stoveRounding out your week in rumors …

  • David Price left his last start with tightness in his triceps. If that sounds familiar and makes you queazy, that’s probably because, when Matt Garza left a start against the Cardinals last July just before the Trade Deadline, it was with triceps tightness. That went through several iterative descriptions before it was finally termed a stress reaction … in the elbow. It ended his season, and after a lat injury this Spring, we’re still waiting to see him back on the mound for the Cubs. Price has been sent to the disabled list with no-seriously-it’s-just-a-strained-triceps, and the Rays are emphatic that they have no long-term concerns. Price is expected to miss only a few starts.
  • This is of moment to the Cubs because they’ve repeatedly been connected to Price as a potential future trade target, as it is/was widely expected that the Rays would be shopping Price this Winter. So, now what? The injury is, on some levels, not surprising, as we’ve speculated about an injury issue given Price’s reduced velocity and effectiveness this year. It could certainly impact the Rays’ asking price on him, but here’s the problem with that: if his value sinks too low because of the risk associated with the injury, the Rays may decide they have to keep him at least until the Trade Deadline next year (and eat half a season’s worth of another arbitration raise). Even if they don’t, the reason the Cubs would be getting him at a bargain is because of the injury risk. Given the expected financial investment (a big reason to trade for Price now is to have the first crack at extending him), is that really a bargain at all? So, in short, the Price injury makes me nervous, and I was already nervous. The upshot of a reduced trading price isn’t really all that appetizing.
  • The Detroit Tigers are “looking hard” for bullpen help, according to Danny Knobler. Although the Cubs are likely to be sellers in short order, the bullpen isn’t going to be one of their selling strengths (unless a team wants someone like Carlos Villanueva as a bullpenner). If Carlos Marmol were pitching more consistently well, he could be a fit, but unfortunately he is not. Kevin Gregg is pitching well, but it’s a very short track record built upon on a long track record of “meh.” Shawn Camp has flopped, Kyuji Fujikawa has been hurt (and probably wasn’t going to be traded anyway), and Michael Bowden/Hector Rondon aren’t trade pieces. That leaves James Russell, who actually would be a pretty appealing trade piece. Thing is, the reasons he’s an attractive trade piece – young, cost-controlled, effective, lefty – are the same reasons the Cubs are going to be inclined to keep him.
  • (Almost entirely unrelatedly, Rick Porcello – a potential offseason target for the Cubs this past offseason – has terrible baseball card stats, but his peripherals scream that he’s one of the best buy-low candidates ever. He’s basically letting everyone who gets on base score, and is giving up an unsustainably high rate of homers. His strikeouts keep trending up, and his walks keep trending down. If the Tigers lose faith in the near-term – and I don’t have any plausible formulation of a trade that makes sense given the teams’ respective standings – I’d hope the Cubs would try to buy low.)
  • Although the Cubs and Anthony Rizzo put together an in-season, long-term extension, it doesn’t sound like that’s in the offing for Jeff Samardzija. His agent told Bruce Levine that there were no discussions going on. Sounds like the Cubs and Samardzija will wait until the offseason to re-evaluate. At that point, the Cubs will have two more Samardzija arbitration years left.
  • Ken Rosenthal notes that the Cubs may want to extend Matt Garza, which is something I expect us to hear a fair bit about over the next few weeks. Extend? Trade? Extend? Trade? Maybe neither.
  • Kygavin

    Porcello is also working with the worst infield defense in the league…. never a good thing for a groundball pitcher

    • Rcleven

      Ground balls don’t go over the fence and I’ll pass another one will be along in 15 minutes.

  • Cubbie Blues

    No talks going on with Samardzija doesn’t surprise me at all. Samardzija was wanting to show that he can be an Ace over the long-haul. I always expected talks to start up around All-Star break. By then there will be a track record to go off of.

    • Eternal Pessimist

      Seems like Samardzija has been pitching at some level of the Cubs organization forever. I hope we don’t give up the farm for him just because he finally may pitch like an ace for 1/2 a season (or he may not). Zambrano had great stuff too, and….

      • On the Farm

        From what I found on FanGraphs, Zambrano posted WARs of 4.4, 4.4, 4.0 from 2003-2005, 3.8 in 2006. Yeah, I think everyone thought that was a stupid extension…

      • Cedlandrum

        and… pitched very well for a number of years and…. is sprinkled all over the leader boards for Cubs pitchers. If Samardzija is as good as Z from 2003-2010 I think that would be great. Not the 18 million a year that z got but a good chunk of change. People forget how good Carlos could be when not having a nutty.

  • Jason

    If Garza comes back strong a team I could see very interested in him is Texas. They are very good and aside from Darvish and Holland very weak/injured in Starting Pitching. They also have a hole in left field, just so happens to be where Soriano plays.

    With the emergence of Moreland at 1B it makes Mike Olt expendable even more to them. With Martin Perez being hurt to start this year it makes me wonder if Texas would even start to consider Garza and Soriano for Perez and Olt if the Cubs are picking up Sori’s tab.

    • On the Farm

      Its a good thought, but the Rangers will probably want another prospect guy (maybe not one of our top three, but Vogelbach could be a possibility) Perez is still a top pitching prospect and Olt’s 3B value is hard to ignore.

  • Grant

    On your last point, I think Garza’s recent injury troubles have likely damaged his trade value enough that where I was once I strong proponent of trading him, I think we’re now more likely to get a better value from keeping him. Also, once you add Garza to an already strong rotation, assuming you extend him, we’ve got a very good rotation we can carry in to 2014, given that we have Vizcaino waiting/rehabbing in the minors, Feldman and Baker candidates for a potential extension, and the #2 pick which will likely go to Appel or Gray.

    • On the Farm

      I don’t like putting a lot of faith into Vizcaino. I think his future will ultimatley be in the bullpen. Even if he does make the rotation, I don’t think he will come back as a star, I think he will need time to develop into a big league starter.

      • Feeney

        He’s got time to develop as a major league starter. If it takes him 2 years then it’s perfect. That’s likely when we will be really competitive again anyway.

  • Kyle

    Garza isn’t the only one who has had “mild triceps strain” be the first step in a cascade toward “catastrophic elbow injury.” It’s a common progression. All pitchers are suspect long-term, and once a guy has hit the DL with arm problems of any sort, his odds of being hurt again in subsequent seasons multiplies by many times. I have zero interest in trading for David Price now.

    And all of this should heavily feed into the Samardzija situation. Pitchers are simply too fickle and the attrition rate is too high to make long-term investments a good idea when they aren’t necessary. And with two years of control left on Samardzija, it’s not necessary. As fun and trendy as these early extensions are, I would just as soon never do one with a pitcher.

    I still hate all of the options for Garza.

    Extend him when he’s about to turn 30 and has hit the DL three years in a row, twice with elbow problems? Ewwww.

    Trade him and try to replace him in the offseason, when there is very little in the way of SP that would adequately replace him? Ewwww.

    Keep him and extend him a qualifying offer, gambling on draft pick compensation that is worth a fraction of what we could get for him in a trade? Ewwww.

    • hansman1982

      I say trade him to Detroit and see if we can pry Smyly (I’d throw in another chip to get him) and/or Porcello.

      • On the Farm

        Like a gold glove winning 2B?

        • hansman1982

          Ehh, nothing quite that. More like a prospect of some sort.

      • YourResidentJag

        Problem is Smyly’s been solid out of the pen from what I watched and Phil Coke can’t get out righties.

    • CubFan Paul

      If you want Samardzija as a longterm core piece he has to be extended before 2014 Opening Day because of the arbitration costs & the market driving up his cost in 3 years.

  • Kyle

    We can easily afford his rising costs if he succeeds. I’d rather not eat the costs if he comes down with arm injuries, which is always a risk.

    • bbmoney

      I love the trend of locking up young players….. Let me re-phrase, I love the trend of locking up young position players. I’m much more hesitant to lock up a pitcher in the same manner. The attrition is just to high, the teams would be taking on much more risk than doing the same thing with a position player.

      If the Cubs want to do something this off season, fine, but how long would you really want them to go…..two more years which would be 4 years total? Probably wouldn’t get it done and I wouldn’t want them to go any longer. Cubs should be able to afford the rising cost of arbitration and then I’d be much more agreeable to a deal after 2014 for an extra 3 or maybe 4 years of FA bought out (so 4 or 5 years total).

      There are a few pitchers I would make an exception for (namely Clayton Kershaw if I had the chance), Shark isn’t quite there.

    • On the Farm

      Another thing to look at is how young Shark’s arm is. I realize injuries can happen at any time, but some of that is usually attributed to mileage on an arm.

      • jay

        Absolutely—very low innings pitched so far in his career for a 28-year old.

      • Kyle

        I don’t know if we have enough data to know either way on guys like this. Maybe the lower mileage helps, maybe it means nothing, maybe it means their arm didn’t spend as many years building up a tolerance.

    • Brett

      For what it’s worth, the Cubs reportedly aren’t looking to extend Samardzija too far into the future (Levine said it was just through 2015, which is his last arb year anyway – my guess is that was the contract, but the Cubs wanted a couple option years, and Samardzija wisely said, “Say whaaaa?”).

      • On the Farm

        He already got paid in his first contract to get lured away from the NFL, if he has faith in his stuff he is definitely making the right move not taking an extension right now.

      • CubFan Paul

        I think 5/$57.5M gets it done. Maybe theo&Co will make that serious of an offer later this season (because they know the price will go up w/o an extension before 2014).

    • Timmy

      OK I’ll just state the obvious again: due to chance injuries, inhumanly greedy ownership, lack of talent, change in draft structure, and inability to identify good free agent gambles, the Cubs are just doomed for a long time. What in the world are we going to build a winning team from if we can’t even go into the running for Price? And anyone who says we shouldn’t spend more than 10m a year for Ellsbury, who’s 30 and only had one great year in his whole career, is absolutely correct.

      • TWC

        “… inhumanly greedy ownership …”

        ::rolls eyes::

        Keep fucking that chicken, Timmy.

        • DarthHater

          You’re inhumanly cruel, TWC.

        • Timmy

          Is that photo of you or a Renaissance Fair reject from the 1980s?

          • MichiganGoat

            Yup you nailed that…. it’s actually greedy ownership’s stock photo.

            • Timmy

              Well at least I know for sure that’s a photo of you, goatboy.

              • DarthHater


                • Timmy

                  Yes, that is the reference. :)

      • Oswego chris

        Inhumanly greedy?

        What can be greedy besides humans…or are u referring to the Inhumans from Marvel comics?

        • Timmy

          But we agree though…

  • Jono

    Nice article. Lots of good, interesting points. Id like to see garza extended on a short contract. Price is killing a couple me in fantasy. I now have price, weaver and cueto on the DL.

  • 70’scub

    I’m with Kyle on this one (long term pitching contracts). It does make sense to load up on pitching in the coming draft. Trade Garza now his money can buy two Feldman, Baker types over the winter. Garza is a Feldman, Baker and Price type?

  • 70’scub

    Please look at that young pitching talent the Met’s had back in “69”.

  • another JP

    In a way I think our best trade candidate amongst the pitchers would be Feldman. Guy has a one year deal, no arm problems, and has been effective. Tigers aren’t the only team with pitching issues, and I like how the Cubs have loaded up on starters that can keep us in ball games. I wouldn’t be so quick to part with any of them, even if we’re not a .500 team by the end of June.

    • Rcleven

      I would get rid of any of the current pitching staff except Wood and Spellcheck. .500 is still loosing. Keep building long term. Feldman is pitching way over his head right now. Take advantage of it. This team is not a winning team just yet. Never stand pat.

  • EricR

    I’d like to move Garza for as valuable a position prospect as we could get. We have arms to fill the void until we’re ready to contend.

  • ssckelley

    I would love to see the Cubs go after Porcello, he appears to be the pitching version of Castro. Still very young (only 24), loads of experience, and is still learning how to pitch at the MLB level.

  • ETS

    “This is of moment to the Cubs because”


    • TWC

      Moment, in this case, means “importance, significance, or value”.

      • Brett

        Sorry. Old lawyer habit.

        • TWC

          I like it.

  • ETS

    When can we start talking about extending woods!?!?

    • ETS

      [edit]Wood[/edit] sorry typo…

  • Die hard

    Feldman can relieve — move him and Hairston

  • cub2014

    The Cubs pitching is actually very good especially
    after Garza comes back. Look at the bullpen:
    Gregg,Russell,Fujikawa(very live fastball),Villanueva,
    Rondon. Either trade Marmol or Camp or send
    Bowden down. Need another lefty.

  • Mike Taylor (no relation)

    After the high ERA and the DL stint, I am no longer behind trading for Price. The injury risk is just too high-not to mention, he’ll be a free agent in 2015, so there’s no reason to trade anything significant for him-especially when we have some great potential in our farm system (not to mention a top 5 rotation right now). That being said, I’m sure this FO knows who they don’t want to keep, so if the Rays are willing to trade for our “scraps” to keep their payroll down and an injury risk out of their system, that’s fine with me.

    With Vizcaino’s slow rehab, he may not be at full strength until mid-2014 or Spring Training-2015 (barring any setbacks). I’m sure with the college arm we draft, either Appel or Gray, they would be in serious consideration for a rotation spot in 2015 (I suspect they’ll get placed in AA and dominate in 2014). That year will be especially crowded for 5 rotation spots. We’ll have even more depth than this year, which is exciting. There are also some intriguing free agent pitchers that year, too (unless they get extended), like Bailey, Kendrick, Kershaw, Masterson, McCarthy, Scherzer.

    The time to acquire some offensive, “impact talent” is now. We’ve got to do better than 3 runs a game to get it done, guys. Whether that talent is on its way, working its way up through a farm system or on the market, it’s out there.

  • fromthemitten

    Sadly, the Tigers already have a very effective lefty in Phil Coke

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    • fromthemitten

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