Matt Garza Explains His Explosion and Other Bullets

Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate it.

  • Matt Garza says he was only mad at himself yesterday when he was stomping around and screaming wildly in the dugout yesterday after giving up a two-run homer to Adam LaRoche. ”I was mad at myself,” Garza said. “I missed my spot to LaRoche and the ball just came back …. Other than that, I made one mistake, which is pretty good for the first time out.” Like I said in the Enhanced Box Score yesterday, Garza’s blowup didn’t really bother me because (1) it didn’t affect him, (2) it didn’t affect his teammates, (3) he was focused on himself, and (4) he was perfectly calm within seconds. This is not a Carlos Zambrano situation.
  • Garza was not mad, however, as his bullpen for doing what they did to him all of last season – namely, blow one of his quality starts. ”Those two guys, they’ve done it before,” Garza said. “They know that tomorrow is another day and they get another shot. I’m real confident that those guys will bounce back and get back on track.” I’m sorry, Matt – after you said, “those two guys, they’ve done it before,” I couldn’t keep reading…
  • I’m not jumping on Dale Sveum already, but I will admit I don’t understand why he got James Russell up in the seventh yesterday, and then sat him down for the 8th, while Kerry Wood came into the game. Had Russell stayed up, he could have faced lefty Adam LaRoche, which could have ended the 8th inning when it was still 4-3 Cubs. If you’ve only got one lefty in the pen, might as well use him in high leverage situations against lefty hitters, no?
  • And, before you ask, Sveum laughed when asked if it was time to change bullpen roles at the back of the pen. I tend to agree, though I’m not sure I could stomach another Wood-Marmol blow-up sandwich.
  • As for Marmol, it’s tough to figure out the issue. He was wild, sure, but he’s always wild. His fastball was cranked up to 95 mph at times yesterday, with decent movement, a huge theoretical improvement over last year. But Nats hitters seemed to be right on anything he threw in the zone (and he seemed to be afraid of throwing his slider in the zone). Tipping pitches? Not sure, but it could be. He does have a new grip on his fastball, and maybe the advance scouts figured out they could tell when he’s getting into that new grip. On the slider, it sounds like grip is also the problem: “My slider; I can’t grip my slider right now. I think it’s going to be fine …. I don’t know what it is. I can’t get my slider [going].”
  • Marmol and Wood were booed yesterday (which, although I’m not crazy about, I can certainly understand), and Marmol said “I accept that.” He added something he probably needs to tell himself to get by, but which is totally false: “They gave me the opportunity, and I got ahead 0-2. [Tracy] was lucky though. He hit a ground ball and there was nobody there.” It’s not like it was a 10-hop dribbler that bled through the infield. It was a solidly struck ground ball, pulled hard through the right side.
  • Wood did not want to be interviewed after the game. I guarantee he feels as bad as anyone else.
  • As noted yesterday in the Pre-Gamin’, the Cubs added Rodrigo Lopez and sent infielder Luis Valbuena down to AAA Iowa. Lopez is expected to be the long-man in the pen, so his absence thus far hasn’t hurt the Cubs, if you follow.
  • Starlin Castro, having reached base safely in his first two games this year, has now reached base safely in 42 straight games, dating back to August 15 of last year. His defense looks pretty good so far this year, too.

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

37 responses to “Matt Garza Explains His Explosion and Other Bullets”

  1. Leroy Kleimola

    I am one of Kerry Wood’s biggest supporters, but I must admit I am NOT excited about what I saw the last 2 games. I hope he can get it together. If not, there is a pitching coach job available somewhere…

    1. Ron Swanson

      I too am a huge Kerry Wood fan and so badly want to say it’s just two games. I’m having a nagging feeling though that it’s going to be a rough year for him. Unfortunately the same goes for Marmol. This isn’t new for him. Finding closers that are consistant over a career are simply not very common.

      1. Ivy Walls

        “the only thing that a team learns from losing is learning how to lose”

  2. Oswego chris

    How has Woods velocity been…haven’t seen a pitch yet

  3. Mike Foster

    Just one more incident for Garza till the Chicago press cranks up its full blown Hispanic hot head story machine. Just watch…..it’ll happen.

    BTW, I really like Garza, I have no problem with a player showing a temper, as long as it’s not at another player……unless that player deserves it.

  4. Jay Anderson Jr

    I don’t have a problem with what Garza did. I like it. I like when any player blows up about his play on the field. I liked when Z did it. I like that Garza did it. I’d like to see it more. It shows heart. It shows you care. Give me a player that will destroy a gatorade cooler over one that will just be like “oh well” any day of the week.

    1. Andrew

      I largely agree that getting emotional isnt a big deal, but for me the things that made it a problem for Z was 1. he did it to respected players about their play. 2. he did it on the mound which usually hurt his pitching. Getting emotional in the dugout is one thing, but you have to keep a levelhead when youre on the mound or else things can get out of control.

    2. MichiganGoat

      I tend to agree but the same thing was once said about Zambrano (myself included), as long as he doesn’t take it out on teammates or attack innocent inanimate objects I’m not overly concerned- but there is a fine line between competative passion and insanity.

    3. Pat

      What it shows, is an inability to control your emotions. This is usually not a good thing. Stomping around and screaming does not show you care, it shows a lack of emotional maturity. I certainly glad he saved it for the dugout rather than the field, but let’s not try to spin this into a good thing.

      1. MichiganGoat

        This is my fear with Garza (again remember that people once applauded Zambrano’s “passion”). With a person that displays that amount of outward emotion the question becomes when does he snap and cross the line. I’m not worried as of right now but I’m also not happy that he displays this behavior. If he wins and dominates then the public will glorify it as “passion” “excitement” “competitive nature” but if loses and is not dominating it goes the other way.

  5. R.I.P. SANTO

    I miss Sean Marshall!!!

  6. Kyl-el

    There’s definitely some truth in what Marmol said. Especially with relief pitchers, but also for other pitchers and all hitters, we tend to very much judge them on the results. If that ground ball is five feet to the left, Chad Tracy isn’t a hero. That’s just the name of the game. Solid line drives turn into outs sometimes, and ground balls can be crushing double plays or super-clutch hits, just depending on a little luck.

    But Marmol’s outing was still BB, BIP, BIP, BB, which is awful even in peripherals world.

  7. Daniel

    This may be speaking completely stupid. But do you think that maybe theo/Jed have thought about converting some of that rotation talent (I.e. wells) to bullpen talent? Think he could be a closer? Setup guy? I don’t know.

    1. Kyl-el

      If they cared about the bullpen, they wouldn’t have dismantled it to begin with. I think it’s pretty clear that this bullpen is bad by design, as part of their “tank the season” campaign.

      But it’s not as bad as it’s seemed through two days. Eventually, Wood will probably settle down and Dolis and Russell will start to get more time. Though Marmol I don’t have much hope for at this point.

      1. MichiganGoat

        Thats overly pessimistic and conspiracy theory explanation. Yes Theo/Jed traded our best bullpen arm, yes they converted of second best bullpen arm to a starter, yes they did not sign a big name bullpen FA- but that is all part of a multi-year plan instead of trying to piecemeal a team that might win some games but won’t win a WS. Moving Marshall was a good move for the future of the Cubs, seeing if Samardzja can be a successful pitcher is a good move for the future, not paying a FA for past performance and expect them to perform for the future is a good move.

        The Cubs were not good regardless of what they did this offseason, sure we could have been better but there are holes everywhere on this team. Theo & Co. knew this and have worked on a plan that gets us younger, maximizes trade value and retur, and sets us up for long term continued success. The plan is not to “tank the season” but be surgical and patient in how we become regular winners. Its going to be a long season of losses but if we look at the positives and watch the plan develop it will be a fun season. Everyone just sit back and relax- there is a chess game going and it’s fun to watch and follow. If this season is all about W-L it will be frustrating, but if you watch for development and growth it’s quite exciting.

  8. Kyl-el

    I’m ready to be the guy who is concerned about his bullpen management. Marmol has to be the closer for now, fine. But he didn’t need to give Wood the Designated 8th Inning Guy job just because of his veteranness.

    And he certainly didn’t need to go to Wood back to back games when there were clearly better options in the pen, including giving Dolis another inning after he only threw 8 pitches in the 7th.

    Sveum seems to be in the maddening “Give guys’ clearly defined roles based on service time, then refuse to deviate from them” school of bullpen management. If we had enough good bullpen pitchers it wouldn’t matter as much, but since we don’t, it’s being magnified.

  9. Ash

    I felt the same way about leaving Russell in the pen on Thursday against LaRoche too. You’ve got him out there, and Wood can’t find the zone to save his life… why are you not getting Russell ready? That’s what LOOGY is for..

    1. Mrp

      It may have to do with the fact that we only have one lefty in the pen so Sveum really has to know when to use that bullet. I would agree with you though, the time to use it was against LaDouche

  10. Stuart Williams

    I still don’t understand the support of Wood/Marmol. Is it to save face for the new regime?

    Neither is the future. If we must keep Wood, have him find his “stuff” in a non-game situation, eg. blowout win, 6th inning with a tight leash, etc.

    Marmol is not consistent enough to be a closer. If he can’t pitch to his spots, the other team is going to lay off pitches until he has to lay one in the zone and they will crush it.

    I have never been a believer in designated relief roles. You find pitchers that are hot coming out of the bullpen and you ride them.

  11. LouCub

    Woody’s support comes from owner Tom Ricketts..I’d wager that Theo and Jed like him but at this point in the rebuilding process they wouldn’t have resigned him if he was not a Ricketts favorite…Marmol became untradeable after Quade trotted him out there last season and probably ruined him for good…Texas wanted him at the deadline last summer for IF/OF Chris Davis, and pitchers Robbie Ervin and John Weiland but the Cubs were not allowed to deal any pieces after firing Jim Hendry so Texas sent those 2 arms to San Diego (to Hoyer and MacLeod coincidentally) for Mike Adams..Boy i’d love to be able to go back in time and fix that one if I could..This guy is a shell of his former self and needs a change of scenery BADLY!!

  12. Aaron

    Wood and Marmol can be effective. Cubs fans are so quick to turn vile on guys with just a couple of bad outings. Sure, it’s incredibly disappointing to blow two straight wins in the 8th, but it might take a little time to settle in this season. Lots of changes in the offseason, and we’re obviously rebuilding. I do wonder what Theo/Jed are thinking when they watch this stuff happen, though. The bullpen sure does need a lot of work, though (and some more runs would be nice as well).

    Give it time, it’s only April.

  13. Mrp

    I honestly just think guys just need to get their breaking pitches working, it will take pressure of them having to be so fine with their fastballs. Marmol said he was having problems with it and from the looks of it Wood is only throwing four-seem and cut fastballs. You just can’t get away with that unless your name is Mariano Rivera.

  14. Jim

    Don’t say “its only April”. U can’t win it all in April but u can sure as hell lose it all. Ure telling me that 2 straight blown WINS is a no big deal thing to u? By giving an “Oh well, its just a rebuilding year” kind of attitude annoys the crap out of any fan who gives a damn. It’s baseball. U never know what could happen. This team COULD go to the postseason. Now I know its rather unlikely but the same was said about the Dbacks last year. Giving an “Oh well” kind of effort when we could be 2-0 rather than 0-2 is the same kind of lackadaisical attitude that has kept us World Series free for 104 years.

    1. Spencer

      Red Sox had a shitty April last year and they missed the playoffs by a game. I don’t expect the Cubs to make the playoffs but every game DOES matter. Teams are going to blow leads no matter what, but I think what’s pissing people off most is that its the first games of the year and its been on back to back days. Hard to watch.

    2. bricky9

      I get the impression you think we s fans have something to do with 103 years of futility. It doesn’t matter if we are lackadaisical or not,we having nothing to do with winning and losing. Do you think the Cubs organization has been sitting around for 103 years thinking “oh well”? Do you think? “Maybe if we fans complained more then surely they would have won by now.” I wonder how many Cub fans are baseball fans. As a fan,when your team loses,you have to find pleasure in the intrinsic minutia of the game. Does anyone love a no hitter,or a 1 hit shut out?

      1. MichiganGoat

        “intrinsic minutia” love it, the reason I love baseball is that there is so much to enjoy and see outside of the W-L record. Watching a live game and seeing the shifts of defense, the movement of infielder on each pitch is glorious to watch (especially if you have an Old Style in hand). Not getting in to D-day panic mode because this team has blown two saves does not mean I (or the other fans like me) are not serious fans that want to see this team in October finish with a win. I’m just not going crazy because we loss two games, I’m actually excited because outside of the performance of Wood/Marmol this team looks good and is developing. I’m looking toward the future and not going all sports talk crazy because this team loss to games. We will lose more, we will blow leads, we will go on a long losing streak, but the foundation for greatness is being built- I like that.

  15. bricky9

    People,people,people,please remain calm. There’s still 160 games left to play. I think some of the more volatile BN’ers need to follow the LSD method of Cubs fandom(no I don’t mean drop a hit of acid to alter your state of consciousness) LSD stands for “long,slow,distance.” Theo Epstein’s arrival signifies hope like we have not seen since the “College of Coaches” (that’s a joke). Relax,alot can happen throughout the course of a season. Or 2 season’s. Or 3 seasons. I promise you,someday the Cubs will win the world series. Freaking out after the 1st 2 games is equivalent to putting a basement in for a new house,and freaking out because rains gets in. It’s a new season of hope,a new foundation and we have been told to be patient. SO QUIT WHINING!!!. Good things are coming. (BTW Brett,thanks for the Cat’s you know what,I needed my fix. Rich P.)

  16. Andrew

    I can’t blame Sveum for sending Wood and Marmol out there. If he changed his plan after one bad outing he’d look fickle and players wouldn’t be on his side. I say give Dolis the closing job today with Russell the setup man so marmol and wood can get their heads on right. Hopefully its not an issue because cubs will win 11-3 and rodrigo lopez will mop up the last three innings.

    1. Spencer

      If Marmol or Wood pitch today I’m going to lose my mind. They need a day off to clear their heads. Plus, pitching back to back to back days to start a season seems like a Dusty Baker move.

      1. Andrew

        I think pitching back to back is bad when one of those is really stressful and long, but Dolis pitching again after 8 relatively stress-free pitches seems pretty safe to me.

  17. JR

    I agree with Kyle-Kyl-el, it’s a little disconcerting that Sveum went back to Wood in the 8th. He could have sent Russell out there and later said it was because he didn’t want to pitch Wood in back to back games due to his light spring. There: everyone saves face and if Russell shuts things down Sveum can make a mental note that he may have a second 8th inning option.

    As to Marmol, he seemed to do his best historically after he walked a couple people, threw a couple wild pitches — and then Rothschild went out to the mound and gave him a stern talking-to. I don’t know anything about Bosio, and I’m sure he’s perfectly wonderful as a coach/teacher (or at least I’m willing to assume he is for now), but Sveum might have made that part of his job easier – the part he knows less about – if he brought on a pitching coach with major league experience. Same with Quade last year. Same with rookie NFL head coaches who bring in rookie coordinators. But I digress.

    Which brings me back around to Sveum, who let’s remember is a rookie himself. Regardless of how he presents, he must be scared as hell out there — packed stadium, fans booing — and I wouldn’t be surprised if he just forgot about bringing in Russell to face LaRoche. And he may be too scared to stray from his plan or too stubborn. But I hope not. I hope he has the confidence to be flexible actively manage — not reactively, of course, and he’s right at a general level that you don’t give up on anyone or panic after two games. But it’s also foolish not to address what you’ve seen. One of the great things about Lou was how he’d yell at reporters that what they were suggesting was stupid and he wasn’t going to do it (in so many words) and then go out there and do what they were suggesting.

    1. MichiganGoat

      As much as it looks a bad idea today, throwing Wood and Marmol back in there yesterday was a good idea. You want to send out your 8/9 guys after a bad outing to see if they can bounce back- unfortunetly they didn’t and now the tough questions start to get asked. I doubt they will be out there today but if we have a lead on Monday I’d expect for Sveum to go back to them. If they crap their pants for the third time then some questions and decisions will be made. You wouldn’t bench your starting players because they go 0-8 with 5K after two games. Yes I am concerned but not ready to make drastic moves after two games.

      1. bricky9

        I like the way you think

  18. Joy

    Did Marmol and Wood blow it, yes however, I believe as I was watching the game there were several Cubs left on the bases. This was a major problem last year as well. Can’t win if you can’t get them in.

  19. NoSup4u

    Man 2 games in and i already miss sean marshall