Harden Hard-On

July 08, 2008 | Comments (0) | by Rich Funk

See that angelic glow behind Harden? It's his guardian angel. It's one of 15 currently assigned to the oft-injured ace.

Before I say anything else, I'll chime in my official thoughts on the "Sabathia To The Brewers" situation. As many many blogs and radio shows have pointed out, adding Sabathia to the Brewers' rotation will maybe net them 3-5 wins more than if they would have kept Jeff "Jason Marquis Part Deux" Suppan in the rotation. That comes out to about 1.5-2.5 games in the standings. So as long as the Cubs are about 4-5 games better than the Brewers, it shouldn't make much difference, right?

But here's where it gets a bit scary: having a pitcher like Sabathia in a short series in the playoffs is extremely useful. A combo donkeypunch of Sheets and Sabathia in the NLCS would be pretty tough.

However, all is not lost for the Cubs on the road to the World Series. Check out the highly scientific chart below put together by our crack staff of TMS scientists (i.e. Chaim wearing nothing but a labcoat after 5 sshots of Patron):

As you can see from the chart above, Ben Sheets is still due for his annual season-ending injury. The odds of it are at 91%, just behind the eventual Amy Winehouse overdose. So before the Sabathia deal, the Brewers had one ace. Add Sabathia and subtract Sheets, and you've still got one ace.

Math can be fun!

But enough about our portly division rivals to the north. The hot buzz right now from the Sun Times is Rich Harden to the Cubs. Sure, it may be just idle speculation, but what kind of Cub blog would we be if we didn't take the smallest amount of rumor and run with it as if it were fact. With me now is E-Claire from over at Steve Finley Was Here, a true-blue (er...green?) A's fan to help us take a look at a potential deal from a realistic point of view. Because if it were up to Cub fans, we'd try to argue that sending Mike Fontenot to Oakland for Harden, Duchscherer and half their farm system would be "a pretty good deal for both sides".

Thanks for coming out E-Claire and welcome again to the Saloon.

Thanks for having me. What's that smell?

Er...Chaim's busy with...stuff. Anywho, on to the questions. First thing is first. The A's wouldn't dream of trading Rich Harden if they want a shot at the AL West this year. Considering Oakland has had a lot of success in the second half andd the fact that the Angels have a tendancy to blow balls, do you think the A's can make a playoff push in 2008?

Well...meh. Is there a chance? Yes. I mean if everyone got healthy right now (Frank Thomas, Chavez, Crosby) and started making frequent deposits into Souvenier City, then we'd have a shot. But is it likely with our injury issues and inexperience? Not likely. I think we would have to bring in a short-term bat (Matt Holliday, Brian Giles, Jose Canseco?) to beef up the offfense, and I'd rather keep our prospects than ship them off for a rental. We have a core of young players (Suzuki, Carlos Gonzalez, Ryan Sweeney, Greg Smith, Dana Eveland) that have the potential to develop into a good ball club. If we're going to build for the future, let's build for the future.

There's been a lot of talk about the Cubs not having the prospects to land CC Sabathia, but Harden can actually be better than he is when healthy. Then again, apparently talks have been going on for a month between the Cubs and A's, so Chicago has to have something worth talking about. Say Harden is traded. What positions need to be adddressed for the A's?

I think the A's are pretty set at catcher and two of the outfield spots with Suzuki, Sweeney and Carlos Gonzalez respectively. Travis Buck could take up the third spot, but he's been up and down so far. And the A's are showing interest in re-signing Mark Ellis in the offseason. What we really need is some power in the lineup, especially at the corner infield spots. I'd like to get a 3rd baseman just because I don't think Jack Hannahan is the long-term solution over there. The rotation isn't really in dire need, and we could use a few guys in the bullpen, but who couldn't?

The Cubs seem to have a few high-upside prospects in the minors that have their paths to the majors blocked. The outfield, third and first base are all solid for the next few years in Chicago, so names like Hoffpauir, Murton, Vitters and Colvin could be available. All things considered, will Rich Harden be wearing an A's uniform on August 1?

It really just depends on the offer. I think there are some contending teams that are out there that could use another starter and wouldn't mind mortgaging the future for a shot this year like the Brewers did. I don't think Beane is the type of GM that will just give him away, so he's gonna have to be blown away by an offer. The real question is this: Is Billy Beane good enough of a GM to con someone into taking Joe Blanton off his hands?

Well, there's always the Dodgers out there, and Brian Cashman has been known to screw up a trade of 5, so it's always a possibility.

As for myself, I'd practically sell my soul to have Rich Harden come to the North Side. Yes, I know he keeps getting hurt and yes, I did not learn my lesson from Kerry Wood/Mark Prior. I'm ready to do what it takes to get things done this year. And as you can tell from the title to this piece, just the thought of Harden in blue pinstripes makes me aroused in ways I didn't know were possible. I mean, just look at that all-American slightly-perverted smile...

"Sup, hotness? Ever had a wine cooler?"