And Then There Was One...

For the second time in three days, the A's made headlines by trading a member of their famed Big Three. This time the A's traded lefty Mark Mulder to St. Louis. In exchange, the A's receive three young players: starter Dan Haren, reliever Kiko Calero and catching prospect Daric Barton.

Mulder, who was the A's first-round pick in the 1998 June Draft, was coming off of his worst year since his rookie season. After pitching extremely well in the first half of the season, Mulder collapsed in the second half. He had an ERA over 6.00 and was a main reason that the A's failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 1999.

Mulder had a stellar career with Oakland, however. He had 81 victories with the A's, which puts him sixth all-time in Oakland's team history. He was the runner-up for the Cy Young award in the 2001 season when he went 21-8 with a 3.45 ERA. After a rough rookie season, Mulder put together four straight seasons of at least 15 wins. He has a career record of 81-42 with a 3.92 ERA. He will join the National League defending champion Cardinals, who are trying to replace departed starter Woody Williams.

In return, the A's received their second trio of young players in less than two days. Joining the Atlanta package of Charles Thomas, Dan Meyer and Juan Cruz are ex-Cardinals Dan Haren, Kiko Calero and Daric Barton. Haren has a career major league record of 6-10 with a 4.85 ERA. He has made 19 starts and 9 relief appearances in the big leagues. Haren has a career 32-18 minor league record with a career 1.13 WHIP in parts of four minor league seasons. The 24 year-old righthander was a second round draft choice in 2001 out of Pepperdine University. Haren projects to be the A's third or fourth starter next season.

Kiko Calero is a hard-throwing righthanded reliever who had an excellent year out of the Cardinals' bullpen in 2004. He went 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA in 41 appearances for the Cardinals. He struck out 47 in 45.1 innings pitched. He will be 30 in January and should team with Cruz to anchor the late innings in the A's bullpen next season.

Daric Barton will join the A's stable of top-flight catching prospects and may be the best of the bunch. The 2003 first round draft pick has a career .305 batting average with a .435 OBP in two minor league seasons. He hit .313 with 13 HR and 77 RBI for the Peoria Chiefs (A) last season. Barton, who will still be 19 to start next season, will likely start the A's in AA-Midland.

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