By Jason Wojciechowski on May 7, 2008 at 11:42 PM
SFGate: Oakland Athletics : The Drumbeat : Gaudin to bullpen
The Official Site of The Oakland Athletics: News: Gaudin to 'pen to make room for Harden
I saw this from Susan Slusser first: Chad Gaudin is heading out to the bullpen to make room for Rich Harden. Mychael Urban reports that Gaudin's (a) not happy about this; and (b) worried about what it might do to his health, coming back from surgeries as he is. I understand the frustration of a guy with an ERA below 2.50 over his last four starts being sent to the bullpen. But what are you going to do? Joe Blanton's not going anywhere, you can't bounce Justin Duchscherer around, Greg Smith has been even better than Gaudin, and Dana Eveland ... well, it's not clear to me why Eveland is staying a starter while Gaudin is heading to the 'pen. It's almost a coin-flip situation, although maybe there's a talent-evaluation component here: the A's pretty much know what they have in Gaudin at this point, but Eveland is still an unknown. Is this just a hot start? Are his runs-allowed numbers sustainable given his peripherals?
Melissa Lockard points out that putting Eveland in the bullpen might hamper his confidence -- he's been beat up pretty good the last few times he's made the majors, so to send him out to the sidelines now that he's having success as a starter might impede him mentally. Lockard also asks why the A's don't move Harden to the bullpen, and her answer is sensible: there's a good chance they're looking to get what they can for him in a trade, and you don't build up a starting pitcher's value by throwing him out of the bullpen.
But you know, remember Jason Isringhausen? Failed, injury-plagued starter turned dominant reliever after a trade to a new team? Nobody wants this to happen to Harden, where the A's insist on keeping him in the rotation before they finally just give up on him only to see him have a few great years for someone else in a role that fits him when the A's could just as easily put him in that role themselves.
Keith Foulke is also due back in a few days, and Dallas Braden is likely to get the ax when that happens, heading back to Sacramento. He somehow avoided the chopping block last time, being kept around over Lenny DiNardo, but I wouldn't expect it to happen again, not with the way Joey Devine has been pitching. Unfortunately, when Harden needs to be added to the roster, I'm afraid the A's might go back to a seven-man bullpen and send out Chris Denorfia or something. Here's hoping the A's do the right thing, pat Devine on the butt and say, "Look kid, good job, but we want a six-man bullpen, you're the odd man out, and you're also the guy who'll be up in probably two weeks because of the inevitable injury (Street, Harden, Duchscherer, Gaudin, a random reliever owie) or trade (Blanton, Harden). So keep it up!"