It’s still very early in the year, and they could certainly fall well off, but it’s so interesting to think back to when the Brewers signed Matt Garza. At the time, here’s what I wrote about the surprise move:
As for whether it makes any sense for the Brewers … well, they do get Ryan Braun back this year, and have a nice offensive core. But, to my eye, they’re clearly an organization on the downswing, and Garza doesn’t change that. Perhaps Garza becomes an eventual flippable piece for the Brewers.
I still think, medium term, the Brewers will head downhill. But I clearly underestimated the strength of that offensive core (even as I complimented it). Adding Garza to the mix was a huge win (as was Kyle Lohse last year), and will be a big part of the reason the Brewers succeed this year, assuming they continue to do so. This is why baseball is so awesome: teams surprise every single year. Maybe one of these years it’ll be the Cubs.
- It kind of sounds like a changing of the guard at second base has occurred, even if it’s still going to involve a mix and match of players. Obviously it’s been no secret that previous starter Darwin Barney is no longer starting regularly, but it hasn’t been entirely clear how his role is now viewed by the team. Ricky Renteria clarified a bit in comments to the Tribune: “In tight games, we can still use him. He’s a tremendous defender. He’s a tremendously valuable person for us, and I don’t want people to lose sight of that.” To me, that reads like the description of a clear bench player – a late-inning, defensive substitute. With Mike Olt getting more starts at third, and with Luis Valbuena showing enough defense at second to justify putting him there against righties (to keep his bat in the lineup), there aren’t many starts for Barney, especially when you throw Emilio Bonifacio in the mix. The Justin Ruggiano injury helps Barney’s case a little bit (because, against lefties, there isn’t another righty in the outfield to push Bonifacio to second base), but we may not even see him starting against every lefty at this point. If this is what is to become of Barney’s role on the Cubs, I think we’ll see efforts to get him to another team stepped up. He could be a great bench piece on a very good team, and maybe even a starter with the right mix of guys around him. Hopefully that can be a win-win solution, because it doesn’t seem like he’s going to have a chance to get back on track with the Cubs, absent a couple injuries.
- In that same Tribune piece, Renteria notes that Jose Veras is dealing with a sore oblique, which could keep him out for a few days. Whether that’s related to his pitching woes, or whether it’s a reason to give him a break, we probably won’t know. But it’s clear that Veras needed some time off to get things right. A DL stint and some minor league rehabbing might not be the worst thing in the world for all involved. I’m reminded of Carlos Marmol’s early-season 2012 struggles, his hamstring DL stint, and then his return – after which he pitched very well for the rest of the year.
- Jake Arrieta is scheduled to make his final rehab start tonight, and it’ll be a short one (Sun-Times). In theory, he’ll slot back into the rotation on May 2, meaning that Carlos Villanueva will have to make one more start (unless the Cubs bring someone else up for a spot start). Given the deep bullpen, even with the Veras injury, the Cubs would probably be fine to let Villanueva start, and then go with a “short” bullpen for a day or two until Villanueva is ready to pitch out of the pen.
- Matt Garza is happy to be on a team that is winning, rather than one that is always hoping to win (i.e., the Cubs). (ESPN Chicago)
- It doesn’t have anything to do with the Cubs, other than the fact that this man is apparently a Cubs fan, but it’s nice to see him so happy: