On Saturday afternoon in the heat of the Bronx, the Yankees lost to the Oakland A’s 4-3, after slaughtering them the night before 17-7 and closing out the series winning the rubber game on Sunday 7-5.
At the start of the series, YES’s Michal Kay called the Athletics “offensively anemic,” which was the most accurate description for Oakland’s season thus far.
So, Harden’s start was also an impressive semi-secret-audition for Yankees GM Brain Cashman. Especially after Hall-of-Fame writer and Red Sox’s loyalist Peter Gammons tweeted that Boston had already been on the phone about the 29-year-old righty.
Knowing that A’s GM Billy Beane is fielding phone calls comes as no surprise with Harden’s pending free agency post 2011. Beane will attempt to get the most out of Harden prior to the July 31st trade deadline.
Harden’s abilities are easy to sell, but his injury history is not. When healthy, Harden has ace potential but injuries have consumed him. Beane knows that Harden has just come off the 60-day DL and that teams are well aware that he has only pitched 23.1 innings in 2011.
Watching Harden vs. the Yankees definitely opened some eyes. He flaunted a mid-90’s fastball, while integrating a change-up. This allowed just two Yankee runs to score, as Harden fanned six, walked four over 5.1 innings pitched.
Bottom line is the Yankees don’t want to “overpay” with prospects, or at least Cashman doesn’t, so acquiring Harden fits the bill.
The A’s only spent $1.5 million on Harden, which is even a bargain for them. Beane has to be realistic in what player(s) he will get in return, along with dumping the remaining $500k left on Harden’s contract. This is pocket change that the A’s want back and this certainly goes along with Cashman’s bargain-basement strategy.
Harden’s health concerns are slashed in half with two months of the season to go. His latest win in New York was only Harden’s fourth starting of 2011 anyway, so he has not thrown that much.
The two years earlier he made 18 (2010) and 26 (2009) starts . Over his nine-year career, Harden has a 3.66 ERA, pitching 192 innings a season, with 195 strikeouts and 88 walks.
So, if Cashman stays on par with his cheap tricks my guess is Harden possibilities of donning Yankee pinstripes is not unrealistic. Looking at the Yankees rotation, having insurance is a must and obtaining Harden would not command the farm system, like getting Rockies Ubaldo Jimenez.
Trust me, I would love for Cashman to bring up one of the prize prospects but the Yankees haven’t finished screwing them up yet for that.
- MLB Trade Rumors: Boston Red Sox Showing Interest in Right-Hander Rich Harden (bleacherreport.com)
- Red Sox Have Inquired About Rich Harden (mlbtraderumors.com)
- Red Sox have interest in A’s right-hander Rich Harden (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- MLB Trade Rumors: New York Yankees Need To Just Overpay (ladylovespinstripes.com)
- Athletics 4, Yankees 3: Burnett Works Hard, to No Avail, in Yankees’ Loss (nytimes.com)
- Burnett looks to keep Yanks rolling vs. A’s (mlb.mlb.com)