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Jim Hendry's Rich Harden Gamble Becoming a Loss?

Tab BamfordSenior Writer IDecember 4, 2009

CHICAGO, IL- JULY 12:  Pitcher Rich Harden #40 of the Chicago Cubs hands the baseball to manager Lou Pinnella #41 against the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field on July 12, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
Scott Boehm/Getty Images

Back in July, there were some people that thought the Cubs should have traded pitcher Rich Harden. I was among those that though Harden, having a good, healthy season, had arguably the highest trade value of his career and could have helped the future of the Cubs at the expense of a lost 2009 campaign.

Cubs GM Jim Hendry didn't agree; Harden stayed in Chicago.

Then, in August, we learned that the Minnesota Twins placed a waiver claim on Harden. Around the same time the Anaheim Angels won a waiver claim on, and paid a fairly steep price for, an underwhelming Scott Kazmir.

Again, I was part of the group that thought the Cubs should see what they could get for Harden and, even if it was only prospects, should move the starter before his contract ended in October.

However, other fans thought it was foolish to trade Harden for nothing, citing the Cubs' ability to offer the starter arbitration and at least get draft picks for him as a worst case scenario.

My fear was that the Cubs wouldn't trade Harden, wouldn't offer him arbitration, and would lose a valuable pitcher for nothing.

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Consider my fears fully realized.

Hendry, the same wizard who added Aaron Miles, Kevin Gregg, and Milton Bradley to the best team in the National League after 2008, only to watch 2009 turn into a laughable disaster, opted to not offer Harden arbitration.

Now reports are that the Cubs, who apparently wouldn't be against the idea of bringing the oft-injured Canadian righty back, apparently will have to outbid Boston, Texas, Minnesota, and Seattle for him.

Remember, the Twins could have had Harden in August, and the Cubs could have had a couple minor league players, if Hendry had dealt Harden then. Now, the Twins might get him without losing players from their farm system.

Again, nice thinking, Jimbo.

On a day that saw Hendry continue to rid the organization of his Winter of 2009 Failures (Miles was traded to Oakland with Jake Fox for a mediocre reliever and a couple prospects), Harden might be headed to another city with the Cubs failing to be compensated.

For those fans out there that continue to defend the Jim Hendry that stole Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez for nothing almost a decade ago, please tell me what he's done lately that makes you believe he's able to build a winner. Letting Harden walk appears to be another lost opportunity to build the organizational depth in an effort to patronize fans with another also-ran season.

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