Chicago Cubs Keep Rich Harden, Aaron Heilman on Roster

Tab BamfordSenior Writer IAugust 31, 2009

CHICAGO - JULY 26: Rich Harden #40 of the Chicago Cubs delivers the pitch during the game against the Cincinnati Reds on July 26, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Chicago Cubs had the opportunity to move two pitchers off their staff after they were claimed off waivers, but they were unable to reach an agreement on deals for either of them.

Rich Harden and Aaron Heilman were both claimed off waivers last week, reportedly by the Twins and Giants, respectively.

Harden has pitched very well in the second half of the season, and his value likely escalated in the wake of the Angels trading for Scott Kazmir.  Heilman, meanwhile, has been a waste of both money and a roster spot.

In not moving either pitcher, the Cubs and General Manager Jim Hendry have shown that they have no willingness to admit that the 2009 season is a bust.

Harden is a free agent in five weeks and could—indeed, he should—have brought a couple prospects back to a team in desperate need of building a farm system.  If Minnesota were willing to deal more than two prospects that were at least at Double-A, the Cubs missed an opportunity by keeping Harden.

With regard to Heilman, the Cubs should have pulled the trigger to let him go for nothing the instant the Giants put the claim on him.  The spot in the Cubs bullpen should be given to a youngster looking to establish himself in the majors, like Jeff Stevens.  Experience for cheap, in-house options means more at this point than a veteran who can't get anyone out.

The Giants have reportedly signed Brad Penny, formerly of the Red Sox, as a free agent to bolster their rotation.

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Hendry has two issues fighting each other that he has not mitigated yet: his winter additions from before this season have all failed, and he refuses to admit those mistakes and chalk up this season as a loss and proactively move forward in a building strategy that accepts this season as being over.

The Cubs will now likely begin negotiating an extension with Harden, who has been the team's best pitcher since the All-Star Break.  Though fragile, his stuff has always been considered elite.

No matter the end game, the reality is that the Cubs' management is drinking their own Kool-Aid while not many of the fans are sipping the same sauce.