An interesting, and very surprising, nugget in an article about Chicago Cubs free agent pitcher Rich Harden possibly heading out to Seattle:
It is rumored that Harden doesn’t have much interest in returning to Chicago since he supposedly felt overused and suffered from some poor defensive play by Alfonso Soriano and Milton Bradley. Yahoo! Sports.
This obviously stands in stark contrast to everything we’ve ever heard about Harden’s time in Chicago. And it conflicts with Harden’s statements about wanting to return to the Cubs within the last couple of weeks.
The poor defensive play part is a legitimate gripe – with Ryan Theriot at shortstop, an endless rotation of defense-second second baseman, a converted centerfielder, and Alfonso Soriano in left field, the Cubs were not a defensive juggernaut this year. I’m not sure I would see a complaint about Milton Bradley’s defense as legitimate, though – he was pretty much average, especially when compared to others on the team.
But the overuse complaint would be a blind-side. The Cubs never pushed Harden past 100 pitches when he wasn’t cruising. The Cubs never pushed Harden past 5(!) innings when he wasn’t cruising. The Cubs even did him the courtesy of shutting him down at the end of the year so that he could rest. That just can’t be a serious complain, can it?
My guess is this “rumor” is bogus. Someone thought it made sense, passed it along to someone else, who called it a rumor. Rich Harden may very well end up somewhere else – it’s a near certainty – but it will not be for the lack of a desire to give the Cubs a legitimate shot to re-sign him.