You know what's exciting? Pre-deadline deals!
Perhaps in response to the Sabathia trade of earlier this week, the Chicago Cubs acquired pitchers Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin from the Oakland A's for 4 players.
It comes as no surprise that Harden was traded. Other than perhaps closer Huston Street, Harden was easily the biggest trading chip for the perennially cash-strapped A's. Gaudin was also expected to be a piece of a trade thanks to his experience and versatility. Harden has a long history of injuries, but when he's healthy he's one of the most talented and effective hurlers in the big leagues. So, it follows that the success of this trade will be dependent on the health of Harden. He has stayed uninjured most of this year, so the prognosis looks good. If Harden does stay healthy and Gaudin performs to expected levels, you will be hard-pressed to find a more complete team in the NL than the Cubs this year.
On the other side of the equation, Billy Beane is a genius and likely made like a bandit yet again. The A's had no real intention of keeping Harden past this year's deadline, as he soon was due for a hefty pay-raise. So they flipped him for right-hander Sean Gallagher, outfielders Matt Murton and Eric Patterson, and catcher Josh Donaldson. Gallagher was the centerpiece of the deal. A big right-hander, Gallagher has good stuff and projects to be at least a middle of the rotation guy for many years. Murton and Patterson are a mixed bag. Murton had been considered a top prospects for years, but never really put it together (I blame the manager tandem of Dusty Baker and Lou Pinella for never playing him correctly...Pinella doesn't like youngsters and Baker is an idiot). Patterson, brother of chronic tease Corey Patterson, is a 5-tool guy who also has never put it together. Still, both could turn it around and at worst provide good depth and trading chips for the future. Donaldson is a good catching prospect who was blocked by the better catching prospect Giovani Soto in the Cubs system but should be put to good use in the A's system.