After I rounded up the national reactions to the Chicago Cubs’ decision to do nothing at the trade deadline, going so far as to make a number of tradable pieces untouchable, Grantland’s Jonah Keri put together a list ranking each of the 30 MLB teams’ efforts at the deadline.
Care to take a wild guess who ended up dead last?
30. Chicago Cubs
The period leading up to the trade deadline boils down to a vast exercise of supply and demand. Every team in baseball, from loaded first-place clubs to the worst of the worst, has at least one useful relief pitcher … sometimes two or more. But not every contending team needs a relief pitcher, or has the stomach to give up useful prospects to get one. So we have to be realistic about some sellers’ situations: You can’t sell crap if no one wants your crap, even if it’s pretty good crap. All this means you’re going to read about a lot of teams that stood pat at the deadline. Some will be described with mild irritation, their lack of movement disappointing but somewhat understandable. One or two no-move clubs will actually earn praise for their patience.
The Chicago Cubs fall into exactly neither of those categories. Carlos Pena, Carlos Marmol, Marlon Byrd … Chicago reportedly had multiple opportunities to cash in veterans with little to no keeper value for younger talent. Yet other than the minor trade of Kosuke Fukudome for fringe prospects Abner Abreu (no relation to Bobby) and Carlton Smith (yes, he is related to both of them), the Cubs did nothing. Because being better than the Astros is apparently good enough.
We’re a little over a week past the trade deadline, which has provided plenty of time for these same tradable pieces to clear waivers. But there hasn’t yet been so much as a whisper out of the Cubs’ camp about possible August trades, despite Jim Hendry’s protestations that (paraphrasing) “it doesn’t all have to happen by the July 31 deadline.”
Obviously there is still plenty of time to make a deal, but with each week that passes without a deal, the criticisms that the Cubs faced at the deadline – summed up nicely by Keri’s description and ranking – will only become more crystalized. And more accurate.