Matt Garza is Putting the Cubs in a Tough Spot and Other Bullets

Happy Memorial Day to all, and I hope you are able to meet the day not only with friends and family (and a day off work), but also with thoughts about the importance of this day, whatever it might mean to you. We’ll have light posting today, as I’ll be doing various family things (if news breaks, obviously, that’ll find it’s way here, too). You can expect, at a minimum, the Series Preview, Pre-Gamin’ and EBS to arrive as usual.

  • Dale Sveum doesn’t sound too happy about the way Matt Garza was beat yesterday by the Pirates. “He was getting beat by pitches he shouldn’t be throwing people, really,” Sveum said. “He was getting beat by is fourth best pitch and he had a great fastball today. I don’t know why he wanted to use those pitches but it came back to haunt him, that’s for sure …. I’ll have to talk to him again. He got into a situation against a couple of guys where velocity gets them. He decided to throw changeups. It’s not exactly protocol or what the game plan was. It’s unfortunate. They hit them out of the ballpark. A lot of times they will roll over on them too but that’s the way things are going.”
  • Garza wasn’t too pleased, himself. “The last couple have been frustrating but you have to keep going and keep grinding,” Garza told reporters in Pittsburgh. “I’m going to keep going at it. There is nothing else I can do. Just keep going every day going hard and grinding it out. It’s going to turn. It’s gotta turn.” Garza’s performances could put the Cubs in a tough spot as they theoretically try to negotiate an extension with their ace. If he continues to pitch poorly, not only might the Cubs lose trade value, but they also might be reluctant to pony up to keep him. Worst case scenario? Garza is unwilling to accept the Cubs’ terms, his value goes down in trade, and the Cubs are faced with the decision of getting very little for him this Winter, or letting him pitch out his final year of arbitration before he departs for free agency. It’s still a bit early to be worried about that, but let’s hope he turns things around soon.
  • In the kind of move that leads to more jokes than thoughtful discussion, Dale Sveum confirmed yesterday that Rafael Dolis was no longer the team’s closer. “It’s a combination of youth and being put in a situation he probably shouldn’t be put in, for obvious reasons,” Sveum said of Dolis. “It’s funny because he started out doing a nice job. Now it’s a combination of making sure you repeat the mechanics that he has in the bullpen. He’s throwing great bullpens and he gets on the mound and wants to recoil and fall off and do these things. It’s a matter of being able to get on the mound, no matter what inning it is or how many outs, and repeat your delivery and throw back to back quality pitches.” James Russell is probably the “closer” now, but I doubt much is set in stone.
  • Speaking of which, Carlos Marmol threw another inning at Iowa yesterday, walking a guy and throwing two wild pitches, but striking out the side. That sounds like Marmol.
  • I got into a discussion on Twitter yesterday with BP’s Kevin Goldstein about Dillon Maples – you’ll remember him as the kid the Cubs gave $2.5 million after selecting him in the 14th round of the 2011 Draft – and how he hasn’t pitched yet this year. Goldstein indicated that Maples was still in extended Spring Training, which we knew, but I asked if he knew whether Maples was on a throwing program of some sort (because he hasn’t been appearing in games). Because he’s awesome, Goldstein dug in, and found out that, indeed, Maples is on a throwing program while he rehabs from elbow soreness, but is expected to be ready to go when short-season baseball gets underway in mid-June. That’s great news. And if you aren’t following Goldstein on Twitter, you should be.

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

47 responses to “Matt Garza is Putting the Cubs in a Tough Spot and Other Bullets”

  1. Cubs1967

    elbow soreness for maples coming out of HS? another overused kid headed for TJ? or just a teenager stretching out his arm with the side effects……..was Goldstein more specific like an MRI had been done?

  2. North Side Irish

    Recommending that Cubs fans follow Goldstein should probably come with a warning. He is not nearly as high on many of the Cubs top prospects as we may like, especially Lake, Szczur, and Jackson. He is very knowledgable and really interactive with his followers, but he’s also a lot more realistic than we are when it comes to Cubs minor leaguers. Plus, Cubs fans have kind of been driving him nuts this season.

    Just think people should be prepared…KG has tons of good info, but it’s not always as positive as you’d like when it comes to the Cubs system.

  3. EB

    I propose Jenn Sterger for series she view. She is a Cubs fan. No, this is not Brett Favre in disguise

  4. Cubz99

    I hate to think this way, but elbow soreness is much better than shoulder soreness.

  5. lou brock lives

    I mentioned last year to all my Cub friends who were elated with Garza that he is not a NL pitcher. He cannot field his position & cannot hit to help himself & the team. He belongs in the AL where he is not required to hit & hardly anyone ever bunts.
    Once again it appears the Cubs may have waited too long to move a valuable asset while his team falls apart around him.
    Also, for those of you big on OBP & taking a lot of pitches check out the Rangers league leading HR & RBI man Hamilton who is hitting almost .500 when swinging at the 1st pitch.
    In many cases it is the best pitch you will see in an AB if the pitcher has been taught – as they all are – to get ahead of the hitter .

  6. Randy

    So has anyone noticed how bad our pitching has been since Soto went out? He might have been struggling with the bat, but to me is seems like he calls a great game.

  7. PKJ

    Goldstein is one of my favorite follows on Twitter.

  8. DCF

    I feel that Garza bad outings are actually good for the Cubs regarding extension talks. His trade value might go down temporarily, but the price of an extension does as well.
    If the Cubs get rattled by a couple of bad outings and start to second guess their wish for an extension they’re idiots. Sample size yaddayadda you know the story.

  9. nkniacc

    plus it hurts the cubs in trade talks because teams can look at that and say he’s a 3rd starter

  10. Chris

    The problem I see is graza wants to be paid like an ace but is he really to. He is arguably the cubs ace. But on true playoff teams I don’t see him being more than a number 2 or 3 guy.

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      “But on true playoff teams I don’t see him being more than a number 2 or 3 guy.”

      Tell that to the ’08 Sox…..

  11. AD

    The Red Sox traded Hanley Ramirez and got a package of players in return who helped them win the World Series. While the Cubs aren’t nearly as complete of a team as that Red Sox team, should they consider trading Castro. What’s the best package of prospects they could get in return?

    1. nkniacc

      The difference is that Boston had someone to play that position the Cubs don’t.

    2. DocPeterWimsey

      What if I told you that the Cubs could get a 23 year old AAA SS who looks like a good bet to hit 0.300 in MLB?  Seriously, make Castro a AAA player in another system with a veteran blocking the way.  Wouldn’t we be salivating at the thought of getting him in exchange for Garza?

    3. Randy

      What you are missing is that the Red Sox did not trade Hanley Ramirez for players. They traded him to get Josh Beckett from the Marlins and he was part of the return.

      1. AD

        Regardless, what package of players could the Cubs expect to get in return for Castro?

  12. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

    The problem is he is no better than a Zambrano. We looked at Zambrano as an ace for years. He never materialized as that. That is what Garza is. He is at best a number 2 and probably a number 3 on a playoff team. We should move him. His trade value is better than what it would cost to keep him. That is unless we can get someone like CH in free agency.

  13. AD

    Junior Lake could play short if Castro is traded in the offseason. Until Castro starts hitting for more power, I see him as Palacido Polanco without the great defense.

    1. North Side Irish

      If they traded Castro, I think you’d see Barney slide to short…it’s his natural position. Lake is still a couple years off and isn’t mentally ready for the majors. Considering how badly Cubs fans want to replace Barney at 2B, I can only imagine the outcry if he was replacing a traded Castro…

  14. nkniacc

    Id rather trade lake than Castro even thou you will get more for castro

  15. fromthemitten

    Koyie Hill caught Garza’s last two outings.

    Just sayin’

  16. AD

    Imagine Castro to the Diamondbacks for Archie Bradley, Tyler Skaggs, and Bobby Borchering. Now those would be building blocks to go along with Samardzija, Rizzo, and Brett Jackson.

    1. nkniacc

      would you then trade Garza?

      1. AD

        I don’t see the Cubs contending until at least 2014 so I see no need to pay Garza. Therefore, I would trade Garza. He should be able to net another solid pitching prospect and a good bat.

  17. Nathan

    Castro is a sure thing. All the prospects you guys would like to get will most likely never even be close to what castro can do on the diamond. You can make a case for trading garza but not your 22 year stud shortstop who age wise is still a prospect. They are rebuilding, so why not that around a 22 year old who already has 400+ hits in the majors and led the NL in hits last year.

  18. Cubs Dude

    Koyie Hill has got to go. I can’t understand why the F.O has allowed this to go on for so long. I don’t even care that he can’t hit at this point… Our pitchers have been terrible since he started playing. He sucks so bad behind the plate. There has to be a Molina brother somewhere sitting on a couch..

    1. nkniacc

      maybe he wil when Clevenger come back but more likely when Castillo or Soto get back

    2. DocPeterWimsey

      “I can’t understand why the F.O has allowed this to go on for so long.”

      It’s called 3 catchers on the DL.  There is not team in MLB that would not be resorting to a Koylie Hill if they had lost 3 catchers to injuries.  Any remaining Molina’s are basically like Hill: guys with reputations for calling good games and watching good pitches go past their bats.

      1. Cubs Dude

        I know all about the 3 catchers on the D.L. Trust me… Yes that sucks. But I can’t be convinced Hill is the best option out there.

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          That’s the wrong way to look at it.  Instead, convince me that there is a better option.  If you can say, “hey the Cubs could have signed Joe Smith, who is both a free agent and better than Hill,” then you have an argument.  But I think that we would all be aware of such an individual.

          1. Cubs Dude

            OK, your right it was a genius move by the front office bringing Hill back.. My bad.

            1. DocPeterWimsey

              When did I ever say that it was a genius move?  I was merely pointing out that your entire “argument” was based on a false assumption that you could not even be bothered to verify.

              Eating stale bread is never a “genius move.”  If your pantry has burned to the ground and it’s stale bread or starvation, then you eat stale bread.

              1. Cubs Dude

                I don’t have the time nor do I want to see what catchers are available in free agency or via trade. That is why I come on here for all that great info. I just find it very frustrating that the Koyie Hill experiment started again, regardless of the reasons why.

                1. DocPeterWimsey

                  Yes, it does suck that Hill is starting.  However, “why” is of critical importance if you are assigning blame.  The “blame” here is, plain and simple, really bad luck.  Most organizations would be trotting out a Hill after losing 2 catchers, never mind 3.  After you lose 3 catchers, you are at the urine-drinking phase of the shipwreck.

                  What this is most like is the Cubs pitching situation in 1985.  All five starters (Sutcliffe, Trout, Eck, Sanderson & Ruthven) were on the DL at once, some for pitching induced injuries, but others for fluke things (Sut tore a hamstring running bases; Trout wiped out teaching his son to ride a bike; Ruthven took a liner off of his toe.)  Dallas Green wound up signing a very washed up Larry Gura as well as bringing up some career minor leaguers who were not even AAAA good.  Fans were upset: couldn’t the Cubs get better replacement pitchers than that?  And, of course, the answer was: no, all of the better pitchers were working elsewhere and at that point the asking price for trades was pretty much through the roof.

                  (There was talent in the Cubs farm system, but it was still in the low levels.)

                  1. Cubs Dude

                    I definitely have felt like I have been drinking urine the last several weeks while watching the Cubs!

      2. Cubs Dude

        “Any remaining Molina’s are basically like Hill: guys with reputations for calling good games and watching good pitches go past their bats.”
        Are you saying Hill is good behind the plate? I could care less that he can’t hit, but it’s his defence and game calling that is really screwing the team.

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          The only reason Koyie Hill is still in the game is because of his skills as a catcher.  Now, “game calling” is largely mythical: it’s been shown that staff and individual ERAs and even FIPs fluctuate randomly from year-to-year for catchers.  Most calls are based on computer charts showing the “hot” and “cold” zones for individual batters, anyway: when pitchers get hit hard, then it is because they missed their spots, not because the catcher asked them to throw the ball there.

          As for Hill’s poor defense in the last few games, well, that might be the case: but it is an aberration from the norm.

  19. djriz

    Garza has a 5 year track record, so I doubt 2 bad starts is going to effect trade value at all. So let’s get off the ledge.
    But if you want to stay on the ledge, realize this team wont be competitive until 2014, at the earliest. Ouch!

    1. Cubs Dude

      I really think that it’s at least partially Hill’s fault. But yeah your right Garza will be alright with a normal mlb caliber catcher.

      1. Jimmy james

        Hitting wise we can get that back but its not like the guys we had are better receivers than koyie. You may not like him but he is better behind the plate than welly and probably geo and Clevenger as well……dude just can’t hit

  20. crazyhorse

    When your favorite team loses 12 games in a row and develop reasons to remain in last place who is at fault? Today the Cubs will breakout of its slump ,only if Travis Wood can keep the ball in ballpark. final prediction Cubs 5- Padres 3

  21. Don

    Castro should be untouchable in a trade. Why would you trade your best hitter on the team who is only 22 years old who is only going to get better? His power numbers will rise as he gains more experience. He hit another jack today. Build your team around players like Castro, Rizzo, Jackson, Baez, Lake, Garza and Smaj.