Theo Epstein Clarifies Third Base and Other Bullets

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Theo Epstein Clarifies Third Base and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

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  • The take on Matt Garza’s first start in 10 months from the other dugout: “He’s a pro,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Garza, per “That was very, very good stuff you saw out of Matt Garza tonight. Live fastballs, both sides of the plate with late life, the breaking ball, the changeup – that’s the kid they wanted when they made the deal for him. That’s almost a year away from the game, that’s electric stuff. He just showed you what he’s capable of doing.” The only ding on Garza’s start was that it lasted just five innings, but even that really isn’t much of a ding. Everyone knew that Garza was limited to 85 to 90 pitches, and everyone agreed that it was a good idea to limit him.
  • You expected Dale Sveum to be asked about using Shawn Camp last night. The 37-year-old righty is struggling mightily this year, and gave up the game-winning grand slam to the Pirates. The organization opted to keep him earlier in the day, and instead opted to designate Michael Bowden – no stud, himself, but more effective overall this year – when Matt Garza was activated from the disabled list. It was the perfect storm for Sveum, and slightly unfair, given that roster moves aren’t really within his control. On the subject of keeping Camp and DFA’ing Bowden, Sveum told ESPN, “[Camp] can get righties out with his sleeping slider. He’s durable. He can pitch. That’s why.” He can pitch. Strictly speaking, that’s true.
  • But as for Camp, himself, and his struggles, Sveum was at a loss. “It’s hard to pinpoint,” Sveum said, per “First and foremost, when a guy like that is losing two, three miles on his fastball, everything else is a little short. That’s where we are. He’s having trouble getting the ball to 87 miles an hour right now.” Well, Camp did make 80 appearances last year, and he is 37-years-old. Maybe that’s part of the velocity story?
  • So, is Josh Vitters the future at third base? Dale Sveum kind of demurred on that question when he was asked yesterday, following Ian Stewart’s comments about Vitters’ standing in the organization. “[Vitters] is the priority, put it that way,” Sveum said, per “Who knows about third basemen of the future, but he’s a priority to develop as that guy. The guy was a first-round pick, and the guy can swing the bat. We still have to develop him with the thought of him being our third baseman some day. He’s got power, he can swing, he can hit a fastball. But there’s a lot of development left in him.” Sveum added that Luis Valbuena is the third baseman of the present, and if he keeps playing as he has been, Vitters is really going to have to blow up to displace him. The truth is, I don’t think the Cubs believe they have a third baseman of the future, certainly not in the Majors or at AAA. They just have lots of options, and are willing to see what’s what over the next several months.
  • Theo Epstein clarified his conversation with Stewart in an email to the Sun-Times. “I called Ian to give him an honest assessment of his situation so that he could make an informed decision regarding whether or not to accept his assignment to Iowa,’’ Epstein said. “I told him things had changed because Valbuena was playing well and was now our major-league third baseman. I told him Josh Vitters was a prospect and needed to play a lot at Triple-A. If Ian accepted the assignment, I couldn’t promise him at-bats, and we owed him that candor since it impacts his career.” So, as suspected, there was a lot of nuance there. Epstein wasn’t exactly saying that Vitters is THE GUY at third base for the future. He was simply saying that Stewart was no longer under consideration for that role, and, when it came down to starts at AAA between he and Vitters, the guy who is still the prospect is going to get the starts.
  • Something to consider about Matt Garza’s great stuff last night: yes, missing 10 months of action can make a guy rusty. But it’s also a hell of a lot of rest for a pitcher’s arm. Who knows? Maybe Garza comes back even stronger now.
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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.