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When I awoke from my post-Blogathon slumber on Monday (was it Monday? for a few days, time ceased to be, in any meaningful sense, real), I came across a couple strongly negative analyses/commentaries on the Chicago Cubs’ failure to accomplish anything of value this weekend before the non-waiver trade deadline. So, I started to prepare a writeup on those articles.

But then I found another. Ok, three still isn’t too many to use in a traditional writeup.

But then I found another. And another. And another. Before I knew it, I had nine tabs open. It was time to do a bullet-style roundup. That there was no shortage of negative reactions about which to write is, itself, another strongly negative indicator.

Away we go…

Grantland’s Jonah Keri used my preferred word to describe the Cubs’ deadline: inexplicable. Keri’s opening is perfectly excoriating:

Jon Daniels should have known better. The Texas Rangers GM was hunting for relief help at the deadline, so he reportedly buzzed his Cubs counterpart, Jim Hendry, to see about Carlos Marmol. Marmol was having a good enough season, albeit down from his huge 2010. Maybe Hendry would be amenable to a trade.

Hell, no. Which makes sense, because you can’t just call up a team 15.5 games out of first place and 21 games below .500 (now 16.5 and 22) and ask about their ninth-inning guy. There’s no position more important for a team going nowhere than someone to close out their meaningless games, especially when it costs only the $18 million that Marmol is set to make through the end of 2013.

Keri goes on with similar jabs, using Carlos Pena and Marlon Byrd as the knives. Keri’s is my favorite piece in this collection, and not just because it resonates the most strongly with my own analysis of the Cubs’ inaction (ok, well, mostly not just because…). It strikes a chord.

ESPN’s Jayson Stark calls the Cubs one of his deadline losers, writing:

Between no-trade clauses, contracts that acted like no-trade clauses and low-energy under-performance from so many guys on this roster, the Cubs headed for the auction stand with almost nothing they could sell, other than Kosuke Fukudome. And once Fukudome was gone, that’s exactly what they did get moved:

Nothing.

“Now that,” said one scout, “is a deadline loser if I ever saw one.”

I agree that the Cubs were deadline losers, but Stark’s rationale is kind of self-defeating. The Cubs went into the deadline, he says, with nothing to sell, and, because they indeed sold nothing, they didn’t do a good job. Qué?

AOL’s Greg Couch, after noting that “America’s lovable losers … sat quietly in the corner doing nothing, planning nothing,” has some harsh (but appropriate) words for Cubs’ GM Jim Hendry, who said that, by and large, the players the Cubs kept were guys who “have a chance to be involved next year”:

What? WHAT! It really takes nerve for the GM of a team that’s going to lose 100 games, a team that hasn’t won a World Series in over 100 years, to defend the players he has brought in and talk about bringing them back next year.

Sports Illustrated’s Joe Sheehan compliments Houston Astros GM Ed Wade’s deadline performance by way of an unflattering contrast to Jim Hendry:

Contrast Wade’s approach with that of Cubs GM Jim Hendry – whose team is not as bad as the Astros, but faces a similar dilemma – and you gain respect for a man who has done his best to put the organization’s needs first, even though in doing so carves in stone his legacy as a man who didn’t get the job done.

The implication, of course, is that, by keeping the Cubs together at the deadline, Hendry is putting his own future ahead of the organization’s future. I still strongly believe Hendry is gone at the end of the season, but, point taken.

CBS Sports’ Matt Snyder says the Cubs should have made everyone available:

What should [Hendry] have done? Well, at the very least he should have said every single player – save for maybe Castro – was available and seen what kind of offers came in. Just making guys available doesn’t mean you have to trade them. The roster is not close to being competitive, even in a bad NL Central, and a few free agent signings aren’t going to change anything. He needs to build the farm system from the ground up and then head into free agency with a plan of building around one or two stars – like Fielder – with an emphasis on youth. He also needs to stop backloading deals and crippling the future payroll. Maybe Hendry couldn’t have gotten much back for any of the above players I mentioned, but the team as is won’t be competing for anything for several years. It was a perfect time to begin the rebuiling process. As far as I can tell, the only thing that prevented that was delusion – or that a firesale would have been his fault and he doesn’t want to admit it.

The Cubs have recently taken steps to revitalize the farm system with an eye toward future success and stability, but Sheehan’s right – seriously considering offers for valuable pieces like Matt Garza, Geovany Soto and Sean Marshall could have rapidly accelerated the process.

NBC Chicago’s Sam Fels criticizes the Cubs, among other reasons, because they held tightly onto players who almost certainly won’t be back next year:

Aramis Ramirez shouldn’t be on this team next year. Carlos Pena won’t be when he gets a multi-year offer from anyone else. Marlon Byrd is a stop-gap. Sean Marshall is one of the best set-up men in the game, but you don’t need set-up men when your team hardly wins anyway (the Padres figured this out right quick). Reed Johnson will not be on this team next year. Why are they here now?

The Cubs will tell you they’ll gain their flexibility when these contracts are up next year. But if they’re going away, why not ditch them now, bring in a number of prospects in those deals and hope just one comes up trumps? If the Cubs were alarmed that they’d have to cover salary, has anyone told them the concept of “sunk cost”? You’re paying that money either way, so why not try and get something that will help you down the road when you might be a contender again?

The Pirates kicked the tires on Carlos Pena and Reed Johnson. The Angels have long coveted Aramis Ramirez, who certainly would have waived his no-trade with the right enticements. Everybody wants bullpen help.

Kind of seems like there has to be a reason for holding onto these guys, right? All we can do is invent and play jazz, because it otherwise appears to defy all logic.

The Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rogers suggests that, although some of the blame for this weekend’s failure lies with Jim Hendry, it isn’t because Hendry failed to make moves. It’s because Hendry failed to put the Cubs in a position where the moves made more sense:

He’s a general manager with deep roots in scouting and player development. He knows that the most important task for any GM is finding and developing players, and the Cubs haven’t gotten many impact guys to the big leagues in his tenure, especially position players. That’s why the falloff from 2007-08 has been so severe.

Guys like Ramirez, Byrd and Pena should be getting pushed by prospects, which would have made them tradable before Sunday’s deadline.

I know many of you aren’t Rogers fans, but this is a great point. In a separate piece calling the Cubs the deadline’s biggest loser, Rogers suggests another possible reason for refusing to unload this weekend: Hendry wanted to keep the team in respectable shape so that a free agent like Prince Fielder won’t dismiss them out of hand. Interesting, to be sure, but there are at least three flaws: (1) this team is about to lose 100 games – there’s nothing respectable about it; (2) if the goal was to lure Fielder, why is Carlos Pena still here?; and (3) money talks, yo.

Finally, SB Nation’s Al Yellon (you may know him better as the guy who runs Bleed Cubbie Blue) wonders if the impressively poor deadline performance should be the final straw for Hendry:

And one thing about doing a July 31 deadline deal – or several, as the Astros, another team having a miserable season, did – is to send a message to your team and fans that the way the team is currently constituted isn’t working and you need to retool now, rather than wait until August, or the offseason. Hendry’s statement that some of the players not dealt “have a chance to be involved next year” denies this reality; this is an aging core that had a decent run from 2007 through ’09. It’s now two years later.

One of Jim Hendry’s best traits is that he is very loyal to his players, who in turn love playing for him. But that loyalty is also one of his worst qualities; it means that players he likes are sometimes kept far beyond their sell-by date.

If Hendry can’t fix this mess, it’s incumbent on Cubs owner Tom Ricketts to find someone who will.

If I were a betting man, as I like to say, I’m thinking that’s just what Tom Ricketts plans to do.

  • Pingback: A roundup of deadline thoughts. - CHI CITY SPORTS l #1 Chicago Sports Fan Message Board()

  • EQ

    wow.. now i’m even more depressed. there better be some MAJOR movement in August and during the off season..

  • Dan0mite

    I saw on twitter (via you Ace) that several Cubs players are on waivers. Is there a place that has a list of all players on waivers or at least the Cub’s?

    • Fishin Phil

      I believe they are on Craig’s List.

      • Dan0mite

        I said players on waivers, not hookers Fishin Phil.

        • philoe beddoe

          it is my understanding that many teams place a ton of guys on waivers…because they just pull them back, or they may get a sucker to take them…I am looking at you Kenny Wiliams and Alex Rios!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      No, it’s not public info. It’ll leak over the next couple weeks, I’d guess. But, I’d go dollars to donuts that everyone you think would be placed on waivers has been. And some others, too. Placing a guy on revocable waivers (as this would be) doesn’t really mean anything, but it’s the vehicle by which you can make August moves. It’s better to do it on a just-in-case basis than not.

  • http://karenscubsblog.blogspot.com Karen P

    Wow. As steve goodman said, we really have become the doormat of the National League. And the national media…

  • hardtop

    if we could just get this nice little summary into to ricketts’ hands….

    • Spencer

      I’d be very surprised if both Ricketts and Hendry haven’t heard backlash from the media and people around the league.

    • CubFan Paul

      Cricketts is too busy sitting on his hands to make bold changes or hire a baseball guy to watch the other baseball guys..

  • AJ

    I think Rogers’ point is the best one: the team’s inactivity at the deadline is the result of an absolute utter lack of talent of any kind at Triple A.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It’s so rare that you see that collection of words together in a sentence, but I have to agree.

    • Jeff

      Not to harp on a point that has almost nothing to do with this, but did you see the Rhyno column in the Sun Times? The Iowa team with complete lack of talent that is currently 13 games or so under, was 20 over with Sandberg last year with a lot of the same guys, and he was the manager of Tennessee when Castro, Colvin, and Cashner all had their breakthrough seasons. The article also points out how instrumental he was in the development of Darwin Barney the last couple of years. The point is that there aren’t enough good teachers in the system, and that’s why the guys aren’t developing.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        I’m going to have a write-up on that article tomorrow. There are some pretty shocking things in there, I think.

        • philoe beddoe

          Brett, I am hoping in your write-up you can shed some light on Ryno saying he was third or fourth in line?….what?…you can say what you want about injuries, but Quade isn’t ready for prime time….honest to god I heard him in a two minute span refer to marm, cassie, barn, demp, fuku, rami, sori, woody, and wellsie…I am sorry, but if you use that many nicknames you are probably a dork….who will not be respected by professional egos…with this crappy team they should be referred to by just their numbers like Buddy Ryan used to do…

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            I have some thoughts on it, but no inside scoop. Teaser: I don’t think that was the most incendiary/interesting part of the article…

            • ari gold

              If a new GM comes in, are there usually changes throughout the organization? From the Farm Director, to the coaches at the minor league level? I can’t remember what coach at Daytona said this, but there was an article where he said he likes his players to be aggressive. He encourages it. Maybe I read it out of context, but I think coaches like that are the problem. They need to teach patience. Get rid of them all, because it’s not working.

      • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

        I read that article, too. I thought it was fairly damning of Quade’s managing, and the Cubs’ handling of the whole Ryno situation. Barney came off as a pretty great guy.

        I do wonder why Hendry never took Sandberg seriously as a candidate. At first, sure, I know Ryno caught him really off guard when he sat down to dinner w/ Hendry that night and sprung the “I want to manage this team” thing on him, but that was five years ago. Did Hendry resent being put on the spot by an untested Cubs legend? Did the resulting media (and fan) chorus over the next four years contribute to his discomfort? Why did Ryno feel (or why was he told) that he wasn’t even 4th or 5th on the list?

        I wish I knew. Unless I missed it, I don’t recall Hendry ever laying out the reasons that Sandberg wasn’t a close candidate for the job (not that he needed to, mind you). Anyway, still curious.

  • Toosh

    Again, all the “talent” in the Cubs’ system is “a couple of years away”. Always. And forever.

  • auggie1955

    I’m very disappointed (as most Cubs fans are) at Hendry’s non-performance during the trading deadline. I hope and prayed some how we would get rid of Soriano. At the least I expected Pena to be traded. Then Johnson’s back conveniently went out over the weekend. Notice how his back all better now after the deadline.

    Today I came to the realization that my first wish, Soriano being traded, will not happen. Carlos Lee is still available with only 1 year left on his deal. Lee has put up better numbers through out the past 4 yrs, plus he can play 1st. If a team needs a bat they will take Lee over Soriano. The only way to get rid of him is to eat the whole contact.

  • Jeff

    That’s an impressive set of criticisms. I think you covered most of the bases. Although, you probably could have pulled all that together from the comment section during the blog-a-thon. I guess that just goes to show how much our chemistry puts us ahead of the curve.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Now is the time for bold criticism.

  • ry

    jesus christ, randy wells sucks ass. can he ever make it out of the first inning without giving up a run. so pathetic.

  • Toosh

    A-Hole strikes again. I’m starting to think Mary61 might be right. Re-sign him. Now.

  • http://None FireHendry

    Cubs fans,

    Support the removal of Hendry on twitter by following @FireHendy. Once we get enough followers we will submit it to the Chicago Cubs to show what the fans really want. So please follow and tell why you feel Hendry should be fired and replaced.

  • Cheryl

    One thing about Ritters that speaks well of him is his support of and willingness to improve the cubs draft. But he has to go beyond that. He has to get the best coaches and managers to handle these kids that he’s drafted. As for the Big Leagues, I hope he moves quickly to replace Quade and company and the vets who only seem to contribute when the pressure is off. It was a complete embarrassment the way the vets responded to what happened to Castro. What would they have done if Holliday injured him so he could never play again? It certainly makes you wonder where this “team” is as a group.

  • Dick

    I agree that Hendry is a dunce, but I’d have rather had him keep people like Marmol if he was offered bozos like Richie Robnett, Kyle Smit, and Fernando Perez for him. Soriano, different story….he could have traded him for some back issues of Baseball Digest, and it would have improved the team.

    • Toosh

      Agreed. SorryOhNo is the albertross over this team’s head.

  • MichiganGoat

    So it looks like we are going to 3 in a row tonight for the second time; and although winning is always nice, this is the absolutely worse thing that can happen to this team. If we go on a winning streak and show lively bats, it only reinforces the delusion that we are one or two moves away- bold changes be damned! I hope that regardless of how we look during these meaningless games Ricketts doesn’t buy the same shit we bought last year. But I’m getting worried.

    • Spencer

      It’s only a three game winning streak. Still 20 games under .500. A three game winning streak doesn’t change anything. It’s not like there’s some magical number were Rickets its gonna be like “oh, 30 games under means we need lots of changes but 20 games under means we’re still close enough.” The season is still lost.

      • MichiganGoat

        But we sucked last year and a winning record under Q convinced him to make him the manager. I suspect your right but if were winning Q is going to continue to play vets instead of the kids as he did last year.

    • Ol’CharlieBrown

      It has become clear to me that Hendry knew exactly what was wrong with this team and he fixed it. The only deal that we made was the only deal that needed to be made. Simply ridding ourselves of Fukudome appears to have cured this team of its ailments. Maybe it was Fukudome that was causing the “lack of chemistry” that Pena spoke of. Maybe he was pulling a Sammy Sosa by blasting Japanese music in the clubhouse before every game. Maybe he was as fed up with this team as we are and went around the clubhouse yelling at the guys telling them, “you have no… you have no… marbles”!

      Only kidding, of course. It’s funny how when the Pirates are doing terrible, like they typically do, we can’t seem to beat them. Now that they’re somewhat in contention, we are about to beat them for the 3rd game in a row. Either way, the Pirates are starting to fall off, just like many predicted.

  • Jerry McClellan

    I have felt for a long time that Jim Hendry was either jealous of Sandberg or resented the attention Sandberg would get on the radio when Ryno was asked the question about managing the Cubs. I think Hendry felt that Sanberg was putting him in a bad spot and forcing him to hire the hall of famer. For the most part all Sandberg did was win in the Cubs system and that should tell you something. Sandberg really never was given a fair shot at the job and Quade was handed the job based on a team that played with no pressure. That was a dangerous mistake.

    The Ricketts family are making a dangerous miscalculation by waiting for the end of the year to make changes to management. It should have been done long before the trade deadline to allow the new guy to figure out which direction he wanted to go. I hope the purge and rebuild of management starts at the end of the year but at this point I am not confident it will.

  • Ol’CharlieBrown

    Ok, Im watching the Cardinals/Brewers game on MLBNetwork right now. Albert Pujols was just hit by a pitch in the hand. Definitely unintentional. Inning ended shortly after. Braun comes up to bat the next inning. Cardinal pitcher Motte comes in hard with a fastball on Braun and almost hits him in the hip. Barely misses him. Next pitch is another hard fastball right at Braun that nails him on the shoulder. Cardinals wasted not a single out to retaliate. Unbelievable. I swear, if any Cubs pitcher reads this blog, please, please, in the next series, remind Holliday that the Cubs aren’t going to be pushed around. Cardinals wanna play hardball, thats fine. Lets play hardball.

    • MichiganGoat

      Exactly

      • Cheryl

        That’s what it should have been with the cubs.

  • Toosh

    Going to the Brewer’s game tomorrow. Local summer rec’ trip. Be sitting first base side, lower deck, orange t-shirt, Red Stripe beer hat.

    • Ron

      and bleacher nation sign?

      • Toosh

        Good idea!

    • Jeff

      Hooray beer!!1

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Feel free to take out both clubs.

  • wsd12

    Wasn’t it Jim Hendry’s plan to have Mike Quade be the manager for many many years, I swear that when Lou Pinella was hired, he had no say on his third base coach. Hendry choose Quade. Quade has always been Hendry’s guy for years, that is why Ryno did not have a chance

  • Polar Bear

    I’m not sure I agree with the comments about our minor league players being the reason why these so-called major leaguers weren’t available. HELL…they should have been expendable!!! Whether we trade them now or pay them for the rest of the season, it all adds up the same. At least we could have brought on some players that would add some depth to the minors. At some point (regardless of what profession you choose), you will be held accountable for your actions. Whether they are improvements or a hinderance to the goal you are trying to accomplish…you live and die by those choices. Hendry needed to man-up and cut his losses. Instead he chose to hide behind those same mistakes and not take ownership of the “titanic” mess that he is responsible for creating. That is the primary reason that he should be gone. If he can’t accept his own errors, he should not be allowed to celebrate others’ successes.

  • http://BleacherNation Ramy16

    I would like to see hendry trade for Carlos peguero…great left fielder ..with Seattle getting Casper wells..looks like Peguero may be be expendable ..young talented and with some pop in his bat!

    • Jeff

      You are giving Jim Hendry too much credit. I can’t remember a case where I’ve ever heard Hendry liking another teams minor leaguer and going after him. That’s too much forward thinking for him. I do like where you’re coming from Ramy, I think Peguero would be a great addition to the outfield mix for next year and beyond, I just don’t trust Hendry to make such a smart move.

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