When the Cubs traded for starting pitcher Matt Garza this past winter, I was thrilled…until I found out what was shipped away for him. Baseball America ranked the prospects the Cubs dealt all top-10 in the organization and Baseball Prospectus ranked them all top-12. The rationale from many Cubs fans in support of the trade was absolutely mind-boggling. Archer was expendable because McNutt will be the much better pitcher. Lee was being blocked by Starlin. Guyer would’ve been a 4th outfielder at best. Chirinos also had nowhere to play.
Now, how Cubs fans could know Archer won’t pan out is beyond me. Um…was it unfathomable for Lee to have moved to second base once reaching the bigs? Possibly third? Sure Guyer would’ve been nothing more than a reserve? Can you ever have enough catchers?
Meh. Cubs fans will be Cubs fans. Not everyone was pleased with the deal, though. Some, like myself, simply didn’t see the point of it. A lot of fans predicted ’11 to be 162 meaningless games, and most of them feel the same about 2012. Garza will be under control through 2013, and I’m not even sure the team will be any good in ’13. If the team isn’t anywhere near being a legit contender by then, why would he re-sign? Besides all of that, what happened to the plan?
You know, the plan to actually promote from within whenever possible. No more overpriced free agents. Mimic the Rays, Diamondbacks, Brewers and Twins, all small-market teams who’ve enjoyed at least moderate success of late largely because of their farm systems being run the right way. What’s wrong with depth on the farm? Why couldn’t ’11 have been an audition for those players dealt with the hopes that the Cubs could’ve landed someone better than Garza? Ask yourself, members of the Matt Garza Fan Club: How much difference has Garza really made this season?
Hendry can spare us sensible people the garbage about Garza having been one of the best pitchers in the National League over the month of July. Good? Yes. One of the best in the National League? Hell no. Regardless of circumstances, an 0-2 record in 6 starts (4 quality starts) with a 3.82 ERA doesn’t quite indicate that. If you must include circumstances though, Garza has certainly been screwed over at times by the 24 around him. Marshall cost him a W on 7/19 against the Phillies. Marmol cost him a W on 7/14 against the Marlins. His offense cost him a W on 7/2 against the Pale Hose. Sure, he had that horrible 2-inning start against the Natinals on 7/7, but almost every pitcher has at least one of those starts a season.
I believe Garza is a front-line starter. However, I don’t think he’s an ace. Yet. Perhaps if he averaged more than 6 innings a start, my opinion would change. Aces are usually as good on the road as they are at home. Garza’s home/away splits are scary, and not in a good way. 3-3, 2.70 at home and 1-5, 5.96 on the road. The Cubs need more than 11 quality starts through 20. He needs to go deeper in starts as well. 13 of his 20 starts have been 6 innings or less. Only 5 of his last 14 have lasted 7 innings or longer. It wouldn’t hurt matters if he became a better fielder, also. Garza committed 6 errors from 2007-2010, and he’s already committed 5 this year. On top of all of that, he just needs to pitch better against the good teams in the NL Central. Against the Brewers, Reds and Cardinals (still not sold on the Bucs), Garza is a combined 2-4 with an ERA of 6.11 in just over 38 innings pitched in 6 starts. I’m sure he’ll get better against those teams, but that isn’t a guarantee.
Maybe Garza will develop into a horse of an ace who wins 18-21 games while making every scheduled start. Or, he could continue to be the mostly good, sometimes very good, rarely great pitcher that he’s been his entire career to this point. I don’t want to hear about his 2008 ALCS performance. Screw his intensity and desire to win. Just produce, Matt. Justify that “Hendryism” and I’ll come over to the “like” side in regards to that 4-for-1 trade. Until then…oh fuck it. The Cubs stink, no matter what any of us think.
Clamor for Prince. Clamor for Reyes. Clamor for Wrigley to be torn to the ground.