Text messages spread good news
Cubs fans took to their phones to relay Harden's acquisition
CHICAGO -- Text messages spread the breaking news throughout Cubs Nation:
OMG, Cubs got Harden!
The fan consensus was a thumbs-up toward Cubs general manager Jim Hendry for sending pitcher Sean Gallagher, outfielders Matt Murton and Eric Patterson and catcher Josh Donaldson to Oakland for pitchers Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin. While the Brewers struck first by dealing for CC Sabathia on Monday, the Wrigley faithful approved the corresponding Cubs deal.
"I'm happy about [getting Harden] because of the CC Sabathia trade," said Alex Banda, 20. "I figured the Cubs had to make the move. I wanted CC Sabathia to come here. If the Cubs see the Brewers make a trade like that, Jim Hendry's a smart man. He knew what to do."
The development filtered through the Red Line en route to Wrigley Field. It finally dominoed to passenger Derrick Williams, 23, of Anderson, Ind. Williams agreed with the trade, but not the motive.
"I think we did it more for our staff, not just because they made a deal," Williams said. "People put a lot of pressure on Hendry, but I think it was a deal we had to make anyway. ... It's a great deal. I've watched [Harden] pitch for awhile. He's got great stuff. The main thing is, can he stay healthy? If he can stay healthy, he can pitch the way [Carlos] Zambrano pitches."
As recent as five or 10 years ago, fans might have had to wait until after the game to hear about the trade on television -- or even wait until the next morning's newspaper. Not Tuesday, when Richard Velazco, 19, found out via text message.
"As soon as I got the text, I was like, 'Yes!'" Velazco said. "We've got another ace pitcher. I think it will help a lot."
What about Harden's injury history? He has not thrown 100 innings since 2005.
"I guess that's the gamble you take," said Luke Stanaway-Neblo, 20, of Jackson, Mich. "If you win the World Series after 100 years, nobody's going to be talking about that."
Giving up Murton, Patterson, Gallagher and Donaldson didn't faze most fans, either. The Cubs held on to top Draft picks Josh Vitters and Tyler Colvin, as well as Major League-experienced youngsters Micah Hoffpauir and Sean Marshall.
"I don't think Murton was ever going to be much," Mike Fox said. "The biggest thing they lost was Patterson, but I'm not sure he was going to pan out. In a couple years, Gallagher might have helped them out, but they needed something now."
Banda's uncle, Jerry, had just driven up from San Antonio. So he didn't learn of the deal until the fourth inning. He was ecstatic to hear about Harden, but let down when he realized who was getting shipped to Oakland.
"I absolutely love Murton," Jerry said. "Eric Patterson was coming up and playing good ball. Gallagher was playing really good ball. I really liked him."
Alex swallowed the loss, too.
"I like the way Eric Patterson was playing, but you've got to do what you've got to do to make the World Series," he said.
Anybody who knew a curveball from a slider had an opinion on Harden, even unaffiliated baseball fans.
"It looks like a classic A's [general manager] Billy Beane trade, getting rid of somebody that's going to request big money next year, and he's picking up four guys for cheap," said Denver native Jacob Kurzawa. "Who knows? It might work out for him."
Will it work out for the Cubs? Ask again in October, or, to put in text terms, TTYL.
Nick Zaccardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.