Thursday, December 14, 2006

Oakland Wheels Out Trojan Horse SP Rich Harden

Oakland GM Billy Beane's move to shop Athletics staff ace Rich Harden has encountered difficulty passing the sniff test among prospective buyers throughout the league, leading to suspicions that the six-foot-one fireballer is damaged goods.

Harden, 25, perhaps the most gifted pitcher Beane has managed since taking the Athletics helm, has a track record of injuries including to the elbow, shoulder and ribs, limiting him to only 46 innings last year.

Harden has never been able to reach the 200-inning plateau, and has clashed with trainers over a rigorous weightlifting and workout regimen so ambitious that some suspect it may be debilitating.

Though Beane has little need but to tweak his bullpen and batting order, he has deemed Harden expendable. If Beane finds a buyer, expect Joe Kennedy, Kirk Saarloos and Brad Halsey to compete to replace Harden in the rotation.