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?

  • Leo L

    well there is also matt garza viewpoint in all of this. he might start conidering his own risk of not getting an extension. he might want some security long term and panic al ittle that the cubs dont wnat to sign him long term and with the recent memory of an injury he might push for an extesnion and give the upper hand to the cubs.

    • Drew7

      See Above:

      “So, sure, the Cubs might get a good deal, but it’ll come on slightly riskier merchandise.

      Is that really a bright side?”

  • Daniel Guerra

    I think the Cubs are willing to trade Garza if a team is willing to trade the motherload. So with that in mind, I don’t think Garza gets traded till next year at the very least. This injury has hurt his value. I don’t think 3 starts at the end of the season will be enough for the Cubs to trade him for the motherload. I do like Matt Garza alot and he’s only 28. So I’d be happy if the Cubs do sign him to an extension but I’ll also be happy if the Cubs trade him for the motherload. I just hope the Cubs don’t just let him walk at free agency next year.

    • Edwin

      I don’t think too many teams would ever be willing to trade the “motherload” for Garza, even without his injury. He’s only had 1 great season, the rest have been just ok. Even with the adjustments he’s made since coming to the Cubs he’s probably more of a 2.5-3.5 WAR pitcher than a 4-5 WAR pitcher. He turns 29 this November and will make around 12-15 million next season. If a team wants to sign him long term, they’ll be locking up his age 30 and after seasons.

      If the Cubs eat all of his salary and trade him before 2013, I think they could get back a top 25 pitching prospect or a 51-75 ranked hitting prospect. Otherwise I think the Cubs will keep Garza, give him a qualifying offer, and go for the draft pick. Unless they get a great deal on an extention, I don’t think Garza makes much sense long term.

  • Leroy

    Somehow, I just don’t see Garza going anywhere—at least not this offseason. I would even venture to wager he will be our #1 next season. WIth Shark right behind.

  • Curt

    maybe someone can tell me if I’m off base but is it my imagination or is the era of the cream puff ball player, a hangnail Dl for 2 weeks , etc. or did this start when guaranteed contracts came about, bc it seems when it’s a contract year happens they play through everything, I know that there are injuries that require Dl time, just seems like its abused, stepping off soapbox now . I mean garza goes from never being hurt to a cramp to a stress reaction to not pitching again this year, just wondering if it’s always been this way or today’s players.

  • MichiganGoat

    I’m so depressed

    • Steve

      You saying you’re depressed makes me depressed.

  • J R

    On 670 the score this morning they were talking about how Garza fell off a bike when he was a little kid and had to get a screw put in his right elbow. Apparently, the screw is still there and there is a thought that it may be related to his bone issues in his elbow the last 2 years. Not sure if that part of Garza’s injury has been discussed on here? I don’t really have any idea of what this means, other than Garza’a trade value is probably half of what it was several months ago at best.

    • Brett

      That’s the first I’m hearing of it, and, from what I understand about stress reactions, that’s highly relevant.

      • J R

        Yeah, it was guest they had on the show talking about it. Maybe Gordon Wittenmyer? I can’t remember.. I guess last year his injury was similiar, and what he has is very weird.