Harden, C.C., and Sut

Rich Harden's brilliant effort Tuesday night followed yet another complete-game win for the second-place Brewers' C.C. Sabathia the evening before.

Through last night's play, here is what Harden and Sabathia have done for their NL Central teams, alongside the contribution of another mid-season acquisition, who, once upon a time, made a huge impact when he joined the Cubs from the American League:

  GS CG IP
H
K
 BB ERA
 W L
C.C. Sabathia 9 5 73 60 69 15 1.60 8 0
Rich Harden 7 0 42 26 59 14 1.50 3 1
Rick Sutcliffe (thru 8/19/84) 13 1 94 87 93 32 3.26 11 1

 

(Note: Sabathia's first start for the Brewers was on July 8, Harden's Cub debut was on July 12, and Sutcliffe's first game for the Cubs was on June 19, 1984.

Thoughts after the jump...

Sabathia has been brilliant for the Brewers, with only one rocky start in the mix, a 124-pitch, 6IP+ game against the Cubs. The question that has arisen around the former Indian is whether Ned Yost is going to pitch him to death in the course of chasing a post-season berth and getting all he can out of the team's prize pick-up in what is likely to be his only season pitching for the Brewers. In fact, Yost had to explain himself after he allowed Sabathia to throw a career-high 130 pitches in Monday night's 9-3 win against the Astros. (Sabathia's 5 complete games as a Milwaukeean are more than every other National League team has thrown so far this year.)

Piniella is aware at all times of Harden's fragility and is managing him accordingly. We know he is aware of this at all times, because he mentions it constantly. As the skipper said after Tuesday night's game, "We've just got to watch him, keep him fresh, keep him strong."

Lastly about Sutcliffe, the big righty finished 16-1, 2.69, and was integral to the Cubs' '84 NL East title. His coronation as NL Cy Young Award winner, however, was arugably a mistake by the Baseball Writers. Dwight Gooden, who went 17-9 in what was his rookie year, fanned 276 men (against 73 walks) in just 218 IP. Gooden's Mets finished 90-72, 6.5 games behind the division-winning Cubs.  

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Comments

I think both managers are handling their new pitchers fine for what their team needs of them. MIL is in a battle for a playoff spot, while the Cubs can be in cruise control until October. MIL needs every inning out of CC, and won't have him next year, and the Cubs can take the 6 IP average from Harden to protect him for the playoffs.

Manny sighting!

Not a surprise that Harden has nearly as many BB's and K's in a little more than half of Sabathia's IP. Of course, as Rob mentioned, Lou's being far more careful with Harden than Yost is being with CC. Despite Harden's paltry 3 wins (what's his run support right now?), there's no arguing both have been as great as advertised.

^*Cubnut

But yeah, no doubt so far both teams have gotten what they paid for and more.

I can understand why statistics did not transfer when a player switched leagues in the middle of the season back when the American League and National League were separate entities with no interleague play and no common opponents, but the relationship between the A. L. and the N. L. is now more like that of conferences rather than leagues (like the relationship between the NFC & the AFC), so I believe stats should follow a player when he changes "leagues" during the season.

So for anyone who might be interested, here are the combined (full-season) numbers for CC Sabathia, Rich Harden, Chad Gaudin, and Sean Gallagher: 

CC Sabathia: 14-8, 2.99 ERA, 27 G (27 GS), 8 CG, 195.1 IP, 177 H, .242 OBA, 1.16 WHIP, 17 HR, 49/192 BB/K.

Rich Harden: 8-2, 2.04 ERA, 20 G (20 GS), 0 CG, 119.0 IP, 83 H, .192 OBA, 1.08 WHIP, 10 HR, 45/151 BB/K.     

Chad Gaudin: 9-4, 3.39 ERA, 42 G (6 GS), 82.1 IP, 77 H, .248 OBA, 1.20 WHIP, 8 HR, 22/65 BB/K.  

Sean Gallagher: 4-6, 5.23 ERA, 19 G (17 GS), 93.0 IP, 100 H, .274 OBA, 1.59 WHIP, 10 HR, 48/82 BB/K,

 

except the AL still has a DH...

But the NL has Carlos Zambrano.

Though Sabathia is clearly better than Harden, it could be each is handled differently not just because of injury history, but because of the investment.

Sabathia is clearly a rental; they HAVE to squeeze what they can for him, and the Brewers don't care what he has left for next year. CC goes along with it, because he is making himself millions more with each CG.

The Cubs hold a $7.5 mil option on Harden, which will be picked up unless his arm falls off.

Gaudin is the key that made that a brilliant Hendry trade.

It's ben pointed out that Harden has some kind of option to demand a trade, in which he may not be on the team next year without a new contract. Reagrdless, what you said is correct about Gaudin. Assuming Harden remains a Cub, next year's rotation looks solid with Gaudin as a possibility:

Z
Harden
Lilly
Gaudin/Marshall/Samardzija/Hill
Marquis

Naturally, everyone would love to trade Marquis and keep Dempster around. Replacing Marquis in the above with Dempster would be phenomenal.

I have never heard of Harden having that option. I looked it up in Cot's, which is a pretty good resource for such things, and it doesn't mention any special priviledges. But maybe that's wrong, anyone know for sure?

I also suppose ANY player can demand a trade regardless of what the contract says. Manny did.

But everything I have read is that the Cubs have every right to pick-up that $7 mil option, and there is no buyout, and nothing Harden can do about it.

http://thecubreporter.com/2008/07/09/easy-be-harden

Because Harden signed his current contract in April 2005 under the old CBA, he retains the arcane right to demand a trade after this season. That's because under the rules of the previous CBA, if a player is signed to a multi-year contract and has accrued at least five years of MLB service time when he is traded to another club, the player has the right to demand a trade during the post-World Series Free-Agency Filing Period that follows the season during which he is traded.

If Harden does choose to exercise his option to demand a trade after the 2008 season, and the Cubs don't trade him by March 15, 2009, he can become a totally unrestricted FA at that time (player option), although by exercising the option to be a FA under the aforementioned circumstances, Harden would be giving up his $7M salary for 2009 and the Cubs wouldn't owe him anything past this season.

Good find. So, what are the odds this happens though?

If Harden forces a trade, the new team still has him for a year at $7mil. So he has no financial incentive to force that trade. In fact, he likely has a financial DIS-incentive, because being Manny-esque can hurt your value. He only becomes a free-agent if the Cubs didn't accomodate that request, which they would have no trouble doing.

I am assuming he like the Cubbies enough to not ask for that, the Cubs pick up his '09 option, and he hits Free-Agency after that.

somewhere between slim and none...

I believe the Cubs can just decline his '09 option (it's a team option) and still retain his rights as he's not set to be a free agent until after '09. They'd probably have to pay him a bit more than the $7MM he's owed, but the risk of actually losing him next year is pretty low. 

If Marquis is still around next year and the Cubs don't re-sign Dempster, I'll jump off a cliff.

Also, not to get ahead of ourselves, but the toughest decision facing Hendry in the offseason will be Dempster. Great year, great guy, will attract alot of interest, but the fact this is a career year and he will be 32 should give you pause before a long-term contract. If Carlos Silva got $48mil/4, what is Demp worth? How many years would you go on him?

We also have in-house options. Samardzija, Marmol (yes, we should consider Carlos in the rotation).

toughest decision for Hendry will be figuring out who is paying the bills? Cubs have over $100 MM committed to 9 players next year and a lot of guys eligible for free agency. 

Is Kerry's Kontract up as well?

If K and Demp both leave, the famous "team chemistry" would definitely be impacted.

Tough call on how long to offer both of 'em.

both are eligible to be free agents after the season, along with Howry, Edmonds, Ward and Lieber. Blanco has a team option. Everyone else is under team control or signed. Some guys could of course leave if they're not offered arbitration or what-not, but those are the main ones to "worry" about it.

Funny you mention it, here's Ken Rosenthal from this morning:

Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster is putting together a monster season heading into free agency, but the chances of him leaving Chicago are minimal, even with the Cubs in the process of being sold.

Dempster, much like Cubs closer Kerry Wood, enjoys a close relationship with general manager Jim Hendry. At some point, Hendry will be asked to detail his offseason plans for the competing ownership groups. Re-signing Dempster almost certainly will be his No. 1 priority.

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/8468230/Brewers...

dumpster's become the team's glue...even when he was a closer.

good natured ADD-style clubhouse/dugout ramblings from a hopeless optimist goes a long way. it worked for matt stairs.

Maybe he could get 3/44 ?

/somebody had to say it

probably not too far off...

I would guess with his age, injury history and questions if it was a fluke year, he's in line for 3/39 with some sort of 4th and possibly 5th year team or vesting options. 

He'll certainly get tons of interest for any team that doesn't want to pay CC or Sheets rates.

List of 2009 SP Free agents according to Cot's (I bolded the more interesting names):

Starting Pitchers
Kris Benson PHI
A.J. Burnett TOR (may opt out)
Paul Byrd CLE
Ryan Dempster CHC
Jon Garland LAA
Tom Glavine ATL
Mike Hampton * ATL
Rich Harden * CHC
Orlando Hernandez NYM
Jason Jennings TEX
Randy Johnson ARZ
John Lackey * LAA
Esteban Loaiza CHW
Braden Looper STL
Derek Lowe LAD
Pedro Martinez NYM
Mike Mussina NYY
Jamie Moyer PHI
Mark Mulder * STL
Carl Pavano NYY
Brad Penny * LAD
Odalis Perez WAS
Oliver Perez NYM
Andy Pettitte NYY
Mark Prior SD
Horatio Ramirez KC
C.C. Sabathia MIL
Ben Sheets MIL
John Smoltz * ATL
Julian Tavarez ATL
Steve Trachsel BAL
Brett Tomko SD
Claudio Vargas MIL
Randy Wolf HOU

 

speaking of the off-season, some things to consider:

- Teixeira entering his age 29 season and  Derrek Lee  will be his going on his age 33 season).

- Rafael Furcal or Orlando Hudson for that lefty, speed/top of the order presence

- K-Rod will be out there 

- Assuming (and that's a big assumption) they bring back Kerry, still probably going to need at least one vet bullpen arm to round out the bullpen. Right now Marmol and Gaudin are the only real locks. And Gaudin could be a rotation possibility. 

- No real CF options out there on the free agent market 

Could not agree more regarding Gaudin - could wind up playing a major role in the playoffs.

Regardless of the win-at-all-costs mentality, the Brewers are coming real close to crossing some serious ethical boundaries. If Sabathia ends up signing a huge contract after this season and then blows out his elbow shortly thereafter, Ned Yost is going to have some angry people to answer to.*

In 2003 when the Cubs were in a playoff race, was it right to throw Prior 120+ pitches per game? Absolutely not. The Brewers' playoff race isn't worth potentially destroying a career.

*I'm sure it will be the Yankees, and he can join Carl Pavano on the Eternal DL.

Prior was only 22. It's a BIG MISTAKE to overuse a 22 year old pitcher. Sabathia is 28. That's a different story entirely. At age 28 Ferguson Jenkins pitched 30 complete games. No problem.

Just to be factual, Prior was born September 7, 1980. So that made him 23 years old, not 22, for the starts with the Cubs in the 2003 playoff run and immediate leadup.

as if that's at all meaningful

Sabathia's leading the league in BP's Pitcher Abuse Points by a fairly wide margin: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/statistics/sorta...

Using Ferguson Jenkins as a comparison isn't really appropriate as pitchers these days just aren't treated like pitchers used to be. The fact that Bob Feller threw 371 innings in 1946 has no bearing on anything today because pitchers just aren't conditioned that way anymore.

And do you have any evidence to back up your assertion that abusing older pitchers is worse than abusing younger pitchers? Couldn't you argue that a 23 year old has a better ability to recover than a 28 year old?

Regardless of anything, Sabathia's arm is getting abused more than any other pitcher's in the game this year, and it's mostly because the Brewers could give a shit what happens to him next year or the year after. That's not fair to the player or to the team that ends up signing him to a huge contract.

There's a lot of evidence supporting the pitcher's 'injury nexus' which I think is from about 19 to 25. Look around at BP and you'll find something.

Doug D.:
"And do you have any evidence to back up your assertion that abusing older pitchers is worse than abusing younger pitchers?"

Not really sure there is any evidence that "abusing" pitchers leads to any more injuries. Heck, Fransisco Liriano and Joba Chamberlain were babied to death and bother are/were injured.

mannytrillo, why do you want to fire Jim Hendry?

Please... don't get him started.

Q-Ball,
You must be new. Not really into getting into that conversation now. Let's just enjoy a good season thus far.

?? eh ??

From the article that I linked for you...did you bother to read it?

Over the last 20 years, a dozen pitchers 22 or younger have started 10 or more games in a season, struck out at least eight per nine innings, and posted an ERA of 3.50 or below. A straight accounting of what happened to them is a tale of carnage and woe

Rich Harden just missed that list. He started 31 games at age 22 and struck out 8 batters/9IP. ERA was a bit above 3.50. The next season he was even better until his arm fell off.

Well... Harden's injuries haven't really been pitching related, correct?

According to Wittenmeyer:

If anything, that's the misconception about Harden's injury history, the record he could try to set straight again if he wanted to.

His series of DL moves involving his shoulder (and one elbow strain) started with a strain he suffered while trying to reach a bouncer over his head, then pushing the comeback effort too hard.

Before that, he pulled an oblique muscle in his rib cage while reaching toward third base to field another bouncer.

''Just freak injuries, stupid things like that,'' he said. ''It hasn't been throwing, like most pitchers.''

nice find...although hard to believe that pitching didn't contribute to those injuries even if he felt them when doing something non-pitching.

a start or two because of a "dead arm"

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/sfgate/detail?...

As I said before, even just Gaudin straight up for Gallagher might not be a bad idea. I bet Sean gets over it, but this trade certainly made us better not just this year, but next year too.

I mentioned this before, but the Sutcliffe and Sabathia trade have a lot of similarities.

Both guys came from the Indians, before the trade deadline
Both guys were aces and All-Stars and former Cy Young candidates
Both guys were having rough seasons compared to their usual standards
Both teams traded their #1 hitting prospect for the pitcher (Carter and LaPorta, who were slugging 1st round draft pick outfielders.

Have to disagree that Gooden should have won the '84 Cy Young. He barely had a better ERA than Sutcliffe pitching half his games in Shea. Might as well say Alejandro Pena should have won it. Plus the first place Cubs (3.73 ERA) and 3rd place Cards(4.08), didn't have much trouble with him, while Sutcliffe had a 2.61 ERA against the Mets and a 0.00 ERA versus the Cards, with totally dominating CG SO's against both.

fwiw, Sutcliffe had a 144 ERA+, Gooden 137.

Both had 7 CG and 3 SO's in the NL, Sutcliffe did it in 11 less starts. 

Forgot to mention they were both good hitters as well.

Whoa, just a few posts ago it was decided that you can't compare current pitchers with ones who pitched when (superhuman) Ferguson Jenkins did.

I think you're allowed to compare guys who pitched in 1984 to guys who pitched in 1984.

and possibly his career. Partially torn tendon in his right elbow and says he doesn't want to go through rehab if he needs surgery.

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/sports/stories.ns...

.. I am afraid to even broach this subject, but am I the only one who felt that, aside from the magical 1984 season, Sutcliffe was overrated?.. I'll now leave the site for a few days until the frothful hatred subsides....

He was a pretty damned good pitcher until his shoulder totally died on him in '90. After that he was just a junk baller.

I would say he is was/is somewhat overrated. Here are his ERA+ numbers from '79 to '89:

106, 64, 83, 139, 100, 109 (80 w. Clv 140 w/ Chi), 124, 87, 116, 94, 103

He averaged a 102 over that span, though if you take out the 2nd and 3rd years (only 147 ip over the two years), he goes up to 108.

ERA+ isn't a perfect stat, but it gives us a general idea of how he compared to the rest of the league. And over that span he was just slightly above average.

I'll agree with that. He was extra dominant when he came over because he changed leagues and had that herky jerky delivery that really threw people off.

Submitted by Q-Ball on Wed, 08/20/2008 - 11:06am.

I have never heard of Harden having that option. I looked it up in Cot's, which is a pretty good resource for such things, and it doesn't mention any special priviledges. But maybe that's wrong, anyone know for sure?

I also suppose ANY player can demand a trade regardless of what the contract says. Manny did.

But everything I have read is that the Cubs have every right to pick-up that $7 mil option, and there is no buyout, and nothing Harden can do about it.

=====================================

Q-BALL: Here are the five most-likely possible scenarios regarding Rich Harden and the Cubs post-2008:

1. The Cubs exercise their club option for 2009 and Harden does NOT demand a trade.

RESULT: The Cubs get Harden for $7M in 2009, and then Harden becomes a FA after the 2009 season. If the Cubs offer Harden salary arbitration post-2009 but then Harden signs with another club, the Cubs would probably get two compensatory draft picks, since Harden would probably be rated as a Type "A" FA.

2. The Cubs exercise their club option for 2009 but then Harden exercises his right to demand a trade. (Any player who signed a multi-year contract under the old CBA has the right to demand a trade during the first post-World Series Free-Agency Filing Period after he is traded if he had accrued at least five years of MLB Service Time as of the date he was traded... and Harden hit five years of MLB ST two days before the Cubs acquired him from Oakland).

RESULT: Harden can designate up to six MLB clubs to which he will not accept a trade, and the Cubs have until March 15, 2009 to trade him. If Harden demands a trade and the Cubs do not trade him by 3-15-2009, Harden can be a FA on that date (although he can also choose NOT to become a FA on March 15th). If Harden opts to become a FA under these circumstances, the Cubs would not owe Harden anything for 2009, but they also would not get any compensatory draft picks if he signs with another club. Harden would also have to wait until after the 2011 season before he would be eligible to be a FA again, so he would certainly want a minimum three-year deal if he were to become a FA on 3-15-2009. And if Harden were to get traded under these circumstances, he also would not be able to be a FA until after the 2011 season, although he would be eligible for salary arbitration post-2009 and post-2010.

3. The Cubs decline their club option for 2009 either after Harden exercises his right to demand a trade, or before Harden can demand a trade if the Cubs have to decline their 2009 club option on a date prior to the deadline by which Harden is required to make his decision. 

RESULT: If the Cubs were to do this, Harden's multi-year contract is terminated, and he would instead become eligible for salary arbitration post-2008 and would remain on schedule to be a FA post-2009. And he would very likely get a lot more than $7M for 2009 in arbitration.

4. To keep him from demanding a trade and to avoid the crap shoot that is salary arbitration, the Cubs sign Harden to a multi-year contract extention sometime after the 2008 season.

RESULT: The Cubs would have to hope that Harden can stay healthy.

5. Harden suffers a serious elbow or shoulder injury sometime before the end of the 2008 season and so the Cubs opt to decline their 2009 club option, but then they also choose to non-tender Harden on 12/12 (as they did with Mark Prior last year).

RESULT: The Cubs would get nothing back in return for losing him, but they also wouldn't owe him anything post-2008.  

2-0 in the third. Parra vs. Wandy.

mannytrillo:
I think both managers are handling their new pitchers fine for what their team needs of them. MIL is in a battle for a playoff spot, while the Cubs can be in cruise control until October...

With Milwaukee only 6.0 GB with a month to go... that's not exactly cruise control criteria. Milwaukee is very much in it. Of course, even if Milwaukee overtakes the Cubs, they'll still have a real good shot at the wild card, but who wants that? :)

I see your point about the Cubs being better equipped and in a better situation to protect their pitchers, though.

Q-Ball:
Also, not to get ahead of ourselves, but the toughest decision facing Hendry in the offseason will be Dempster. Great year, great guy, will attract alot of interest, but the fact this is a career year and he will be 32 should give you pause before a long-term contract. If Carlos Silva got $48mil/4, what is Demp worth? How many years would you go on him?

Dempster is part of the pitching rotation. If you don't extend him, you'll have to replace him. Who do you replace him with? Will he be as good as Demp? Why upset the chemistry this team seems to have struck? If he stays healthy the rest of the season I'd go 4 years, maybe 5.

Ryno:
"With Milwaukee only 6.0 GB with a month to go... that's not exactly cruise control criteria."

I can care less about the division title, I am talking making the playoffs. So, in my eyes the Cubs are up 10 games with about a month to go. Even the Cubs should be able to hang onto that lead...:)

Well... I would say home field advantage is important, especially for a Cubs team that plays so well at home.

Just to be factual, the cubs are up only 8.5 in the playoff race.

Or 10 games in the loss column, which is really all that matters...:)

unless you expect a team has a reasonable chance to win every single game for the rest of the year, games back is far more important than loss column.

Last week of the season...then yes, it's an issue. With 40 games left, both teams will lose their fair share of games, meaning it's going to be won or lost based on the percentage of wins and losses, not just on losses alone.

Now 3-1 in the fourth, Stros still threatening...

3-2 into the bottom of the fifth...Durham pinch-hitting for Parra already, so that means the Brewers bullpen.

and a Hardy home run...5-2 in the 7th.

rally time off Gagne..tying run up in the 8th, no outs.

Submitted by Rob G. on Wed, 08/20/2008 - 1:23pm.

both are eligible to be free agents after the season, along with Howry, Edmonds, Ward and Lieber. Blanco has a team option. Everyone else is under team control or signed. Some guys could of course leave if they're not offered arbitration or what-not, but those are the main ones to "worry" about it.

===============================

ROB G: Not that it matters much, but Chad Fox is the other Cub who is eligible to be a FA post-2008.

And Cedeno, Cotts, Gaudin, Johnson, and Wuertz will be eligible for salary arbitration post-2008

I wonder if at this point Edmonds would give a homer discount to the Cubs for having faith in him? I'm thinking probably not if he has the opportunity to play every day elsewhere.

Edmonds said he's not really sure he wants to play next year with a baby on the way and just getting married. If we do win the whole thing, I could see him retiring.

That being said, resigning him smells a lot like resigning Gaetti or Glendon Rusch. 

pie/johnson seems inevitable...and cheap.

seemed inevitable this year too...

edmonds part 2 is hopefully inevitable if the old inevitable shows itself to not be so inevitable again.

umm...don't read that twice. it's not worth it.

I think I was first to bring up the Gaetti/Edmonds possibility.

And if not, just say I was. I have so little on this board.

WGAF
Gaudin-28

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