Chicago Cubs Got Rich Harden...Now What?

Casey McLainSenior Analyst IJuly 10, 2008

The Cubs have already brought in the top-of-the-rotation starter (Rich Harden) they’ve needed since Mark Prior and Kerry Wood’s injury woes began. Between Harden, Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, and Ted Lilly they have one of, if not the best top-four starters in baseball. However, every team has room for improvement.

Lou Piniella would be thrilled to see the following.

Power Lefty Starter/Reliever

Ryan Dempster fell back to earth in June, after an amazing March-April-May. He’s a converted starter-turned-reliever-turned-starter-again, and who knows when his arm could hit a wall.

Dempster went 2-1 with a 4.55 ERA and a .785 OPS against him in June. He’s come out strong in July, 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA and a .159 BAA.

However, for Cubs fans and fantasy owners alike, Dempster should be monitored carefully.

A power lefty would off-set both Harden and Zambrano well, and would be an interesting contrast to the crafty Ted Lilly.

Even if Dempster finishes the season strong, a power lefty could make the move to the pen for situational work in the postseason. Some options could include: 

Erik Bedard

The Mariners' lefty seems unhappy in Seattle, and has pitched well of late. The Mariners gave up a lot to get him, so he’d require a similar package from the Cubs.

Oliver Perez

If the Mets fall out of contention by the trade deadline, he’d be a perfect fit in the No. 4 or 5 spot in the Cubs rotation. He’s not ridiculously expensive ($6.5 million), and will be a free agent in the offseason.

Stand pat or settle for less

Rich Hill and Sean Marshall are still Cubs, and Odalis Perez and Randy Wolf will be on the market, but none is really a better option than Jason Marquis.

Center Field

At this point, the Cubs are just deciding what face they want to go with the .270 average in center. Sure, Jim Edmonds is one of the greatest defensive outfielders in the history of baseball, but at 38 his range is almost definitely shrinking.

Alfonso Soriano’s injury has shown the value of having a fourth outfielder (Reed Johnson), especially one who can take a walk.

With Matt Murton and Eric Patterson in Oakland, the Cubs would be in serious trouble if any of Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome, Edmonds, or Johnson got hurt.

However, it is senseless to make a trade without improving the ballclub.

Aaron Rowand

Rowand is in his first year with the San Francisco Giants, and hasn’t equaled his home run totals in the cavernous AT&T Park. While his eight homers aren’t impressive, its safe to assume that a few of Rowand’s 26 doubles would have gone over the ivy.

Coco Crisp

Crisp would be had in a talent-for-talent deal, as he’s the odd-man-out in the contending Red Sox outfield. Crisp has a .805 career OPS against National League teams, and a .295 BA, both significantly higher than his career averages.

Crisp is also a switch hitter, which would give the Cubs alot of flexibility in righty-lefty matchups. Also, Crisp used to be an amateur boxer with a 17-0 record with 17 knockouts, which would put Kyle Farnsworth to shame.