Is Rich Harden worth the risk?

Leave a comment

The Tribune’s Paul Sullivan notes the dilemma the Cubs face this offseason in connection with Rich Harden:

Harden has been the Cubs’ most consistent starter in the second half with a 3-1 record and 1.64 earned-run average, with a 4-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. But he could become a sought-after free agent after the season, so the Cubs have to make a decision on how much they’re willing to offer him . . . 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.

The “risky” part is the rub, of course.  When Harden is healthy, he is very very good, but he’s only started 30 games and/or thrown 150+ innings once, and that was in 2004.  In terms of health and effectiveness when healthy there’s an argument to be made that he’s the pitching equivalent of Milton Bradley, and look how well that risk worked out for the Cubs.

Of course, good pitching is a bit harder to find than DH/corner outfielder types, so there’s a chance that Jim Hendry and the Cubs’ new ownership group may be willing to take another Bradleyesque risk.  I’m not sure I would.

The Angels to lower the right field wall

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Los Angeles Angels announced today that they will lower the right field wall at Angel Stadium from 18 feet to eight feet.

The stated reason: to make room for a new out-of-town scoreboard and “philosophical changes.” Obviously, though, helping out lefty power hitters is on the agenda too. As it was, Angel Stadium was in the bottom ten of all parks in allowing homers for lefties.

One of their own lefties is Kole Calhoun, who is a pull hitter. Another one could be Shohei Ohtani, who is a lefty hitter. Although, as a righty pitcher, that could harm him against opposing lefty batters. I’m assuming, though, that the Angels ran a bunch of numbers to establish that this move helps them more than it hurts them, or else they wouldn’t be doing it.