One of the more credible rumors on day two of the Winter Meetings is that the Brewers have some interest in free agent Rich Harden (originally reported by Fox’s Jon Paul Morosi). Do me a favor and take a look at these numbers, and try to figure out which one was Rich Harden last year, and which one was Manny Parra.
5.02 ERA/4.50 FIP/3.95 xFIP
5.58 ERA/6.31 FIP/5.90 xFIP
Would you be surprised if I told you Pitcher A was Parra and Pitcher B was Harden? I said on Twitter earlier today that if the Brewers really wanted to fill that last rotation spot with a high-K, high-BB guy who can’t get through the 6th inning, they should just stick with Parra. I wasn’t entirely kidding.
It is a small sample size, but if the Brewers want to gamble on a buy-low candidate, they should look elsewhere. Like Brandon Webb, I feel fairly comfortable saying that Harden is done. His fastball was down to an average of 90.5 last season — nearly 4 MPH slower than his best days in Oakland, and 2 MPH slower than it was in 2009 with Chicago. His changeup was also nearly 2 MPH slower than it was in 2009, and his slider was 3 MPH slower than the last time he threw it in 2008.
Injuries have taken their toll over the years, and he’s simply not a very good pitcher anymore. Is it possible he rebounds and has a short spurt of success, like he did when he first got to Chicago? Sure. But there are better gambles out there for the Brewers as they try to fill that last rotation spot. Fans always complain that the Brewers have a rotation full of junkballers and no flamethrowers. Harden’s essentially a junkballer now.