Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Reactions to the Harden deal from around the web

Let’s get some Harden reactions from around the web.

ESPN’s Buster Olney:

For the Cubs, the trade is a calculated gamble because Harden is nothing less than Mark Prior Redux: He can be dominating, and he can be maddening. He could be the difference between success and heartbreak if he's healthy, and if he's injured, he could be the difference between success and heartbreak.

Keep in mind, however: Harden has pitched a total of 277 1/3 innings over the past four seasons, and has spent almost as many months on the DL as he's had victories. He comes to the Cubs with many red flags.

Harden returned from the disabled list on May 11 and, in his first nine starts, pitched as he usually does, dominating hitters, striking out 42 batters in 32 1/3 innings in June, compiling a 1.67 ERA for the month. Some scouts who saw his July 1 start reported that his velocity was down, and he lasted five innings. On July 6, Harden had five erratic innings, walking four and requiring 95 pitches to get through five innings.

The Athletics mostly have been held hostage by Harden's talent in recent years: He hasn't been on the field enough to count on, but he's been too good, when he does pitch, to simply give away. And the swiftness with which the Athletics and Cubs completed this deal is being read by some rival executives as Beane's moving Harden while he has the chance. "He didn't look as good in his last two starts," one official said, "and the Cubs' offer was a good offer. There were probably months when Billy didn't know if he was going to get anything out of Harden at all, and now he's in a situation when he can get Sean Gallagher for him -- and he jumped at it."

Wonder if he regrets his morning column:

With CC Sabathia in Milwaukee, all eyes turn to Cubs GM Jim Hendry, writes Jay Mariotti.

Jay's right in that there will be general expectation in Chicago for the Cubs to answer. But they might as well table those expectations right now, for a couple of reasons.

The Cubs probably don't have the talent to meet the asking price Oakland would attach to Rich Harden, and even then, Harden hasn't yet pitched enough this year to bury questions about whether he can hold up.

Lemme give you a hint, Buster – read less Jay Mariotti and more Bruce Miles:

The Cubs have been looking to bolster their rotation, even before the Sabathia trade was done. The bet here is they'll make a big push for Oakland's Rich Harden (as I wrote in Sunday's paper), when and if A's GM Billy Beane decides his team is out of the race. Beane and Cubs GM Jim Hendry get along fine personally and professionally, so a deal is well within the realm of possibility.

Bruce’s reaction to the deal:

When Jim Hendry called me over to talk last Friday in St. Louis, he had that look about him. It was a look that said he was ready to deal. Hendry had been talking with the Indians about CC Sabathia, but he knew then the Cubs didn't have the right match for Cleveland. I asked Friday and Saturday about Rich Harden of the A's, and I could tell then that was his top target. I wrote that for Sunday's paper, and Hendry finalized things with Oakland GM Billy Beane today, getting Harden and reliever Chad Gaudin for Sean Gallagher, Matt Murton, Eric Patterson and Josh Donaldson.

The Harden deal says the Cubs are in this thing to win it all. When healthy, Harden is a No. 1 starter, an ace. Put him in a rotation with Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Ryan Dempster and Sean Marshall, and it can take a team to the World Series. Of course, all these guys, especially Harden, have to stay healthy. Harden has had shoulder problems, as has Zambrano. (Marshall would be my preference over Jason Marquis, whom the Cubs can send to the bullpen.)

I firmly agree about Jason Marquis. Marshall may be headed back to AAA, however.

ESPN’s Rob Neyer is less bullish about the trade, at least from a Cubs point of view:

The key to this trade, from the A's perspective, is right-handed starter Sean Gallagher. Still only 22, Gallagher has already breezed through Triple-A and has a real shot at a long and happy career. I'll spare you the scouting report (which is glowing). But in 70 Triple-A innings, Gallagher has struck out 67 batters, walked 14 and given up three homers. He hasn't been overworked as a pro.

You know what this reminds me of? When the A's traded Mark Mulder to the Cardinals and got Dan Haren plus two other prospects. Since then, Haren's won 51 games and Mulder's won 22.

I don't know that Gallagher's going to win more games than Harden over the next few years. I wouldn't bet the house against it, though. And he might even win more games than Harden this summer.

In fact -- and I'm surprised that I'm writing this -- the A's might be better right now than they were yesterday. Beane's giving up on 2008? Nah. He's just retooling for the stretch run.

Beane does have a history with these kinds of trades that I’m wary of.

Chone Smith, creator of the CHONE projection system, has projections for us:

Harden, Cubs: 2.98 ERA, 11.3 K/9. If his strikeout rate wasn't high enough, now he gets to face weaker lineups (if you still don't believe the NL is inferior check out the latest round of interleague whoop-ass) and he gets to strike out pitchers. The easiest call I'm going to make since I proclaimed Tampa Bay as 2008 contenders is that Harden will remind Cubs fans of Mark Prior.

This could be a good thing or a bad thing. He could be every bit as dominant as Mark was from 2002-2005, or his arm could fall off, which has been known to happen.

Luckily the Cubs grabbed some insurance as well in Gaudin. He projects to a respectable 4.08 ERA for Chicago. If he's not needed he can join the bullpen, but he's a better pitcher than Jason Marquis so maybe he should just go straight to the rotation anyway.

A's get a lot of surplus value, cheap decent players under team control for awhile. The Cubs get the most outstanding player in the deal, assuming he doesn't get hurt, and had the depth to deal from. Trade looks reasonable from both sides.

Meanwhile, Dan Szymborski and his ZiPS projection system are equally bullish about our new pitchers:

Yes, Harden has a bad injury history, but he's been healthy for the longest period in years and the Cubs aren't really giving up much else. If you consider Gaudin and Gallagher even and I'm not sure that's even the case, the Cubs are giving up for a brilliant but risky pitcher Murton, Patterson and Donaldson. I like Matt Murton, but the Cubs have never really been interested in him and don't value him at all, Patterson's like 11th on their 2B depth chart, and Donaldson's an organizational player if he's lucky. From the point of view of the Cubs, they essentially picked up Rich Harden for free.

The A's had no business throwing in Gaudin in a trade I think they lose without including him. Murton's a nice player, but the A's need a serious bat - with Thomas hurting lately and Cust having one of his patented cold streaks, Tanner Boyle could beat the crap out of the hitters. Murton's better than Emil Brown, but Billy Beane has no excuse for not being able to find lots and lots of players who are better than Emil Brown.

He projects a 2.12 ERA from Harden and a 3.74 ERA out of Gaudin the rest of the season.

Seriously, can we please get rid of Jason Marquis? Please?

Ken Rosenthal has video reax for Fox Sport. He says the deal has been in the works for about a month. He says that talks were “at a standstill” as the A’s demanded Gallagher; the A’s willingness to part with Gaudin was what finally got the deal done. The key to the trade, he says, is Harden’s health – if he goes down, the A’s look like the clear victors.

And there are health concerns - Harden had a "dead arm" in his last start, with 4-7 MPH missing off his fastball. I want to go ahead and remind everyone that the Cubs had full access to Harden's health records and likely have had a physical done on Harden recently.

Great Info

Great info, as always, Colin.

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