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Matt Garza, a fiery type, was pretty angry this weekend, following his second consecutive outing where he gave up an inordinate amount of hits. Specifically, Garza was upset that the Brewers were taking advantage of his off-speed offerings.

“I’m a fastball guy,’’ Garza told reporters this weekend. “Six of their eight hits were on offspeed pitches, and that’s uncalled for. That’s not my style, and that’s not who I am. And that’s something that’s going to change. I haven’t had bad outings, but I don’t give up 20 hits in two games. That’s not me.’’

Taken on their own, the statements are understandable, and would be easy to let lie until his next start. But if you think about it for a second, you start to wonder: if Garza doesn’t want to pitch that way, why was he? Where was his direction coming from?

That would be new Cubs pitching coach Mark Riggins.

Now, before you jump to any conclusions, recall, whoever the pitching coach, there was going to be a transition for Garza – so this isn’t about missing Larry Rothschild (though, how much longer do the starting pitchers have to struggle before we do exactly that?). This is about a pitching coach working with his pitchers such that he helps them maximize their effectiveness in a way they feel comfortable.

Obviously Garza’s performance has not been maximized, and he doesn’t feel comfortable.

Riggins responded to Garza’s comments in a predictably bland, but direct way.

‘‘We’re going to talk and get on the same page, [but] we’ve got to find a happy medium. [Garza] has his style of pitching. Every pitcher has their style. And then the big thing in pitching is, ‘When do I get off my style? When do I go to Plan B, or do I go to Plan C?’ You’re making adjustments constantly.’’

‘‘We’re learning each other every day, but we’ve got a great relationship,’’ Riggins continued. ‘‘I feel comfortable talking to him. He feels comfortable coming to me. It’s a business. We have our say, and he has his say, and then it’s, ‘What’s best for the team here?’ It’s a team game; it’s not an individual game.’’

Sounds good, but Riggins went on to suggest that he and Quade both believe Garza will be at his most effective when he regularly mixes in his offspeed stuff. Which, in turn, suggests there might continue to be a rift between Garza and the coaches. Of course, it’s possible that Garza is on board with the plan, but was just really pissed off after a loss.

Garza’s still relatively young at 27. The Cubs acquired him believing that, not only did he have upside remaining, but that his upside was that of a top five pitcher in baseball. Debate the number if you’d like, but if he’s going to improve, he’s almost certainly going to have to be coached up. But he’s also going to have to be comfortable.

So, whatever the approach, hopefully Garza, Riggins, and Quade can all work together to get the best out of Garza because, if one thing is beyond debate at this point, he’s clearly got the stuff to be very, very good.

 

  • pfk

    He’s a quality pitcher who is very frustrated. He does have a habit of blaming everything on something. Even though he made his statement acknowledging it is his fault the undertone was that others made him do it. All in all, I like a good competitor like him and one has to ask, does he have a valid point? He has wicked stuff and my hunch is he’ll learn how to mix it up. You can tell watching Soto that the signs are coming from the bench. I’m old school, I like a catcher who knows how to call a game and savvy pitcher working it our for themselves.

  • Dan0mite

    Is it possible that Silva was right about Riggins? That he is mishandling the pitching staff and has to realize he is in the bigs? Minor leaguers need a guy to tell them what to throw, but I think Garza knows what he has and when to throw it. Maybe.

    • Ace

      Not sure yet. I do think Riggins was selected for his rapport with the young pitchers in the system, rather than his prowess at tootling big leaguers (which he hasn’t done yet). And that was a long-term decision, rather than a 2011 decision. We’ll see how it plays out over the next year or two.

      • Bric

        I think more of the blame lies on Soto than anyone else. If he’s calling a good game, there’s no reason for Riggins to micro manage. Think about why everyone but the players and management complain about Hill. Why he’s on the team they say is because he calls a good game. Even last year I started really wondering about where Soto’s head is- both batting and catching. I think Riggins is calling so many pitches because there isn’t any trust in Soto.

  • jim

    i see rothschild smiling all the time on tv now; walking up and down bench and joking.
    never saw him smile once with cubs. sulked in corner.

    • http://424tales.blogspot.com Aisle 424

      “i see rothschild smiling all the time on tv now; walking up and down bench and joking.”

      It’s like he was paroled.

      • Ace

        Lockup: Wrigleyville.

    • pfk

      I watched the Yankees several times now and its amazing how Rothschild looks like a different person. Well, we went out and got the best hitting coach in Jaramillo, why not the same for a pitching coach? When they hired Riggins you didn’t hear anyone jump up and down and say, “Great hire.” But, I guess we need to give him time. It won’t be long before the underground player buzz either supports him or confirms he was a bad hire.

  • wax_eagle

    Is Leo Mazzone still doing radio in GA? Someone tell him to sit by the phone and wait a few weeks til the Cubs get desperate…

  • jstraw

    Riggins probably ought to see if there’s a problem with Garza’s “plan A” before sending him to the hill to execute plans B or C.

  • KB

    Garza just got into town, and was much-ballyhooed, so he wanted to make a good impression. He hasn’t, and I can see him being frustrated because they won’t let him use the tools that worked for him in the past.

    • Jeff

      In related news: Sam Fuld for MVP.

      • Jim

        Dear Jim Hendry;

        Whoops.

        xoxo,
        Jim

  • dan

    Jim Hendry needs to go no one would miss some of his bonehead trades Ricketts family i dont think will spend the money that needs

  • Raymond Robert Koenig

    Ricketts has already given Hendry enough money to build a team that should contend for their division title every season. Hendry just doesn’t spend it wisely.

  • Raymond Robert Koenig

    At least the Cubs have some company in Chicago with their ineptness. When that delay occured during the NFL Draft last night, I said to myself “Angelo probably screwed up again”. Sure enough …

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