Some Folks Appear to Be Playing the Low Risk Prediction Game on a Matt Garza Trade

Earlier this week, there were various reports that teams, including the Red Sox and Yankees, were interested in Chicago Cubs starter Matt Garza. Whether the Cubs would actually, ultimately trade Garza was in doubt, but the fact that there was outside interest was legit.

But now at least a couple writers are taking the opportunity to squash any Garza trade rumors.

First, Bruce Levine, in his weekly chat at ESPN Chicago, stated flatly that “[t]he Cubs will not trade Garza,” offering the amount that the Cubs gave up to get him as the reason Garza won’t be traded. (Um, what? A stark counterexample: the Phillies gave up a ton to get Cliff Lee in mid-2009 and then turned around and traded him five months later. It happens.)

Then, CSN’s Patrick Mooney went even further, claiming that “[t]here is absolutely nothing to the speculation that the Cubs could move Matt Garza.”

I think both Levine and Mooney are playing the low risk prediction game, and are doing a disservice to completeness and accuracy in the process.

Saying Matt Garza unequivocally will not be traded is a pretty low risk proposition. The chances that the Cubs are sufficiently steamrolled on a trade offer to actually move him are small. Very small.

So, you say “Garza will not be traded,” and, when July 31 rolls around, you’re proved right. Hooray! Genius!

And, what do you know? If you ask the Cubs’ front office, they’ll give you a quote to back up your guess! “We never had any intention of trading Matt Garza, and any speculation to the contrary was made up.” Hooray! Double genius!

But, even if plays out that way, allow me to submit that you were wrong all along.

There is a fundamental difference between saying “the Cubs will not trade Garza,” or “there is absolutely nothing to the speculation that the Cubs could move Matt Garza,” and saying “it’s extremely unlikely that Garza will be traded, but of course the Cubs will listen if a team wants to try and bowl them over with an offer.” The former two are lazy. The latter is accurate.

Of course there’s *something* to the Garza trade speculation.

The reason there is something to the Garza trade speculation? Other teams want him. And as long as that remains true, it remains theoretically possible that he could be traded – especially when those other teams have contacted, or are considering contacting, the Cubs. An MLB front office source confirms to me that it’s true, and it sounds like Phil Rogers and Nick Cafardo have heard the same.

The Chicago Cubs’ organization has proved inept at times over the past decade. But even I am not willing to suggest – as other writers are apparently willing to do – that the Cubs would not at least listen to offers for Garza. The trade market for starting pitchers is particularly thin this year, and Garza would be quite a haul in even a deep market. The offers could be significant.

Let me be clear: I’m not advocating that the Cubs trade Matt Garza. I do think he has number one stuff, and I do think trading him – even for a couple of incredible pitching prospects – is more likely to create another hole than to fill two. But I am advocating that the Cubs listen to all offers, something I believe they are absolutely doing.

And spare me the quotes from management about how much they love Matt Garza and how they don’t intend to trade him. First of all, those quotes are almost always parseable down to tiny bits that actually suggest the opposite. Second, do you really think the Cubs are going to say anything else? They know a trade isn’t likely. They know Garza is likely to be a fixture in the rotation for years.

So, allow me to be the first to tell it to you straight, because, frankly, I’m pretty miffed:

The Cubs do not affirmatively want to trade Matt Garza. The Cubs are highly, highly unlikely to trade Matt Garza. But other teams are calling, and the Cubs are listening.

As they should be.

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

37 responses to “Some Folks Appear to Be Playing the Low Risk Prediction Game on a Matt Garza Trade”

  1. MichiganGoat

    At the heart of this discussion is the fundamental problem with sports journalism: They feel obligated to make concrete predictions vs. reporting actual news. It’s one thing to speculate/discuss rumors (it’s actually quite fun) but it goes against the essence of journalism (reporting factual, accurate news) by reporting predictions and assumptions as news. For these reasons, blogs are becoming the destination for many people getting the actual news and specially getting the honesty that is behind the headline seeking news that is wildly reported. Good work Brett.

    1. TWC

      I think a distinction needs to be made between sports columnists (who are obnoxious, self-important prognosticators and rumor mongers interested in obtaining/retaining their readership by hyperinflating their opinions and “analysis” to the realm of concrete facts – and likely contradicting themselves the next day), and sports journalists/beat writers (who are *ostensibly* interested in reporting the facts of the day’s matchup, getting feedback from players/managers, etc.).

      The problem seems to be that sports journalists are given greater latitude in letting their opinions/prognosticating encroach into their writing than the journalists on the other pages are — most likely because they want to move from their beats into the cushy 3-day/week columnist jobs. Talk radio, blogs, twitter, etc., have all provided sports journalists with places to predict/analyze/provoke, inflating egos in the process, confusing the reporting with the opining.

      It really shocks me to read that pasty twit Wittenmeyer’s “beat reports”, which often read like junior columnist trash compared to Muskat’s actual level reporting of the facts. Of course, I don’t read her stuff all that much, mostly because I’m not interested in facts. I’m interested in pictures of hot women, which is why I come here.

      1. MichiganGoat

        Great clarification TWC. There is a difference between the beat writers and the columnist, but I don’t think the the average/causual fan sees a difference- hell I dont think the columnist see a difference. I like Muskat because she just reports the facts, reports the comments by the front office (which are rarely truthful), and avoids the muckraking of other sports “journalist.”. I really blame the whole ESPN-ing of modern sports reporting- the catch-phrase, speculative, headline grabbing that is ESPN and its clones. As for bloggers, it is a new media, and because it’s so new there is plenty of shit that makes the Colin Cowherds of the world look like pulitizer worth journalist. It is the job of the consumer to find blogs that report the news, give a spin, and speculate in a responsible, ethical manner. It’s why I love BN because although Brett may not be a journalist in the traditional sense, he does a stellar job finding a respectable balance, and the responsible, educated posters that frequent this site support that direction beautiful.

  2. RY34

    Trading Garza would be absolutely stupid to do; hey right up Hendry’s alley. i can just see it now a rotation of demp, z, lopez, russell, and joe blow off the street!

  3. BT

    But following your reasoning Ace, you could apply this pretty universally. I think the statement “The Cubs are not going to trade Starlin Castro” is pretty accurate. However, if the Rays call up and say “Here’s David Price and Evan Longoria”, of course they would trade him. But for all intents and purposes, he’s not available. The same applies, to a lesser degree, to Garza.

    So in theory, you can never say anyone is untouchable, but there are varying degrees of “touchable”. When I read something like “There is nothing to the speculation the Cubs could move Garza”, I assume it means the Cubs aren’t contacting anyone about him (unlike, say Fuk and Pena), and anyone contacting them are told it would take a kings ransom.

    The statement “it’s extremely unlikely that Garza will be traded, but of course the Cubs will listen if a team wants to try and bowl them over with an offer” is technically accurate. However it applies to virtually every player in baseball.

    1. MichiganGoat

      I wonder what Q thinks is Campy’s touchabilty, with his NAMBLA crush and all.

  4. Coal

    Ace-
    Love your stuff. But this post irks, me, in particular that you take such a hard stance against people for writing stuff that is laziness more than it is news, while in the same breath offering that “other teams are calling, and the Cubs are listening.” If I’m a GM for any club in the top half of the league (and actually probably if I’m any GM not named Jim Hendry) I’m not doing my job this summer if I’m not calling every team that is out of contention. Of course teams are calling the Cubs. About Garza and probably another 6-7 players, most likely. The Cubs, of course, are listening. To say that like you know it to be fact (which you may) is kinda stating the obvious, is it not?

    Coal

  5. jstraw

    Like the piece a lot, Ace. Parts of it I *love*.

    In a nutshell, it’s the difference between “would not deal” and “will not deal” for Garza. For the sun and the moon he’s for sale…until Hendry says otherwise. Will he be offered the sun and the moon for him? Hell no…which is why it’s a safe prediction. But the problem is that the journos aren’t willing to limit it to a prediction. They’re saying the Cubs “would not,” rather than “will not.” Where’s the evidence of this?

  6. Butcher

    But how will we ever know if the Red Sox would be interested in Garza if they don’t trade for him?

    1. Jeff

      The presence of Red Sox and Yankee’s scouts at Cub’s games should tell you there’s interest. Also, common sense might come in handy. I don’t understand why anyone would say a team “would not” trade someone. I never thought someone would put together a package good enough to get A-Rod and it happened twice. So the “would not” trade argument (or prediction) gets thrown out the window to anyone who knows baseball history, and kind of makes you look foolish like Ace just did.

      Also, I’m not an insider, so I don’t get the joke, if there was a way to flip you off on the internet, I might consider it here- neener, neener.

  7. Blinda

    Good I think he is awesome a guy who really just wants to win. Exactly what this team needs now we just need a real ace.

  8. awesome

    Peter Gammons is the guy who said Quade was a leader while Sandberg was a quiet person.

  9. ottocub

    well… i was going to write something about how Garza should be in the small group of “no way they should trade” players, but after tonight’s game he’s probably begging to be traded! ugh. this team is hard to watch.

  10. Ramy16

    Ottocub I totally agree with you..it’s hard being a cubs fan

  11. Ramy16

    Some days feel like “hanging” myself..this team down right drives me nuts

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