2009 Player Previews - Rich Harden
We've all been warned about the end times. In fact, this blog is all about the coming Apocalypse. Let's review, we know that there are horsemen involved (see Kentucky), times of drought (see California), famine (see Africa), war (see Iraq), despair (see 2007 and 2008 Cubs' post-seasons), a dragon (see Kozuke Fukudome), and even a pregnant lady (my boss is due in late April).
The one thing we're missing is the anti-christ. Now follow me here as I go all Da Vinci code on you... every one's always assumed the anti-christ was literally an anti Christ, but we also all assumed that Jesus was child-less until we got a good look at a painting done by a Ninja Turtle hundreds of years after the fact. No, the "anti-christ" is a word play. Christ was the messiah, so what we're looking for is actually an anti-messiah.
Let's think about other 'messiahs' in recent memory. There's David Koresh, Kerry, Sammy, Dusty, and Marky Franchise. None of them worked out very well, but let's take a closer look at 'The Franchise'. Massively talented, fragile, terribly over-hyped, relied upon year after year of disappointment.
It seems to me that we have a guy on the roster who is a bit of an anti-Mark. Massively talented? Yup. Fragile? Check! Over-hyped? Not too badly... perhaps just hyped. Relied upon to the detriment of the team? Not yet! That's so Anti!
Don't you see it? This is totally as clear as the plot of the Da Vinci Code (and that was an international best-seller). Rich Harden is the 'anti-Mark' which is totally the anti-messiah, which is totally the anti-christ, which is totally the final missing piece in our end-times jigsaw puzzle... does that make me Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown's long lost child that's been protected by a secret society since birth? Yes, yes it does.
So now, it's settled. Rich Harden is the one that will usher in the Apocalypse (which we know happens only after the Cubs win the World Series). And why not? While he's got an injury history that's slightly less impressive than Mark Prior's, he did start 12 games for us last year, winning 5, losing 1, and posting a 1.77 ERA. Can you imagine the hype if Jeff Samardzija had posted those numbers?
As for this Spring, Harden has been limited in his appearances. He's started thrice averaging 3 innings per appearance... and his numbers show it. His Spring ERA is a plump 7.71, but he's only walked 5. Harden is a control pitcher. The stuff will get better as he gets more innings underneath his belt, but he's already got the control working for him.
What's even more amazing is that most Cubs fans have Harden penciled in as the #4 starter... but he's got Ace stuff when he pitches. (Again, massively talented, but not really being counted on as some sort of Cubby-messiah.)
So as to a conclusion. Well, it's what you knew when we started this column:
#1: The Cubs will win the World Series this year.
#2: Rich Harden will be a big part of it (unless he gets hurt and then #1 doesn't happen).
#3: I'm the long lost son of Mordecai Three Finger Brown.