me," Oakland outfielder Eric Byrnes said of Mulder being traded. "Wow. I don't know what to tell you."

Haren, a 24-year-old righthander, was 3-3 with a 4.50 ERA in 14 games, including five starts, in three stints with the Cardinals last season. Calero went 3-1 with two saves and a 2.78 ERA in 41 relief appearances for St. Louis in 2004, allowing a .176 opponent batting average.

Barton was the Cardinals' first-round pick (28th overall) in 2003. He spent last season at Single A Peoria, where he batted .313 with 13 home runs and 77 RBIs.

Deal swells to 10 players

The megadeal involving Randy Johnson, Shawn Green, and Javier Vazquez grew to 10 players yesterday, with the Yankees, Arizona, and Los Angeles hoping to present the proposed trade to the commissioner's office soon for approval. Pitchers Kaz Ishii, Mike Koplove, and Brandon Weeden are now part of the swap, a baseball official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. Johnson remains the centerpiece of the trade, with the Yankees trying to get the five-time Cy Young Award winner from Arizona. New York also would acquire Ishii, a lefthander who went 13-8 with a 4.71 ERA for Los Angeles last season. Koplove would go to Los Angeles with Vazquez. The Dodgers also would get two Yankee prospects, catcher Dioner Navarro and third baseman Eric Duncan. Arizona would receive Green and pitchers Brad Penny, Yhency Brazoban, and Weeden.

Suite sweetens contract
Pedro Martinez got a really suite deal from the New York Mets. The former Red Sox righthander will receive a luxury suite at Shea Stadium for every home game and a hotel suite on all road trips, according to terms of his contract obtained by the AP. Martinez's $53 million, four-year deal calls for him to get a $3.5 million signing bonus that is payable through July 2007. He gets salaries of $10 million in 2005, $14 million in 2006, $14 million in 2007, and $11.5 million in 2008. The deal also includes bonuses for Cy Young Awards, playoff MVPs, All-Star appearances, and Gold Gloves . . . Ted Abernathy, who twice led the NL in saves during the 1960s and pitched for seven teams during his 14-year major league career, died at 71 Thursday in Gastonia, N.C. Obituary, Page B19.

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