There isn’t much to the update in terms of hard info on Matt Garza’s recovery from an ongoing elbow issue (“stress reaction”), save to mention that Garza has yet to starting throwing again, and is probably at least a week away from that.
But the tea leaves coming from the mouths of Dale Sveum and Theo Epstein about Garza’s prospects for returning this season don’t look good.
“To be honest with you, I’d be surprised if he pitches again this season,” Sveum said yesterday on WGN radio. “We all want him back but when the rehab is done and right now we have 48 or 49 games left and he works his butt off but’s going to be tough. Is it possible sometime this year? Sure, but I would be surprised if he pitches again this season.”
Sveum later amplified his remarks, softening slightly, but still largely pessimistic.
“It’s going to be very – I don’t want to say really unlikely he’ll be back – but it’ll probably take a lot of hard work and for some things to happen in the healing process to get back because you’re going to run out of time, basically to rehab,” Sveum said, according to Paul Sullivan. “It’ll be kind of tough, but some guys heal quicker than others.”
Sveum added, though, that the Cubs aren’t going to “risk” putting Garza out there again this year for just one or two starts. That’s more than fair.
President Theo Epstein essentially concurred with Sveum, when addressing the media about Garza.
“It’s hard to say,” Epstein said. “I’m not a doctor. Obviously the priority is to let [the elbow] heal. There’s no need to rush it back. Let it heal, and put him in a position to be 100 percent. He’s got a big year next year for the Cubs.”
If he’s to be on the Cubs next year, that is.
As we’ve discussed, Garza not pitching again this year is bad news for the Cubs, whether or not they intended to trade him this Winter. The issue is as simple as this: you always want to have options. Maybe the Cubs don’t want to trade Garza, and maybe they want to sign him to an extension. But without the ability to shop him, maybe they can’t get the best extension price from Garza, who might, himself, prefer to stay in Chicago … but only so much. Or maybe the Cubs do want to trade Garza, and without a few starts in September in which to show teams he’s fully healthy, the Cubs would have to accept 80 cents on the dollar in trade.
In other words, whether you hope the Cubs keep or shop Garza, him not pitching in September is bad news. And for you bright-siders out there who think, “but now the Cubs can get a better deal on extension,” I have a couple thoughts: (1) that assumes the best course of action for the organization is to extend Garza, rather than trade him (and I’m not convinced either way); and (2) the only reason the Cubs would get that “discount” is if there really is some risk that Garza isn’t going to be healthy long term (otherwise, why would Garza leave money on the table?). So, sure, the Cubs might get a good deal, but it’ll come on slightly riskier merchandise.
Is that really a bright side?