Matt Garza is the Best Pitcher in Baseball and Other Bullets – April 27, 2011

Casey Coleman and Jhoulys Chacin each, in their own way, will determine whether the Cubs can escape the Rockies series with one win, or whether they get swept away at the outset of a really, really tough stretch of games. Chacin wins in every statistical category except crazy names per person (higher is worse). My glass is half empty.

  • According to advanced metrics (xFIP, to be precise), Matt Garza has been the best pitcher in baseball this year. How is that possible, you ask? xFIP tries to focus only on the things that a pitcher, himself, can control (strikeouts, homers, walks), and Garza has torn it up in those numbers. He’s also suffering from a very unlucky .414 BABIP, so I can accept that he’s been much better than his 4.11 ERA might suggest. But tops in baseball? Nah. Nah. Garza shows up in the top three in WAR, too.
  • In case you were hoping to see Jeff Baker at first base against all left-handers (because it’s the obvious decision at this point), stop hoping. Although Mike Quade will continue to work the hot-hitting and lefty-crushing Baker into the lineup when he can, he will not set up a platoon at first base. ‘‘It can’t be a platoon system for me because I still would like the left-handed power in the middle of that lineup that I know Carlos has,’’ Quade said. ‘‘And I’m not willing to bail on that two weeks, three weeks into the season in April in Chicago. Hopefully, that’s a conversation for never.’’ Query why a left-handed power bat that can’t hit left-handers is necessary in the middle of the order against left-handers.
  • Quade says he hasn’t given the fifth starter spot “an ounce of thought” following James Russell’s third consecutive highly-awful, and highly-predictable start. So is there any chance in the world that Russell starts again on Sunday, especially now that Jay Jackson is healthily pitching into the 7th inning at AAA Iowa (and is lined up to start on Sunday)? Well, you know what they say: fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, I’m a Cubs fan.
  • Quade has also defended Russell’s performance as a starter by saying that, when Russell’s been in the pen, hitters have missed his mistakes. But as a starter, hitters are drilling Russell’s mistakes. Really? That’s a defense? Just think about that for a moment.
  • Might be time for MLB to revise its procedure for putting names on the All-Star ballot (particularly the timing of it): featured on the ballot for the Cubs at second base? Blake DeWitt. Darwin Barney fans should get their write-in pencils ready.
  • Tom Ricketts talks about the financial state of the Cubs on WGN radio.
  • You’re not going to want to hear it, but the Cubs’ current MLB playoff odds stand at just 5% according to Baseball Prospectus.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

10 responses to “Matt Garza is the Best Pitcher in Baseball and Other Bullets – April 27, 2011”

  1. Sam

    I hate to say it because Byrd is such a great guy but he needs to go. The cubs are really lacking in offensive ability this season, and of all the players in the starting lineup, i feel like Byrd is doing more to hurt the team than help the team. If I was Hendry I would package Fukudome or Soriano (Lets face it, their trade value will probably never be this high again) and Bryd and try to get a decent center fielder.

    1. Hogie

      You want to package two overpaid aging outfielders and expect to get anything decent? If Byrd goes it will be for mid level prospects, best.

      1. Sam

        Im not saying that they could be traded for a superstar outfielder, BUT they could get us an outfielder who will be able to help the team more than Byrd. Plus it will free up room for tyler colvin to get regular playing time.

        1. Hogie

          The only way those players are getting moved is as salary dump.

  2. Raymond Robert Koenig

    An “ounce of thought”? That begs the question, how many ounces of thought does Quade actually have? How about Hendry?

  3. TWC

    Quade “hasn’t given the fifth starter spot ‘an ounce of thought’”?

    I’m. Freaking. Shocked.

  4. Adam

    The Cubs aren’t trading anyone for another outfielder. They have Brett Jackson tearing it up at AA who will be up with the Cubs soon as their future and possibly present day CFer (if Byrd is traded, he will get the call – assuming he doesn’t fall off in Tennessee this year).

    Either Jay Jackson or Ramon Ortiz needs to be brought up. Really not understanding Quade’s decision to keep Russell in their to get pounded. If we’re going to give away games, we might as well have a guy in their that can get past the 5th inning.

  5. awesome

    “the players make the line up, not me”? Quade said that last week.

    so you have a problem scoring runs, you have a hot (Barney) hitter and a bad (Pena) hitter. who do you bench/play? who would Quade bench/play?

    Quade, Hendry, and ricky, Larry, curly, and Moe, the 3 stooges.