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As you know by now, the non-waiver trade deadline passed yesterday, and the Chicago Cubs – to use the euphemism that everyone appears to be fond of using – “stood pat.”

The expression “standing pat” finds its origin in the game of poker. When a player is dealt a good hand, one that he believes can win, he takes no more cards and is said to “stand pat.” This is frequently the definition you’ll find if you look up “standing pat,” and it doesn’t much sound like it applies to a team 22 games under .500 on August 1.

There is, of course, a second definition of “standing pat”: “to oppose or resist change.”

Ah. So maybe the Cubs are, indeed, “standing pat.”

The team’s GM, Jim Hendry, yesterday took to the media to explain the lack of movement, and he used all of the predictable lines.

“I wasn’t expecting,” Hendry said, “a high percentage or likelihood of something significant being done. So you do the best you can.”

The “best,” apparently, was synonymous with “nothing.”

“Obviously, what we needed to do for sure was to trade [Fukudome],” Hendry said. “That was important because you have somebody behind him that we needed to play in Colvin.”

In the four games since Fukudome was traded, Colvin has started just twice. And he batted 8th both times.

Hendry also said that he tried to make some moves that didn’t work out, but the Cubs could get back what they wanted.

I have no doubt that, with respect to some players, the offers received were inadequate. I cannot, however, buy that for every player. I look at the returns yielded by the Michael Bourn and Mike Adams deals, for example, and I can’t help but wonder what Marlon Byrd and Carlos Marmol might have returned. And, as I mentioned during the Trade Deadline Blogathon, the return on Marmol was rumored to be as good as – if not better – than what the Padres got for Adams.

Hendry tried to remain optimistic about the possibility of August trades, before selling us a bill of goods about the guys who go untraded being the ones the Cubs want to keep for 2012.

“A lot of things can still happen. Last year, I think we made two trades in August, [Mike] Fontenot and Derrek Lee, one the 11th, one was the 18th and got some certainly respectable prospects back. I think the days are gone where it has to be done by the deadline or everybody gets [upset]. If you didn’t do something by 3 o’clock, this is a disaster or that’s a disaster. I don’t put much stock in that. The guys we kept are for the most part guys that still have a chance to be involved next year.”

Does Hendry legitimately believe that this collection of players – this team that is 22 games under .500, the second-worst in all of baseball – is somehow going to improve by 20 or 30 games next year simply by aging? He can’t possibly believe that. In the parlance of poker, he can’t possibly believe the Cubs can win with this hand.

So, once again, I’m left only to conclude that there is “something” else going on. Now that I’ve slept, I’d like to submit that there are two possible “somethings.”

One possibility, which I’ve pushed rather heavily over the last few days, is that everyone in the Cubs’ organization understands that Jim Hendry is a lame duck. He’s not coming back next year. And, for that reason, Tom Ricketts (and/or whatever secret brain trust he uses) has decided that it would not be prudent to allow Jim Hendry to trade away players whom the next GM might want to keep. Because the next GM and/or President is probably currently employed, the Cubs can’t make a front office move until after the season. So, we’re stuck with a move-less deadline. Such is the problem with a lame duck.

Another possibility, explaining the lack of moves, is that Jim Hendry is playing a game of chicken. He didn’t like the offers he received, and he’s gambling that his most tradable players will either clear waivers or will be claimed only by the team with which the Cubs probably would have been dealing anyway. And he’s gambling that, as the month goes on, said team will become more desperate for its Cubs player of interest. And he’s gambling that, with respect to Carlos Pena, if he can’t find a deal to his liking, he’ll get a draft pick if and when Pena leaves in the offseason.

Altogether, it’s a risky strategy, and not one I’d endorse. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, and all that. But, I suppose it could be Hendry’s last ditch effort to save his job. A Hail Mary. If he somehow manages to unload and get a good return for Pena, Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Zambrano, Alfonso Soriano, etc., then maybe he knows what he’s doing after all. At least, that’s what he’d argue.

Whatever the explanation, here’s what we know: today, the Chicago Cubs are essentially the same team that has underachieved, disappointed, and embarrassed since Opening Day. If that wasn’t going to change at the trade deadline, when exactly is it going to change?

  • MichiganGoat

    I’m trying to be rational here and consider what could have happened, but my bloodlust over the whole Matty Holliday making the Cubs his bitch has made it more difficult but here it goes:

    So first the moves that don’t really upset me:

    1-Byrd has value to us as a leader and mentor to the young Cubs coming up, and he is actually hitting very well when you take him out of the three hole. Combine that with his cheap price for 2012 and I’d expect to receive a quality return. Maybe the Cubs just didn’t get anything that was worth it, maybe the Braves offered a package of second tier talent and we said they would have to do better, so they moved onto Houston. I’m not anyone who knows how to evaluate minor league talent so I let the analyst of radio and blogs do that for me and some are saying the Astro’s didn’t get enough Bourne (or Pence for that matter) and maybe they offered the Cubs even less.

    2-ARam obviously make it clear that he wasn’t going anywhere this weekend. Maybe we can get lucky in August.

    3-Sori and Z, if these happen it will be in August (they will clear waivers) so I wasn’t surprised there.

    4-Marmol – I’m on the fence about him, but I hate to give up the talent he has, and I’m hoping a new coaching staff will be able to help him regain his control, composure, and success.

    Now for the ones I’m angry about, all of these should have been no brainers and basically been dealt for any prospects we could have gotten.

    1-Pena – seriously the Pirates were practically begging for him, he shouldn’t be back next year, and the draft pick we could get couldn’t be much better than a AA/AAA prospect the Pirates were will to offer. I think this is where Jimbo playing chicken really screwed us. He hoped if he held out then the Pirates would up their offer, but instead they called our bluff and moved onto DLee (it almost seemed like a slap to us when they traded for him), so we will have Pena till the end of the year and then a minor draft pick for his service… way to go.

    2- ReJo – i can’t believe there weren’t teams interested in his plus fielding and highly effective bat for the pennies he is being paid.

    Of course there are any number of deals that could have happened, and the lame duck theory makes sense but why would any GM want any of these players? I’m hoping we just didn’t get any decent offers, but I think there is some serious truth into Hendry’s hands being tied (and maybe that was a great thing).

    Oh, and Mr. Holliday the Cubs want to know if there is anything else they can do for you? Wash your car, mow your grass, get on their knees… just let them know.

  • philoe beddoe

    I would like to think this was a stroke of genius but I think it is just dumb luck…Zambrano may be more valuable in August…the Yankees are taking incredible heat nationally for not adding a pitcher…they may be desperate enough to give at least a decent prospect if Z has another good start or two

    Byrd would not clear waivers, I doubt if Pena would either….

    • CubFan Paul

      Pena has a $5million dollar paycheck of deferred money due January 1st 2012, so he’ll definitell clear waivers & im quite sure thats why he’s still a Cub & not a Pirate ..teams want the Cubs to pay that $5million & the Cubs want a Top prospect for paying that -theres the hangup!

      Pena isnt worth a top prospect with a .220/.337/.438/.774 line

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      The only reason Byrd might now clear waivers is because the teams that desperately needed someone like him made other moves yesterday.

      Pena, on the other hand, almost certainly will clear waivers. He’s not only owed another $1 million this year, but $3 million or $5 million, depending on whom you ask, in January. Would a team really claim Pena and risk having to pay him $4 to $6 million for two months of work? I doubt it.

      • CubFan Paul

        ..thats what i said

      • CubFan Paul

        & jon heyman thinks we have rapheal soriano?!

        3. Cubs. They were in a bad spot with untradeable contracts (Carlos Zambrano, Rafael Soriano) and no-trade clauses (Aramis Ramirez, Kerry Wood). But it’s hard to explain why they didn’t actively seek to trade Marlon Byrd or especially Carlos Peña, who is a free agent at year’s end. The Pirates would have been happy to taken Peña, although they probably wouldn’t have given much beyond salary relief. The Braves could have been a spot for Byrd. It seems like one big happy family on the North Side of Chicago, with players wanting to stay and the front office wanting to keep everyone. But this is two straight underachieving seasons

        http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/jon_heyman/08/01/trade.deadline.winners.losers/index.html

        dumbass ..i wish i had his job

  • Toosh

    Continuity.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Ha. Obviously.

  • Joe Cartwright

    “I think the days are gone where it has to be done by the deadline or everybody gets [upset]. If you didn’t do something by 3 o’clock, this is a disaster or that’s a disaster. I don’t put much stock in that.” NO SHIT!!!!

    By the way, EVERYBODY IS PISSED!!!!!!! Those days aren’t gone.

  • EQ

    I’m sticking with your original theory that he’s a lame duck and instructed not to trade anyone who may be retained next season by the next GM.. it was obvious that Kosuke was a goner, as for everyone else… who knows??

    maybe he’s hoping we’ll get better deals for some guys this off season.. maybe they’re hoping BIg Z & Soriano heat up and finish strong and their trade value could increase slightly.. if Big Z finishes like he did last year, his value would for sure increase compared to right now.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Or, he’ll finish like he did last year, and the Cubs will decide – once again – to keep him.

  • Kinhin

    Although I’m concerned about the lame duck that is Hendry, I’m more concerned with the lame ducks out on the field. We need some fresh blood out on the field of Wrigley!

    • EQ

      no kidding.. you know, I can’t stand Tim McCarver and think he’s a prick & huge Cardinals homer.. having said that, he did make a rare good point during Saturday’s game about how hard it is to develop young players in a losing environment.. i wonder if our prospects are really that bad or do they struggle to develop properly in a losing environment.

      • CubFan Paul

        if its hard to develop players in a losing environment then explain the 54-52 Pirates who have done nothing but lose til this year?

        or the 60-49 Brewers? the 53-52 Indians? the 55-53 Blue Jays?

        McCarver did not have a good point ..the Cubs environment is sooo bad that Byrd is having a career year

        Castro has a .740 OPS
        Ramirez has a .827 OPS & isnt letting up
        &Brett thinks Randy Wells is the next Maddux

        pffft, McCarver had an asinine point & was just talking to fill air space ..he works one day a week so we can’t expect much

        • MichiganGoat

          ARam is trending downward inhis last 7 games his OPS is just .300, he’s going to have to have a strong 10-15 days if we hope to pull off an August trade. Teams my fear his recent resurgence was just a hot streak and stay away, and we better take a close look if we even consider picking up his option.

  • Spencer

    This sounds really cliche, but if the right deals aren’t there, then they aren’t there. There is no reason to make trades just for the sake of making them – look at everyone’s reaction to the Fukudome trade results. If we moved players and got a poor return everyone would be outraged. Yes, there were offers for Pena and Marmol, but if the Pirates or Rangers were not willing to offer good prospects in return, then the Cubs were right not to make those moves. Everyone blamed Hendry for not getting enough in return for Fukudome, and now everyone is blaming him for not pulling the trigger on moves where obviously the return offers were not enough for the Cubs. I agree 100% that this should be his last year and GM and that this team needs major work in order to get better next season, but if teams were unwilling to offer enough that is not Hendry’s fault. There’s still August and September to make moves.

    • MichiganGoat

      For the record I’m fine with the Fuk trade, it was better than nothing. And that’s my problem with not dealing Pena, we’d at least have gotten a high upside type prospect.

  • willis

    Not mad about Z and Byrd not being moved. I was on the fence with them unless they brought back a good haul. They can still be assets IMO.

    Pena and Marmol piss me off though. If there were offers (and there were) and the deal would have looked like the deals the Pirates and Rangers made, I just don’t get it. I am still of the opinion management is out to lunch and just hoping to get lucky. I hope that isn’t the case and that there is something more than we see going on to get this train headed back in the right direction.

  • Brett M

    Just a comment on the Byrd to Braves speculation that keeps getting mentioned. I’m fairly sure the Braves were eying Bourn 1st especially after not getting Beltran or Pence. I’m not really sure that the Byrd to Braves rumors were anything more than just rumors. Had the Braves missed out on Bourn it would have been a different story.

    • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

      Wait, whaaaaaat?

      There’s TWO Bretts now?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I believe the rumor was the Braves came to Cubs about Byrd after being spurned in their first attempt to acquire Bourn. When the Cubs said no, the Braves went back to the Astros.

    • Jeff

      The point is there was a point that the Braves were out of the Bourn trade. They then called the Cubs about Byrd and were told he is not available, then they went back and improved the Bourn offer. It’s not that he didn’t try, but that word was coming from all over the place that he wouldn’t even take offers on certain guys. Seriously, he named Jeff Baker untouchable before the deadline. Then we hear that he is telling the Pirates that Pena won’t be traded, he told the Braves no on Byrd, he told the Ranges no on Marmol, he didn’t even approach ARam about a specific trade, he just assumed it wasn’t going to get done. He is plain and simple trying to keep his job. He is hoping that this team finishes strong and gives him and his hand picked manager another shot at it next year, when it’s clear to everyone not named RIcketts that he can’t do the job.

  • RY

    Duh, moron, i really could care less what this babbling idiot has to say anymore. Hopefully come October 1 at the latest, he becomes a non issue within the cubs, other than the trainwreck and garbage he has left in his wake. We will be trying to recover from his body of work for at least the next five years!

  • BT

    If reports were correct, and the Cubs were actually offering to pay most of Zambrano’s contract just to get rid of him, I’d say that punches a hole in theory #1. Say what you want about Zambrano, but I’d assume you can’t say with any certainty that the next GM wouldn’t want him.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Fair point. Though there’s an argument – and I’ve made it – that dumping Z for pennies doesn’t make sense under any GM theory. There must be something about Z (clubhouse issues, arm problems, etc.) that makes the Cubs desperate to be rid of him in a way wholly unlike their desire to be rid of guys like Ramirez/Pena/Byrd/etc.

      I’d say that fills in at least a third of the holes. This is all just speculation anyway.

  • http://BleacherNation Bric

    The thing that bothers me most isn’t Hendry’s lack of moves at the deadline. I thought he would go similar to last year (one or two minor deals to save a little cash and maybe get lucky with a few little known prospects in return). But it’s Ricketts who’s really starting to look like the confused one.

    We remember his quote last fall that said Hendry’s job was only secure until he found a new manager. Okay. Now what? Why does Hendry still have a job? He can’t possibly think this team is is a legit competitor next year unless he lays about 80 mil for free agents. I don’t see that happening. By now most Cub fans already have their opinions about Hendry which aren’t going to change in the next month. I would’ve fired him after the Bradley deal, but that’s just me. Ricketts, though, was still a question mark this season for most of us. If he wants to avoid becoming the scape goat for the next decade he should start thinking about his own rep, which is falling fast.

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