Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein addressed the parade of Matt Garza trade rumors this afternoon, and, rather than parse his words line by line, I prefer to share them all, essentially in whole.

“I’m hoping to talk to [Garza] this weekend [at the Cubs Convention],” Epstein said. “I’ve kept his representatives updated every step. But let’s downplay this. This is really more what has happened in the media than what has happened in reality. There was no attempt to shop him. This is not an everyday endeavor for us.

“As we do with all of our players, we weigh all of our options. Really I think very highly of Matt Garza. I think he’s a top-of-the-rotation guy, and I’m looking forward to him being on the mound for us this season. But we are being transparent about the fact that sometimes it makes sense to weigh your options and see if you can put yourself in a better position for the long haul.

“It makes sense for the organization to turn short-term assets into long-term assets. You can do that like we did with Sean. For one year with Sean Marshall we get five years of Travis Wood. But there is another way to do it. You can also find a contract extension that makes sense for both parties and create long-term impact that way.

“You hate to talk about it because you hate to have the player read about it, but we also want to be transparent as we try to set the organization up for the long haul.”

Bam. Just freaking bam.

This message is – as all messages from Epstein are – chock full of nuance. And yet it is simultaneously so candid, clear, and reasonable. It’s the kind of thing that makes an aspiring wordsmith like me smile.

It also gives we Cubs fans a whole lot of credit for appreciating the delicate balance Epstein walks between being open to trading his best pitcher, and not pissing off that pitcher or the fans.

As for the nuance, you can go ahead and ignore the reports claiming that Epstein has now said the Cubs aren’t shopping Matt Garza. Clearly, the situation is not that simple. Things Theo Epstein is not saying: Matt Garza will not be traded; Matt Garza is not available; the Cubs haven’t had any trade talks about Matt Garza; all rumors about the Cubs trading Matt Garza are completely untrue.

Instead, Epstein is giving you as much truth as you’re ever going to hear from an executive.

The Cubs aren’t affirmatively trying to trade Matt Garza. But they are willing to do it for the right price. Theo Epstein wants you to know that. He wants other teams to know that. And he wants Matt Garza to know it. Epstein is being open and fair about a really complex issue, and I’m pretty thrilled to have a guy like that in charge.

Discussing and making trades is not a black and white business. Teams “discuss” dozens and dozens of players with dozens of teams each Winter (and mid-season). Sometimes the discussions are long, deep, and involve actual proposals. Sometimes the discussions are short, terse, and consist entirely of a five minute phone call checking in on the availability of a player (who proves to be unavailable).

Discussing and making trades is also an almost perversely complex business. A trade of Player A is predicated on the availability of Player B, which is predicated on the plans of Team C, which is predicated on the competitiveness of Team D, which is predicated on the asking price of Free Agent E, which is predicated on the signing of Free Agent F, which is predicated on the interest of Team G in Player A. This stuff is neither simple nor easy. Theo Epstein isn’t trying to be intentionally vague. He’s simply dealing openly with a tricky issue in a way that is both accurate and preserves the team a number of outs.

Glib sound bytes and oversimplifications of an inherently complex issue doesn’t do you any favors. And it doesn’t give you enough credit for being able to understand and appreciate just what Theo Epstein is and isn’t saying. Theo Epstein is happy to give you that credit, and he does so when he offers revealing, nuanced messages like this.

As far as the substance of what Epstein said, it really isn’t any different from what we’ve heard and known to be true for months: Matt Garza is available in a deal that makes the Cubs better in the long run. The Cubs probably aren’t going to start calling teams to ask them to make offers on Garza, but that has as much to do with bargaining position as it does with the Cubs’ desire to trade Garza for multiple younger players.

And even that simplification of his message is a bit of a blunt instrument when a fine needle is required.

What can I say? Epstein is better at this than I am.

  • barroof

    Kinda like “Caleb is our quarterback”

    • TWC

      You misspelled “Rex”.

      • MichiganGoat

        You mispelled Kordell

        • Rick Vaughn

          You mispelled “misspelled”

          Cade Mcnown in 2012!

          • Kansas Cubs Fan

            Damn it Vaughn, you got to it before I did.

            • ferrets_bueller

              c-c-c-c-c-combo breaker!!!

          • TWC

            C-c-c-c-cade McNown?


          • Tommy

            Let the name Cade McNown never be spoken again.  NEVER!


            • ferrets_bueller

              I’d rather hear the name Cade McNown than…………………….than……………………………………………………Johnathon Quinnnnnnnnnnnnnnn. Only one man can stake a claim to being the worst QB to somehow make it into an NFL game….and its JJJJjjjohnathon Quinnnnnn!!!

        • ferrets_bueller

          Henry Burris is our quarterback!

      • Doug Dascenzo

        You meant “Mirer”.

  • Rick Vaughn

    You will of course bring out the ban-hammer on BetterNews if he ends up being right about this.


    • BetterNews

      Oh, I’m right! Does that mean I get “black-balled”? So be it.(LoL) My middle name is “Bullseye”.

  • Bric

    Brett, can you check your use of “we Cub fans” in word? I believe “us Cubs fans” is the appropriate usage as the direct object of “gives”. I Don’t mean to sound like the grammar police, I just thought it was funny you made an error (I think) a sentence after calling yourself an aspiring wordsmith. Damn that English language!

    • TWC

      *boom*  Grammar’d.  Irony abounds.

      • Brett

        Actually, my use is correct. In that context “we” is not the object, “fans” is. The words “we” and “Cubs” are modifiers of “fans.” In that context, the use of “we” is correct (second definition of “we,” as a modifier, is frequently: “Used to refer to the speaker together with other people regarded in the same category: ‘we teachers.'”), or, at worst, a style choice.

        And I did say “aspiring.”

        (For TWC: *boom* More Grammar’d.)

        • Bric

          Damn those modifiers! Well played my friend. And I failed to mention I’m just an aspiring post-smith.

        • TWC

          Well, since we’re getting all pedagogical and stuff…

          The way I read it, “Cubs fans” was the modifier to the direct object “we”, which in that case, should be “us”.  Of course, if “Cubs fans” was indeed the modifier, then there should have been a comma after “us”.  So looks like you messed that one up, too.


          • Brett

            Your syllogism proved my usage correct (gracias) – had I meant it how you read it, I would have placed the offsetting commas. Because I didn’t place the commas, you clearly read it incorrectly.

            Typos? I make ’em. Grammatical mistakes? Nah. Rarely (save for intentional style choices (like embedded parentheticals (which I love (and will never give up)))).

            (Non-serious BOOM!)

            • MichiganGoat

              I’m so using this example for tomorrow morning “DO NOW” I think I will make them identify the parts of speech of each word in that phrase.

              • Bric

                Just curious, but when you’re in class do you say “DO NOW” (as if you’re yelling) or is that just the name of the assignment?

                Personally, I’d like picture you going into class tommorow and yelling “DO NOW” as you give them the assignment.

                • MichiganGoat

                  Actually it’s just one of the buzz words of my schools pedagogical model. Some call it bell work, bell ringer, warm up, etc, but my school has decided to go with the not so subtle name of DO NOW for what they are suppose to do once the bell rings so I can take attendance, grade papers,or sneak a drink before the lesson starts.

                  But typically I do find my self pointing at the board and yelling DO NOW.

        • Cheryl

          Oh for those dayas of diageramming sentences!

        • Cerambam

          wait i thought it should be us because us would be the indirect object of gives. “It(subject) also gives(verb) us(indirect object) Cubs fans a whole lot of credit(direct object)

          #most unnecessary comment

          edit: nvm im wrong

          • 2much2say

            It also gives (the) Cubs fans a whole lot of credit for appreciating the delicate balance Epstein walks between being open to trading his best pitcher, and not pissing off that pitcher or the fans
            (We) suggests everyone reading this is a Cubs fan.

    • MichiganGoat

      That is correct “us”, is the objective, first person, plural form of the pronoun “I”.

      Edit: Brett is correct, in that case.

      • MichiganGoat

        Trust me this is one of the most confusing part of grammar to teach to high school students.

  • die hard

    leave the gun and bring the canole

  • Rick Vaughn

    Brett, can you check your use of “Bam. Just freaking bam” in word?

  • barroof

    Wasn’t it the great Mclovin who said, “Check yourself fool “

  • MoneyBoy

    Brett – I find myself continually intrigued by “Theo-speak.”  Like pols, our E/H & Co have mastered the art of saying a lot while saying little.

    Jed’s convo with Kaplan yesterday was fascinating.  He kept direct eye contact until the subject of Garza came up … then his eyes were constantly shifting.  Interesting to see.

    I spent most of my years in financial sales.  As such I came to watch body language and listen to verbal clues.  These guys are fascinating.

    Oh, by the way, thank you very much for a really good post.  It was very, very interesting to read – and your commentary, however parsed by teachers and others, was well thought out and much appreciated by this poster.

  • sam

    In my era Dallas Green was my …. hope . Damn fine post. i will leave it at that ..

  • TeddyBallGame

    “Bam. Just freaking bam.” I’ve read a lot of your stuff Brett, but this may be my single favorite line…I appreicate the grammar lesson by those who participated, but are people not as happy about Theo’s comments today as I am?? I mean, this is of epic proportion type stuff here. I could never have imagined such a direct, honest person in chanrge as Theo has been so far. From what I’ve noticed so far, Theo always has had a good reason for saying what he does. By saying what he did today, he covered his ass on both ends regardless of whether Garza gets traded or not. If he does get traded, we, the fans understand why he pulled the trigger and the reasoning behind it. If not, these words are what will keep Garza in the right mindset because he will know exactly where Theo was coming from. It’s such a relief to have a man in charge who is straight-forward with his intentions and genuinely means what he says. I think only a confident person would be as honest as Theo has been and I’m really looking forward to seeing our new attitude in 2012. I think even if we are a sub-.500 club, we’ll be fun to watch because the effort will be there everyday…

    • BetterNews

      By what Theo said today, the ONLY conclussion one could draw is Garza is NOT going anywhere, which is what I’ve been saying all along.

      • KCubsfan

        They only way he is dealt is if the get a trade where they are the clear winner. And I agree with that. But to make a blanket statement that he isnt going to be dealt is asinine. There is always a chance with any player if the dont have a no tra de can be dealt. The comment Theo made about Garza were very similair to the ones he made about Marshall and he got dealt. I think this is what will happen Theo and Garza will talk to gauge his real interest in staying with the Cubs (not what he is saying to the media) and a decission will be made then.

        • BetterNews

          KCubsfan–Theo said that all the Garza talk was media driven! How much “clearer” could he have been. He also stated there was NO attempt to shop him. Pretty black and white to me. You should’t read more into things when analyzing statements or data.

          • KCubsfan

            Shopping and listening are 2 very different things. Shopping is when you call teams and say are you interested in the player. You do know Theo is a Lawyer right?

            This is why your statement is asinine. I will give you a couple thing that could happen would change the situtation.

            1) what if Garza wont sign a long term? He then becomes a short term asset and is then not part of the plan for the future. Are you then completely against trading him.

            2) what if Some one comes the the Cubs and says we want Garza and it offer starts with a A prospect and add 3 more B to B+ prospects.

            3) Kind of goes along with 2 but what stops trades from being traded then Coming back because he liked it here so much. AKA Cliff Lee.

            I interned a number on years ago with a MLB organization still work in Professional sports in a managment level. I understand how these things work. There are no blanket statement in sports even the Statement Theo make had key words. If he wanted to say he would not trade Garza he would have said he was “untouchable” so teams wont call. Shopping is a word that you use meaning we dont have to move him and maybe we dont want to move him but show us what your willing to give us for him and we will talk.

            • BetterNews

              There you go again. Your over-analyzing! Your trying to read something between the lines when there’s nothing there.

              • KCubsfan

                What is the biggest thing Theo and Jed are stressing Long term vs Short term. If they cant not sign him to a long term contract he isnt as valuable to the Cubs. You are only listening to what you want to hear. Do I know if he will sign a long term deal no. Do you? no. I am Ok with sign him long term I think if the Cubs sign him long term then go after Cain or Hamels they set themselves up very well for 2014. That is when I believe about of their hitting talent will be ready.

                • BetterNews

                  I’ll go along with that. Also while I can’t say with “certainty” Garza would sign a long term deal, I am 99.9% sure he would going by statements he has made in the past. And remember, Theo said “Matt is a type pitcher you want to build a conteding team around”.

                  • Brett

                    DUDE. Theo SAID in THIS VERY STATEMENT that he is open to trading Garza. THAT’S READING THE LINES, NOT BETWEEN THEM.

                    (I’ve wasted my own breath.)

                    • BetterNews

                      Brett–When did Theo say he’s “open” to trading Garza? I must have missed that one.

                    • Brett

                      You did. Clearly.

                    • SweetJamesJones

                      Just when you thought things were getting better! The League of Dunces strike again!


                    • Brett

                      I jinxed it.

                  • EtotheR

                    I can’t speak for anyone else…but, I can’t understand your unwillingness to believe that a Garza trade has been explored, discussed, or considered…it just seems…odd.

                    Are you hoping for some sort of grandstanding vindication if he isn’t moved? If he is…will you admit that you were wrong?

                    How can any of us truly know for sure? That said…there are a bevy of reporters (who are responsible for finding out inside news) who say that, at the very least, it’s been discussed.

                    So…just what IS your deal?

            • BetterNews

              Garza will be our #1 come April.

              • KCubsfan

                He may be. But he also could be injuried in ST. You cant predicted what will happen.

                • BetterNews

                  No you can’t. But you can certainly extrapolate a likely scenario based on what he has done in the past, and if we do that, he has been a workhorse that is not injury prone. This is a quality that is hard to find in starting pitchers as you know, and Theo is well aware of this attribute.

                • BetterNews

                  KCubsfan–I’m not trying to argue your point, I’m just trying to show where I’m coming from.

                  • KCubsfan

                    I just want to make it clear I am not for or against trading Garza. Whatever make the Cubs better in the long term is what I want to see happen.

                    • BetterNews

                      Well your playing both sides of the line then! That’s not right.

                    • baldtaxguy

                      I think its fair to say that (a) signing Garza long-term, or (b) trading Garza has a decent range of breakeven in terms of value.  I am supportive of either because both are consistent with the FO’s current and long range objectives.

            • Brett

              You’re wasting your breath on this one, KCubsfan. When it comes to Garza, BetterNews doesn’t listen to reason.

              • BetterNews

                Nobody has shown any “justification” for dealing Garza! Prospects? What? We need a #1 pitcher coming out of the gate this year. It sure as hell isn’t Dempster!

                • KCubsfan

                  I gave you 2 very good Justifactions for dealing. But I do understand why you are reacting this way. You are still focused on the here and now. This Front Office is more focused on the future then the here and now. There is the ultimate question if Trading Garza this year meant the Cubs win the World Series 3 years down the road? Knowing that the Cubs will not have a winning record this year witb or without Garza.

                  • BetterNews

                    Not this year. I say maybe 2013 and Garza would be in his ” zone”, so to speak.

                    • KCubsfan

                      2013 is still a long shot for them to be contenders. Theo and Jed arent miracle worker, they have done a great job so far but there is still alot of work to do. Most of the players on the roster would not be on Playoff caliber teams. The only player that would be are Castro, Soto maybe, Garza and Maybe Marmol. So we are looking at 2013 they maybe improved they most likely are going to be ready. 2014 or 2015 is more reasonable a time frame for things to gel.

                  • BetterNews

                    You also have not answered the question if Garza is traded. Nobody has! What then?

      • Rick Vaughn

        Here we go…

  • http://bleachernation ferris

    i like no love the truth and if they were shopping him theyd start or have someone start a rumor saying the royals are in or boston is in heavy just to get detroit and the yanks to get a lil nervous,if we dont trade him we win if we do trade him(for what jed/theo want) we really win so i like where were at with garza,w/wood back in the fold soon we have a solid pitching staff…no not the giants or phillies but not the orioles or astros either..we couldnt say that last yr after week one.

  • Ivy Walls

    I think there are many levels of Epstein leveling with his new Cubs’ audience. This week I saw that the electronic media, the social networks and blogs associated with #Cubs and MLB trade rumors exploded where they (meaning Cubs’ front office) were not in control. It caused Maholm to release his signing before the Cubs were ready administratively and therefore they had to release a small asset before their perfect timing. The Soriano and Garza rumors also exploded where way too much chatter was involved I suspect causing ruffled feathers with Samardzija (who was probably promised that he has a genuine shot at the rotation) plus Garza and the Tiger’s prospects. All things that cause disturbance. Then there is/was the Kerry Wood situation where I think Kaplan has some ‘old guard’ and also current Wood agent contact where they used the social media to take care of Kerry.

    All these things underscore Epstein/Hoyer not being in control of the media messaging, in some way it is the new world where we are all broadcasters to an interconnected web and where controlling the message or timing is far less than before 1994 when all one had to do was have a good relationship with a beat writer, columnist and talk show host.

    Nowadays Twitter lights up with retweets in less than a minute where each ripple pushes the story out to where the blogs and message sites already have hundreds of opinions expressed within an hour, be it real or merely conjecture.

    But at the same time Epstein is doing something novel, he is being honest—but he has to be, heck the Cubs are not going to be really WS competitive for at least 2014 and that might be a stretch, let us say 2015 or 2016. At the same time they will be selling the club at premium prices. So he cannot be dishonest to the season ticket holders, the corporate partners, sky box patrons, conventioneers, the advertisers, promotion providers, apparel contractors, venders, individual ticket buyers, cable and broadcast audiences, MLB TV subscribers, radio listeners and finally the casual free fan. Being patronizing would be the kiss of death.

    Indiana U had to do the same and now reaping the rewards in that Hoosier Hysteria is real and Crean is cementing his position there by recovering the program after three years of living in W/L deserts.

    So by saying all players are optional for the long term he is not only saying Garza, but also Castro, Soto, Marmol and Jackson, McNutt, etc…

    So to accomplish this he has to be honest with the players, agents and fans, but he is also telling everyone including the league that a full rebuild is on but don’t use him either. For he has told Detroit and NYY that their offer was not good enough, that he is not dealing from a position of weakness.

    Here is my final guess. Watch for the Rangers play on Davish. I think they might punt on their efforts and turn to the Cubs and deal for Garza with their stable. The money saved will allow the Rangers to sign Fielder. I think the Tigers will go fishing into the FA market, say Oswalt and the Yanks to Jackson (second young Steinbrenner mistake) .

    • Brett

      This is a very insightful post. So much so, that it makes me wonder if you know things. Because I’ve heard things I cannot share, and … well … let’s just say you either know things, or are very savvy. Or both.

  • Cubsin

    I wouldn’t recommend buying a Garza jersey just yet. If you don’t have triskaidekaphobia, a Starlin Castro jersey is probably safe, at least until he approaches free agency in a few more years.

  • OHBearCub

    Any baseball news? So Garza stays put. Soriano stays and plays left field against lefties. I think the only trades left are Byrd and Soto. No place for Byrd in this rebuild. Johnson took his no.4 outfield spot. Campana is the defenive replacement for Soriano. Jackson will take center for his own spot in ST. With all these young pitcherswe might as well go with Castillo and I like a Varitek type of back up to mentor Castillo. So what can we get for Soto and Byrd? No big leaugers but about 4 more decent minor leauge players. With moving these two off the roster it opens up room for a few free agent vets. We need a utility infielder and a bull pen guy we can trust.

    • 2much2say

      Do you trust Wood? Dewitt and Baker utility. Jackson stays in AAA. Byrd Dejesus Soriano Johnson is OF unless they sign Cespedes.8 starters B/U’s 1 C 2 IF leaves 1 spot on 25 man Looks like we will carry 7 starters and 6 bullpen

    • Andrew

      Some of what you says makes no sense. You say we should trade soto and byrd but then pick up veteran free agents? huh? why would we send off vets then bring in other vets? I think theres a good chance Byrd is gone by spring training because we seem to have more than enough outfielders and would open up more spots for possibly signing the Cuban stars. Theres really no market for Soto and the backups dont have very much experience. That being said I think hell have a pretty decent season and could pick up value before the deadline. I wouldn’t rule out a trade for soriano completely either. The Big Z trade showed were not afraid to eat a lot of these contracts even if the circumstances Zambrano had were quite different since he was starting to be a negative. Garza could be gone too, you never know really. I like our utility guys in Baker and dewitt and I trust Samardzija and Wood.

  • OHBearCub

    I’m at the corporate sales kick offin Orlando. Been listening to double talk in break out seminars all day. We all know that if somebody gets desperate they will make the call to Theo during ST or early in the season when a contender loses a top pitcher the panic button gets pushed and we got whomever calls by the short hairs. We get the mother load in return. Right now nobodies desperate so the deal wont happen.

  • 2much2say

    July trade deadline will be next opportunity for the Cubs to improve.
    Until someone steps up and provides some power Soriano stays put. Byrd is your best hitter so he stays put. The kids will have to make the best of their opportunity. We’re loaded with projects that could pay dividends.

  • 2much2say

    SF won with these guys
    1. Andres Torres, CF even Byrd
    2. Edge Freddy Sanchez, 2B Barney
    3.Edge Buster Posey, C Soto
    4. Pat Burrell, LF Edge Soriano
    5. Cody Ross, RF Edge Dejesus
    6. Aubrey Huff, 1B ? Lahair
    7. Juan Uribe, 3B ? Stewart
    8. Edgar Renteria, SS Edge Castro

    • KCubsfan

      They won with Pitching and I dont think you what to go there.

      • Andrew

        Ya that team shows anything can happen if you catch some luck at the right time but they had a great pitching staff and a weaker division so they did have more things going for them. Oh and they had Mike Fontenot, ’nuff said.

      • BetterNews

        No doubt! Frisco won with the pitching staff. I dont know if I’m right on this, didn’t look it up, but I would say that pitching staff ranked up there in all-time top ten.

    • art

      Pitching, edge SF.

  • Andrew

    I think the way Garza will be handled will be heavily influenced by next offseason’s free agent class of pitchers. When looking at those guys headlined by Cain and Hamels, this is probably Theo/Jed’s final chance to get good value tradewise for Garza since compared to those two, hes not nearly as valuable as when he’s compared with Edwin Jackson who’s the last big FA starter this offseason. I also think theyd rather extend him before Cain and Hamels sign their big contracts.

    I think if we gather anything from the Theo comments is that Garza will either get extended or traded to make him a long term asset which is what the cubs need at this time.

    I think I’ll enjoy the Cubs this season. I feel it will have a lot of pleasant surprises even if it doesnt translate into a playoff spot so they might be fun to watch. I’ve heard a few times that the last time a cubs team had this low of expectations was before the 03 season and that was a very fun time, too bad i dont think our division is gonna be as bad as it was then.

  • Cubsin

    This is either the best or worst idea I’ve had all day. Cubs send Matt Garza to the Giants for Matt Cain. Obviously, this only works well for the Cubs if they can extend or re-sign Cain. It would save the Giants a ton of money in 2013 versus extending or re-signing Cain, and give them a legitimate #2 starter for 2013 if they don’t.

    Jed and Theo: If you like this idea, feel free to use it.


    • Andrew

      Dont see how this trade would benefit either team really. Giants probably think they can win now and the cubs definitely dont think they can. I dont believe the Giants are strapped for cash necesarily either. The chances the Cubs were to sign Cain to a long term deal probably wouldnt increase by nearly enough by just having him around this season and definitely not worth losing Garza’s extra cost controlled year. Also Cain will probably be a type A free agent so it doesnt make sense for the giants to give him up either.

  • FromFenwayPahk

    “Bam. Just freaking bam.” Fun, huh?

    Theo’s skills are why I’m here reading Brett and the rest of you. Truthfully I’m still not over that “rooting for the laundry” problem Brett often alludes to. (May I end a sentence with a preposition on this site?(Or do I have to say ‘…to which Brett often alludes’… feh, English rule(r)s))) So, when I felt disillusioned by the this-is-a-business aspect of sports (2003-ish) that Chicago seems to be learning a lot faster than I did, I started rooting for management. Now that manager is in Chicago.

    Brett, I can’t wait until you get a chance to craft a question or two for your new President of Baseball Ops.

    Thanks for the report. Gotta go. Theo is on Boston Radio this AM (Dennis and Callahan, I think.)

    • Brett

      Thanks, FFP. Theo on D&C? I’ll have to tune in.