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Reality Check: A Harden Fast Rule

No, this post is not about hunger strikes, or even about balls and strikes. It is about Occam's Razor. Occam's Razor is that the simplest explanation tends to be the best one. Ironically, Occam's Razor does not apply to its own name, as the simplest explanation for why something is called a "razor" is that it has something to do with shaving, and yet Occam was really not known for his facial hair nor for any innovations in twin blade technology. Neither linguists nor Scientists nor hair stylists have been able to explain why we do not refer to "Occam's Rule," "Occam's Law," or "Occam's Principle," but we don't. Now what was I talking about? Right, Rich Harden.

Harden will miss two starts with soreness in his right shoulder, which is not connected--well obviously it's connected--to his right elbow injury, or his previous left shoulder injuries brought on by collisions with baserunners and alarm clocks. As far as we know at this exact moment, the right shoulder soreness still may not be all that serious and Harden may even start in the next week. The MRI did not show any of the worrisome red flags, such as decapitation or rigor mortis, so really this may just be a "scare" for fans and nothing more than the ordinary bout with soreness that crops up occasionally with many basically healthy pitchers. In other words, just because we have been conditioned to panic about Harden does not mean that panic is warranted this time--two weeks, in the scheme of things, is nothing.

Enter Occam and his pesky razor. We know that in order to protect his elbow, Harden has abandoned his breaking pitches to where he is only throwing fastballs and changeups, with a few splitters sprinkled in. After not throwing for most of last season, and coming back with a more limited repertoire, his shoulder has balked after only three starts. Harden is running out of pitches to subtract, he is running out of body parts to protect, and yet his body still appears unable to handle what it takes to pitch to major league hitters. And no matter how you slice it, no matter how the A's frame it, this is just not good.

All of which is to say that Billy Beane is looking very wise to have hung onto Joe Blanton, who may be better than I thought he would be and who, like Chad Gaudin, is looking pretty indispensable right about now.