Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Rich Harden, The Morning After

I promise at some point I’ll write about something that isn’t Rich Harden. (Maybe I could follow up with a Ryan Theriot post later today?)

Baseball consultant Mitchel Lichtman:

Ironically, adding Harden, a great pitcher, barely increases their chances of getting into the post-season, as they were almost a lock before. Of course, he greatly increases their chances of winning IN the post-season - if he lasts that long, which might be 50-50 at best.)

BTW, losing Harden only decreases OAK chances of making the post by 4% and that is not including any possible value from Patterson, Murton, and Gallagher, over and above what they have now.

AccuScore comes up with similar numbers.

Dave Cameron:

Harden is obviously the better pitcher, but we have to account for the difference in durability as well, so let’s add Harden’s theoretical replacement into the equation. The A’s are one of the best organizations in baseball at finding spare parts to put up solid performances in their rotation (their defense and home park don’t hurt), so let’s assume that Amalgamation Of Harden Replacements will make up the 80 inning difference by posting a 5.50 FIP, a tick or two above league wide replacement level.

That brings the combined totals for Harden + Harden Replacements to 180 innings with a 4.25 FIP, compared to the 180 innings we were projecting from Gallagher at a 5.00 FIP. That’s a difference of three-fourths of a run per nine innings, which while significant, adds up to a grand total of about 15 runs over the course of an entire season.

Fifteen runs, or roughly 1.5 wins - that’s the entirety of downgrading from Rich Harden to Sean Gallagher, based on the assumptions I made above. If you don’t like the numbers I used, feel free to plug in your own, but unless you’re very bullish on Harden’s health, you’re going to come to the conclusion that the swap will cost the A’s at most two or three wins between now and the end of 2009, when Harden’s contract expires.

We did get Gaudin as well, which Dave doesn’t take into account.

The Phillies shied away from dealing for Harden due to health issues. I think the Cubs were the one team that really matched up well for Harden; they wanted a top-shelf pitcher but don’t have the need to ride him like a horse to the playoffs – other buyers like the Phills and Brewers are looking more for a horse they can ride down the stretch.

The New York press has noticed fly-over country long enough to make the Prior-Wood reference.

Cubs teammates react to the Harden deal.

ESPN’s Keith Law (because if there’s anything GROTA’s been missing the past day, it’s reactions from ESPN writers) has some nice things to say:

When he's 100 percent, Rich Harden is an ace, a potential No. 1 starter with dominant stuff who can miss bats. Only A.J. Burnett can match Harden's stuff among pitchers we believe are available in trades, and Harden carries neither Burnett's baggage nor his horribly team-unfriendly player option.

By getting Harden, the Cubs added to a strength; their rotation already led the National League in ERA. They can push Sean Marshall back to the bullpen, which is probably his best role, or roll the dice on Marshall's recent success as a starter and bump Jason Marquis, their worst starter and someone unlikely to improve anytime soon, to the bullpen.

Of course, Harden has thrown more than 130 big league innings just once in his career, and has already thrown more major league innings in 2008 than he did in the past two seasons combined. He's an extremely high risk, and you could argue that Oakland was already playing with house money, having received 13 more starts from Harden than they had any reason to expect.

Chad Gaudin is an outstanding second player -- hate to call him a "throw-in" here -- for the Cubs, as a short reliever who could be dominant in that role in the NL. His fastball/slider combo has produced over 300 innings of above-average pitching since Toronto discarded him after a grand total of two big league starts, and his career-long vulnerability against left-handed batters has vanished this year, in large part because of his improved control.

How about know Cardinals fan Dayn Perry?

But there's another concern: Parting with Gallagher means that Jason Marquis must hold down the fifth starter's job. It's almost a historical imperative that Marquis will collapse in the second half. For his career, Marquis' ERA before the break is an acceptable 4.29; after the break, however, that figure rises to 4.97. At present, the Cubs' other options for the five hole include Rich Hill, whose control problems have forced him all the way down to rookie ball, and the newly acquired Gaudin, who's much more effective when deployed as a reliever. So if Harden goes down and Marquis struggles in the second half (neither is particularly unlikely), then the Cubs suddenly have serious issues in the rotation. In other words, the loss of Gallagher is not to be discounted.

Hi, Dayn, I’d like to introduce you to “being wrong.” Starters the Cubs could use to replace Jason Marquis right the hell now:

  • Sean Marshall
  • Chad Gaudin
  • Jon Lieber
  • Kevin Hart

And those are just the guys on the 40-man roster. We have others in AAA if need-be. Please, please get rid of Jason Marquis, Cubs.

Funny Stuff

Hi, Dayn, I’d like to introduce you to “being wrong.”
Gave me a good chuckle during a boring morning at work.

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