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gods-wrathMatt Garza’s first rehab start was bumped by the rain – we were told – and now his second rehab start has been bumped by his arm.

Garza, who is recovering from a Spring lat strain, as well as a stress reaction in his elbow suffered last July, was scheduled to start today for the AA Tennessee Smokies, but that start has been scratched. The righty is suffering from generalized arm soreness, according to GM Jed Hoyer.

“We’re certainly hopeful it’s a dead arm [thing],” Hoyer said, per Cubs.com, noting the issue is common early in the year. “It’s a muscle and forearm and biceps, kind of a dead arm period thing. We’re hopeful he takes a couple days, throws a bullpen and gets back out there.”

“Dead arm” is a phenomenon encountered by most pitchers at one point or another where their arm simply feels like it is worn down. On its own and in terms of health, “dead arm” is not particularly serious. But, thanks to the associated weakness, it can destroy a pitcher’s effectiveness for a period of time (usually brief).

By describing Garza’s setback as a mere “dead arm” thing, Hoyer was obviously putting the most positive spin on the issue as possible. Indeed, he sounded as positive as one can about something like this.

“It’s all muscular, nothing structural,” Hoyer said. “We’ll give him a couple days, throw a bullpen and get him right back on schedule.”

With a valuable trade asset hanging in the balance, I suppose you wouldn’t expect Hoyer to say anything different, even if he thought there was only a 25% chance things work out that well and that quickly. That he said the Cubs are “hopeful” it’s just dead arm makes me nervous.

A general point on “dead arm”: Hoyer isn’t lying when he says that a number of pitchers deal with it early in the year. Dead arm is relatively common – in the universe of arm troubles, anyway – among pitchers who are getting their arm back into shape. That part is not just spin.

That said, we aren’t talking about just any pitcher here. We’re talking about a guy who suffered what was thought to be a minor elbow injury last July, which, either in reality or in the narrative, got worse and worse over the ensuing weeks. He then strained his lat in his first session throwing to batters since that July injury. He suffered a setback thereafter, and his two week injury became a two month injury.

In that context, a scratched start due to “dead arm” is 100% more concerning than it would be for virtually any other pitcher. I’m not sounding the panic alarm or anything, but unfortunately we’ve been given very little reason to be optimistic over the past year. Yes, dead arm happens, and guys can come back from it within a very short period of time. Indeed, many pitchers deal with it during the season and you never hear about it, because they pitch through it.

But, when it comes to Garza, and the very short time line the Cubs have for maximizing his value, any kind of setback is unnerving. Having to “hope” that it’s just “dead arm” is frustrating.

At best, presuming Garza does throw a bullpen in a few days, and needs only that one bullpen before resuming his rehab stint, it seems that we’ll still see his return pushed from mid-May to late-May.

  • mysterious4th

    Brett,

    Do you think these injuries gives the FO a better shot at an extension vs him leaving in FA?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Maybe. But if he’s broken, does it matter?

    • http://401klogic.net Westbound Willie

      He’s not being traded anywhere. He’s been hurt for almost a year. Nobody wants him now.

  • Die hard

    It’s dead between the ears …. Garza has always been a head case… Now deal with Rangers jeopardized– wonder if Cubs have to give Borbon back who only had a shot at sticking– a shot with a chaser is still better than none at all if not Lite beer which is squirrel piss

    • http://flawedcast.net/wtny/ Nate Corbitt

      Why would they have to give Borbon back? He was released and could sign with anyone.

      • Die hard

        Look beyond the trees- there’s a forest and a squirrel for every one… Rangers gave Cubs a shot of Borbon in hopes Garza was the chaser

        • hansman1982

          You’re not as dumb as I thought you were.

          • MichiganGoat

            Just a chapter from the Die hard Management Course 101 – Making Magical Trades

        • Jp3

          Or because the Rangers had 25 players better in their organization for Texas…

        • @cubsfantroy

          I don’t even… Wow. I just…

          I think my head exploded.

        • BT

          This is why Jed Hoyer can’t read this forum with a full bladder.

        • DarthHater

          [img]http://weknowmemes.com/generator/uploads/generated/g1366814771753792694.jpg[/img]

    • gocatsgo2003

      You do realize that the Cubs have absolutely no obligation to give Borbon back for any reason whatsoever (aside from the slim possibility of putting him through waivers and the Rangers re-claiming him)?

      Reality bites, but we would welcome you back.

      • Cedlandrum

        Don’t feed him

      • Reality

        “Reality bites, but we would welcome you back.”

        Nah, he’s dead to me.

  • Cubs Fan in TN

    He might have been scratched because of the weather anyway. Suppose to rain during game time….

  • On the Farm

    ERAs which rank #3 in MLB
    Shark – 3.38
    Jackson – 4.84
    Wood – 2.08
    Feldmen – 4.50
    Villanueva – 1.53

    The fortunate thing is that one of our signings has really been dealing (Villanueva #9 in MLB), Wood (#24 in MLB) is looking really good just had some bad luck behind him. I guess the good news is that our starting pitching has been really good, and hopefully they can keep it up until Garza can come back, but it will be interesting to see who they take out of the rotation. From what I remember seeing Villanueva, who has always been a bit of a swing man, would be able to go to the pen. I realize it is still a small sample size, but so far he is looking good, I saw Sahadev Sharma compare him to Paul Maholm last night and I think that was a good comparison.

  • AA Correspondent

    Garza being scratched today is disappointing…….but i am a little relieved. They are expecting rain here in East TN today. no sense risking injury.

    Jason McLeod was at the game last night, and most likely was planning to be in town for today’s Garza outing. What he did get to see was Trey McNutt completely melt down in the 9th inning to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Uggh. I believe the experiment is over with McNutt as the closer. Manager’s comments (post game) suggested that he is looking for SOMEBODY down there to take the reins and close these games out. The Smokies last 3 losses have been due to bullpen failures (lost lead late).

    Lost in the box score was the incredible pitching performances by Kyle Hendricks and Zac Rosscup. VERY IMPRESSIVE performance from both of those gents last night. Rosscup looks like a man on a mission as a lefty out of the bullpen. Hendricks was a strikeout machine as well.

    Brandon

    • On the Farm

      So our AA affiliate is trying to be like it’s parent club, that’s cute.

      Also, its better to teach these kids while they are in AA that there is a strong possibility that our bullpen will be the driving factor behind a number of our losses. No sense in them coming up in a winning environment to arrive at a losing one.

    • koyiehillsucks2

      I thought Frank Batista is at AA? and if I remember correctly he has 2 or 3 saves and a pretty good era. He was good at daytona last year.

      • Cedlandrum

        Batista is short on stuff from what I have seen and read. I saw him pitch just once last year in Iowa so very small sample size and I didn’t have a great view…. 3rd base side, so I couldn’t see the tilt on his pitches, but he seemed like he was a guy who knew how to pitch, but didn’t have the stuff to translate to the bigs.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Actually, he was decent in Iowa and fantastic in Tennessee last year. But he was good in Daytona the year before that.

        • koyiehillsucks2

          Luke, and is he projected to have sone shot at the ml level? he has been good as a closer so far in his career…

  • JR

    I never had a good feeling about the whole “stress reaction” in Garza’s elbow thing. It always seemed more serious than they let on, and info on it was so vague… Everytime I think about this whole situation I just get a massive headache.

    • Dustin S

      Agree wholeheartedly. After years of Prior and Wood “minor setbacks” for issues that were in reality far more serious, I can’t help but be a little leery. Garza’s problems have been especially vague from the start. I’d feel a lot better if it was injury x that he had surgery y for and was just recovering from that. He had the weird elbow soreness last year that supposedly just needed rest, then tightness in spring training and now dead arm as soon as he starts any throwing this year. So just simply to rest more, coming after 7 months of rest after being shutdown mid-season last year, doesn’t seem like a practical long-term solution for a starting pitcher that needs to hold up for 150-200 innings a year. I don’t think anything has changed to expect that whatever elbow soreness he had last year won’t return. In fact if I were to predict I’d say he’ll finally come back when it’s close to the time where he needs to start pitching to have any value before the trade deadline, he’ll throw a handful of games, the problem will return or he’ll have a new injury pushing himself, be shutdown for real surgery this time, and another God’s Wrath update will ensue.

      • On the Farm

        My theory is the same, he will get shut down again around the deadline, then He will come back and have a great mid August/September and have decent value going into FA. Just my conspiracy theory.

  • Stevie B

    And I quote Ralphie, from Christmas story, once again:

    ” FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDGE!”

  • Jp3

    Dead arm huh? Must be from all the innings he’s thrown on this rehab stint…?? Oh wait. Please don’t sign this guy to a long term extension even at a discount rate, he already doesn’t want to risk anything with his arm, who thinks $12-$15 million dollars a year will make him more or less motivated? I don’t think he’s intentionally not playing, I just think he’s damaged goods. Either way we don’t need it.

  • arealpoy

    “With a valuable trade asset hanging in the balance, I suppose you wouldn’t expect Hoyer to say anything different”

    Is he really that valuable anymore? If we were contending for a division title and somebody was linking us to a guy who hasn’t pitched since July 2012, would anybody here think the Cubs should part with value to acquire him?

    I just don’t see other GMs seeing him as a valuable piece. He’s valuable to us because he’s our only decent asset. If he never got hurt, I wonder what the Cubs could have snagged from KC in the offseason.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Sure he’s valuable – if he comes back and pitches well for two months, and all the indicators look good. That was always the point/problem.

      He was never going to net as much as he would have last year. Not even close. But a healthy Garza still has a fair bit of trade value.

      • Randy

        I dont think you are going to get too much. I think he needs to be healthy for quite a while to get anything of good return.

  • Spriggs

    The last guy I heard of with a “dead arm” was Jay Jackson at the end of spring training in 2011. But he was actually pitching (sort of).

  • Coal

    I’m generally supportive of what this FO/ownership group is doing. And I also recognize these things get played out in the worst way in the media, so they have to be careful. But seriously, Garza won’t have pitched in nearly a year. At some point, while it’s not a Tommy John injury, the reality is that Garza’s arm is something serious (if less dramatic). To continually spin it is their right – I’d probably do the same thing. But the FO/ownership is eroding some of the trust I have in them simply because it calls into question their forthrightness on other public statements, given the ridiculousness of the developing Garza narrative.

    • Featherstone

      I agree with you completely that the FO has been less than forthcoming about injury developments but sadly that is really the only way to handle these sort of things anymore. You absolutely want to make sure you are never tipping your hand to a competitor because obviously any information released to the public is also read by our competitors just as quickly. Unfortunately that leaves the public out in the dark more often than not, but it also keeps sensitive information out of the public light before its ready.

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  • Spencer

    Here are a couple articles where we were told Matt Garza’s lat injury wouldn’t be a big thing.

    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-02-19/sports/chi-garza-20130219_1_lat-strain-hoyer-muscle

    http://cubbiescrib.com/2013/02/26/matt-garza-injury-update-lat-feels-really-good/

    When it comes to injuries, I don’t believe a single thing anyone from the Cubs says.

    • willis

      We all learned that lesson in the mid 2000s, don’t believe a word. Different FO, same bullshit.

      This screams big deal. It’s been about 10 months since he’s pitched. Even if all goes well after this issue, I don’t think we can expect him pitching for the Cubs until post Memorial Day at the earliest. But something tells me another injury will surface before then and he’ll get pushed back, again. This is very disappointing.

      • When the Music’s Over

        Exactly.

        I don’t know why people trust the front office or ownership with most of what they say. Just like heads of any other corporation, they’re going to spin their comments and dance the line with lying as much as possible without losing credibility. This front office is especially adept at making cryptic comments, but giving off the illusion that they’ve said anything meaningful.

        As for Garza himself. I disagree that he still holds a lot of value in a trade. That ship sailed in February with his “lat strain”. Might he net you a top 150 prospect? Probably, but doubt you’re going to get much more than that.

  • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

    We should have traded him for whatever Toronto was offering last spring.

  • DONNIE621

    This is sooo boring. Aren’t you tired of reporting this stuff. Just let us know when he’s going to start a game. I do not care about this guy!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Fortunately his name will always be in the title of the post, so you can skip over it if it doesn’t say “Matt Garza Just Pitched a No-Hitter for the Chicago Cubs.”

  • notcubbiewubbie

    matt garza the jim hendry curse ;it never ever goes away.

  • curt

    What’s the over/under on garza actually starting for the cubs before the all star game it’s always something else with garza. I’m guessing maybe in June sometime

  • Idaho Razorback

    If Garza misses a majority of the season or the whole season will we tender him?

  • DarthHater

    If it’s such a minor thing, they really should call it “tired arm,” rather than “dead arm.”

  • mudge

    Garza – sunk cost.

  • Dynastyin2016

    Is anyone wondering about the quality of the Cubs medical and training staff? Is there a chapter on rehabbing in the book ‘The Cubs Way’?

    Garza..still not pitching..?
    Stewart…quad injury taking 2 months?
    Vitters…quad turning into back problems?
    Lake…6 weeks after a cracked rib, still no baseball activity?
    Jackson..out 2 weeks with a stubbed toe after a shoulder injury?
    Maples…still not throwing in competition? 2 yrs’ish since drafted, only 10 IP?
    Almora….5 weeks after surgery, no baseball activity?

    Are these delays caused by having players who can’t(won’t) recover? FO showing an abundance of caution? Bad medical advice causing setbacks?

    These are all significant assets, it be nice to see what they can do. Something doesn’t add up.

  • http://Www.aorrockstop.com JB sports guy

    In speaking I do believe Borbon was given to
    Us in good faith for Garza. If Garza can ever
    Kick it into gear we may end up with olt to finish
    The trade! I think olt would solidify our future at
    3b and give us a ken ritz type of career !

    JB out

    • TWC

      My word… did Die hard get a new screen name?

      You people and your conspiracy theories….

  • http://Www.aorrockstop.com JB sports guy

    Sorry ken reitz
    JB out

  • Die hard

    With Dodgers Billingsley having TJ surgery should Cubs offer Jackson for prospects?

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