Cubs See Your CC Sabathia, And Raise You Rich Harden, Chad Gaudin
Home to the three best records in the National League, the Central Division race is officially on. Monday, the Milwaukee Brewers formally announced the acquisition of 2007 Cy Young winner CC Sabathia. Tuesday, the Cubs went out an acquired Rich Harden, whom everyone agrees has Cy Young caliber stuff.
It may look like a knee-jerk reactionary move on the Cubs part, but if you're familiar with GM Jim Hendry and the A's Billy Beane, you can be certain this was in the works for some time. But even if is this deal were somehow miraculously put together in 24 hours, it's a promising gamble for both sides.
The Cubs acquired Rich Harden and fellow right-hand pitcher Chad Gaudin, in exchange for promising young pitching Sean Gallagher, corner outfielder Matt Murton, utility guy Eric Patterson and minor league catcher Josh Donaldson.
Obviously the Cubs make out with one of the game's best pitchers with one very Cub-like qualifiers: IF he stays healthy. The one point Hendry wanted to hammer home today in a pre-game press conference was that Harden has never had a surgery. That doesn't make this Cubs fan any more comfortable, but it's a risk worth taking when you haven't won a World Series in 100 years, nor even participated in the Fall Classic since 1945.
Harden is just 26, under contract through 2009 and has had a string of ten straight quality starts. Gaudin will like join the Chicago's bullpen and give Carlos Marmol some relief as crunch time nears.
Oakland gets a pitcher the Cubs have been very high on in Sean Gallagher. He's just 22 and has essentially come in to replace veteran Jason Marquis in the rotation. Gallagher will be a good one in 2-3 years, especially with the Athletics pitching guidance. Corner outfielder Murton desperately needed a change of scenery, and is far more talented than his numbers currently show. He's been in trade talks for two years now and probably not by coincidence, has struggled for two years. Ironically, you can thank Alfonso Soriano's injury for making this trade happen. His DL stint gave Eric Patterson and opportunity to play left field and he had some very good games over the last month while the Athletics were busy scouting.
As a Cubs fan my take may be biased, but it's hard not to love this deal. It's nice to be able to make a move like this, while still in first place and get a player that's still young like Harden. Of course, I will now be on pins and needles with each of his starts worrying about injury, but that's just the nature of Cubdom.
Do you like this move for the Cubs? Too risky with injury history? Would you rather have Harden a year plus or Sabathia just for the remainder of this season?