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Matt Garza has been in Mesa, Arizona working out at the Chicago Cubs’ facilities there for over two weeks now, so the flurry of Garza media coverage in the last couple days is a reflection not of Garza reporting to camp so much as it is a reflection of the media reporting to camp. And, if you’ve got to cover some Cubs, who better to talk to than the Cubs’ staff ace, a man who was the subject of rumors all Winter long?

And so it was with Garza, who offered a number of interesting quotes over the past couple days, and about whom much was written.

  • Although it was the hottest topic of discussion, Garza was largely mum on the possibility of an extension. “I don’t talk about that,” Garza said. “That’s between my agent and myself, and my agent and the front office. If they want to contact us, whatever way it works, is great. My main focus is getting ready for April 5, and having fun again.” Separately, Garza said: “Right now, my agent knows where I’m at and where I want to be at, and that’s all there is to it. When stuff comes across, we’ll all know about it and we’ll talk about it. If something gets done, you guys will know. If nothing gets done, we’ll all know. You won’t hear a peep from me. My job is to get ready April 5 and get to the postseason.” But Garza later added some positive words about Chicago: “I’m always open for [an extension]. I love playing baseball. I’ll play anywhere, but the city of Chicago is one great city, I’ll tell you that. Playing in front of these fans, I had a great time last year, and I plan on having even more fun this year.’’
  • GM Jed Hoyer says the Cubs will continue to dialog with Garza about an extension – Garza is a free agent after 2013 – but is willing to speak only generically about the desire to have guys “like” Matt Garza. ‘‘We’ve said many times he’s the kind of guy we need,’’ Hoyer said. ‘‘We need more Matt Garzas, not less. We need a rotation full of those guys, so if we can work something out, that’d be wonderful.’’
  • Was Garza sure he’d be pitching for the Cubs in 2012? “Never was a doubt,” Garza said. “A lot of [trade rumors] is usually hearsay. That’s usually what I go by is if I get a phone call from a different city and the only phone calls I got were from Chicago.”
  • On new manager Dale Sveum, Garza is already a fan, and thinks the Cubs will play well and hard for Sveum. “The team is going to reflect the manager,” Garza said. “With him out here devoting his time, away from his family, I think players will get the hint that this guy wants to win. You’ve got a guy like that, a guy who runs out here non-stop and doesn’t even talk – he’s just business, business, business, work, work, work. I’m excited.”
  • Garza is as hopeful as anyone about the Cubs in 2012, and thinks the team will have an ever-dangerous “scrappy” identity: “You play hard for nine, and that will determine your identity. You can be scrappy, you can be rollovers, you can be whatever. You play hard for nine, and you’ll develop your identity. I think we’ll be a bunch of scrappers. We don’t have the big-name power guys – we have [Alfonso Soriano] in the middle of the lineup and we have [Starlin] Castro, who is going to be a great hitter and an even better shortstop this season. We have a lot of set guys, like role guys. But we’re going to be scrappy – and that’s the best way to play. If you have a big bopper and that big bopper doesn’t come through, it won’t be any good. If you’ve got a bunch of guys who hit and run, squeeze, bunt, sac, move them over, get them in, I think that’s what wins you ballgames. Guys will pay a lot of attention to detail. Little things count up here. It’s going to be a huge asset for us.”
  • Asked about now-departed Carlos Zambrano, Garza had only nice things to say. Probably too nice. “I’d love to be compared to Zambrano on the field,” Garza said yesterday. “That guy, I’ll tell you what, he’s going to have one hell of a year, I kid you not. He’s going to go down to Miami and surprise a lot of people. His stuff is so electric, and it still bottoms out – every pitch does. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the Cy Young race this year, I kid you not. He’s got that good of stuff. Just playing with Ozzie [Guillen] and being in his own comfort zone, I think he’ll have a hell of a season. I wish nothing but the best for that guy.”
  • On about the only “light note” you’ll see about the still-unresolved (are you kidding me?) Theo compensation issue, Garza wasn’t surprised to hear that the Red Sox initially asked for him. “Why not?” Garza said. “He’s a great GM. He won two World Series over there. Why not go after a starter where they lacked depth in, or go after [Starlin] Castro, a guy who’s 21 and already an All-Star, or a premier prospect in [Brett] Jackson? I would’ve asked for the farm — say ‘I want this guy, this guy, this guy,’ and see what they grab.”

As usually, good stuff from Mr. Garza, who also discussed, at various times, his passion for the game and for his teammates. If you hadn’t already, be sure to observe Garza during games in which he’s not pitching. If he’s not the most excitable, most into-the-game Cub this year, then that simply means one of the new guys is even more into the Cubs than Garza.

If he sticks around for the foreseeable future, I very much look forward to continuing to root for Garza, and continuing to watch him pitch.

  • die hard

    Agree. If Garza goes and Dempster leaves after 2012, there is no leader on the staff. Would have to be a blockbuster of a trade to let Garza go.

  • a_mazz_ing

    Well that is because Matt is the cat’s pajamas.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It was very hard to not make the reference (again) in this one.

      • a_mazz_ing

        I just don’t have that will power.

    • HoustonTransplant

      I, for one, find him to be the Bee’s Knees.

      …So there.

  • Andrew

    Immediately when I got to this article I “ctrl-F” ‘d cat and pajamas and was amazed to find nothing. I admire the restraint you have showed.

  • Toosh

    Looks like Selig will make the call on compensation some time before Epstein’s contract is up.

    • Andrew

      I think it’s going to be a PTBNL. That player will be named a decade from now when Epstein moves on and the Cubs get compensation from the next team. They will then flip the compensatory player to the Sox as the PTBNL.

  • BetterNews

    Garza will sign an extension. I’ve been saying it for months.

    • Cheryl

      Yes, you’ve been saying it. But there still may be a trade so good that Theo can’t pass it up. I won’t say no trade until more time, maybe a month, has passed. He’s a good pitcher. The cubs would do well to keep him.

      • BetterNews

        Cheryl-Nah. Matt is really “untouchable” right now.

  • BetterNews

    Brett-You sure have changed your tune about Garza!(LOL)

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      You’re ridiculous, and you’re never going to get any better. I’m really tired of it.

      • BetterNews

        Brett-You really have changed your tune on Garza whether you realize it or not. You had him as trade bait and I said all the time he was not. Personally I got tired of the trade rumors, so we are even.

        • JB88

          What are you talking about? Brett never suggested he WANTED to trade Garza, merely that it might be in the Cubs’ long-term interest to trade Garza because the aggregate of what you’d get for Garza plus the money spent on Garza would be worth more to the Cubs than Garza alone.

          And it isn’t like Brett was actually advocating a trade, he simply reported on the myriad of stories that were out there.

          You either have a very myopic view of things or are intentionally obtuse. I lean toward the later.

          • BetterNews

            Let me tell you, you’re not the sharpest knife in the drawer , pal!

            • Richard Nose

              Solid rebuttal.

              • Andrew

                I’m the rubber. You’re the glue…

                • MichiganGoat

                  Please don’t feed

                  • Richard Nose

                    AHHHHHHH!!!! SO TRUE SO TRUE.

              • Katie

                Richard, I still love the name!

                Brett must have been cringing whilst posting this, knowing the comments that were going to start cropping up.

            • JB88

              People in glass houses …. ahh, never mind.

              EDIT: Nice edit changing your “your” to the proper “you’re”. Takes away some of the context to my “people in glass houses” comment when you were trying to call me a dull knife.

              • BetterNews

                Those who cast the first stone……ah, never mind!

            • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

              English 101:
              If you were to state that statement without the contraction you would say “you are not the sharpest knife in the drawer(comma)(space)pal!”

              Your is a statement of ownership but I am not sure what he is owning as you’re either referring to the knife that isn’t the sharpest in the drawer or that he is owning the drawer but you’re talking about the knives inside the drawer for some strange reason.

              or

              You meant you’re. And yes, I am intentionally being obtuse because I can only surmise that you are trying to do the same thing here.

              • BetterNews

                Ha! Sometimes I wonder if obtusity does come into play with certain commenters.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  not sure if trolling

                  • MichiganGoat

                    BOTH

                  • ogyu

                    Definitely stupid.

        • AP

          Brett has always maintained that it makes sense to either trade Garza if the price is right or extend Garza if the price is right. You, BetterNews, just like to make crap up so you can feel important. If you want to ruin a message board go to ESPN where your drivel is par for the course.

        • King Jeff

          You are wrong again. Brett has said all along that the Cubs should listen to offers, but not trade him unless it was for a huge haul and someone overpaid for him. He has said all along that he liked Garza and wouldn’t mind seeing him stay with the Cubs. He extolled the virtues of getting two or three top 10 prospects from deep systems, but he never said that he wanted to see Garza traded. You on the other hand have said over and over that Garza would not be traded, no matter what. You have said it as if you have a time machine and saw it in the future with zero doubt. Personally, we got tired of you saying the same thing over and over, now I’m tired of you again. Have fun congratulating yourself for being right, because no one here is going to.

          • Bric

            Personally I think Garza’s name is still being actively shopped. I don’t know why everyone is so big on Smyly. Go for the top picks and if they say no, they say no.

            Garza, Vitters, and Samardjia would probably bring back Jacob Turner and Castelanos. There’s no point in adding any more depth with borderline prospects. We have way too much of that already. If you’re gonna trade him, demand top talent in return. If you have to package players, so beit. This has been the Ray’s mantra for 5 years and the results (what they do with how much they pay) speak for themselves.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              I’d probably do that deal, though I’m still a big Samardzija fan.

            • Mick

              I can’t believe the Tigers haven’t pulled the trigger giving us Turner, Caselanos, Smyly, Oliver or some combination of the their top prospects. They’re clearly going for it and Garza’s experience against the AL East could help them get through the playoffs. In the end, I still like the Blue Jays’ or Royals prospects are better. We’ll see what they dangle at the trade deadline but in the end I predict Garza gets dealt. I’d like to get my hands on Henderson Alvarez, Jake Marisnick, and Daniel Norris from the Blue Jays.

            • King Jeff

              I don’t think that they are calling around trying to deal him, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they are still having conversations about him. I’m not real big on Smyly, and would rather see them give up more to get the top tier guys that they want. It almost seems that if they don’t get Jacob Turner(or his equivilant) and at least one more high level prospect, then any deal would be a huge disappointment.

          • MichiganGoat

            As I have said (WRITE IT DOWN!), its best to just leave him alone. He has only one purpose here- to argue and get people upset. Life is better when you ignore someone like him. Many people here have tried to help him be a better member of the community but he has instead decided to keep his ridiculous ways and continue to insult people in the most elementary manner possible.

            • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

              Here is the thing, I have tried ignoring, teaching, returning the troll. At this point, I might as well get to have some fun and/or direct some nicotine free anger in someone’s direction

              • MichiganGoat

                It will get you nowhere and alone clog the site with more useless conversation, nothing we say will change the behavior, but if no one acknowledges the comments or engage the entity it will eventually realize there is no place for his childish post. I refuse to engage in conversation with that anymore. Don’t think you’re making any difference, but if you find enjoyment in the conversation, have at it.

                • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

                  I agree, and maybe I wouldn’t get set off so easy but my tool of Zen has been taken away…

                  Remember when we only had 1 troll around here?

                  • TWC

                    Me?!?!

  • Ron Swanson

    Garza stopped on his way into Fitch this morning to sign my son’s cap. He chatted quickly with him then gave a thumbs up and posed when he saw me raise my phone to snap a picture. Class act!

    • BetterNews

      Yes he is. Good for your boy! Garza has big passion for the game without all the insanity that Zambrano brought.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Nice!

  • King Jeff

    Garza is fast becoming my favorite Cub, aside from Kerry Wood. I hope he pitches lights out this year and gets a nice fat contract extension for his efforts and anchors the Cubs rotation for the foreseeable future.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      He may need to get the contract extension before he pitches lights out if he is going to stay a Cub for the foreseeable future.  I don’t think there is a scenario in which the Cubs go into next winter with Garza under team control for only one year.  If an extension is not done by the trade deadline, he will almost certainly be dealt.

      • King Jeff

        I was more or less thinking that any extension would come during the year this year. I agree that he probably won’t be allowed to reach arbitration with the Cubs again, one way or another.

  • Leroy Kleimola

    I love February and March. Everybody has that winning attitude…I hope it lasts!!!

    • mac

      Right on! It’s the best time of the year. Unless, of course, the Cubs are playing into October then that is definitely the best time of the year.

  • CUB5

    While I personally like Garza, and he had one of his best seasons with us last year, I wouldn’t mind seeing him traded for good prospects. This team is going nowhere the next couple of years. While we still want to compete, we need to keep the overhaul mindset in place. I also wouldn’t mind jettisoning Samardzija – too many years and what ifs to not do anything. He should have picked football…

    • mac

      I’ve had this mindset and actually gone back and forth on this a few times. I think if garza was 32-33 I would feel this way, but at 28 I think he may still be a valuable, championship type piece in 3-4 years.

    • BetterNews

      Cub5-Couldn’t disagree more about Samardzja. Seems like what he did last year went unnoticed because of the Cubs bad season. He was exceptional to say the least. I could easily see him starting this year. Why would you want to send him packing?

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