Rich Harden pitched another gem tonight, going seven innings and striking out eight while allowing zero runs and three walks. His season numbers aren't fantastic but his second half numbers are pretty amazing:
I don't think those numbers include tonight's start. However, in seven post all star game starts, he's allowed eight runs. EIGHT! That's incredible. I'm not sure how that stacks up against the rest of the league but it's probably in the top ten. He's also had 45 strike outs (including tonight). That's pretty impressive if you ask me.
On the other had, Rich had a pretty miserable first half as you can see from the link. His season ERA is still above four and his record after tonight is only 8-7. We all know how much starting pitchers can make on the open market. Even pitchers with mediocre careers can make the big bucks. Rich has had a pretty solid career, despite some shaky injury history. Given the fact that the ownership situation might not be completed by the time the free agent signing period begins (my favorite time of the year fwiw), we might not be able to sign him. If we are able to though, would you? And for how long? Be realistic. The guy isn't going to take the league minimum and it might come down to a bidding war. There is no guarantee that he will sign for less to stay in Chicago, and if Harden has any common sense, he won't.
Here's what next year's rotation might look like without Harden (given that we do not make a trade or free agent signing):
1. Zambrano 2. Lilly 3. Dempster 4. Wells 5. Marshall/Gorzellanny/Jay Jackson (a bit of a reach but who knows, he could have a very strong spring)/Jeff Samardjiza/Mitch Atkins
I'm not that impressed. I expect Dempster to have a much better season next year. Given all the problems he's had off the field with his daughter, you can't really blame him for the struggles he's had. For the most part, he's kept the Cubs relatively close. If re-signed, Harden would probably be the fourth starter on next year's team. With him, the Cubs still have one of the best rotations in the National League, if not baseball. It's certainly the best in the NL Central. The Reds would probably be second if they can stay healthy. The Cubs could possibly go after another free agent or make a trade but given that there isn't a whole lot of flexibility with the pay roll, the options are limited.
So I ask you, BCB Nation, would you re-sign Rich Harden for next year's team?