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Ace Race

    According to newspaper reports,the Diamondbacks and Mets have contacted free agent, Mark Mulder's agent, we'll have more on this lat...wait, what is that....the Rays also contacted him?
    That's right, free agency (the signing period at least) doesn't start for another week, but it seems the Rays won't be standing pat and are at least going to call around.
    Now calling and signing are two different things and I really don't want to get anyone's hopes up, but I'm going to give some opinions on Mulder, as I will do on any other free agent rumor concerning the Rays.
    Let's start with the basics, Mulder injured his rotator cuff last year and his numbers were nasty, of course this is probably a direct result of the injury. He's barely 29, is a big left hander (6'6 200), has a World Series ring, and out of his seven seasons, has recorded less than 15 victories only twice.
    He's also lead the AL in complete games twice during his career, and when healthy can throw over 200 innings a year. Now what could the Rays do to make him more affordable than his 7.5 million dollar salary this year, which would figure to be a little out of our range?
    First off don't give him loads of money up front, make his base salary around 4 million, then load the deal up with incentives. Not all necessarily `wins' since that has a lot to do with the team, and let's be honest Scott Kazmir earned more than 10 wins last season, even if his record didn't show it.
    Maybe throw in a ERA incentive (if it's below 3.5, which is very plausible, throw in a million or two) and a few game started requirements over 2-3 years and you've got a very good deal for the Rays. Of course would Mark even come to Tampa?
    The fact that he would be pitching in the Trop (which suppresses homeruns) would make his numbers look even better (he usually allows around 20 homers a season.) He's got a ring, and has had success in another small market, so would he come to Tampa, tutor one of the best young lefties in the game, and possibly do something that no other pitcher has done, help Tampa Bay reach contender status?
    A rotation of Kazmir, Mulder, Jeff Niemann, a maturing James Shields, and the wild card fifth spot that may or may not be Jae Seo, Tim Corcoran, or the killer H?s (J.P. Howell, Jason Hammel) amongst other possible rotation mates makes for an interesting and startling conclusion?we may have a good rotation for the first time in ages. Let?s be honest compared to last year, or the year before that which rotation would look the best? Okay so maybe that isn?t such a hard choice, but the fact that he had some injury issues should concern us a little bit. From the start of last year to the finish we had 5 different starting pitchers, some were due to trades (Hendrickson) some to new found roles (McClung), some to sucking or as we call it ?pulling a Dougie? and some for the sake of young arms, but still adding Mulder would have it?s risks, and it?s rewards if all goes well. None the less we?ll find out in the next few weeks, and even if Mulder doesn?t, at least we?re trying to add a piece to the puzzle that will fit today and tomorrow.