matt garza chinThere’s a fresh podcast episode on the way today, so get your mind ready for awesomeness. In the meantime, why not do yourself a solid and “like” BN on Facebook? As a modern gauge of popularity, don’t be left in the dust by your much cooler friends who already like BN …

  • For those who didn’t see it last night, after the Cubs/Reds game, the Cubs announced that they’ve acquired reliever Henry Rodriguez from the Nationals for minor league pitcher Ian Dickson. Full details here.
  • Matt Garza didn’t have a whole lot to say about his dumpy outing last night against the Reds – it’s just one of those games that happens. Dale Sveum said that he thought Garza didn’t have his slider working and wasn’t doing a good job of keeping the fastball down. Combine those things, and you’re going to get slapped around. Hopefully it was just a flukey game, from which Garza will bounce back nicely his next time out.
  • President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein spoke to the media about a variety of things yesterday – about which, more later – and he commented on the process of building an organization through the minor leagues. “You want to please your fans by putting a winning team on the field at the major league level,” Epstein said, per ESPNChicago. “That is the most important thing. But I do think most real baseball fans do get excited about young players. Even ones that are still in the minor leagues. They like to follow them, see them improve a little bit before they become stars. Than they can root them on when they come up here, when they start their major league career at Wrigley.” Epstein made sure to say the front office wasn’t engaged in a kind of “grand experiment” about home-growing a roster, but he’s right: it is fun to follow a youngster throughout the minors, see him make the bigs, and then see him flourish into a quality regular.
  • Epstein also shared his thoughts on Starlin Castro’s current slump, which is all Epstein was willing to call it. Epstein believes the failure – something Castro hasn’t experienced much in his career – will be good for him long-term.
  • BA’s Jim Callis says that Kris Bryant, when the Cubs sign their first round pick, is likely to become BA’s top Cubs prospect. That’s both high praise for Bryant, and also an acknowledgement that it’s really, really hard to differentiate between The Big Four (Bryant, Javier Baez, Albert Almora, and Jorge Soler) at the top of the Cubs’ system. I say they’re all tied for the top spot.
  • Reliever Zach Putnam will be getting an MRI on his elbow on Wednesday after being removed last night with some discomfort. He’s had elbow issues before (bone spurs – which, if you don’t know what they are, read this primer), so a DL stint is highly likely. Rodriguez would be taking Putnam’s place on the roster if Putnam heads to the DL.
  • Speaking of relievers’ elbows, Kyuji Fujikawa’s Tommy John surgery yesterday was a success. Which doesn’t really mean much, because now comes the hard part.
  • Speaking of relievers’ health, Shawn Camp threw a successful rehab inning at Kane County yesterday. He’ll throw again later this week as he recovers from a toe injury.
  • Bradley Woodrum at FanGraphs has a piece on the sustainability of Luis Valbuena’s and Dioner Navarro’s success at the plate this year. (Spoiler alert: looking good.)
  • Kevin F.

    As a former season ticket holder throughout the ’80s, I’ll say it was encouraging to watch Maddux and Moyer and Palmeiro develop and advance while the big club faltered. (Discouraging to watch Jackie Davidson and Earl Cunningham and Derrick May falter, too.) But I wasn’t dropping the hundreds and thousands that current day “season reservationists” are, so I can completely understand their frustration – as well as the guy who goes twice a year and pays good money to do so. It’s a matter of whether you buy into the program or not, I think.

  • Kyle

    So I guess I should tone down my expectations for Matt Garza’s trade value a little bit. Ewww.

    List of pitchers under contract for 2014, expected to be ready for ST and capable of pitching a whole season, and confidently projected as above replacement-level:
    Samardzija, Jackson, Villanueva, Wood, Russell.

    Am I missing anyone?

    • Rcleven

      Come on Kyle. This was only one bad outing for Garza.
      Have to look at what he does between now and his next few outings. He has put up some some what impressive numbers over his career.
      You have to look at the package as a whole and not overreact from one outing.
      I don’t expect him to be around after the deadline but one game will not diminish his value.

      • Kyle

        One game this year represents, what, 7 or 8% of the starts he’s going to make this year before the trade deadline?

        • hansman1982

          The main thing to take away from last nights game was that he was actually able to get the ball to the 1B on a bunt. Scouts are raving about that this morning.

        • Boogens

          Not intending to draw too much from a small sample size but it’s hard to imagine that Garza is going to be able to impress enough between now and the trade deadline to significantly impact his value. I feel any possible return for him will not be much.

      • Coop

        I would argue that his last game against Anaheim was also not great – he did keep the team in the game and put in his innings, but he was in constant danger, his control was way off, and he was leaving pitches up. I think that game was a little sneak peak into what happened last night.

        Now, that’s not to say that he is a bad pitcher all of a sudden. His mechanics seem a bit off or something. But it is hurting his trade value – I think he needs to put together a few really nice starts if there is any chance of seeing him moved. Otherwise, I’d guess we are looking at a qualifying offer, with further negotiation on a more team friendly deal than what Garza has been hoping for. I still would take him over EJax (obviously), so he should probably be looking at a contract similar to Anibal Sanchez. Maybe even slightly under that.

    • North Side Irish

      Junior Lake?

    • Andrew

      I would say Vizcaino, but seems doubtful hes ready by ST, maybe if they settle on him closing. I kinda hope they move Hendricks agressively and he can be a decent 4/5 guy with upside to be better.

  • Oswego chris

    I have tickets today, forecast looks awful…do I stay home and gamble it gets called, thus saving the gas, parking, food, etc…which would cost another $100 at least for me and my fam?….

    If they play I am out like $125 I paid for tix…

    • Cubbie Blues

      You have to go, don’t you?

    • EQ76

      Heads you go, tails you stay home

      • Oswego chris

        Will I be looked as a lesser fan on here if I don’t go?…I am old and I have kids…so hanging out in the bars is not an option…

        • North Side Irish

          I think publishing a book about the Cubs gets you a permanent pass on the whole “looking like a lesser fan” thing…

          • hansman1982

            Plus, he is older than other Cubs fans so that gives him a double-secret pass.

          • baldtaxguy

            Yes, the whole publish a Cubs book thing is permanent “max fan” status. Now, a colored tattoo of the Cub logo on the back of your shaved head…

        • Cubbie Blues

          I sat through a 2 1/2 hour rain delay last year before the game started with a 6 & 7 year old at the time. I don’t know how many games you get to attend so that also has a bearing on it. My kids were great during rain delay. We were able to walk around the whole place and grab a few autographs between downpours. Maybe if I lived closer and had the opportunity to go more it would be different.

          • TWC

            I sat through a 3.5 hour rain delay last year, and loved every minute of it. Of course, I spent through the nose for the tickets, etc., and flew 2000 miles to get there, so there was no way I was leaving.

        • miggy80

          I went to a really miserable game in May of 2011 due to weather and my girlfriend and I have some good memories from that day.

        • TWC

          “hanging out in the bars is not an option…”

          Chris, there’s plenty of room on the sidewalks for them to sit and wait for you.

          • Cubbie Blues

            That’s what I did a few weekends ago so I could have someone take this crappy picture.

            [Biggest picture ever.]

            • Cubbie Blues

              A little help here Ace?

              • Brett

                That one’s out of my control – it posts the picture at whatever it’s actual size is. And that one is enooooormous. Gotta re-size it to something in the 500px width range.

                • Cubbie Blues

                  Thanks Ace, I wasn’t aware it was soooo laaarge.


                  • TWC

                    I liked the other version better.

  • gocatsgo2003

    “I say they’re all tied for the top spot.”

    Is that like the participation trophies that every league hands out nowadays?

  • rbreeze

    If I have tickets I’m going to the game! That said I went to last nights game with my family. Our daughter turned 21 yesterday and she wanted to have her first legal drink at Wrigley. So that was pretty cool, we bought a couple beers and then noticed that a pretty bad game had started and we were gone after 7 innings.
    When Castro and Rizzo went into their slumps together it hurt this team. It has no life in the lineup what so ever. I love watching the kids come up through the organization. We need one of these guys to come up soon and be the figurehead of this team. We may have leader types on the team now but I don’t see a lot of passion out there.

    • Indy57

      We took our daughter for her 21st birthday last Friday. It was a great day weather-wise. We sat in right-center amongst a group celebrating a bachelor party. It was comical and caught the spirit of the bleachers perfectly. We had a couple of fans complaining about the Cubs and Ricketts. They kept saying they should spend on free agents. I explained the current state of the minors and asked who we should sign as free agents. They had no answer. The answer is to stay the course, follow the minors and enjoy those players when they get to Wrigley. We left after 7 and shopped on Halsted. We could not have had a better day (would have been nice if they would have won). Girls can’t wait until August when we are planning our return. I you have tickets; you have to go to the game. If it rains, there are plenty of things to do in the area that don’t have to include bars.

  • gocatsgo2003

    I actually thought this portion of Muskat’s post was a bit more interesting, on Baez:

    “A lot of his errors have been extreme plays at the end of his range or weird things on rundowns or trying to do too much,” Epstein said. “He needs to polish that up. We actually feel better at this moment about his ability to play shortstop every day in the big leagues than we did on Opening Day because of the way he’s playing shortstop. He needs to clean it up but I have no doubt he can play shortstop at the big league level.”

    Do we think this is just GM-speak or is there some truth in there as well? Probably somewhere in between.

    • Spriggs

      I really believe Theo is serious when he says that about Baez. The other 2/3 of the Trinity say the same thing. They have obviously seen him play a ton now (every game via the cameras, I guess). The kid has a great feel for the game at SS. He’s in to every play.

    • Brett

      That part was indeed interesting – but I wanted it to be in its own post.

      • gocatsgo2003

        I shall then return the thunder that I have stolen.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Would be nice to think the cubs get a good haul in trading Garza, but not gonna happen. Looked like 5th starter, had only couple swing and misses on balls in the strike zone. Stuff is just not their at this point.

  • ETS

    I would rank soler in the front by just a minuscule amount and the other 3 all tied right behind him.

  • North Side Irish

    Bruce Levine ‏@ESPNBruceLevine 12m
    Ryan Sweeney will bat cleanup today for the Cubs.

    Oh Sweet Jesus…

    • gocatsgo2003

      So? Much as it may pain you, dude has a .345/.400/.509 triple slash and a 146 OPS+. Sure it’s a small sample size of 60 PAs, but he’s swinging a pretty good bat right now.

  • The Dude Abides

    Theo looks like your lacking about 10k “real baseball fans” a night lately.

  • Die hard

    When Garza was rehabbing this little birdie predicted he would be back on DL sooner than later this year due to mechanics and fragility… Wouldn’t be surprised last outing masked pain

    • BT

      You can always hope die hard.