MLB Player Profile: Chicago Cubs SP Matt Garza
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Friday, January.18, 2013
Alex Kantecki (Guest Baseball Writer and Cubs Correspondent): Follow @Akantecki
Matt Garza was Jim Hendry’s last big addition before the Cubs general manager got the boot in 2011. The Cubs needed a dependable No. 3 to slot in the rotation behind Cubs’ mainstays Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano, and Garza fit the bill. In three years with Tampa Bay, Garza compiled a 34-31 record with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP with 7.10 K/9 and 3.05 BB/9 in 592.1 Innings Pitched — not ace numbers by any stretch of the imagination, but respectable for a No. 2/No. 3 type.
Garza, 29, was an innings-eater, with two straight seasons of 200-plus innings from 2009-2010. To acquire Garza, the Cubs sent five prospects, including No. 1 prospect Chris Archer and No. 4 prospect Hak-Ju Lee to Tampa Bay. The move, considered by many as a desperation trade by a general manager looking to save his job, is still scrutinized today. But should it be?
Matt Garza Highlight: Worst Throw Ever to 1st Base?
Entering 2013, Archer is still considered his organization’s top prospect, according to Baseball America, and Lee is No. 3. Archer, 24, made his big league debut in 2012, appearing in six games and starting in four, going 1-3 with a 4.60 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP with 11.05 K/9 and 3.99 BB/9 in 29.1 Innings Pitched. Lee, 22, finished his second season at Double-A Montgomery, batting .261 with 4 HRs, 37 RBI and 37 SB in 116 games.
Garza, meanwhile, is coming off an injury-shortened season (he was shut down in mid-July with a stress reaction in his elbow), going 5-7 with a 3.91 ERA and 1.18 WHIP with 8.33 K/9 and 2.89 BB/9 in 103.2 Innings Pitched — his fewest innings logged since 2007, his last year on the Minnesota Twins.
In two years with the Cubs, Garza has a losing record of 15-17 with a 3.52 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP, while improving his strikeout rate and walk rate, at 8.74 K/9 and 2.83 BB/9, respectively. But it’s still too early to judge the trade that brought Garza to Chicago. The players sent to Tampa, most notably Archer and Lee, are still too young, and Garza, despite missing half of 2012, has led all Cubs’ pitchers with 6.2 wins above replacement since joining the team in 2011.
On January 17, the Cubs and Garza avoided arbitration by agreeing to a1 YR/$10.25 Million, but it’s fair to question whether Garza is going to be around for the full year. Last summer, the Cubs shopped the Right-Hand Pitcher and were even rumored to be discussing a deal with Texas for prospects Mike Olt and Martin Perez. But before they could find the right deal, Garza injured his pitching elbow.
The Cubs are in a tricky situation with Garza right now. He’s still relatively young at 29, and he’s a pitcher the Cubs could use for when the team is ready to contend in the National League Central. They could sign him to a team-friendly extension, or they could trade him for prospects. Garza and the Cubs insist he’s ready for Spring Training, and if he shows he’s fully healthy, pitch-needy teams will certainly be interested in acquiring the Right-Hander.
While the Cubs could trade him, they are likely to get less value for Garza right now than they would have at last year’s trade deadline. If a team, like the Rangers, makes the Cubs an offer they can’t refuse, then Garza’s time on the North Side could be up soon. But if the Cubs signing of Edwin Jackson (4 years, $52 Million) signaled anything, it’s that Theo Epstein and Company believes the team isn’t far off from competing. Keeping a starting three of Garza, Jackson and Jeff Samardzija (who was arguably the Cubs best pitcher in 2012) is an enticing option, but the Cubs are still short a few key players from contending. Trading Garza is currently their best option of getting value in return.
It’s possible the Cubs sit on their one-year deal with Garza, entertain trades at the deadline, deal him to the highest bidder, and attempt to bring him back when he hits Free Agency. That situation, however, contains a lot of “ifs.” The Cubs must decide soon (as soon as Spring Training) whether or not Garza is a part of the team’s future, or just a piece to help bring in more parts for the future. If he shows he’s healthy (and all indications are he is), Garza is going to be a hot commodity. The Cubs added a lot of depth at starting pitching this winter (Jackson, Scott Feldman, Scott Baker and Carlos Villanueva), so it’s easy to picture the Cubs moving Garza in the right deal.
*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of www.mlbreports.com and their partners.***
A big thank-you goes out to our ‘Cubs Correspondent’ Alex Kantecki. Alex is a Cubs fan to a fault. Sadly, his most memorable Cubs’ moment was watching the Cubs infamous 2003 postseason collapse while on a cruise somewhere in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. But because he’s a loyal fan, he didn’t jump ship. Alex has a degree in journalism (yay!), covered prep sports at the Northwest Herald and currently writes for faketeams.com, SB Nation’s fantasy sports blog. He lives north of Chicago, but hates ketchup on hot dogs nonetheless. Follow Alex on Twitter Follow @Akantecki
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Posted on January 18, 2013, in MLB Player Profiles, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged 2008 ALCS, @Akantecki on tiwitter, alex kantecki, brendan harris, carlos villanueva, carlos zambrano, chicago, chicago cubs, chris archer, delmon young, edwin jackson, Hak-Ju Lee, jason bartlett, jeff samardzija, martin perez, matt garza, mike olt, minnesota twins, montgomery, ryan dempster, scott baker, scott feldman, Tampa Bay, tampa bay rays, texas rangers, theo epstein. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.