I guess I am not surprised the Cubs traded for Rich Harden. He can be as dominant as any pitcher today. He is also among the most fragile.
Given the Cubs very recent history with Mark Prior, though, I was surprised that they were willing to take this sort of risk. How many heartaches did that team suffer through with Prior, waiting for him to be healthy enough to recapture the brilliance he showed in 2003? Every year, every Spring, the mantra was "if healthy, the Cubs rotation..." but since 2003, there's been nothing to show for it. Heck, there's nothing to show for the Cubs for 100 years, so what's a little bit of injury history, I guess.
Amazingly, Kerry Wood has been healthy this year, finally. Prior remains out all year.
I hope Harden remains healthy and as effective as he's been thus far. He's amazing to watch. But if Vegas posts odds, I'll take the under.
UPDATE: I just found Jayson Stark's article, toeing a similar line:
But the bigger news was over in a different column on Harden's stat sheet -- the all-important Games Started column.
That's because he has made it through 11 starts in a row over the past two months without missing a single turn. And that, unfortunately, has been a phenomenon no one has seen much. Kind of like Comet Kohoutek.
It was the first time Harden had made that many starts in succession since 2005. And it's that injury history that already is making those ever-edgy North Siders nervous, after way too many injury-rehab updates on their previous saviors, Mark
Prior and Kerry Wood, the past few years.
In fact, one baseball man called Oakland's decision to trade Harden now -- while he's pitching great and the A's are still in a race -- a "serious red flag." Meanwhile, in a potentially related development, a scout we surveyed reported that Harden's velocity hasn't been quite the same in his most recent couple of starts, since his eight-inning, 11-strikeout two-hitter against the Phillies on June 26.
Consider yourselves warned, Cubbies fans.
But the Cubs understood that, too. Understood exactly what they were dealing for in Harden. He might miss a turn or two. Or 10. But at this point in the life of their quasi-tragic franchise, they weren't interested in playing it safe. Not anymore.