To trade or not to trade? It was the question that dominated the headlines last week as the waiver trade deadline approached. Would the Chicago Cubs succumb to the reality that they are simply too far out of the playoff picture to make a run, and sell? Would the Cubs dump Rich Harden and Aaron Heilman, who had been publicly claimed on waivers?
We had to know! We had to know!
Well apparently, the Cubs were never going to make a move. At least that’s the story now, according to Cubs general manager Jim Hendry.
“It was the biggest non-story of that big of magnitude,” Hendry said. “We always run everyone through what we call ‘trade waivers.’ Everyone in Major League Baseball usually runs their whole team through in August. We had 12 people claimed over the course of the month, and for whatever reason, two names (Harden and Aaron Heilman) were made public.
“It’s not something I would ever discuss- possible trades, or were we close, or names here or there. But I can tell you, we never really gave it any substantive thought, because we certainly would never give up unless we were out of it. If we were 15 back, obviously you might have looked at things a little differently with other people who were never mentioned in the press.
“It’s just the way the world is now. So of the 12 that were claimed, two were stories and 10 had the same results as those two.” Hardball.
We surmised that there were more Cubs claimed, but our guess is that the reason Harden and Heilman’s names were released is because they were the only two that were actually discussed in trade. Despite Hendry’s explanation, I still tend to believe that.
Still, the Cubs probably reached out to the Twins, explaining that it was going to take a king’s ransom to get Harden (for whatever reason), and the Twins blanched. Thus, Hendry speaks the truth when he said the Cubs were never close to making a trade.
His explanation, however, that the reason the Cubs refused to dump, for example, Aaron Heilman, is troubling. Don’t want to give up? Even if trading a middle reliever with a 4.50ish ERA was considered giving up, the statistical odds that the Cubs come back to take the Wild Card have dwindled into historic territory. Of course it’s possible that the Cubs could come back. But hope is not a strategy when you’re a GM. That’s the province of the fans.