Shortly after the announcement of the Cubs' acquisition of Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin from the Athletics on Tuesday afternoon, WSCR's Boers & Bernstein took a call from Dave in Bloomingdale, who decried the Cubs having to give up both Matt Murton—1 HR in 231 AB's this season, with Iowa and the Cubs combined—and Eric Patterson, who has hit the hell out of the ball in the minors, but simply fields like hell.
That conveys all one needs to know about the average sports I.Q. of the average sportstalk listener.
Here is what some knowledgable observers outside of Chicago had to say about the deal, which brings the gifted but oft-injured Harden and Gaudin to 1060 West Addison and sends Murton, Patterson, Sean Gallagher, and minor league catcher Josh Donaldson to Oakland:
Yes, pity the A's fan who's seen so many aces disappear up so many other teams' sleeves. But A's fans should embrace Tuesday's trade...
Harden was house money. His right arm, so worrisome over the years, had transformed back into a wanted commodity, thanks to a 5-1 first-half record. Despite back-to-back sub-par outings, he was the A's best trade bait.
The Cubs wanted him, and they can have him. They need him more than the A's do. And they'll need to get skipper Lou Piniella a reliable pitch-count clicker to track Harden.
"The Cubs were pretty aggressive," (Oakland GM Billy) Beane said. Cubs GM "Jim Hendry and I talk quite a bit anyway. We consistently had conversations over the past month; we came to an agreement this morning. They were looking for Rich..."
From the A's point of view, Gallagher was key to the deal. Beane said the A's have been following Gallagher's progress since he joined the pro ranks. He is scheduled to start for the A's on Friday.
"We've had numerous injuries," Beane said. "Guys have done a good job battling through it, but as far as what we're doing, this is a step forward for what we're doing for the next four or five years."
My first reaction is that Cubs fans ought to be insanely happy about this. They're not likely going to miss any of those players in their pennant drive much, while Harden and Gaudin will both make an immediate impact, especially if they turn Gaudin back into a starter.
And my second reaction is that if Cubs fans should be happy, then A's fans should be disappointed. I like Gallagher, but Murton seems redundant on the A's roster, Patterson seems like the type of risky player who, like his brother Cory, will likely not pan out unless he can miraculously find some plate discipline, and Donaldson--never heard of him.
Cubs general manager Jim Hendry checked in from time to time throughout June with Oakland general manager Billy Beane about the availability of Rich Harden...Yes, Harden was available, but only at the right price, and that price would include right-handed pitcher Sean Gallagher. Hendry indicated, repeatedly, that Gallagher wasn't available.
On Sunday evening -- the same night when word broke that the Brewers had worked out a deal for CC Sabathia -- Hendry indicated to Beane...that he would make Gallagher available in a Harden deal, but it would create a problem: If Gallagher was traded, the Cubs wouldn't have the kind of depth they needed to deal with an injury.
"Let me call you back," Beane said.
Beane had an idea. He could fill Hendry's need for depth by adding veteran swingman Chad Gaudin in the trade. He phoned Hendry back on Monday night with the suggestion. "That could work," Hendry said, and the two general managers began piecing together other parts of the trade. Beane called Hendry with a detail of the trade very late on Monday night...
Some 15 hours later, the trade was finished. Oakland got Gallagher, a pitching prospect with a more stable medical history than Harden, and the Cubs got a high-risk, high-reward talent in Harden.
Finally there was this summation from Buck Showalter on ESPN's Baseball Tonight:
"Harden's stuff is just wipeout filthy."