So long Rich Harden

Where’s there’s smoke, there’s usually fire, and a blaze was uncovered about 20 minutes ago when the A’s announced that they’ve traded Rich Harden to the Chicago Cubs along with reliever Chad Gaudin. In return, the A’s get right-handed pitcher Sean Gallagher, outfielder Matt Murton and infielder Eric Patterson and catcher Josh Donaldson. All but Donaldson have spent time on the Cubs’ roster this season, and Gallagher will immediately jump into the A’s rotation, A’s general manager Billy Beane said.

The deal comes amid myriad reports out of Chicago that Cubs general manager Jim Hendry had been talking often with Beane about Harden. Beane basically confirmed that in his session with reporters, saying that it was Hendry’s stick-with-it-ness that ultimately created the deal.

I like the move from the A’s standpoint. As I blogged Monday, Harden hadn’t looked like his normal overpowering self in his past two starts, and with 11 straight starts behind him, I felt like the A’s were playing with house money. Talked to a couple of people in the organization moments before the deal was announced, and they seemed to  have that same sense.

As I also blogged, the standings had something to do with it, too. Beane said the team has weighed the recent injuries to Bobby Crosby and Eric Chavez against what its goals were at the beginning of the season. He said he sees this trade “not as a step back, but a step forward for the next 3-5 years.” We’ll see, and what will be real interesting is the reaction of fans to this move, given that Beane’s winter trades of Nick Swisher and Dan Haren yielded very positive results.

I think Beane, again, deserves the benefit of the doubt. This A’s club was not built to win this year. And even with Harden aboard, it was hard to see that happening. Beane obviously is a better evaluator of such things than me, and I tend to go with a guy’s track record on such things. So I’m guessing the short-term pain will be replaced by long-term gain.

As for Harden, it potentially could be a great deal. It could also be a nightmare. He goes to a legitimate World Series contender in a great city. This move is essentially the Cubs’ response to the C.C. Sabathia acquisition by Milwaukee, so there will be pressure on Harden to be the type of ace he’s always been envisioned as being. But if Harden gets hurt, the fans will be far more unforgiving than they are here.

More later.



  • Larry Biittner

    If the A’s are smart–and I think there is little doubt that they are smarter if poorer than the Cubs–they will put Matt Murton in LF every day and leave him the hell alone. I have not reviewed the game logs, but by my recollection there were only about three stretches spread across 2005 and 2006 where the Cubs started Murton consistently. Each time he hit well, and each time the Cubs inexplicably benched him.

    I can only speculate that he is annoying in the clubhouse, because both Dusty and Lou seemed determined not to give him a chance. His minor league numbers bear out the fact that he can hit, .310/.385./.455. I don’t see him hitting 30 home runs, but if he’s ever given 600 PA you should see 40 doubles, 100 runs, and a good OBP.

  • Dan Waterman

    We knew it; Billy the Beane boy would do something like this. He is so predictable, I knew he would trade Harden, his style of ‘dumping’ veteran players and bringing triple A players does not fool anyone.

    Actually all the other GMs in the league are ‘thankful’ to him that he is training players for them out of the minor league, bringing them to the majors and trading them. Billy the boy does not want win he has his own agenda and his ego bigger than city of Oakland.

  • I’m sure there will be a lot of A’s fans that are disgruntled with this deal, but Larry is right with Matt Murton. We Cub fans truly liked the kid, but there was no place for him on our club. Actually, there was at one time, Hendry was under more pressure to make big, drastic moves as opposed to grooming real talent. Sort of the anti-Billy Beane. Anyway, please, for his sake and ours, enjoy your time with Murton and let the kid thrive.

  • Bill

    A’s fans, Harden has not and will not stay healthy! Have you watched him the last 5 years? Its a credit to Beane that someone (Cubs) would trade decent prospects for damaged goods. The Cubs were desperate to counter the CC trade and Beane targeted who he wanted from the Cubs. The Swisher/Haren trades provoked the same negative reaction, and we received terrific young players in those deals, have patience A’s fans, and trust in Beane.

  • Gene

    As a longtime A’s fan checking in from Chicago…

    Murton cannot play, period. He is not a good hitter, he has 101 chances to establish himself never took the bull by the horns. Gallagher has potential but he is a year or so away, Patterson is good not great, again not a consistant hitter on any level, good speed though. Josh Donaldson who knows. Thhe people in Chicago are giggling about us taking Gio Gonzales in the Swisher trade, they love him now that his hair is one color, although Ryan Sweeney is playing well.

    In Beane we trust….

  • Carl

    i would understand the trade if harden didn’t have another year on his contract, that’s what is baffling, and like someone said, gaudin has a better era and more experience than gallagher? Maybe beane thought it was just best for the team to move these two guys, i can understand that, but if you can’t get more for one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball i don’t know if you do this trade.

  • Jan K Oski

    Bill, you’re talking sense that A’s fan don’t want to read. They’d prefer to be bottom-feeders like the rest of the small market teams. They don’t see that the Twins and Rays are doing the same thing and are successful. Guess who they’re copying? Beane is the man, and A’s fan who think otherwise are apes in clothing.

  • bz

    A Cubs fan, here, checking in on the reaction from the other side of the table.

    You’ll like Gallagher – young, strong, good. You’ll like Murton, too, but you gotta play him every day and not get on his case when he shows no home run power at the plate. Patterson? Fast, in center, and on the base paths – not that he gets to touch the dirt all that often! The big win (aside from Gallagher) may be Davidson. With starting all-star catcher – and rookie -Goevany Soto on the Cubs, no need to keep another up-and-coming catcher. So bye-bye Davidson. I suspect you’ll be pleased.

    On this end, we’re hoping that Harden digs in, but kinda figure he’ll get hurt after a handful of starts. To that, was Gaudin any good as a starter?! Sure wish they threw with their left hands.

    And say, what’s up with that all-the-dogs-you-can-eat in the uppper deck thing? What’s that cost? What’s the record?! Worth a trip?!

  • ss396

    Beane is not infallible. The Braves stole Tim Hudson from the A’s for Juan Cruz, Dan Meyer and Charles Thomas.

  • Chi-Jes

    A Cubs fans perspective! This trade is definitly risk/reward for the Cub. We all know what were getting in Hardin he’s either hurt or lights out. Sean Gallagher is a good young pitcher whos only 22 years old and throws a 95 mile per hour fastball. Murton is a singles hitter who doesnt do much else. Patterson may already be better than that bum of a brother he has. During the limited time hes been up he’s shown flashes of a five tool player. Don’t know much about Donaldson, but Geo Soto is well on his way to becoming the best cather in baseball, so you can have him. Hardin very well can come over and be Mark Prior Part 2, but at this point in time with this team we needed to take the chance at putting us over the top. IMO the deal is well worth the risk, if he manages to be healthy it gives us one of the best 1-2 punches in baseball. Thanks for the help Billy! Its been 100 effin years! GO CUBS!

  • Bee

    The thing that surprised me about the Harden trade was not that Rich was traded, but that the Cubbies got Chad Gaudin too. The jury is out on the players we got in the deal but their numbers don’t look like they measure up to what we gave up. Who is going to fill Chad’s role? He was a creditable starter and I am sorry to see him go.

    That being said, Curt Young is an outstanding pitching coach and Billy says that he (Billy) has been interested in Sean Gallagher for a long time, so maybe the latter can become a good starting pitcher for the A’s under Curt’s tutelage.

    Yes, the Hudson trade didn’t work out so well for the A’s, but Billy’s other moves have been masterful. I do agree that Harden hasn’t had his usual velocity in his last two starts and that must mean that something physical is going on with him. Maybe we traded him in the nick of time. He is a special pitcher, but if he is breaking down, as experience has shown he often does, it was time to move him.

    I think we should take a wait-and-see attitude about the trade. My guess is that Billy will come out smelling like a rose again.

  • Bee

    Larry Bittner, did you graduate for GGU Law School in 1979? If so, we have to talk. I was known as Bee Kendall then.