Earlier this month, the Brewers and Cubs both made massive pickups in the pitching department. The Brewers traded for C.C. Sabathia, while the Cubbies got Rich Harden from the A's.
Now the Brewers probably gave up more to get Sabathia from the Brewers, sending, among others, future stud outfielder Matt LaPorta to the Indians. But that isn't what this is about. Both of these moves were to contend this season, and none of the players given up for these two will have a big impact this season.
So the question is, who will be better for their new team?
Both have their advantages. Sabathia won the Cy Young for the AL just last season, and he has been great this year outside of the first month. The big problem here is that he is in the final year of his contract, and they likely will not have the financial resources to keep him after this season. Harden, on the other hand, has had a top five ERA in baseball since 2003, and he has a year left on his contract after this season. The big problem with him is injuries. For all we know, he could end up on the DL by the end of the year.
With Sabathia, you are really rolling the dice. He could end up falling apart and pitching like he did at the beginning of the year. I don't see that happening, but you can never rule that out. And if they do, somehow, sign him beyond this season, he could become the next Bartolo Colon. Let's face it, he is a big guy. Colon's weight caught up to him, and the same thing could happen with Sabathia. Harden may not have the weight concerns, but he has had plenty of injuries in the past to make up for it. He has been great this year, posting a 2.19 ERA, but he missed just over a month early in the year.
While the Cubs will likely have Harden for a much longer time, his injuries just cost too much worry. And in the end, it is about this season. Sabathia has looked great already with the Brewers, and having two of the elite pitchers in the league now will really help them make a run for the title. And Zambrano is not as good as Ben Sheets.
So in the end, the Brewers really got more help through their trade this season. While both players have worries, they don't have to be scared of constant injuries haunting their pitchers. We know Sabathia is an elite pitcher. Harden has the talent to become one, but he needs to have a healthy year where he challenges for a Cy Young before he can ever be considered a better pickup than Sabathia.