I had a conversation with Joe about the Rich Harden trade last night, which in my mind is just a fascinating situation. Talk about a risk/reward situation - the Cubs either got themselves a Cy Young candidate a la Rick Sutcliffe in 1984, or they just paid nearly $10 million and four prospects for a career-ending injury waiting to happen.
Harden is a devastatingly good pitcher when healthy; I'm not sure there's a better pitcher in all of baseball when everything is right with him. Of course, everything is rarely right with Harden, which may explain why Oakland GM Billy Beane was willing to trade him with the A's eight games over .500 and trailing the Angels by only five games in the American League West.
Anyway, I was disappointed that the Mets were never able to pry Matt Murton away from the Cubs to help with their corner outfield woes. Murton was part of the six-player deal, mainly because somewhere along the line the Cubs decided that he wasn't a major league outfielder. His track record certainly doesn't suggest that and I have a feeling Murton will look mighty good in the green and gold of the A's before the season is out.
Joe, of course, is expecting an immediate counter-strike by Omar Minaya. He wants a corner outfielder and he wants one 90 seconds ago, even though the Mets have very little to offer in return for someone decent. (Joe is willing to make a challenge trade and use Aaron Heilman as bait - what a surprise, a Mets fan who thinks Aaron Heilman is good trade bait! - but I have no reason to believe the Mets will subtract from the major league roster to go after another bat.)
After some back-and-forth, a few basic criteria for trade targets were established. The only realistic possibilities were players currently on a team that is going nowhere in 2008. They must be performing well, but not playing at such a high level that it would take at least one good prospect to acquire him. Finally, the player should be a veteran without a burdensome contract that is no guarantee to be re-signed by his current team next season.
Shockingly enough, that didn't leave a lot of possibilities.
Back in a few hours with Part 2 ...