You're not supposed to be able to play for today AND tomorrow. It doesn't work that way.
So does that mean they're nuts, dealing away a sometimes dominating pitcher (2.02 ERA over his last 10 starts) at a point where they're six games out in the American League West and 3 1/2 games back in the AL wild-card race?
At first glance, the A's take for Harden doesn't seem that great. Sean Gallagher, the guy they're calling the key to the deal, was ranked by Baseball America as the Cubs' fifth-best prospect entering the season. His numbers so far don't suggest that he's Harden.
But the A's were supposed to be taking a step down (at least for today) when they traded Haren last winter for a group that included Dana Eveland and Greg Smith (both already doing well in the Oakland rotation). They were supposed to be taking a step back when they traded Mulder for Haren back in December 2004.
They keep trading guys away (and perhaps Bobby Crosby will be next, once he gets healthy). They stay competitive.
They play for the future, as general manager Billy Beane says they're doing with today's deal. They do it without giving up on the present.
You're not supposed to be able to do it this way. But maybe the A's can.
They've done it before.