On Saturday evening, Chicago Tribune writer Paul Sullivan reported that the Chicago Cubs could soon part ways with both pitcher Rich Harden and outfielder Reed Johnson. Jim Hendry, the Cubs General Manager, would love to re-sign both players but both are risky.
If the Cubs decide to re-sign Harden, they would probably offer a one year deal. The one year deal is probably the most years that Harden would get from several teams, because of his injury risk. Johnson would have to take a pay cut to stay in the Windy City.
The New York Yankees have already started planning their quest for their 28th World Series Championship. The Yankees went throughout the entire playoffs with a three-man pitching rotation. This certainly will not carry on into the regular season.
The Yankees' projected pitching rotation looks like this: 1. CC Sabathia 2. AJ Burnett 3. Joba Chamberlain 4. Chien-Ming Wang 5. Chad Gaudin. Andy Pettitte is the only Yankee starter that will hit the free-agent market. The Yankees will probably re-sign Pettitte, if he decides to return to the majors for another year.
Chien-Ming Wang is a shaky decision to put back into the rotation, as is Joba Chamberlain. Wang has been sidelined twice by injuries in the last two years. Joba has been sent to the bullpen and rotation several times.
Quite simply put, the Yankees have confused Joba with his roles. In the play-offs he was a set-up man. He did a good job as part of the bridge to Mariano. But he was a starter during most of the regular season, until the new "Joba Rules" were put in order. At that point he started to look like a short reliever that just started a game, sometimes going only three innings.
Chien-Ming Wang could be on the trading block this Winter. Its seems like it could have been a mental block that prevented Wang from performing like the former Yankee ace that e was.
He could have been distracted by the fact that he went from being the ace to being the No. 3 starter with the additions of CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett. If Wang is traded to another team, he could be an ace for that team. He regains that mentality of being the number one starter.
Another point to consider is whether Phil Hughes will have the type of 2009 that Joba had. He seems comfortable as the go-to guy in the eighth inning. But who knows what Joe Girardi will do in 2010? Chad Gaudin could also be moved to the minors or the bullpen. Gaudin could also be trade bait this winter.
Getting rid of Wang or keeping Chamberlain in the bullpen, opens up a spot for the Yankees to gamble on Rich Harden. Harden could fit into the Yankees fourth or fifth starter role. If they re-sign Pettitte, their pitching rotation looks even more dominant than last years: 1. Sabathia 2. Burnett 3. Pettitte 4. Harden 5. Chamberlain/Wang/Gaudin/Hughes.
The Yankees could just keep the same rotation as last year's on Opening Day (the original rotation was 1. Sabathia 2. Burnett 3. Wang 4. Pettitte 5. Chamberlain).
Harden seems to be along the upper tier of this year's free-agent market's starting pitchers. He has been relatively healthy in the past two years with the Cubs. But he was shut-down in September with an injury.
Harden said, "I'm healthy. You can ask the Cubs, and see what they say." The Cubs have not said much about Harden coming back, which leads people to believe that his time on Chicago is up.
The Yankees might fear though that signing Harden to a big contract could bring back memories of Carl "American Idle" Pavano. If the Yankees sign Harden and it blows up in their face, Cashman would have made the same mistake twice.
One more time after that, and Cashman could strike out as the Yankees GM. Its better if the Yankees go after Harden and offer him a short-term deal.
Is it time for Harden to leave behind the Windy City and make his way to the Empire State? Another question up for discussion is whether Harden is ready to pitch under the bright lights of Yankee Stadium?