Tag: Rich Harden

Rich Harden Hurt: Oakland Athletics’ 5th Starter Competition Down to 2 Already?

It feels like I’m having a flashback or experiencing déjà vu. Welcome back Rich Harden, to the disabled list that is.

Technically, Harden will not see the disabled list for his latest injury, at least not yet, but he did manage to strain his lat muscle during the first day of official spring training workouts for pitchers and catchers.

The injury, while it does not appear to be major, will set Harden back for a couple of weeks: “We’ll wait until he’s pain free,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “It’s estimated that would be two weeks.”

Harden does not seem too concerned about his most recent injury, stating that it reminds him of an injury he experienced during the 2008 season. He returned from that injury after a small stint on the disabled list and put together one of his best seasons, going 10-2 with a 2.07 ERA in a split season with Oakland and the Chicago Cubs.

“It’s frustrating,” Harden said of his current injury. “But I still feel like I can go out there and be healthy for the season after this.

“I can come back and pitch well, (but) I was excited to get going just because I was feeling so good.”

Harden spent the offseason working with A’s pitching coach Ron Romanick. The two worked on mechanics, fixing bad habits that Harden says he picked up after his trade from Oakland to the Chicago Cubs during the 2008 season. His work with Romanick has already included four bullpen sessions, so he won’t be too far behind schedule when he returns in approximately two weeks.

Speaking of his work with Romanick, Harden says: “Mechanically, I was feeling like I’m where I need to be. The ball was coming out real good.” 

Harden will still compete for a spot in the rotation when he returns to the mound, but in the mean time the attention will shift to two other starters returning from injury: Josh Outman and Harden’s Texas teammate Brandon McCarthy.

Outman hasn’t pitched since June 2009 after having Tommy John surgery, and Brandon McCarthy has struggled with shoulder injuries that kept him out all of last season. Technically also in the mix for the fifth starter spot are Tyson Ross and Bobby Cramer.

“I don’t think it changes anything,” A’s assistant general manager David Forst said. “We added depth in the offseason, and we still feel very comfortable with it.”

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Rich Harden: Former A’s Pitching Ace Returns To Oakland on 1-Year Deal

Rich Harden rejoined his former team, the Oakland Athletics on a 1 year deal. The contract is known to be worth $1.5 million.

Harden, now 29 years of age, started his major league career at 21 with the Athletics.

He looked like he would have a bright future as the ace of the team after his 1st full season, collecting 11 wins and an ERA just under 4.00 back in 2004

But injuries limited him his time in Oakland, as he was traded to the Chicago Cubs in 2008. He did finish the year with an ERA of 2.07, but only started 25 games.

In fact, 2004 is still his only year of his career when he started at least 30 games.

Last year, with the AL Champion Texas Rangers, he had an ERA of 5.58, with limited time being healthy. He was designated for assignment this offseason after his poor performance.

Harden’s 62 walks in 92.0 innings didn’t help, either.

But Billy Beane’s A’s give him another shot: either it’s as a reliever or a #5 starter. The #5 spot is still open, due to the fact that the team could not sign Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma this offseason, even after they had 30 days of exclusive negotiations. 

Perhaps he’ll be a better pitcher as a reliever: using his fastball for 1 or 2 innings, and blow hitters away. It can also reduce his chance of injuries.

It will all be decided at spring training.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

AL West: With a Weaker West, DeJesus & Matsui, Can We Just Give The A’s The Division Now?

I don’t know if you noticed two things, but the Oakland A’s with their ragtag, no-name pitching staff and always-youthful roster somehow stumbled their way to an 81-81 (.500) record last season in the suddenly wide-open American League West.

Keep in mind it’s probably only going to take 85 wins to take this division anyway and the A’s are the most improved. Also, keep in mind that every year there is a small market club that seemingly comes out of nowhere. Last year the Reds, my pre-season Wild Card pick, exceeded even my expectations by winning the NL Central. Consider the A’s this year’s Reds.


Series of small, under-the-radar calculated moves

While I can’t name five members of their 2010 roster, 2011 is shaping up very nicely with a series of under-the-radar, well calculated moves. First, the team stole David DeJesus from the perpetually inept Kansas City Royals in a move that got zero publicity. This despite the fact that before his injury, DeJesus was not just a hot trading-deadline name that ultimately didn’t get moved, but one with a solid on base percentage, adequate defense and a .309 batting average.

If you’re thinking its simply a “meh” move, one where the small-market A’s always hope to be finding treasure in someone else’s trash, this move allowed them to swing speedster Rajai Davis to the Toronto Blue Jays so early in the off season (about three days after the World Series it seemed). I wonder how many of you caught that?

While that is a tremendous move, adding much needed speed to the power-hitting Jays lineup, this article is about the A’s and the smart moves they are making, so we’ll stick to that.

Next, they extended starting pitcher Trevor Cahill and cherry-picked Hideki Matsui from the division rival (and fading) Los Angeles Angels in a shrewd move that directly makes them weaker and gives Matsui a 1 year, $4.25M deal.

The move reminded me of the Florida Marlins’ “special money.” They seem to come up with that one big player every few offseasons, one big score they think will make all the difference. In the past, it’s been Ivan Rodriguez, Carlos Delgado, and this year, Javier Vazquez, using money saved from the Dan Uggla trade.

Not only is Matsui still productive (21 HRS, 84 RBI last year), but he fits perfectly in a lineup that’s lost only Jack Cust to the irrelevant Seattle Mariners and to which Matsui is an obvious upgrade.

The move was also reminiscent of a typical Tampa Bay Rays “budget” move, like when they brought in Jose Canseco for that one stellar year or Pat Burrell, who blew up in their faces. These were veterans looking for maybe one more paycheck, only I think Matsui will be around for a couple more years, albeit on one-year deals, hopefully with Oakland.

In similar action that would make the witness-protection program envious, the team quietly rolled the dice on struggling starter Rich Harden, reuniting the once promising player with his original organization, where he made his name and had success. While it’s eerily similar to the 2009 Ben Sheets signing fiasco, it’s got to cost less than the $10M bust Sheets turned out to be.

Then the A’s filled another hole with a recognizable name, obtaining the highly coveted and versatile Josh Willingham from the Nationals in a curious move, considering Washington’s insistence to move a solid player.

2011 moves in sum, to date

In sum, the thrifty and calculating A’s have added the following in patch-work (budget) fashion:

One starting pitcher (Harden) that one might say replaces the Sheets experiment

One DH to Matsui to replace Cust (net gain)

Two outfielders in DeJesus and Willingham to replace one in Davis (thereby adding depth)

All that’s missing, one might suggest, is bullpen arms, but they seemed to do fine (ERA) last year

Here is their starting lineup (I had to look up their 1B, SS, and CF, which demonstrates how anonymous they were last year)

1B Daric Barton

2B Mark Ellis

SS Cliff Pennington

3B Kevin Kouzmanoff

DH Matsui

LF Josh Willingham

RF David DeJesus

CF Coco Crisp

Their rotation is: (didn’t know starters 2-4) 

SP Trevor Cahill (ace 18-8 last year)

SP Gio Gonzalez (15-9 last year)

SP Dallas Braden (11-14)

SP Brett Anderson (7-6 last year)

SP Harden

Divisional rivals Angels, Rangers fading, leaving it open for A’s to take

While the Red Sox and the Phillies have stolen all the headlines for their flashy moves, others like the Yankee$ and Angels have for their lack of moves.

Keep in mind, this division includes the Mariners, whom everyone is going to beat up on to the tune of 90+ losses for them again. Then there’s the fading Angels, who lost Matsui and for whom free agents apparently no longer want to sign with, leaving them a team of Kendry Morales and Torii Hunter and a bunch of nobodies. Lastly, there’s the Texas Rangers, who not only lost Cliff Lee, but even if they were to replace him with Carl Pavano, it’s a net loss overall, leaving the division wide-open for the A’s to take because they earned it with these good moves.

The Angels lost out on Carl Crawford, the #1 player they coveted. With the weather Southern California provides, the solid management of Mike Scoscia, deep-pocketed ownership of well-respected Arte Moreno and the friendship of Torii Hunter, the Angels likely would have had enough to land him in seasons past.

Not this time.

Not in a crazy offseason where we see the Nationals, Orioles, and Brewers actively pursuing big name free agents or players via trade, adding payroll to the point where they are doing more than the Yankee$, Angel$, Cardinals, Mets, or Cubs to date.

This has a hint of the 1980’s all over again, when the Brewers, A’s, and Orioles were good and the Yankees? Not so much.


Just sayin’…..

One final thought: if the Yankees somehow manage to steal the Wild card after praying that Andy Pettite comes back so they can have 3/5 of a dependable rotation (CC, Hughes, and him) minus the enigma Burnett, we are going to need the tiny A’s to have a solid season and represent the underdog small markets in the playoffs. That is, if the Chicago White Sox actually win the Central, which I have doubts about.

Information from ESPN and ESPN.com directly contributed to the content of this article.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Free Agency: Power Ranking the 15 Biggest Risks Still on the Market

Free agency is quite often crucial to a team’s short- and long-term success. While many players are drafted and brought through an organization’s farm system, more times than not it comes down to the ability of a team to bring in top-end free agents. 

However, the risks involved with signing free agents are apparent in every Major League Baseball season. Year in and year out, players fail to live up to their multi-million dollar contracts.

Who are the riskiest players available this year? Whether it is a player’s age, inconsistency, or propensity to be injured, each player on this list has his own set of risk factors.

Here are the 15 biggest risks still available on the free agent market.

Begin Slideshow

Cliff Lee: 10 Ways the Yankees and Rangers Can Rebound From Losing Out on Ace

The reports are starting to come in that star-pitcher, Cliff Lee, has decided to take fewer years and less money, to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies. In doing so, Lee has turned down the opportunity to rejoin the Texas Rangers, where he won the American League Pennant, as well as turning down the chance to join the New York Yankees. 

For both the Rangers and the Yankees, Cliff Lee was the number one priority of the offseason; so now what do these two teams do? 

Here’s a look at 10 moves, both before and during the season, these teams could make to strengthen their pitching. 

Begin Slideshow

Ron Washington Made the Right Call with Rich Harden No-Hitter

For the second time in little over a week, a manger was faced with the decision of pulling a pitcher from a game in which he is tossing a no-hitter.

On August 15, Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire pulled Kevin Slowey after seven innings of no-hit ball, and last night Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington was faced with a similar decision.

With two outs and a runner on first in the top of the seventh, and with Rich Harden working on a no-hitter against the Twins, Washington pulled Harden from the game.

I agreed with the decision Gardenhire made in Minnesota, and I 100 percent agree with the decision Washington made last night.

Harden was at 111 pitches when he was pulled. He is made of glass. He can barely stay healthy. This was a no-brainer.

In order for Harden to throw a no-hitter last night, he probably would have had to throw 140-plus pitches. If Harden threw 140 pitches, there would be a good chance his arm would literally fall off.

In all seriousness, the Rangers have much bigger fish to fry than Harden’s no-hitter. They are trying to win a World Series. A healthy Harden—whether in the bullpen or in the starting rotation—will only help.

If Harden can pitch down the stretch like he did last night, the Rangers will be even more dangerous in October. Though he can’t throw 95-97 anymore, his 91-92 mph fastball was just as effective last night.

Despite Harden walking five batters, I thought he had pretty solid control last night. A well-placed 91 mph is just as good as a 98 mph fastball right down the middle. He was hitting the corners pretty consistently against the Twin batters.

Could Harden have pitched to Jim Thome in the seventh? Sure he could have. But there was no reason to push him.

In that top of the seventh, Washington brought in Matt Harrison to face Thome, and the move worked out. Thome hit a rocket, but it was right at center fielder Julio Borbon.

Darren O’Day pitched a flawless eighth and set everything up for Neftali Feliz in the ninth. Feliz got Denard Span to fly out weakly to left, but then he walked Orlando Hudson.

Then he had to face Joe Mauer—probably not the guy the Rangers wanted up at the plate in that situation. On an 0-2 pitch, Mauer ripped a single up the middle to break up the no-hitter.

Mauer is such a good hitter, it’s ridiculous. The pitch he hit was a high and away fastball that the mere mortal would have popped up to third. Mauer takes that pitch and ropes it up the middle.

The game finished with the four Ranger pitchers combining for a one-hitter and a 4-0 victory. While Ranger fans, especially the ones that were at the game, would have loved to see a no-hitter, pulling Harden was the right call by Washington.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @theghostofmlg

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Mike Stanton & Two-Start Pitchers, Week 20 Fantasy Baseball Forecast

As the fantasy baseball trade deadline approaches, its getting closer and closer to the time when you need to lock-in your rosters. As always, benching the bad and starting the good can keep your team atop the standings for your stretch-run into the playoffs. Let’s take a look at some players you can acquire through trades or just through free agency.

Start ‘Em


David Murphy |Texas Rangers| 12.8% :  Over the last three years Murphy has hit .417 with 3 HRs 10 RBI in only 36 at-bats at Camden Yards, one of the parks he’ll see this week.  Against the other team he faces this week, Tampa Bay, Murphy has hit .345 with eight of his 19 hits for extra-bases.  His current hot streak should help propel him into a strong upcoming week.


Pedro Alvarez |Pittsburgh Pirates| 25% :  The ever increasingly hot rookie is poised for a big week. All week long he will have the benefit of home field where he’s hitting .287 with a .352 OBP. At home, nine of his ten home runs have been hit there, his average is 100 points higher and his OPS is a whopping 422 points higher!


Mike Stanton |Florida Marlins| 39.2% :  The upcoming away series at Houston should be great for Stanton owners. He has hit 140 points higher on the road (.327 avg. /.398 OBP / 1.081OPS away!!!). Those stats and his current hot streak in addition to the seemingly regular poor performances of the Pittsburgh pitching staff, should equate to a great week.


Sit ‘Em


Ike Davis |New York Mets| 28.1% :  Davis has been cold of late and this upcoming week shouldn’t warrant you taking any chances on this Met.  Both of his games this week come away from Citi Field.  On the road Davis is hitting .223 with a .288 OBP.  Further dowsing the fire is his .227 avg. since the All-Star break.  Leave him on the waiver wire where he belongs.


Brett Gardner |New York Yankees| 99.7% :  Gardner has been horrid since the All-Star break.  He’s hitting .174 with a .296 OBP in the 69 at-bats since.  Adding to his problems is his combined stats against the Tigers and Mariners, next week’s opponents.  He’s hitting a combined .219 and going two for three in steals in 32 at-bats against those teams.  Hitting 15 points higher at home might help him out, but don’t count on it.


Two-Start Pitchers To Use

Jonathon Niese |New York Mets| 15.5% :  The two teams he faces in the upcoming week have very limited at-bats against him and are batting .067 against him in this limited sample.  The main reason for Niese’s strong upcoming week is both Houston and Pittsburgh’s stats against left-handed pitching.  Houston is the fourth-worst team in the NL against lefties (.250 avg., .306 OBP) and Pittsburgh is the second-worst hitting team against lefties in all of baseball (.244 avg., .312 OBP).  Look for Niese to keep his WHIP low and hopefully score some wins for the reeling Mets.


Brett Anderson |Oakland A’s| 81% :  Next week Anderson faces a few teams that have some pop in there lineup.  Don’t be timid though, every major power threat on both the Blue Jays and Rays is a right-handed batter.  His career mark against righties is .239, and this year he has continued to lower it by keeping them to a .208 avg.  Two more facts will help keep the balls in the park against Anderson.  He has one of the best ground to fly-ball ratios in the majors this year (1.34) and both games will be at home in the Coliseum, the third-worst park for homeruns in the majors.


Two-Start Pitchers To Avoid


Jon Garland |San Diego Padres| 55.1% :  Garland’s career numbers at Wrigley exhibit a 5.50 ERA and a 1.67 WHIP.  Mix that with his numbers this year away from spacious PETCO Park (4.52 ERA and a .267 BAA) and you have a recipe for a benching.


Rich Harden |Texas Rangers| 39.4% :  Those of you hoping for a turnaround in the oft-injured Harden should keep hoping for a new week.  His career numbers against the Rays are bleak: 32 innings of 5.01 ERA and 1.42 WHIP.  Considering both of his starts are away this upcoming week it’s also advised to take note of his ERA outside of the Ballpark in Arlington this year (6.40 ERA and 11 HRs in only 45 innings), ironic for being such a hitter-friendly park.


Hind Sight

Here we take a look at last week’s decisions and whether they might have paid off or not.  All hind sight stats are through the end of games on Friday, August 13th.


Start ‘Em:

Bill Hall |Boston Red Sox| : .235 avg. .250 OBP 2 Runs 2 HRs 4 RBI.  The batting average isn’t stellar but if you picked him up for the power and RBI production then you have reaped the benefits so far.

Chris Johnson |Houston Astros| : .429 avg. .467 OBP 2 Runs 4 RBI.  Chris Johnson continues to stay hot.  With trade deadlines approaching, now is a great time to get him if he’s still available in your league.


Jon Jay |St. Louis Cardinals| : .333 avg. .368 OBP 3 Runs 1 RBI.  So far it has been a great decision if you did pickup/start Jay.  The guy can rake and even though he can’t help in every category, he’s an asset to the one’s he can help.


Sit ‘Em:

Jack Cust |Oakland A’s| : .333 avg. 5Ks in 12 ABs.  This is a small sample size through the week so far, yet the four strikeouts is a lot in only seven at-bats.  Overall, this was a so-so sit, better if your league has a strikeout category for hitters.


Jay Bruce |Cincinnati Reds| :  .333 avg. in 9 ABs with 1 HR 3 RBI .  Of course he hits one out right before I submit this article.  Thanks for making me look bad.


Pitchers To Use:

Max Scherzer |Detroit Tigers|:  7IP 4H 1ER 4BB 2K


Ervin Santana |Los Angeles Angels|:  6.1P 6H 3ER 1BB 3K


Pitchers To Avoid:

Jair Jurrjens |Atlanta Braves|:  7.1IP 6H 1ER 1BB 3K


Edwin Jackson |Chicago White Sox|:  6IP 6H 1ER 1BB 7K



All Statistical Information was obtained through ESPN.com

Written exclusively for TheFantasyFix.com by James Bryce.  James is a Grad student at UCSD and is currently in his 13th year of fantasy sports.


Got a two-start pitching candidate for week 20?  
Leave a comment and let us know, or reply to us on twitter @TheFantasyFix



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Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Texas Rangers Should Use Rich Harden In Bullpen Upon Return

With Texas Rangers’ pitcher Rich Harden impressing in his last rehab start on Monday (10 K’s over six innings) in Triple-A, it has been speculated that Harden will take the struggling Scott Feldman’s spot in the rotation. It’s quite possible that Harden could start as early as this weekend for the Rangers against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

I think the Rangers are making a mistake. I think the Rangers should use Harden out of the bullpen upon his return. Here are the reasons for my thinking.

1. The Rangers don’t need Harden in the rotation. If and when the Rangers make the playoffs, in a five or seven game series they will most likely have the following rotation:

  • Cliff Lee
  • CJ Wilson
  • Tommy Hunter
  • Colby Lewis

There is no room for a No. 5 starter in the playoffs.

Why not work Harden into a seventh inning guy, who can come into a game and blow hitters away now instead of in late-September? Feldman has no purpose on this team, so why not use him as the No. 5 starter to finish out the season. There’s a good chance Feldman won’t even make the post-season roster.

Harden on the other hand, has value coming out of the pen. October is all about power arms and Harden can be that power arm out of the pen in the sixth or seventh inning. That is not possible for Feldman.

2. Harden’s days as a starter are over.

Let’s face reality: The days of Harden being a dominant starter are over. He can’t go deep into games (not that he ever did) and his stuff isn’t as sharp as it was even two years ago.

Harden at this point in his career is a pitcher that may give a team five innings, strike out five or six, walk three or four, and give up three or four runs.

I think without having to pace himself, Harden would fare much better out of the pen.

Of course, there are some negatives to this move as well.

1. Can his shoulder hold up pitching without a set schedule? It might be easier for Harden’s shoulder knowing that it’s going to pitch every fifth day rather than every other day.

If you listen to a lot of doctors, they will say it’s better for a pitcher to throw 100 pitches on one day with a set schedule than throwing 100 pitches over the course of 10 days with no schedule.

2. Harden would have to start the inning he comes in. In order to use Harden in relief, the Rangers would have to allow him to warm up at his own pace. With his achy shoulder, I doubt Harden could warm up in five minutes and then come into the game throwing beebe’s.

Looking at the positives and negatives of a Harden move to the bullpen, I think the positives outweigh the negatives and Harden would have the most value to the Rangers out of the bullpen.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @theghostofmlg

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Texas Rangers Baseball: Adding Cliff Lee Doesn’t Make Them Contenders

To add Cliff Lee or not to add Cliff Lee, that is the question surrounding a lot of teams as the trade deadline is just a few weeks away.

For the Texas Rangers, however, the answer to this question has to be a resounding-no.

For one, the team is currently four and a half games up on the defending AL West champion Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and don’t look to be slowing down any time soon.

Second, unless the Angels make a blockbuster deal that makes them far and away better than they are right now, and unless the Rangers fall on their face, I don’t see this race going any other way than the Rangers’ way.

That being said, I’m wondering if we can kill the Cliff Lee to Texas rumors once and for all.

I’m not saying this team doesn’t need him because Lee definitely makes this pitching staff a lot more formidable than they have been all season.

However, does adding a guy like Lee make them contenders to get to the World Series, let alone the ALCS?

Now, before I got into my rant, bare in mind that this is only my opinion and you can agree or disagree with me all you want, and believe me I welcome a debate on the subject.

For my money, Lee is too expensive and the Rangers would have to give up too much for a guy that is a lock to go into free agency and not sign long term with Texas. So are the Rangers really ready to give up a few of their top hitting and pitching prospects to land a guy for two months?

ESPN Dallas’ Richard Durett talked to Lee when the Mariners made their stop in Texas back in early June. He asked Lee about the possibility of him signing a new deal in Texas and he told Durett, “I’d prefer cooler temperatures and a perfect climate, but any pitcher would tell you that.”

Let’s be honest, Lee is more than likely headed to free agency where there will be no shortage of teams jockeying for his signature on the dotted line.

So, if Lee really does intend to head to free agency after this season and has no intention of signing long term with whatever team he’s traded to, why would any team give up top prospects for two months of his service?

Put yourself in Rangers’ general manager Jon Daniels’ shoes. Think for a second that you have a chance to land one of the best starters in the game right now to your rotation. There’s no question this guy makes you better, but better doesn’t necessarily get you past potential playoff teams like New York, Boston, Minnesota, and Detroit among others.

My intention right now is not to dispel what Lee could do for a team like the Rangers down the stretch, my problem is giving up players that make this team better for years to come and not just for two months.

Let’s say, hypothetically, the Rangers did make a deal that brought Lee to Texas. He gives you another eight to 10 good starts down the stretch and the Rangers win the AL West.

Their first round of the playoffs comes against the New York Yankees and they get beat three games to one a best of five series. Now what?

Lee makes it clear to the Rangers that he’s not willing to sign long term and wants to test the free agent waters. He signs with another team prior to the 2011 season and now you’re out two to three top prospects for what?

I know it seems like I’m making the same point over and over again, but this is not the best move for the team going forward.

The Rangers need a player they can control for the foreseeable future. The Astros are apparently willing to pick up some of Roy Oswalt’s remaining contract, but any deal for the Houston right hander would need approval from the courts as the Rangers are currently in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings.

However, there’s one problem with landing Oswalt. Daniels has been quoted as saying that they are only able to make a deal for a player who’s contract is up at the end of the 2010 season.

So, with that information being known, a few other players the Rangers could look at come the trade deadline are Jeremy Guthrie, Jake Westbrook, and Ted Lilly.

Honestly, the way Lilly has pitched so far for the Cubs, he would be my first choice, and he’s not going to cost the Rangers nearly as much as Lee would.

Jamey Newberg of The Newberg Report has an interesting article that talks about this exact thing and he goes over some of the prospects, plus major league talent, it would take to possibly get a deal done.

Now, bare in mind that he puts together a lot of names but in the end, he does put it in perspective. One of the names that he mentions I don’t think would bother Ranger fans much at all, Rich Harden.

Harden hasn’t exactly been the pitcher that the Rangers were hoping he would be, though his numbers have declined in each of the past three seasons.

In 2008, Harden finished 5-1 through 12 starts with a 1.77 ERA for the Chicago Cubs. In the very next season, through 26 starts, Harden finished 9-9 with a somewhat respectable 4.09 ERA. But, this season, Harden has struggled to the tune of 3-3 record and a 5.86 ERA through 12 starts and is currently on the disabled list.

While Harden has been struggling, as has Scott Feldman who turned in a career performance in 2009 for the Rangers finishing 17-8 with a 4.08 ERA.

This season, Feldman has looked nothing like his 2009 self. He’s currently 5-7 with a 5.48 ERA and has given up 17 earned runs in his last four starts, including five earned runs each in starts against the Angels and Pirates.

But, even though Harden and Feldman are not the guys the Rangers thought they would have in 2010, they’ve been getting huge starts from not only C.J. Wilson (3.34 ERA) and Colby Lewis (3.35 ERA) but they’ve been pleasantly surprised by Tommy “Big Game” Hunter, who sports an unbeaten record (5-0) and an even more eye opening 1.98 ERA on the season.

With Wilson, Lewis, and Hunter holding the Rangers’ ship afloat so far, it wouldn’t hurt to land another starter to really make this team untouchable.

However, Dave Michaels of KVCE Radio here in Dallas thinks it’s their bullpen that needs to hold strong. “So far during this season they have won games that they were not suppose to win, and they’ve lost games they were suppose to win. Go figure, that’s baseball. As far as what they will need in the playoffs they have the arms right now but they need a bullpen that won’t fold under the pressure.”

That being said, I asked Michaels if he thought the Rangers could move Neftali Feliz from the bullpen to a starter and possibly look at making a deal for a guy like Heath Bell. He told me, “I don’t think [Feliz’s] arm can do that. He is better out of the bullpen and not as a starter. Spot starter maybe but a regular starter no way.”

So, in the end, this is a deal that is going to be broken down and debated in every which way but loose.

There will be fans that want to see this deal get done and have Lee added to the pitching rotation, than there are others who are not willing to bring a rent-a-player who will only be with the team for two months.

As it stands right now, the Mariners have yet to even put the left hander on the trade block, according to Andy Martin and Christian Red of the New York Daily News. A source told both Martin and Red, “It is the same thing with [Mariners’ general manager Jack Zduriencik] as it has been all along. He knows to contact teams when he’s ready to deal. He hasn’t done that yet, but that could change any minute.”

While the baseball world waits for that phone call to come from Seattle, the teams that are interested in acquiring him will make back up plans just in case the Mariners decided to ride out the year with the left hander.

Though the odds of that are slim at this point, but stranger things have happened.

As for the Rangers, they continue to lead the AL West by 3.5 games over the Angels. At this point, they’re not bad where they are and I don’t see them making any sort of a deal prior to the trade deadline due to the court proceedings.

That doesn’t mean they can’t make a waiver wire deal as teams have been known to wait until after the deadline to make their moves. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Rangers will be able to make a trade after the bankruptcy dealings are over though it’s unknown when that will be.

For now, as long as the Rangers keep playing the way they have to this point, they should be able to hold off the Angels.

However, if the Angels make the big move, it could make the race that much more interested as we head down the stretch.


You can follow Todd Kaufmann on Twitter (twitter.com/toddkaufmannbr) or find him on Facebook.

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Rich Harden Heads to Texas Rangers’ DL

With the news that the Texas Rangers placed RHP Rich Harden on the 15-day DL with a stained glut, we might have an Oliver Perez Part Deux on our hands.

In case you aren’t following the Oliver Perez reference, I will explain.

The New York Mets were desperate to get Perez off their active roster, so they put him on the 15-day DL with right patella tendinitis. The reality is, they put him on the DL for sucking, which is a no-no by Major League Baseball standards.

Baseball investigated the situation, and everything checked out. Now with Harden curiously going on the DL, baseball might have another investigation on their hands.

I say “curiously” going on the DL, because the reality is Harden has been terrible for the Rangers. Putting Harden on the DL would allow the Rangers to skip his turn in the rotation, along with freeing up a spot on the roster.

Harden really hasn’t been the pitcher the Rangers were hoping for when they signed him this offseason. I think they expected him to be a five- or six-inning pitcher (which he’s been), but I don’t think they expected him to be this bad.

Harden has a 5.68 ERA in 13 starts this year. More alarming, his velocity is down on his fastball by almost two mph from last year (92.1 to 90.8). It might not seem like a lot, but by baseball standards it is.

His K/9 is the lowest of his career (8.17), and his fly-ball rate is the highest of his career (53.8 percent). I am going to go out on a limb and say that can’t be good pitching in the American League in one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in the game.

Look for Matt Harrison to replace Harden in the rotation.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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