Oakland A's Unload Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin: Expected to Fall in AL West

Chris Radez@@ChrisRadezSenior Writer IJuly 9, 2008

As we approach the Midsummer Classic and the trade deadline, A's fans have been curious to see which way the organization would go. Do they want to finish this surprisingly good season by making a run at the AL West title, or would they rather take the opportunity to get fresh, young talent on the roster by off-loading some of their best players?

Yesterday, we got our answer.

Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin were traded to the Cubs in a deal that sent right-hander Sean Gallagher, outfielder Matt Murton, infielder Eric Patterson, and catcher Josh Donaldson to Oakland. Gallagher is expected to start on Friday against the Angels.

At first glance, it would appear that the Athletics are calling it a season and are continuing to prepare for the eventual move to Fremont, by loading the team with young prospects.

But, through the eyes of a true Athletics fan, this move isn't necessarily a white flag.

Rich Harden is one of the best pitchers in all of baseball when he's healthy. The problem is that he's never healthy. Well, I can't say never...but you know what I'm getting at. He spends a lot of time on the DL every year. Whether that's a problem with Harden's durability or with Oakland's trainers remains to be seen.

I've always thought Rich would make for an unbelievable long-reliever. This would give him the opportunity to come in and try to save games that get out of hand early on, and it would also provide him with, apparently much-needed, less time on the mound. 

Chad Gaudin is a guy that has shown very nice potential, but for one reason or another, he tends to find his way back to the minors in most seasons for at least a few weeks.

The point I'm trying to make is that the A's have done well without having to rely on these guys. I cannot recall an instance where I've thought to myself, "Gosh, our team would be terrible if it weren't for Rich Harden, or Chad Gaudin".

Frank Thomas was recently cleared to begin hitting again, after suffering partial tears in his quadriceps. He's expecting to be back in the lineup by the end of the month. Once he returns, Jack Cust can return to the outfield, and the A's hitting should heat right up again.

Not to mention...Barry Bonds can currently be had for a very small price. If the A's decide to make a run at the AL West title, trading pitching for hitting isn't necessarily a bad idea.

'Til next time....


Chris Radez is a columnist at Bleacher Report, and he is one of the founders of TheScoreBoards Sports Forums. You can reach Chris by commenting on this article, leaving a note on his BR profile page, or by sending him a note at TSB, where he lives under the moniker NEsince92.