The Cubs and Rich Harden

Cubs starter Rich Harden is having a great second half, going 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA in seven starts. Harden has proved to be fairly healthy this season, starting 21 games with just one trip to the disabled list.


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Rich Harden 8-7 22 21 0 0 0 0 118.0 98 59 53 21 50 138 4.04 1.25

Harden is leading the team in strike outs with 138, and has been the teams most consistent starter since the All-Star break.

Signing Harden to a four-year deal for $50 million-$60 million is risky, but that's probably what they will have to pay to keep him. Harden has a career winning percentage of .645 (49-27) and 3.36 ERA, which is superior to Zambrano's .613 winning percentage (103-65) and 3.47 ERA.

It is hard to see Rich Harden receiving a four year deal worth that much. He is making 7 million dollars right not, is he worthy of 150% raise? From 2006-2008, Harden has averaged a little over 13 starts per season. For comparison, Carlos Zambrano averaged a little over 32 starts per season.

Harden leads the league in strikeouts-per-nine innings with a 10.53 K/9. He is one of the top 30 pitchers when it comes to strikeouts, ERA, and WHIP - but his history of injuries should hold him back from receiving the big contract. 

Offseason moves?

The Cubs should not overpay to keep Rich Harden. With Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly, and Randy Wells in the rotation next season, the fifth spot could be put up for Tom Gorzelanny, Jeff Samardzija, and Sean Marshall to fight for. Imagine if they still had Jason Marquis!


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Jason Marquis 14-8 28 25 2 1 0 0 171.1 163 72 66 11 54 84 3.47 1.27

Harden will likely net the Cubs draft-pick compensation, meaning the Cubs would not only save money but receive some minor league help for the future. The Cubs would be smart to clean up their middle infield situation by targeting either Orlando Hudson or Akinori Iwamura.

Jake Fox has proved to be a great reserve player, and the offseason will give him plenty of time to hone some of the skills necessary to be that kind of role player. Milton Bradley deserves another season to prove himself with the Cubs. Cubs outfield prospect Tyler Colvin has a very advanced approach at the plate and is playing very well for Double-A Tennessee, hitting .305 with 11 home runs in 73 games. He is a guy the Cubs fans should expect to see in 2010.

The Cubs are not very aggressive with their young prospects, typically holding out on them until they injure themselves or are traded (usually after value has depreciated). It will be interesting to see how new owner Tom Ricketts deals with the team. 

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