Is Rich Harden a Bullpen Fit for the Phillies? – Phillies Nation
2010-11 Free Agency

Is Rich Harden a Bullpen Fit for the Phillies?

Armed with all the talent in the world, Rich Harden is both a nightmare and a blessing. Signing him is the equivalent of playing black or red at the roulette table – it’s a 50/50 proposition you win. If you do come out victorious, he’ll still end up on the disabled list at some point, but in the end you’re team will have gotten more out of him than you previously imagined when signing him. If you lose, well, you seem to lose a lot with Rich Harden.

And that’s not to say Harden is a loser, he’s not. Losing really isn’t in his vocabulary at the major league level.

Through eight up and down seasons, Harden has gone 55-34 with a 3.36 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP. Injuries have set him back nearly every year he’s pitched – Harden only has one season with more than 30 starts. But man, if he isn’t the ultimate high risk/high reward pitcher, then I don’t know if one exists.

Harden’s laser fastball no longer has the zip it once did. According to FanGraphs Pitch F/X, his velocity dropped from 94.1 in 2007 to 90. 8 in 2010 with that fastball. With that, the speed on the rest of his pitches has dropped as well. Also sinking like a brick were his overall numbers.

Following a magnificent 2008 campaign that saw Harden go 10-2 with an ERA a shade above two, ’09 and ’10 were true regression years as he again failed to stay on the mound. During those two years he tossed a combined 233 innings and had finished 2010 with an ERA above five. His K/9 went from 11.3 in ’08 to just 7.3 in ’10. His BB/9 went from 0.8 to 1.8 during that same time, the worst of his career.

Harden’s name is being thrown around the Winter Meetings as we speak. Guys with his pedigree – although it’s a damaged one – will always continue to resurface as long as he can throw. GM’s are enamored with that kind of talent. But how will he be used? There is talk that moving him to the bullpen would be a prudent one. Not only would it benefit his career for the long haul (hopefully cutting down on the injuries and lengthening it) but also provide the team with a decent seventh-inning threat.

Last year Harden received $7.5 million on a one-year deal – starter-money from the Texas Rangers. It’s unlikely he’ll be commanding that sort of contract this time around.

The Phillies are currently in the market for relatively cheap bullpen arms and Harden could fit the bill if he’s ready to admit that starting is no longer the path to take.

32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. George

    December 7, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    The Phils need a left-handed reliever, and Harden doesn’t qualify.

    Also, he have HAD talent, but it’s pretty obvious that he’s lost velocity and lost some control, possibly due to constant injuries. With that combination, added with injury potential, he’ll likely be a disaster even out of the ‘pen.

    I wouldn’t even kick the tires on this one, because you can tell at a glance that they’re flat.

  2. George

    December 7, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    Second sentence should read “…he may have HAD talent…”

  3. Lefty

    December 7, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Pass-
    IMO Spending for relievers is almost always a crapshoot. Here’s the option I like best.

    “Amaro said the Phillies are also willing to turn some bullpen spots over to younger players, an idea he suggested long ago.”

  4. The Dipsy

    December 7, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Need a lefty.

    The Dipsy

  5. Don M

    December 7, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Between Contreras, Madson, and Lidge … we have enough strikeout pitchers in the bullpen..

    The one plus that Harden might offer is that he would possibly be able to go multiple innings . . . but being that he’s such an injury risk, anything more than $1 M is too much for him . . . and I can’t see him signing for so little

  6. Bart Shart

    December 7, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    No to Harden. He is a right hander and his talent is on the slide.

  7. Chuck

    December 7, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Yawn.

  8. Andrew

    December 7, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Veto. Need a lefty, and a cheaper one at that. How does our farm system look for lefties? I do think this is Bastardo’s year to shine.

  9. Pat Gallen

    December 7, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Can never have too much depth.

  10. Don M

    December 7, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    They like Herndon enough that they kept him around all of last season . . . what’s the deal with Mathieson.. is he ready to be a legit MLB player?

  11. betasigmashag

    December 7, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    with his injury history is anyone going to offer this guy any sort of deal, or would a minor league deal be a possibility or maybe a incentive laden contract. Because if he would take like something like that I do not see why you would not take a shot at the guy. But someone will probably sign him to some gurenteed money.
    Off topic but are there any RH bats outside Mayberry in the minors that even have a shot at the majors this year

  12. Don M

    December 7, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    I think Mayberry is horrible, and that we made a mistake trading Golson for him…

    I agree with Beta though, re Harden, I think somebody gives him two years of a guarantee, and hopefully its not us

  13. psujoe

    December 7, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Randy Choate. lefties hit only .202 with an OPS of .529.

  14. Dan

    December 7, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    I’m exicted to see some of the young guys compete for a spot. Mathieson deserves some success after what he’s had to fight through.

  15. Chuck

    December 7, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    According to MLBTR, the Philles are meeting with the agent for Dennys Reyes today…

    And..

    Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun says that the Phillies are considered to be the favorites for George Sherrill’s services

  16. Don M

    December 7, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    just read on MLBTR ….. Phillies are meeting with Denny Reyes’ agent … he’s kind of a bumb, but at least he’s a LHP better than Zagurski, etc..

    Also, and more importantly, the Phillies are considered by many to be the favorites to land George Sherrill . . . . with a career 0.88 WHIP and .167 Batting Average Against – Left Handed Batters!!!

    “most in the industry believe that he will sign with the Philadelphia Phillies, who are very much interested in the big lefty. Sherrill was signed out of the independent league by Charley Kerfeld, a special assistant to Phillies’ GM Ruben Amaro Jr. Kerfeld and Sherrill remain friends. The Phillies also need left-handed bullpen help, and obviously give Sherrill the best opportunity to get back to the playoffs.

    Sherrill has strong and positive feelings for the Orioles’ organization. I’m not sure they are strong enough to overcome the Phillies’ other advantages. “

  17. Don M

    December 7, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    haha.. good call Chuck, you beat me since I went to the article!

  18. Chuck

    December 7, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Well, when I can I keep hitting refresh for MLBTR and PN…

    Between actually trying to do some work!!!

  19. Chuck

    December 7, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    These numbers are CRAZY…

    Sherrill for his career against righties:

    .276 BA/.381 OBP/.418 SLG/.800 OPS/1.07 SO-BB ratio

    But against lefties it’s like Jekyll and Hyde:

    .167 BA/.235 OBP/.265 SLG/.500 OPS/4.19 SO-BB ratio

  20. Chuck

    December 7, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    I said last year at the deadline that the Phils should have considered Sherrill. Many on here poo-pooed that idea, but if he’s used STRICTLY to get those late inning lefties out it could be a very good thing. Someone, too, to complement and possibly mentor young Bastardo.

  21. psujoe

    December 7, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    Sherrill would be a nice addition as a lefty specialist.

  22. Don M

    December 7, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    I think people didnt want to get Sherrill at previous trade deadlines because he came with a steep asking price

  23. The Dipsy

    December 7, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Now, this may REALLY be asking for too much, but I would love a lefty that can handle righties, too. If that guy is Bastardo, fine. But I really don’t wanna have two Scott Eyre types on my team. I would like a lefty that could actually do an an inning if we needed him. Sherrill had a horrible year last year. Does anybody know what type of money he’s looking for?

    The Dipsy

  24. psujoe

    December 7, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    I’m hoping Bastardo can be that lefty that can give you an inning.

    Bastardo, Sherrill and 2 of (Mathiason, Defratus, Baez)
    7 Contreras
    8 Madson
    9 Lidge

  25. bfo_33

    December 7, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    Personally, I’d be perfectly happy with 2 Scott Eyres. We have 3 starters who go deep, and a healthy Blanton (or at least not injured) should be good for 6+. Madson and Contreras are both pretty close to neutral. Two lefty specialists will be enough more often than not.

  26. Lefty

    December 7, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    I like George Sherrill at the right price. I was conversing with Brooks about him a couple weeks ago. But at this point in his career he’s a Loogy only. The question is whether or not he believes that, because that would determine his value/cost.

  27. Chuck

    December 7, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Whether HE believes it?? Just show him the freaking numbers and he’ll believe it. I had heard that he was much better against lefties, but I about fell over when I saw the comparison.

    I agree. In a perfect world you would want your left to be able to handle righties, too. To be able to do one inning if needed. But I would take 2 LOOGYs. And, yeah, MAYBE Bastardo could possibly do an inning??

  28. Manny

    December 7, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    Sherrill at the right price would be a fine addition to our pen. He’d be our LOOGY. Bastardo could be the lefty who is capable of pitching a full inning, including to righties, with some success.

    Contreras, Sherrill, Bastardo, Madson, Lidge.. I’d be pretty happy with that bullpen.

  29. The Dipsy

    December 7, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    I don’t think Baez is gonna make. If he has a poor spring training, I think the Phils trade him for cash or eat the money. Lidge, Madson, Contreras, Herndon, Bastardo, Mathieson, a lefty. Its now or never for Mathieson so he’s gotta be there unless he implodes in spring training.

    The Dipsy

  30. Lefty

    December 7, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    I don’t know Chuck, Sherrill’s been a relatively well paid reliever for a while. I hope you’re right, we just make him an offer, tell him what he’s going to do, and he’ll take it. But as the Nats have now shown the league, seems there is always someone lurking with a better deal. Many teams need pen help, it’s a players market right now. Thank goodness Marvin Miller didn’t get voted in to HOF, personally I hope he never does.

  31. Don M

    December 7, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    a reliever nearing the end of his career might be more willing to go to a winner instead of just taking the max contract.. i hope

    or it could be the other way around….he might be looking to grab the most dollars he can, while he still can

  32. psujoe

    December 7, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    COuld be movement on Reyes soon. NEw thread up. See you there.

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