Goatriders of the Apocalypse

2009 Recap: Rich Harden

Rich Harden
I told you all about how Ryan Dempster let the Cubs in strikeouts. As it turns out, he almost didn't.

Rich Harden pitched 59 fewer innings, started five fewer games -- and at the end of the season, only trailed Demp by one in the strikeout category.

Of his 26 starts, Harden racked up eight or more strikeouts in 12 of them. As you may or may not know, 12 is really close to half of 26. So that is really super great.

Rich's 171 strikeouts in 141 innings gave him a rate of nearly 11 K's per nine innings pitched. Unfortunately, Rich never managed to get through all nine innings this season.

In fact, he only threw more than six innings exactly five times this year. And Harden never did make it to the eighth inning.

So what's a 141-inning strikeout machine worth? According to Fangraphs, probably about $8 million. Intuitively, I think that makes sense. Furthermore, it's what Harden was paid for 2009.

As for what Rich's value is going forward, it seems as though the Cubs really don't care (our friends at MLB Trade Rumors have a good summary of those discussions).

And I'm glad to hear it.

In fact, you may recall the buzz from last year that was generated by the Cubs' placing Harden on waivers. Reports suggested he'd been claimed by the Twins; a deal was never reached.

I'm sorry that deal never materialized, and I'm glad Harden's projecting to be a Type B free agent now because I don't even wanna mess with that arbitration garbage with him.

I say that because Rich is what Dusty Baker might call a broken dude. (I'm not sure he's ever used that exact phrase but I know he likes to say "dude," and frankly, so do I.)

Early in his career, the guy used to throw four or five pitches; in 2009, the Cubs put him on a strict fastball-and-change-up-only diet to keep his arm healthy. You know how well that worked.

Throws two pitches? Can't go more than six (or really, five) innings? Gets a TONNNNN of strikeouts? This doesn't exactly sound like a starting pitcher to me.

But Harden will insist on being treated in free agency like a starter, putting him out of the Cubs' price range as far as I'm concerned.

On a personal note, I've found Rich Harden's short-lived Cubs career to be an exciting one. I was thrilled when we got him; I was blown away by his double-digit strikeout games at the end of last year.

I was really excited when we got him, as I thought it sent a positive message to fans (our response to the CC deal). And the crap we gave up for him was... well, crap (Sean Gallagher, Eric Patterson, Matt Murton and Josh Donaldson -- do you miss ANY of those guys?).

But as cool as it is to watch a guy get 10 Ks in 5 IP, those outings always force you to worry about innings 6 through 9, which is something you really don't want to do every time out. So I'm with Jimmy H. on this one here.

Thanks for the memories, Richie. As far as I'm concerned, you can come back and pitch the ninth for the Cubs any time you want.

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