Rich Harden traded to the Chicago Cubs: Reaction

Reaction is already coming in strong to the Cubs trade for Rich Harden. Let's take a look:
  • Oakland A's GM Billy Beane had this to say about the A's end of the deal:
    "I don't necessarily think we've taken a step back. I think we've taken a step forward for the next three to five years," Beane said. "We were balancing that the club's playing well but also keeping in mind that we've had numerous injuries over the last week. "
  • A part of this deal that certainly should not be overlooked is that Rich Harden's contract takes him through next year. Unlike the Brewers acquistion of CC Sabathia, this is not a rental. Jim Hendry discusses Harden's future with the Cubs:
    "We will have the rights for a year and a half, so that's the other advantage of him not being a free agent," Hendry said. "He has an option that could vest, or we could pick up the option or we could arbitrate. So he certainly has a chance to be a Cub through the end of next year."
  • The only potential drawback to this trade is Harden's health. If Harden can stay healthy (We've heard this before haven't we? Except it went like this: "If Mark Prior can stay healthy.." or "If Kerry Wood can stay healthy...". Let's hope this "if" works out better) this deal has a chance to be an absolute steal for the Cubs. It's unlikely that any of the players the Cubs gave up will be any huge loss-if Harden performs as he's capable and does so consistently this deal will be fantastic for the club. It can be assumed that the Cubs had their medical staff take a strong look at Harden before signing off on this one. Here's a snip for Hendry in that regard:
    “Obviously there’s some risk involved. He’s missed some time but he’s never had any surgery,” Hendry said. “We did extensive work with their doctors.”
  • As for Lou Piniella's reaction:

    "We're excited, really are," manager Lou Piniella said. "He's got really good stuff, knows how to win. He's a welcomed addition. This gives us another weapon. He'll fit in here really, really nice. Let's keep him healthy and pitching and go from there.

    "Jim's been trying to improve our team. He's talked to a few different clubs about our pitching. And yesterday Milwaukee made a nice deal for a left-handed starter and today Jim went out and got real good right-handed pitcher. Good to see he's so competitive. We get a top-of-the line rotation pitcher and a nice piece in the bullpen. This shows the Cubs will do everything in their power to get us where we want to go."

  • Not to be lost in this deal is that we also received Chad Gaudin as part of the package. Gaudin is a very useful reliever and, if necessary, is more than capable of starting. Gaudin will immediately help this bullpen and makes the Cubs pitching staff and rotation even deeper than before. Their lead over the Brewers in that regard has extended even further. Here's Lou on Gaudin:
    "I had Chad at Tampa Bay and he's got good stuff," Piniella said. "A nice hard sinker and a nice slider so he'll fit in good in our bullpen. This was a move where we got a top-of-the-line rotation pitcher and a nice piece in the bullpen."
  • Kudos to Goat Riders of the Apocolypse for their coverage of the Harden reaction. Courtesy of GROTA, here's ESPN's Buster Olney's thoughts on the deal:

    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."

  • Here's the Daily Herald's Bruce Miles's take on the deal, including an interesting point about Jason Marquis:

    "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.)"

  • Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal offers his analysis in this video. Kenny R notes that the deal has been in the works for a month, but the Cubs were reluctant to include Sean Gallagher in the deal. The inclusion of Gaudin in the deal seemed to be the tipping point to get it done. KR says it all comes down to the health of Harden. If he's healthy, the Cubs win this deal. If not, the A's got a pretty good package for a player that just won't stay healthy. KR cites an anonymous GM that thinks Gallagher will provide more wins for the A's over the next year and a half than Harden will for the Cubs over the same timeframe.
  • ESPN's Rob Neyer chimes in on the deal. Taking a longer term view than most, Neyer compares this to a previous A's deal where Rich Harden is Mark Mulder and Sean Gallagher is Dan Haren. It'd be great to see Gallagher reach that level, especially if it were for the Cubs, but I'll trade that longshot for a chance to win this thing this year. You have to. Here's Neyer:

    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.

  • Some good stuff here from Baseball Musings breaking down the trade for both the Cubs and the A's. They seem to think that this deal is a win-win.
  • And, finally, let's get up some reaction from A's Nation. From a site appropriately named "Athletic's Nation," there's this. They're not too psyched about what Harden brought in return (calling Murton and Patterson AAAA players), they're fully expecting Gallagher to blossom and Harden to go down to injury soon. Maybe they're just bitter?
  • "The Drumbeat" of SFGate.com is not impressed with the return package either. They do seem upset about losing Gaudin, however, which is nice.
  • "Athletics Supporters" is upset in that they believe Harden's best days as a SP are still in front of him. He is, afterall, only 26 years old. They go so far as to call Harden a future Cy Young winner and potential HOFer. Wow. Easy. They're also upset to see Gaudin go. They like Murton to balance their primarily left-handed corner OFs but don't see a fit for EPat.

Comments (2)

arthur

July 9, 2008 at 10:01 AM

Fellow staff-

Would you agree with this statement?

-This trade for Harden has left the Cubs with a strong chance of acquiring other players. We gave up little compared to what we (toweldrills) expected to give up and were willing to give up.-

Arthur

Lionel

July 9, 2008 at 10:18 AM

I think strong is a bit of a stretch. The Cubs have the ability to make another small move, if needed. Either a left-handed reliever (which is dependent on how Erye's recovery is going and if Cotts continues to throw well) or another spare OF (given the injuries/injury history of ReJo, Sori, and Edmonds). As for what the Cubs have in the tank to make such a deal, that is open to debate. The Cubs aren't likely to give up Veal or Ceda unless it's a big deal. Marshall, Ascanio, and Hart all have too much value to the Cubs, given the nature of the 'pen. It would have to be a guy like Micah Hoffpauir, Jake Fox, or Matt Craig, which isn't going to net you a lot in return, but then again, none of those guys appear to have a prominent contributing future with the Cubs.