Rich Harden To Chicago Cubs—The Battle For The NL Central Is On

Bryan CoxContributor IJuly 8, 2008

The Chicago media is reporting the Cubs have landed stud right hander Rich Harden of the Oakland A's.  The deal sends Harden and Chad Gaudin from Oakland to Chicago for Matt Murton, Eric Patterson, Sean Gallager, and Josh Donaldson.

This trade comes one day after the Milwaukee Brewers acquired CC Sabathia from the Cleveland Indians.  Harden to the Cubs changes the complexion of the N.L. Central race yet again.  Harden will solidify the Cubs' rotation—that is, if he can find a way to stay healthy.

Harden's numbers have been outstanding this year, going 5-1 with a 2.34 ERA and 92 strikeouts.  His only downfall is his health issues, having been on the DL many times in his career.

Jim Hendry has sent scouts to watch Harden's past six or seven starts, and they have all been quality.  There is no doubt with the way Harden has been pitching this year he has the potential to make a huge impact on the rest of the Cubs' season.

This blockbuster move on the Cubs part will no doubt put fear in the rest of the teams in the N.L. and make the league take the Cubs seriously. 

Jim Hendry is taking a chance to win now, something Cubs fans are not used to.  The World Series is in sight, and this move puts the Cubs one step closer.  At the very least it shows that Hendry is willing to do whatever it takes to make his club better, whatever the cost may be.

Giving up a players like Murton and Patterson, who will never get serious playing time in Chicago, is not a big sacrifice.  Sean Gallager may turn out to be a solid player, but Harden helps the Cubs win this year.  Ending the 100-year drought needs to be top prioriety, not who will play left field in 2010.

Harden also has one year left on his contract, something Sabathia does not.  This deal is not a rent-a-player—Chicago is getting a potential number one started to go along with their other ace, Carlos Zambrano. 

This is going to be a fantastic finish. Years don't come along like this often.

No doubt the Cubs are for real. MLB, take notice.