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.