If healthy, Harden tough to handle
July, 9, 2008
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.