Friday, June 17, 2011

The Eternal False Promise Of Rich Harden

With 3/5ths of the starting rotation and the opening game manager gone, the A's have become even less competitive than usual.. but two wins in a row is two wins in a row, and it's not as if the AL West is filled with monsters. And then there's this news... Rich Harden threw 40-plus pitches in a rehab game, striking out three in two innings of work. The fastball looked explosive, too.

I know it seems as if Harden has been around forever, but he's still just 29, and it's not as if he's bereft of promise, especially in the pitching-happy world of the Coliseum and the AL West. And he's always been catnip to me from a fantasy standpoint, since he's usually been great or crap. But 2010 was terrible -- 5.58 ERA in 92 walk-tastic innings for Texas -- and we are talking about a guy who has never thrown more than 189 innings at the major league level. He'd probably best be used in a relief role, or in a six-starter rotation where he keeps the pitch count down... but that's not the way the world works, or how a down-market team with severe attendance and money issues works, either.

So my guess is that as soon as Harden is ready to let loose and take the hill, the A's will have him go as long as he can... which will be. in all likelihood, for about 50 to 75 innings before it all goes down again. That's just the way he's made... and the only question is whether or not he's actually effective in the time before he's hurt.

But if he is effective? He'll suck us all right back in, back to the times when he first came up and looked as good as anyone the A's produced... yes, even as good as Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder or Barry Zito. Because when he was on his game, that's just how good the man was.

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