When They Pull a Knife, You Pull a Gun
I've had a little time to digest the trade since my initial reaction and a little time to actually write about it now. I don't think there's too many warm-blooded Cubs fan out there who aren't happy about the deal...other than maybe a Chicken Little or two that are never happy with anything the Cubs do.
We all know the risks. Rich Harden has all the durability of a roll of toilet paper caught in a rainstorm. He was called up half way through the 2003 season, proceeded to make 31 starts in 2004 and has battled injuries ever since. The list is too long and complicated for me to dive into, so we'll wait for the good Dr. Hecht to chime in on that side of the trade. Harden's 13 starts this year are his highest total since 2005 and he spent almost a month of this year already on the disabled list. But in those 13 starts, he's gone 5-1
with a 2.34 ERA, 10.75 K/9, 2.97 K:BB and 0.58 HR/9.
He once had a fastball that could hit 100, although he seems to have dialed it back a bit this year. He compliments that fastball with a fantastic change-up and that's pretty much it. He'll occasionally throw a slider in there, but seems to have scrapped it for the most part this season. A quick and dirty comparison with some of the best in the game using career numbers:
Not bad company to be in and let us not forget that he's still just 26 years old. He signed a four-year extension in 2005 that includes a team option of $7 million for 2009 with no buyout. But, even if the Cubs decline that team option, they would still retain his rights as he won't reach six years of service time until the 2009 season. And of course, there's little chance they wouldn't pick up the option unless his arm literally blows up this year.
On Sunday evening -- the same night when word broke that the Brewers
had worked out a deal for CC Sabathia -- Hendry indicated to Beane for
the first time that he would make Gallagher available in a Harden deal,
but it would create a problem: If Gallagher was traded, the Cubs
wouldn't have the kind of depth they needed to deal with an injury.
"Let me call you back," Beane said.
Beane had an idea. He could fill Hendry's need for depth by
adding veteran swingman Chad Gaudin in the trade. He phoned Hendry back
on Monday night with the suggestion. "That could work," Hendry said,
and the two general managers began piecing together other parts of the
Okay, Gaudin isn't special and his stuff isn't nearly as electric as Sean Gallagher, but he is just 25 years old. His Rotoworld page seems to indicate he'll be eligible for free agency in 2011, but he entered 2008 with 3.044 (3 years and 44 days) of service time, which by my calculations makes him eligible to be a free agent after 2010. Either way, the Cubs have his rights for a few years. And for 2008, which after all is what this trade is all about, he's a good bet to equal or surpass the outputs of Gallagher or Sean Marshall. He'll start his Cubs career in the bullpen, but adds another arm that can move to the rotation if needed this year and can compete for a rotation job in subsequent years.
The Cubs didn't get off cheap though. Sean Gallagher had the makings of a top of the rotation starter. Maybe not quite ace material, but someone who could put together a couple of All-Star seasons. At just age 22, he was already getting major league hitters to look silly this season, albeit with all the consistency you'd expect of a 22-year old. Matt Murton and Eric Patterson were decent players with no place on the 2008 team and no place on the 2009 team either. I'm not sure where Patterson will fit in with the A's right now, other than to make Mark Ellis possibly available. Murton though should get a shot at left field as long as Frank Thomas is on the disabled list. Jack Cust will likely move back to a full-time DH I expect and then it'll be between Murton and Emil Brown. Josh Donaldson was the supplemental pick we received for Juan Pierre in the 2007 draft and someone our very own Arizona Phil ranked as the number one Cubs prospect to start the year. He struggled out of the gate this season in Peoria, but had started to turn things around ia bit in June. So now that Juan Pierre for Ricky Nolasco, Sergio Mitre and Reynel Pinto deal has evolved to Ricky Nolasco, Sergio Mitre, Reynel Pinto, Eric Patterson, Matt Murton, Sean Gallagher for Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin - phew, so much better!
It's the proverbial win-win trade scenario for the Cubs. The current starting staff already had the best ERA in the NL and they just added someone who would top all of them in that category. And just in case Harden does go down, the Cubs got his likely replacement in Chad Gaudin in the same deal. Yeah, they did lose some good players, some of them may even end up being great players, but none that were going to provide the impact and game-changing abilities that Rich Harden can in 2008.
btw...Thanks AZ Phil. I'm really enjoying your take on this trade.
I'm a bit disappointed on the Warren experience. Essentially they gave Castro away for crickets (OK, well they signed Zobrist with the Castro salary dump). Otherwise one might look at it as Chapman for Castro and our #1 minors prospect (Torres) + McKinney/Crawford. Seems pricey for a 2 month rental. We will see if this price tag is that steep in a relative way based on the remaining deadline deals for relievers.
Yep. One of the great things about this team (in addition to being really good at baseball) was the "likable" factor. Feels a bit different now. Who knows...maybe Chapman will be the king of the dance parties.
Here are some possible corresponding minor league moves we might see in the aftermath of the Chapman trade:
SOUTH BEND to MYRTLE BEACH: OF Donnie Dewees and INF Bryant Flete
EUGENE to SOUTH BEND: OF Robert Garcia and INF Vimael Machin
There is really no reason to replace Billy McKinney at Tennessee because both Chris Coghlan and Jorge Soler are doing their rehab at Tennessee.
And there are plenty of pitchers at Iowa. No need to replace Warren at AAA. .
I am 70 years old. The Cubs last played in the World Series in 1945. I was born in 1946. I hate to lose a prospect like Torres, but when the opportunity is there to get that World Series ring, you go for it. This was the idea in stock piling all this young talent. I would like to see Reddick added now and the Cubbies should be done.
I would expect Richard to accept an optional assignment because based on how he's played this season, there is a decent chance that he won't find work elsewhere. Rather stay and potentially get a ring. Same goes for Coghlan since he's struggled mightily this year.
Edwards should not go down. He's pitched very well and Maddon is very impressed with him. I would expect Grimm to go down for Cahill so he can get back on track (he's pitched better in July, but he's not getting enough appearances).
chitownmvp01: Indeed Clayton Richard would seem to be odd man out once Chapman reports, but Richard might accept a minor league assignment if he is promised a return to Chicago on 9/1 when MLB Active List rosters expand (Richard has minor league ioptions left).
The only player in the deal that would cause me a second thought is Gleyber Torres.
McKinney and Crawford are decent prospects but both are redundant/replaceable in the system and Warren was really only a middle-reliever or #6 starter, so to me it's really just Torres for Chapman.
There is no Comp pick for players traded mid-season. 2+ months of Chapman is it.
to get one of the best you have to give up one/some of your best...but it's a bit painful to watch the system's best prospect walk for any 2-3 month rental, especially one that's not an everyday player.
I assume Chapman will replace Richard on the roster, but who goes down when Cahill gets activated? Maybe Grimm?
And when Soler and Coghlan get healthy, how do they fit them on the roster when they're ready to be activated?
We are giving up a lot, but it's not like we're trading Addison Russell for 2+ months of Jason Hammel. When impact players become available, they are going to cost you. The other bids could also have been high.
Having Chapman as a rental is potentially less disruptive than having him come in with an extension in place.
Billy McKinney had season-ending knee surgery last August and came to Minor League Camp this year somewhat restricted. (He was used mostly as a DH in Cactus League Minor League Camp games), and I'm not sure he's 100% right now (he's repeating AA, and his XBH numbers are way down, like he's not getting good rotation in his lowev half). That might have been part of the reason why the trade wasn't completed right away.
Rashad Crawford was a basketball star in HS (he was known as "Baby Jordan", and baseball was only his second sport) and he has plus-speed and athleticism, so when the Cubs drafted him (Keith Lockhart was the scout) he was seen as a long-term project.
I was at Fitch Park the day that Rashad Crawford became a LH hitter, He waa never a switch-hitter, He went directly from being a RH hitter to a LH hitter, which I had never seen before.
I'm with Rob G and Johann here. It's not about Chapman as a pitcher. I just don't want to have to block out a real problem (the domestic violence) in order to try to enjoy the frivolous ball and stick game.
ROB G & BOB R: You're right. The QO can only be extended if the player spends the entire previous season with one club, so only the Yankees could have offered one to Chapman (if he wasn't traded). If an Article XX-B FA is traded during the season, the new club can't offer a QO. .