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For those not following the comments, or BN on Twitter, or BN on Facebook yesterday, the Cincinnati Reds picked up 24-year-old starter Mat Latos from the San Diego Padres for a very healthy return – first baseman Yonder Alonso, catching prospect Yasmani Grandal, relief prospect Brad Boxberger, and pitcher Edinson Volquez.

Among my immediate reactions to the trade: it was both good and bad for the Cubs.

The Reds just got better for 2012 (they are clearly “going for it”), which could further put the Cubs’ hopes for a surprising 2012 run out of reach. At the same time, the move weakened the Reds in the long run, which might line things up better for the Cubs when they actually project to the be good again. Also, the move can only help the Cubs’ market for Matt Garza, should they elect to trade him. To be clear, Latos probably has more value than Garza, as a pitcher under cheap team control through 2015. But the return on Latos was huge, and the Reds were not one of the teams interested in Garza – so, acquiring Latos didn’t take away one of the possible landing spots for Garza.

The second reaction that I, and so many others, had? What are the Padres going to do with top first base prospect, Anthony Rizzo?

That we thought of Rizzo is unsurprising – not only is he a top, young first baseman (something the Cubs clearly want), but he was drafted by the Red Sox back in 2007 when the Cubs’ triumvirate of Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Jason McLeod were running the show. And then, when the Padres dealt first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox last year, whom did Hoyer net in the deal for the Padres? Rizzo.

It makes too much sense, right? The Padres now have effectively blocked Rizzo (though GM Josh Byrnes is being a wise man, telling the world that they expect Rizzo to head back to AAA for 2012, and that they’re perfectly happy to keep both Alonso and Rizzo), and he’s just the kind of kid the Cubs want. And he’s a kid they already have a connection to. Let’s do it! Totally! Perfect fit!

But here’s the thing about our initial reaction: the Padres had that reaction, too. If anyone knows how much Jed and Jason love Rizzo, it’s the existing Padres’ front office. You think Jed wasn’t discussing with folks there how much he wanted Rizzo included when putting the Gonzalez deal together?

There is no sneaky maneuver to be had here. If the Cubs approach the Padres about Rizzo – about which, more in a moment – the Padres will undoubtedly hold their feet to the fire. The Padres don’t have to trade Rizzo, and they certainly don’t have to trade him to the Cubs. The Padres don’t care that Rizzo is a perfect fit for the Cubs, except to the extent it might allow them to extract additional value out of the Cubs. And, given the Padres’ near-term position (i.e., non-contention), there aren’t too many pressure points the Cubs can apply to get the Padres to pull the trigger on a deal favorable to the Cubs.

In fact, I can only think of two angles for leverage for the Cubs. The first: threaten to sign Prince Fielder. Maybe it’s unconvincing, given how divergent the two paths are (22-year-old prospect, 27-year-old All-Star wanting a mega contract). But if the Cubs express that they are close to signing Fielder, which would eliminate their interest in Rizzo, perhaps that helps? I suppose it’s also possible that a deal for Rizzo could include Matt Garza (whom the Padres may not want, but they could spin off to the Rangers, for example), and the Cubs could concurrently negotiate a Garza deal with another team, and whoever pulls the trigger first gets Garza. That would be the second possible way to create leverage.

Absent those, the Cubs would be negotiating with a team who knows just how much they value the asset they’re trying to get from the Padres, and the Padres have no incentive not to squeeze them for every last drop. That rarely ends well. Hopefully the Cubs can still swing a fair deal, if indeed they put something together.

About approaching the Padres: the Cubs made that call within minutes of the trade announcement (and I got word of the call not long after that). Since then, I’ve been “working the phones,” so to speak, to try to get a handle on how the Cubs might try to put something together. All I’ve yet been able to confirm is that the two sides are talking, and that a deal would probably involve a fair bit more than just a straight-up Player X for Rizzo swap. Jim Bowden, for what it’s worth, says Matt Garza’s name is coming up as a possible centerpiece in a deal. Based on the Latos deal, and the A’s requests for Gio Gonzalez, the Cubs should be able to get a fair bit more than just Rizzo for Garza.

Ah, yes. Rizzo. After all of this discussion, you may be wondering: is Rizzo really worth all of this spilled ink? The short answer is oh yeah.

Rizzo, who just turned 22 in August, is the top prospect in a very, very good Padres’ system. Rizzo was a top 100 prospect in all of baseball going into 2011, and then all he did was put up an eye-popping .331/.404/.652 line, with 26 homers and 34 doubles in just 93 games. Those numbers are great even for the PCL, particularly for a 21-year-old. Before 2011, Rizzo’s minor league numbers were good, if unremarkable, but he was young at every level, and was consistent after each promotion. Rizzo is also believed to be an above average defender at first base.

Rizzo was called up late last year for a cup of coffee, and struggled mightily, hitting just .141/.281/.252 in 153 plate appearances (love that IsoD, though, eh?). Very few saw that as a reason for concern, however.

If Rizzo is being made available, the Cubs will have some competition, at a minimum, from the Rays, who have the talent to make a deal, and the need for a young first baseman. I’m guessing this isn’t the last we’ve heard about this.

UPDATE: Some of the other names I’m hearing bounced around in the talks include Orlando Hudson, Casey Kelly, Keyvius Sampson, Simon Castro, Jedd Gyorko, Robbie Erlin, and Joe Weiland. Obviously the Cubs wouldn’t be getting all of them (or even most). These are just some of the names that the Cubs are interested in, or – in Hudson’s case – that the Padres want to ship back to the Cubs. A three-team deal with the Rangers (who would get Garza) is also a possibility.

UPDATE II: The Cubs are still in active discussions with the Padres, I’m told, but it’s pretty complicated when you’ve got this many parts involved. The Cubs’ most valuable piece is Matt Garza, but the Padres may prefer to get the prospect-equivalent of Garza, rather than the pitcher, himself. That means a third team is necessary, and the Rangers have been involved. Bringing in a third team makes completing an already “complicated” deal a real “pain” (not my words). The two/three sides will continue to discuss a deal until they reach an agreement or seem hopelessly gridlocked. These things tend to take on a life of their own, and the deal could evolve into yet another incarnation. Or, it could just wilt on the vine. With this many players involved and such high stakes, I couldn’t say a deal is more than 50/50 to get done. You’ve also got the Prince Fielder pursuit and Yu Darvish post as a backdrop for these discussions, which only complicates things further. I’m doing my best to get the most complete and reliable information I can, but, given the circumstances and the moving parts, you can understand how the best I can give you is: (1) they’re talking, (2) a trade might be completed soon, (3) or a trade might be completed in a week, and (4) or a trade might be completed never.

UPDATE III: I’m told the biggest hold up, from the Cubs’ perspective, is making sure they get the right pitchers/pitching prospects included in the deal. While Rizzo may have been the impetus for the discussions, the Cubs don’t appear to be interested in moving Garza unless some very, very good pitchers/pitching prospects are included. That is to say, Rizzo may not necessarily be “the centerpiece” of a completed deal, such as there is a centerpiece, and such as the sides are actually able to consummate a deal (which, again, remains very much in doubt).

  • EtotheR

    Is it me, or have the drums that were signaling Toronto as the Darvish winner stopped beating?

  • Eric

    The Padres having interest in Garza doesn’t make sense. Why would they give up top prospects to acquire a a pitcher who is only under control for 2 more years and will cost around $10 million this year when they just hauled in 4 players for Latos, who is cheaper and under control for 4 years? If there is anything to it I imagine a 3rd team would have to be involved.

    • The Omnipresent Mystery Team

      I agree. The three-team Rangers-Friars-Cubs rumor makes more sense. There’s also a possibility that this rumor is meant to leverage the market elsewhere – e.g. that the Cubs are trying to see if Fielder/Boras come to them. I don’t buy that, just throwing it out, because I agree that it doesn’t make much sense for SD to trade Latos and then turn around and trade for Garza. The only way they’d do that is if they have serious concerns about Latos’ health – in which case, lol.

      • Lou

        I also though, for what it’s worth have a hard time with Garza headed to the Rangers exclusively. The Rangers clearly want a MLB starter, but I’m not so sure if we made a two-team trade with them, how much pitching they would be willing to give up. And we would need pitching back in any trade for Garza. Look at the Rangers rotation right now and you see why they need a MLB starter. They’re currently filling the spot left by Wilson with Feliz. Though he was initially a starter since he’s been their closer and pitched no more than 70 innings in the bigs. They tried to put Ogando in the starting rotation and may have to again, but he fizzled in the second half. And Colby Lewis gave up 35 hrs last season. I don’t how much the Rangers would want to part with SP prospects for Garza.

        • The Omnipresent Mystery Team

          If I’m the Rangers, and I want back to the Series, I’d trade some prospects that are unlikely to help next year in order to get a pitcher like Garza. I’d also trade a 3B prospect with Beltre under contract for so long. Olt would be a good addition to our system.

          • Lou

            Oh, I’m not saying that they wouldn’t trade prospects. I think is justified with two converted relievers in your SP rotation (and that includes Garza) for the Rangers to be wary of giving up MLB ready pitching/pitching prospects.

    • john

      Because if the Padres give the Cubs Hudson that is 7.5 mil off their books so Garza costs them 2.5 mil extra and would likely get Barney in return to play 2nd or SS

  • Kurt

    Having a hard time wrapping my head around this one.

    The Pads give up a stud first base “promise”…for another first baseman, and an under control Latos in the hope to get Garza…older and ready to make real money in arbitration (unlike Latos) for a Padres team where money is the bottom line.

    I get that spinning off Garza for even more prospects would be the Padres cheap way of improving their team, but it just seems there’s no great upside for the Cubs.

    That is, compared to getting Fielder for first (he’s young, established, and “only” costs money, not prospects) while spinning off (or keeping) Garza and if necessary trading Garza and keeping the huge haul in the Cubbie system instead of the Padres.

    If Garza is worth that much “buy” a 1st baseman and get the mother lode Garza brings for ourselves (as if I owned stock in the team).

    It sounds like the Cubs give up a lot in an established pitcher, or the prospects he’ll fetch, for Rizzo.

    “Update” Looks like Eric beat me to the punch….in a lot less words.

  • john

    2 years for Garza but you can trade at the trade deadline after 1 1/2 years and still get a haul.

  • william

    it be nice to get in touch with boston bout marmol and see if they would part with drake britton and another prospect for him

  • william

    a three team trade with the padres and rangers would be nice i would think the return to the cubs would be nice a few from the padres and few from the rangers including a 1b,rizzo, 3b, olt, i would prob see perez going to padrez and one of holland,ogando,fieldman or hairrison to cubs

  • Kurt

    Well John,

    That explains the Padres side of things…for 1 year I suppose, but that seems to have the Cubs going backwards.

    At this time in his career Hudson’s heading in the wrong direction. I’d rather keep Barney or a platoon then take on Hudson, his age and money.

    Most of the money going to Hudson could go to Garza.

    And Rizzo is still a prospect, albeit a high ceiling prospect.

  • Lou Cub

    I want to thank Jim Hendry for screwing this team up so bad that we’re tight on money and on talent to deal for young players who could really help this team..

    • Kyle

      We aren’t tight on money unless we are choosing to be. But I agree on the young players part. The drafting still gives me the dry heaves when I see it.

  • cubbiecop

    On a completely different note, the Padres have designated catcher Luis Martinez for assignment according to a team press release.   His numbers in AAA were very good, he would be a good peice to get.  Especially if we are looking to trade Soto.  I haven’t heard too much on that topic though.  With Soto’s history (decent one year, crap year, decent next year, crap year) he is due for a good year this year.  I would like to see Soto go, get Wellington up and pick up Martinez as a back up.   Between the two of them I think production could be the same or better and would also free up a bit of payroll for another pitcher to bolster the rotation.  If we can get a few decent prospects for Soto, i’m all in.  What is every one elses thoughs?

     

    Martinez, 26, hit .203/.309/.305 in 68 plate appearances this past season, his big league debut. He spent the majority of the season with the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate, where he hit .323/.379/.434 in 219 plate appearances. Martinez is a .272/.364/.360 career hitter in five minor league seasons.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    The post has been updated again with the latest.

  • Spencer

    Maybe this has already been mentioned in the comments, but it might be a good idea to wait and see who won the Darvish sweepstakes before making any trade happen.  Just helps things gets more settled.

  • Blinda

    I feel if we do this deal we need a major league ready pitcher included. Going off the latos deal rizzo would be the equivalent of alonso. Even flipping volquez to the cubs plus another top prospect and a solid single a pitcher i believe is what it would take to give up garza

  • Jeff

    You guys who advocate trading Garza to San Diego for Rizzo and two crappy players must be living in fantasy land!

    Stop Wasting your time posting and go back to watching Barney.

    • JasonB

      Yea – you remember when the Rangers traded a useless 1 1/2 years of Teixeira for four unknown players named Andrus, Feliz, Harrison and Saltalamacchia?  That was so stupid!

      • Jeff

        No, that was smart on Texas’s part and dumb on Atlanta’s part. Atlanta was in the playoff hunt and gambled on Tex, who eventually left for the Yankees. If anything, other GM’s will look at that trade and be more reluctant to give up multiple top prospects for someone with so little service time left.

        Our best option is to sign Garza long term and build around him as opposed to dreaming up some scheme where another team will part with 4 premium prospects.

        I’d be fine with signing Garza, going after Hamels and letting Cashner develop. A 1,2,3 of Garza, Hamels, Cashner is something to build around, better than any trade suggestions others have offered.

        • JasonB

          That’s not the point – the point is that all of these players were nobodies when the trade was consummated.  Seems to have turned out pretty well for Texas.  So why are you criticizing those of us who think it’s a good idea to trade Garza for these same types of players when we likely won’t be a contending team over the next few years?

          I’m indifferent as to whether or not Garza is traded but if we can get a haul for him, then we should do the deal.  If not, then we keep him.

  • Rich

    There’s a reason Rizzo was traded by Boston, and why San Diego picked up Alonzo despite having him. He was VERY overmatched at the major-league level. Granted, he was 21 years old, but he didn’t appear to have major-league bat speed. Do the Cubs want to give up their best starting pitcher for someone who is far from a sure thing?

    • Bluekoolaidaholic

      I thought Ratzo (cough),
      errrrrr Rizzo was going where the sun keeps shining through the pouring rain.

  • cubbiecop

    Wow Jeff, stop drinking the hateraide and allow the other posters to speak.  If they have idea’s it is their right to express their point.  We can disagree and all, but go watch Barney is a little harsh.  At least make it a more exciting childrens show like Scooby Doo or something!

    • Jeff

      Lol, I’m sorry, just get tired of seeing stupid posts. But I guess everybody has a right to their own opinion.

      If you’re going to make a trade suggestion, why don’t you use a little bit of logic first.

      Garza to SD makes no sense, they are stock pilling young talent, they have no need for a guy about to make 8 to 9 million next year.

      Why should we trade Garza to SD for Rizzo and whoever else you have suggested to see them trade Garza for 4 or 5 quality prospects. They are not give up their other prospects and Rizzo for Garza.

      If that’s the case, we should trade Garza ourselves for the talent, but that is something we don’t need to do.

      Be realistic, Rizzo would be a nice prospect to pick up, but SD will only give him up if they can add 2 or 3 more prospects for him, not a Garza and a PTBNL.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Two requests:

        (1) Try to avoid calling other folks idiots. We can keep the discussion a little higher brow than that.

        (2) Try to avoid misusing your/you’re in comments in which you call other folks idiots.

        • Jeff

          Sorry

          Didn’t somebody point out some of your misspellings the other day?

          I’ll use the same excuse and blame this darn phone.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            I wasn’t criticizing you – just offering a helpful suggestion.

            And, if you want to make it about me – I don’t call anyone an idiot, so I don’t invite that kind of scrutiny.

            • Jeff

              Oh no worries, I knew you weren’t :)

              I edited my post, didn’t mean to offend, either by language or spelling.

              • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                Jeff it was a pleasure seeing this conversation progress, the way you handled yourself and the suggestions is a model for other to follow.

                • Jeff

                  Thanks, I’m not a complete jerk…lol. A healthy debate is always good, but occassionally we all cross the line somewhere and need to rain it back in.

                  Bottom line, I want to see this team get better and win.

                  • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                    Just wait until this Friday and The Airing of Grievences that I will unleash and the Feats of Strength that will follow. I’m sure I’ll cross a line or two.

                    • Hrubes20

                      Festivus for the rest of us!

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                We good. We good.

        • The Omnipresent Mystery Team

          Your right not to concede you’re grammar.

          Wait.

      • EtotheR

        Jeff…the Internet is a big place. Boards like this one provide a place for discussion. There’s nothing wrong with someone coming here to post his/her thoughts, theories, or wishful thinking when it comes to the Cubs. Even if you think the ideas/comments are ludicrous, they really are easily ignored. No one needs to be decimated because someone else thinks their idea falls flat, and no one should feel the need to put himself (or anyone else) on a pedestal.

        Brett has done a good job here…really…check out any other writer, in any other medium. His writings are as grounded and sensible as anything out there. This…is really good stuff, and the comments from everyone are delivered in a very respectable way.

        Just hang in and deal…

        • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

          Perfectly stated EtotheR

  • Matt

    Jeff why is it so hard to understand this makes sense on so many levels for the Cubs and Padres? The Cubs have control of him for two more seasons. At this point, and the market is defined as weak, we can get more out of Garza than we ever would. We won’t be good as long as he is here, because we aren’t going to be good in the next two years. We are in the process of unloading big contracts, and grabbing high end talent in the process is huge, when your farm system isn’t the greatest. As for the Padres, why is it so hard to understand why this makes sense for them? They have a plethora of talent at first base and pitching. That means they can throw us players that aren’t needed while they are at their prime value (22 yr old stud 1st base prospect, and a bunch of 21-22 year old top end pitching prospects). In turn they throw him to the Rangers and pick up players that would help their cause more than help ours. Not sure why that is so hard to understand, and idiotic. I guess if we were all as great of a couch gm as you it wouldn’t make sense, but from this Cub fan, it makes perfect sense for all teams involved. Why risk having Garza for a year and a half when we won’t win? His value will only drop. This is a weak market that has set his value. FYI, the talented pitchers we are discussing there are atleast 2 that are top 50. Not sure what is wrong with that.

    • Jeff

      Because it doesn’t make sense for the Padres. They won’t give up their pitching prospects, I wouldn’t.

      Wake up, they are limited by their budget. Why trade Garza to them and watch them flip him to the Rangers? We might as well do that?

      Theo is much smarter than that, that’s why he has the job and nobody on here does. If people on this message board were in charge they would run this club into the ground quicker than you could say Lou Brock.

      Who says we won’t be competitive in 2013. By trading Garza, you’re really putting the starting pitching in serious jeopardy. Pitching takes much longer to develop. With Dempster, Zambrano and Garza gone, your not going to be competitive in 2 or 3 years , try 5 or 6 years.

    • Lou

      It actually doesn’t make sense for the Padres. They just gave up a guy in Latos cost controlled for four years to pay on the high side of arbitration years for Garza, close to when he’s a FA….and they’re not there yet (the Padres) in the competitive sense. Granted, the got quite a haul for Latos. I’ll give them that.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        As noted in the post, trading for and keeping Garza doesn’t make much sense for the Padres. But no one believes that’s their plan.

        • Lou

          No offense, Brett, hopefully by saying this but I’m totally aware of this. The idea that no one believes that that is their plan is just wrong though. You have media across the board saying a swap of Garza for Rizzo could be in the offing. Some of the media don’t even mention a three team trade with the Rangers, especially when the speculation initially began. You’d think national media insiders would be smarter than that.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            I guess what I mean is, the Padres aren’t just looking to pick up Garza to improve their pitching staff for a 2012 run (obviously the Latos deal demonstrates that). It’s conceivable that they’d acquire and then keep Garza if they received enough salary relief, but that raises its own strange issues.

            My point only is this: the idea that the Padres would trade a bunch of prospects for Garza, so that they could keep and use Garza in 2012 and 2013 (when he’s under control), doesn’t make sense to me or anyone else who sits down and thinks about it.

            • Lou

              I wish you could tell others in the media that. Some of the headlines surrounding this trade speculation are odd with regards to what you’re saying and seem to imply something opposite.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                I can only tell folks what I know. I’m sure folks in the media are hearing different things from different sources – there’s always a little bit of “telephone” involved in these things, and sources aren’t always perfect. Throw in the fact that teams talk about dozens of names in all trade talks, and the fact that 95% of trade talks result in no deal, and there’s bound to be conflicting reports. Heck, just look at the Darvish and Fielder reports.

  • Dukie11

    I agree, Garza is a very good starting pitcher, but he is not untouchable by any means. In this particular trade market, with Texas as desperate as they are, why not try to make this happen. Get yourself several solid options to rebuild around. Options from a farm system that your GM, who we all agree is very capable, happens to be an expert on. Garza will be considerably older when we are ready to compete and with how competitive he is, he will probably be banged up by then. If you can stockpile as much young talent as possible and then let those that are worthy rise to the top, you have built a foundation. One solid starting pitcher is not a foundation. Once the foundation is in place, we can use our considerable resources to fill in the spots where prospects couldn’t. Maybe even sign the “Garza” of that years free agency class.

    • Jeff

      Your assuming Texas is that desperate!

      Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels seem like pretty cool customers, and I don’t see them making rash decisions.

      If they aren’t in the running for Darvish, I bet they might make a sneak run for Fielder, just like they did with Beltre last year.

      • Dukie11

        I am not sure of Texas’ intentions, just going by the fact that it sounds like they’re interested and Garza seems like a guy that Ryan might like. The Padres just got a host of good prospects and some of them now at the same positions as their other best prospects, so it seems to make sense for San Diego. It certainly makes sense for us because we have an insider who knows more about San Diego’s prospects than Texas’, so if we are going to gamble our best asset, might as well do it with San Diego who we know.

  • Bren

    I’m not asking for any names, Brett, but might I ask how you have these connections?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Folks have reached out to me over the years, and, over multiple conversations and “tips,” have demonstrated a modicum of reliability. Fortunately for me, if you run a moderately decent rumor blog for a long enough time, folks seek you out. Some people enjoy being anonymous sources (and I enjoy and appreciate them).

      • Bren

        Interesting….well I hope they’re right, Rizzo would be an exciting addition

      • Dougy D

        Sounds like someone still has their lawyer shoes on. Just kidding. I wouldn’t want to jeopardize losing any sources either.

  • Matt

    Jeff, the Rangers are willing to make a trade with us for Garza. That trade is better suited for the Padres. The Padres have components that are better suited for us. If we trade Garza to the Padres, it is only because he is ending up in Texas. They would want two elite pitching prospects imo. Two that would be better than what we are getting. That is what they are hoping for. We want atleast one top pitching prospect, and an upside pitching prospect, plus the first basemen. That is why we would make that trade. On top of that, you have a group of people that are very comfortable with the prospects we are getting, so they would have a very solid understanding of what they are getting themselves into. Even moreso than you or I.

    • Jeff

      1 proven player (Garza) for 2 unproven prospects, Rizzo and whomever, pick your pitching prospect, IMO is not a very good trade for us.

      • Matt

        Why would that not be a very good trade? You give me Casey Kelly and Rizzo, and I am jumping all over that. The only thing that will happen to Garza’s stock is it will go down from here. Epstein is all about paying for future play. Garza at 30, is probably the first chance the Cubs at being good. By then you would have paid $30+ million. For what? If you get two prospects, you aren’t eating Hudsons money. If you get 3, you will be all over that. We need pitching talent in our minors. Maples is our best talent, imo. He won’t be around for 4 years. We need to get younger. Sometimes you have to give something to get something. It would be great to be able to keep Garza, but we aren’t in a position where he will be worth what we could get for him in trades.

        • Jeff

          If that does happen then it’s a clear signal the Cubs are throwing in the towel and won’t be competitive in 5 years if not longer. I just don’t see that as a win for us, especially to see the Padres spin Garza off for 4 more prospects that we could have used just as much as them.

  • Pingback: Trade scenarios to be explored | World Series Dreaming

  • cubbiecop

    I don’t have a problem with trading Garza for three prospects, but i would hope that those prospects are VERY solid and we are very certain that they will make it the the majors and produce at a decent level.  That’s the only problem with prospects, they are not proven and can either be a great return or the Cubs will look like a bunch of tools three years down the road when these prospects don’t turn out and Garza has a Cy Young.  Which I could potentially see if he is on the right team with good defense and a potent offense.  We would have to put our faith in our scouting department and GM to make sure that we are not getting hosed on the deal.  I have faith in our front office and don’t see us being competitive for now, unless we pick up another decent starter, someone who can drive in runs and also eliminate the defensive issues of the club. 

    With that being said if we go to spring training with our current roster, I forsee another sub-500 club.  Which is obviously not what the Dr. ordered but if that what it takes to be competitive for the long haul I guess we will all have to suck it up and press on.

    • The Omnipresent Mystery Team

      I think the idea that a player is “proven” is overblown, both here and in the Darvish discussion. At the highest levels of competitive baseball, any player can stop being competitive at a moment’s notice. Injuries can take their toll. A winter of too many pounds added can slow bat speed.

      Last year, Theo gambled on a player who was as proven as it gets, a player who had put up pretty much the same line year after year for seven years in the AL East. That was Carl Crawford, who Boston is now stuck with. But I guess, at least he’s “proven.”

      In particular, I do not get why people assume that Matt Garza is “proven” to keep pitching like he did last year. Garza had a career high in many pitching categories. There is a sizable chance that Garza drops back to the pitching profile that was “proven” before 2011. And if he does that, his trade value mid-2012 will be much closer to Edwin Jackson’s than to Mat Latos’.

      • cubbiecop

        I agree with you to a certain point about “proven” players, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that Crawford will be back to his old ways next year and be raking again.  I’m just saying that I would rather take a gamble on a player that has a proven track record of performance in the major leagues and risk injury than take 3 players that have not made it past AA and potentially make it to the majors.  At least we have a reasonable expectation as to what we are getting and not “gambling” on the possibility of the minor leaguers panning out.  It’s a different story if we draft them and bring them up through our organization.  Either way we will have to trust our scouting department to make the right evaluations of those players and do what’s best for the team for the moment and also for the long haul.  I would rather have us suck next year and then be good for the next 10 years then be good for one year and have us suck for the next 10 years.

        • The Omnipresent Mystery Team

          I agree with you that Crawford may well come back. My point is that we’re always gambling.

          Matt Garza is a much surer bet than Martin Perez. Not only that, Garza is ready to perform now.

          But is Garza a surer bet than all three of Perez, CaKelly, and Erlin? I’m not sure he is.

          Add to that to keep Garza, we have to extend him and pay a lot of money over many years, making the bet on him less and less likely to be good.

          That’s the point of raising Crawford – when you make a free agency bet on a proven player the downside is much higher than when you make a prospect bet while your club is not competitive.

        • cubbiecop

          The Omnipresent Mystery Team,

          I see your point as well.  It all hinges on if we are going to be competitve at all next year.  As I stated in a previous post, if we do not pick up another solid starter, someone who drives in runs, and become MUCH better defensively I don’t belive we will be competitive and should deal Garza while the market is high for him. 

          However, if we do manage to pick up those peices via free agency, trades etc I think it would best to keep him for another year or at least until the trade deadline.  I think Garza has just started to put it all together and will be even better next year.  If we suck again with those peices and Garza is having a great year, trade him at the trade deadline.  At that point some team will be lacking what they think is the “last peice” that will put them over the edge and win the division.  Then we can hold their feet to the fire and say if you want him then you will pay us one hell of a haul. 

          • The Omnipresent Mystery Team

            Agreed.

            I wouldn’t trade Garza for just anything. And I’m bullish on him doing well next year.

          • Jeff

            To CubbieCop: What he said…lol :)

  • jim

    Jocketty rules! He has had a great career and continues to impress. Cept for baker ;-)
    Gonna put coin on cincy in vegas. Btw, i only bet cubs to win world series once and did not lose.

  • Mike F

    There’s so much to all of this. First, there’s a difference between a projected can’t miss prospect and a prospect. No one is talking about Jackson as a can’t miss prospect, and here yet he’s a consensus top 30 MLB prospect and bluntly higher than a lot of people we are are discussing. Second, as to Garza being on the downhill as some seem to claim, that’s just not true and there’s not a shred of evidence to point to that. The Cubs system, if devoid of anything, is devoid of pitching, and Garza isn’t down hill. Unlike Garza, I see almost no one complaining about overpaying someone who is aging and id downhill namely Dempster. Third, it’s fine to trade Garza for an appropriate package, but how do you fix the hole. The rotation without him is a joke and trading that kind of pitcher has to bring back an undervalued asset on a roster, 2 can’t miss prospects and a top 100=150 with a chance. A lot of that has to be pitching. Now as to trading Garza for Rizzo, a hitter who failed at the ML level, a pitcher and Orlando Hudson, that makes zero sense. Taking back Hudson salary makes no sense. When you’re making a trade for youth for an outstanding pitcher who would make maybe 2M more and then would on top of that means for this year and maybe next you’re going to have to go out and pay someone like Jackson or Kuroda more than you have Garza. how is that an intelligent move?This looks a lot like running standing in place.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Everyone was unhappy about Dempster’s option (which he picked up at his sole discretion). I’m fine with having him on the team, but, yeah, he makes too much money – such is the nature of contracts like the one he got years ago.

      As I’ve said before, the reason it makes sense to deal Garza is on the belief that four very good prospects (for example) that fill four different needs and $8 to $10 million to spend on the free agent market is better than Matt Garza on a team like the Cubs. Four prospects and $8 to $10 million, or Matt Garza (who is under contract for only two more years)? I can understand preferring Garza. I don’t agree, but I can understand it. What I can’t understand is how anyone could not see BOTH sides as reasonable.

      • Matt

        This. This is where I am at. I see wanting to keep Garza, but he had a career year. We aren’t winning anything next year or the year after. We would essentially be getting by all accounts atleast 2 players (with a prospect or two more) that would fill holes in 2012 and beyond, and cheaper (with upside). I don’t see why some can’t see where this is good in the grand scheme of things. We want our team to collectively be great. We don’t want one player to have a great 2012, then another have a great 2013. We need to clear the books of contracts like Zambrano, Soriano, Dempster, and Marmol. By that time, our farm will have cycled. Players that we see in these types of trades along with a great draft like our draft this year will come up together. We want a team like the Rays coming up together, except, we can afford them. That is what they want.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          And we all have to keep in mind: yes, there’s risk with prospects. There’s also risk with Garza. Less risk with Garza because he’s “established.” … but also, less risk with several prospects, because the risk of serious injury is spread among three or four players, rather than one.

          • cubbiecop

            I agree with you on that point Brett, it could go either way depending on how you look at the scenario.  Obviously we all could use to take a breath and relax and hope for the best.  I’m sure Theo and Hoyer are working something as we speak and we just need to be patient and await the outcome.  I’m also glad that the Cubs have fans like all of us who are dedicated to the team the WHOLE year, not just during the season, this board just shows how much we all have invested in this team and we care about it’s continued success.  I’m thinking that lesser teams do not have a board with this much activity!  Also enjoy you keeping us in the loop with your sources.  Thanks!

    • Jeff

      Nice post Mike F

      I agree with Brett, Dempster is over paid but I don’t mind him on the team.

      I see your logic on trading Garza Brett, 4 prospects and the money that is ear marked for Garza to spend on free agents.

      But I agree with Mike that if we trade Garza, spending money on Jackson or Karoda, isn’t better than where we are now and what are the 4 prospects for Garza?

      Would Texas part with the Profar, Beltre, Scheppers, etc that would make it worth it to pull the trigger on a trade. If we can’t get those guys I think we are better off holding onto Garza, because like Mike, I think our starting pitching is in serious jeopardy if Garza is traded and Zambrano and Dempster are gone next year.

  • J.B. House

    one thing that might be a vote for selling high on Garza this year. potential free agent pitchers in 2013 Cain,Danks,Sanchez,Hamels,Greinke.

  • http://None TScott

    You know the Pads are going to try to resolve the Jed compensation in this. With the Rangers in it I could see it going like

    Rangers:
    Matt Garza

    Cubs:
    Anthony Rizzo
    Jed Hoyer
    Roman Mendez

    Pads:
    Mike Olt
    Martin Perez

    With a couple lower name prospects to the Cubs and Pads

    • Lou

      Why is everyone assuming the Rangers are talking to the Padres right now just because they had discussions with the Cubs about Garza? Any confirmation from Ranger sources that would indicate the team’s willingness to be part of a three team trade with the Cubs and Padres?

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        I’m not assuming it. I’m reporting it, from a source.

        • Lou

          So, there’s an insider that states that a three-way trade is plausible. Ok.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            You got it. Plausible, and under discussion. Obviously no guarantees of a deal (far from it). But the three sides are all interested.

            • Lou

              Sorry, from the post I tried to flesh this out but was confused when you state in Update II “a third team is necessary.” I thought you were putting the idea forward based on past discussion between the Cubs-Rangers, not actual discussions ongoing as we speak.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      The Cubs, hopefully, can do considerably better than that for Garza.

  • john

    Any deal with SD will require taking Hudson’s 7.5 mil off the books.
    If a 3 way occurs then we would logically get Rizzo Headley Hudson and a Prospect.
    giving Garza Barney Stewart. Who gets what from Texas? Prospects only. So, Texas gets Garza SD gets their picks from Texas plus Stewart Barney and the Cubs get Hudson, Headley Rizzo and 1 Prospect from SD

  • Kurt

    @ The Omnipresent Mystery Team

    Saw your treatise on Garza being a “proven” player and your dismissal of the same.

    What you basically did what set up a “straw man”, grabbed one example with Carl Crawford, and than knocked your own straw man done.

    Kind of weak, especially when you consider that any prospect doesn’t even have the qualification of being “proven” at the MLB level, and on top of that can befall the same circumstances of injury, bat speed (Garza?), etc… of your straw man.

    Just saying….

    • The Omnipresent Mystery Team

      A straw man is when you take one person’s argument, weaken it significantly and pretend you have disproven the real argument, while actually having ignored the core point.

      An example is when you take something similar and then proceed to explain why the example is relevant. Carl Crawford is an example of a player who had a fairly stable playing level, dropping from that level significantly.

      Crawford is relevant to Garza because Garza had a fairly stable playing level that he unexpectedly rose up from. Not only could Garza unexpectedly drop, you might rather argue that he should be expected to drop back to his established level.

      • Kurt

        You may be right.

        Here’s where I’m coming from though, as defined by Wiki, recognizing Wiki’s with its flaws is not Webster’s:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man

        Person “A” are those that believe Garza is a proven commodity.

        Person “B” would be you presenting position “Y” with Carl Crawford using argument 5 and the oversimplification of one player (Crawford) to support your whole argument against Garza.

        Garza may suffer a similar decline, but he hasn’t changed teams, he hasn’t received a big contract in a new major market that he has to live up to, he’s a pitcher not a hitter, etc…

        If anything the comfort level improved for Garza as the year went on.

        Garza doesn’t have to “prove” himself, Crawford apparently felt he had to…and he fell short.

        To expect Garza to decline, though he doesn’t face the pressures and changes that Crawford did,seems to be more a wishin’ and a hopin’ on your part because it augments your argument.

        • The Omnipresent Mystery Team

          Well, up front, on a friendly Cubs discussion board, I have no intention of misrepresenting anyone’s position. I own that I may do so, either accidentally, or just because this format lends itself to careless writing.

          Since my original response was to cubbiecop, I can easily point out that I enjoyed my discussion with him above and respect his thoughts – as also yours, Kurt.

          As it is, I’m not debating that Garza can be called a “proven commodity.”

          I’m debating the value of player having “proved” himself. Along those lines, I don’t think many would debate that Crawford was “proven” in 2010-11.

          To put it another way, I think people often overrate the risk of prospects panning out compared to the risk of “proven” players suffering significant degradation of value or skills.

          I’m making an additional argument about how likely Garza is to continue at his 2011 level in 2012. I don’t _expect_ him to decline. I’m suggesting the risk is there.

          Thanks for the discussion!

        • cubbiecop

          Kurt,  Your answer, while valid,  makes me think it is an algebra problem…  X’s and Y’s i’m waiting for the pie to become involved.  I agree that Garza should have a better year this year, i believe he was pressing at the beginning of the year and seemed to relax at the end a bit and started pitching better.  I’m hoping for continued success from him with us and even if he is traded.  I have to admit I was a bit worried when he came to us because of the rumors of him not being able to control his emotions a la Zambrano.  Obviously that did not occur and if we could have mustered up some offense for him at times, he could have easily been a 15 game winner.  I guess we will wait and see…

  • Jannenga

    I am just sick and tired of the Cubs Orginization……..I never thought after 33yrs of being a Fan that I am actually thinking of burning every Cubs thing I have and some of it is 88yrs old and was passed down to me but they have made so many mistakes……..Not one Team has won the World Series with a 100% Young Talent Team……They should have signed Pujols and kept Ramirez……..It is hard to bat over 300 in the MLB and 1 HR is hard enough let alone 28 and they show no loyalty and don’t resign him……….Yes the thinking that the Cubs sign these great young players and they win in Gm 7 of the Series to win the championship is awesome to Dream about but the truth is it doesn’t happen and it won’t……….They will continue to lose………The Cubs owe ua Fans to spend every Dollar to get us a Championship……..They have the money to sign Big name FA’s and they are not because Ricketts doesn’t know baseball if he did he wouldn’t be listening to Epstien who is delusional that this plan is going to work because it’s not……..Cubs fans need to revolt and not show up to one game………..Opening day should be a ghost town and if no one showed up it would send shock waves through the cubs Front office…….

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      Did the Soriano contract teach you nothing. Signing Pujols to a 10yr/250M contract cripples a team during those years, and is expecting a winning team in first third of that contract. The Cubs are not built to win today, so having core players in their late 30′s does nothing but hamper this team further.

      • cubbiecop

        Michigan Goat,

        I totally agree, as much as I would have loved to see Pujols in a Cubs jersey to spite the Cardinals fans, but that move would have killed us financially and NOT allowed us to go after big name free agents without being concerned with that killer contract.  While he is a special player and I’m sure will be a first balot HOFer, he does not fit into Theo’s “model” of paying for future performance.  He would have been paying for the past.  I’m sure Pujols will have another good 3 or so years in him at least, but 10?  Not so much…

      • Kyle

        Did the Zito contract teach the Giants anything? Did the A-Rod contract teach the Yankees anything?

        Big market teams can and should sign good players to big contracts. Soriano’s contract has not crippled the Cubs in any way, shape or form. Their failure to draft well crippled them.

        • Katie

          Well the Soriano contract alone isn’t necessarily crippling but add to it Zambrano, Ramirez, etc and all the no trade clauses Big Jim handed out in his tenure and you have some severe hampering.

          • Jeff

            I don”t think it’s that hampering though.

            Next year, we are only at 33M in guaranteed contracts. That’s pretty damn flexible for the 3rd biggest market in sports.

            There’s alot leaving the books next year.

            • Katie

              Also the Giants and Yankees have other great players around those high priced players. The Cubs have Castro and Garza. Wow.

              • Kyle

                And *that’s* exactly the point.

                A good baseball team should be constantly adding good baseball players. You can’t ignore free agency or be scared of big contracts, because that’s part of adding good players.

                The fact that the Cubs failed to add good players around the big contracts doesn’t mean the Cubs should stop handing out big contracts. It means they should get better at adding good players around them.

            • cubs4life

              @jeff
              where are you getting only 33 m gaurenteed???? i can think of three players on the current roster that combined will make 33 mil.

              • Jeff

                Cot’s baseball contracts, it has every team’s and player’s salaries.

                That figure doesn’t include Garza’s or Soto’s adjusted numbers after arbitration or any other player due arbitration, but it does include all the salaries the Cubs are responsible for in 2013.

                • Rob

                  Soriano and Zambrano are each owed $18 million next year, according to the same website. That’s already higher than $33 million. Then there’s Dempster and everyone else currently under contract.

                  • Jeff

                    Come on baby birds: Let me feed you. (Tosh)

                    Go to the site and click on the link: 2012-17 payroll obligations.

                    Zambrano only has an option for 2013, but he has to be in top 4 of Cy Young voting and healthy. Watch him have a career year finally..lol

                    Dempster is a free agent next year.

                    Come on, don’t tell me it’s too hard to read the details on that page.

                    Minus Garza, Soto and the young guys payroll stands at 33.050M for next year.

                    • cubs4life

                      i see what you meant on that previous post jeff, i was including those younger guys when i was figuring payroll.

                    • Rob

                      Oh, you’re talking about 2013 payroll? My bad. I thought you meant this coming year.

                    • Jeff

                      Yes, I’m already looking forward to 2013 and where we are payroll wise and who will become a free agent and what money we might need to shop next year.

                      I’m in favor of trading for Rizzo and keeping Garza and bidding on Hamels.

                      I know Darvish and Fielder might seem sexier…but I’m in favor of saving money to use down the line.

                      I’m fine with going to the young guys like Castro, Jackson, Szczur, Vitters, Rizzo, Stewart, Castillo, etc.

                      Dempster and Zambrano’s salaries come off the books and more expensive guys like Marmol, Bryd and Soto can be trade chips.

                  • cubs4life

                    zambrano is only owed that if he finishes like in the top 4 in the cy young voting though, (some weird fine print in the contract).

                    • Jeff

                      Yeah, no worries, Cot’s baseball contracts is a cool site, don’t know what I’d do if it wasn’t there…lol

          • Kyle

            And we *still* have another 30 million to spend this offseason if we wanted to keep our payroll the same as it has been the last two years.

            This is how it’s supposed to work for a big market team. You should have a mix of young, cheap and talented players, stars who just signed their big contract, and former stars at the end of their contract.

            The fact that we’ve failed to produce enough of the young cheap stars has made us a bad team. People are hyperventilating about the overpaid former stars because it’s easier to see those than see a negative, i.e. the lack of strong drafted players.

            • Jeff

              Kyle,

              I will agree with you on that…a lack of home grown talent.

              But we can count Castro as one who has made it, I’m optimistic on Jackson as the next. I think Carpenter could be a future closer and McNutt, a future starter.

              If we could trade for Rizzo, there’s a future 1st baseman. I’m not so down on our prospects, but we do lack the numbers of quality prospects, specifically in the pitching department.

              • Kyle

                We’re getting there. A little. But compare that to last year’s Cardinals:

                Pujols, Garcia, Molina, Schumaker, McLellan, Motte, Boggs, Jay, Greene

                Or the Brewers:

                Braun, Weeks, Gallardo, Hart, Fielder, Parra, Stetter, Braddock, Lucroy

                And both teams were able to add numerous other pieces because their healthy farm systems allowed them to make some nice trades.

                *That’s* why the Cubs haven’t been able to keep up. Big contracts had nothing to do with it.

  • Mike F

    I think it’s very reasonable to consider trading him, but here’s my issue, if you create a hole in the name of adding pitching, you likely have to fill that with 2 prospects that have a chance at being as good or better than he is with the hopes that one does that and 3 years from now is the top end of the rotation starter, so in that sense Rizzo as the kicker is find. But you still have to replace Garza as the starter today. And my issue is I haven’t seen the two quality starters back to the Cubs, and Oralndo Hudson back to the Cubs unless they are willing to eat that salary and then go out and get the next starter like Jackson doesn’t make a lot of sense. Hudson would eat most of that 8-10 Million in savings and that would be a poor use.

    Hudson is the kind of guy you add at that money when you have pitching not sensible in this situation.

    But I agree with you Brett, I do see both sides, just that I don’t see any trade that doesn’t bring back 2 top prospect pitchers.

  • Gcheezpuff

    I didn’t read all the comments, so I might not be the first to bring this up, but isn’t it possible that Byrnes and Theo/Hoyer have agreed to use each other to drive up interest and price for the players they want to trade. Though I agree Rizzo makes sense for the Cubs, I don’t see Garza as a fit for SD. I guess a third team could be brought in, but why? Most of the teams with rumored interest in Garza have the prospects to deal, and I’d guess Rizzo could net SD a good pitching prospect or middle infielder. These guys are all buddies so wouldn’t it make sense to use each other to possibly force the hand of a desperate team to make a bid? Maybe this is a bit of a conspiracy theory, but Theo had kept most everything quiet, but this info seemed to hit the news pretty quick… Could have been leaked on purpose. I hope I am wrong because Rizzo would be a nice pick up and I’d like to see Garza moved if we can get a couple of plus arms as well.

    On a side note, excellent site…. Been following for awhile but this is my first post. By far the best Cubs site out there.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Welcome, and thanks for the thoughts. It absolutely possible that these talks are a smokescreen being used for other purposes (and leaked to people like me for the same purpose) – not just to drive up the value of their own players, but to force some like, say, Prince Fielder to maybe make a decision.

      No way to know for sure.

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