A night of excitement, hype, build-up, and no pay-off. Someone wanna make a prom joke?
- As you’d expect after another Trade Saga like last night’s non-trade between the Angels and Cubs involving Dan Haren and Carlos Marmol, pretty much everything in the Cubs’ world right now is about that deal. The full story of what happened hasn’t yet been published, and, as I said last night, probably never will be. The best we can do is make some educated inferences to piece things together. We know that Carlos Marmol had a limited no-trade clause, and we know that he was the first person to spill the beans. We know that up until an hour before Haren’s option deadline, LA sources were insisting other teams were involved in trying to get Haren (which now sounds like a hapless pump strategy from the Angels). We know that the deal fell apart late, reportedly because the Cubs pulled out. We know that the Angels did not deal Haren to anyone else, and paid $3.5 million to buy out his option. We also know that the Angels were able to trade Ervin Santana and his $12/$13 million 2013 option, but somehow were unable to trade Haren, even if they ate a million or two of the expected $15.5 million option (which they happily would have done, since they ended up having to pay him $3.5 million anyway).
- Taking all of that together, what’s our narrative? Assuming we don’t get any additional information, it looks pretty clear to me. The two sides negotiated and finalized a trade, pending Marmol’s approval, and pending a review of medical information, as is always the case (but almost never an issue). The Cubs reached out to Marmol for approval, perhaps even telling him that a deal was done (because it was). He agreed to be traded, and starting talking to the media. The Cubs received Haren’s medical information, and something spooked them. From there, either the Cubs asked for more money or more in trade, or they simply pulled straight out. It may not be as black and white as “Haren is broken,” but if it hadn’t started with a medical issue, Haren would have been traded to another team. How else do you explain the Angels feeding the media a story about a bunch of other interest (but then no taker), and the Angels finding multiple suitors and a taker for Ervin Santana, but not Dan Haren? Sure, the Cubs could have been playing chicken with the Angels about the amount of money in the deal (and each team called the others’ bluff, driving off the cliff at 11pm CT, when Haren’s option decision was due), but where were the other teams? Are the Angels really such a crappily run organization that they didn’t have a back-up team in place, if Haren was, in fact, totally healthy? They aren’t that crappily run (no org is), and, thus, no other explanation I can presently think of makes sense. It was the medicals that started things unravelling.
- Here’s what’s annoying to me about folks in the media who are now pointing out the similarities between the Haren/Marmol trade and the Dempster/Delgado trade: the only thing that was actually similar is how many members of the media said the trade was a done deal and “confirmed.” In the latter deal, the Braves leaked word of the trade to try and force Dempster’s hand in deciding on the trade, and the no-trade rights were the hold-up. In the Haren/Marmol deal, Marmol leaked word of the trade because he was willing to waive his NTC, and the Cubs pulled the deal late (presumably because of medicals). Where is the similarity? Seriously, the only similarity is how many members of the media were willing to say they had confirmed a deal. I spent the latter part of last night, and a chunk of this morning questioning myself – wondering if I did things in the best way, the most transparent way, and the fairest way. I think I did – I never said it was a done deal, and throughout, the post title indicated a trade “may” have happened – and even I feel bad about how things went down. We should all use these times as opportunities for reflection, and try to get better.
- I had a bunch of tabs open where I had collected all of the “confirmed” articles and tweets I saw throughout the night, but I just closed them. No need to post a bunch of frustrating screenshots. Almost all of it is in my time line, and, even if those articles are changed or tweets are deleted, that’ll serve as the mirror for posterity.
- So, what now? Well, it’s hard to imagine the Cubs not trading Marmol before the season opens, given that they’ve already had him waive his NTC for a deal. He knows they don’t want him. As for Haren, yes, he’s a free agent, but (1) the Cubs have a reason to be afraid of signing him, and (2) he might not want to come to Chicago anyway. In other words, the fact that this all happened doesn’t make the Cubs any more likely to sign him than any other team. Heck, they might not even want to give him guaranteed money at this point. Like I said above, medical issues aren’t black and white – an issue on which the Cubs didn’t want to take a chance, another team might not see as an issue at all. I’m suddenly watching Haren’s free agency with great fascination, regardless of whether the Cubs are involved or not.
- Instead, the lasting thought I’ll leave you from this fiasco is about the awesomeness of Matt Garza. While the trade was going down, Garza was frantically tweeting about his fond farewells to Marmol, his excitement for next season, his excitement to have a horse like Haren in the rotation, etc. And then the trade busted, leaving us with this gem:
- (In case Twitter styling is lost on you, that’s Garza first tweeting “Hearing trade is off… Oh well, still excited about February though!,” and then friend of the program Matt Clapp tweeting in response, “This is awkward,” and Garza responding, “Agreed!” Which is hilarious.)
- Hey, one non-Marmol/Haren Bullet: Cubs Convention passes go on sale Wednesday, November 7 at 10am CT. I’ll be there. We can get a beer and talk about the inevitable five more trades that will fall apart between now and January 18, when the Convention begins.