It is only 33 days until pitchers and catchers report to Fitch Park and the Cubs Convention kicks off in four days. The baseball season is just around the corner.
The Matt Garza trade remained in the headlines two days after the trade became official. Mike Quade spent time discussing the trade and his team on XM Radio … and Matt Garza joined Dave Kaplan on Monday night.
The Cubs also made a roster move on Monday when they claimed Max Ramirez off waivers from the Boston Red Sox.
Here’s the update …
The Cubs’ skipper joined Mike Ferrin and Kevin Kennedy during Power Alley on Monday morning.
Mike Quade was his normal upbeat, positive self with his first Spring Training as a Major League manager just around the corner … and the Cubs Convention at the end of the week.
Quade briefly discussed his upcoming baseball related trip to Italy … then quickly moved to the addition of Matt Garza to his pitching staff.
Quade admitted he learned a lot during the Winter Meetings just sitting in the Cubs’ suite. The Cubs first contacted the Rays at the meetings about acquiring Garza. Quade said Jim Hendry and the Cubs’ scouts deserve a lot of credit for being able to land Garza.
Quade explained that Hendry worked tirelessly since the meetings on the Garza deal. Hendry really wanted Garza and the Cubs had enough good young players to give up to improve the pitching staff.
Quade lives near Tampa and several of his neighbors asked him “what the heck” after the trade went through. He told his neighbors that the Rays received a lot of really good young players for Garza. Quade admitted that Chris Archer was tough to lose. Quade was told by several people that Archer was the Cubs’ top pitching prospect. But according to Quade, Archer was among the top two or three prospects in the system.
After discussing all of the prospects that went in the deal, Quade said once again that they are all good young kids and the organization is going to miss them.
The addition of Matt Garza gives the Cubs three guys that can pitch a ton of innings and a very solid 1-2-3 at the top of the rotation. Quade said on the day each of them take the mound there will be a smile on his face.
As for Fernando Perez, Quade knows he can fly and the Cubs’ front office was high on him before the injuries. The Cubs are hoping he can come back strong … Quade conceded that the Cubs need speed and athleticism.
Kevin Kennedy raved about Matt Garza and Fernando Perez. He told his old friend that Matt is not a problem and described him as a good kid.
Mike Quade was briefly with Carlos Pena in Oakland and asked Kennedy to tell him “hi” the next time he spoke with him (Pena was scheduled to be on with Ferrin and Kennedy later in the show). Quade feels Pena and Garza together will help their transition to a new team … and city.
Mike Ferrin asked about the Cubs’ plan with Andrew Cashner. Quade said a backend of a bullpen with Carlos Marmol, Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall and Cashner would be huge. There are mixed feelings in the organization of what is best for Cashner moving forward … reliever or starter. Quade said if Cashner could be a starter he has the stuff to pitch at the top of the rotation. The front office is leaning toward a starting role for Cashner and Quade will be able to confirm the team’s plans with Cashner this week during the convention. According to Quade, Cashner is a good kid and will do what is best for the team … either start or pitch out of the pen.
Quade had no idea Kerry Wood was coming back to the Cubs … or even had the interest to do so until the deal was done. Quade talked to Wood during Ron Santo’s funeral (he was in line behind Wood). The two had what Quade described as a nice conversation. Wood will be a huge addition in the clubhouse according to Quade. At that point Kennedy broke in and said Carlos Pena and Matt Garza will be good in the clubhouse as well.
The Cubs wouldn’t mind adding another arm to the pen before camp starts but they might go to camp as is according to Quade. Hendry is a tireless worker and never quits trying to improve the team. Quade said if he could find another arm that would be great but it might not happen due to budget restraints. Quade added that sometimes that it is the surprises that come out of camp that work out for the best.
Matt Garza on WGN Radio
Matt Garza joined Dave Kaplan and Glen Kozlowski Monday during WGN Sports Night … and the Cubs new right-hander is ready to start the season.
Matt Garza said he is ecstatic about being traded to the Cubs. Garza added that he’s jacked about pitching at Wrigley and cannot wait to get the season started.
Kozlowski asked about his hitting ability and Garza joked about hitting balls down the lines but admitted he just tries to make productive outs and not hit the ball out of park.
Kaplan and Kozlowski asked about the pressure of pitching for the Cubs and brought up the long drought in between championships. Garza stated he is not any sort of a savior that he’s just another guy that can throw the ball over the plate.
Garza said he will follow Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano’s lead and he feels good about where the pitching staff can lead the team.
Garza went onto explain that pressure comes with the territory and he’s pitched under pressure before … at places like Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium. Garza said there’s a lot of pressure everywhere but it is the same 60’6″ from the mound to the plate and every home plate is 17 inches.
Garza began his off-season program in October and once the calendar turns to January 1 he begins throwing six days a week. He said he has an intense long throwing program and his goal is to show up to camp ready to go in the best shape possible. Garza admitted that a lot of guys do not like working out with him.
Garza’s strength is his confidence but he still knows he will fail and in order to be successful in baseball you have to realize that you are going to fail.
As for showing his emotions on the mound, Garza prefers to call it passion for the game instead of emotions. Garza explained that he is very, very passionate about baseball and just loves the game. He also tries to have a good time in the process and will bring that into the clubhouse … but when it is time to be serious, it is time to be serious.
Garza is looking forward to pitching in front of the big crowds at Wrigley. He explained that a sold out crowd gives players energy. In Tampa, the team had to motivate themselves and had to win to sell out games.
In Chicago, Garza said, “We’re going to win in order to keep people there.”
Garza described his new team as being very deep and very good. He said, “We have a great club but we have to get back to basics.” Garza sounded like he’s being doing his homework on his new teammates. Outside of Carlos Pena, Garza mentioned details about Aramis Ramirez, Starlin Castro and Geovany Soto and added that if Carlos Zambrano could put together a full season like he pitched in the second half last year it would be tremendous.
When asked if he would be interested in a contract extension with the Cubs, he said that is up to his agents … Garza said his job is to get to know Geovany Soto and to pitch.
Kaplan finished the interview by saying we will see you at the Cubs Convention.
More on the Matt Garza Trade
Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus spent a few minutes with Kaplan and Kozlowski on Monday night to discuss the Garza deal.
Goldstein said the Rays received quantity over quality for Garza. The Cubs did not give up a stud in the deal … but they do not have one in the system to give. The Cubs gave up a chunk of their system for Garza but were able to keep Brett Jackson and Trey McNutt.
Goldstein ranked Jackson as the Cubs top prospect with McNutt number two and Chris Archer third. The Cubs gave up Archer (3), Hak-Ju Lee (5), Brandon Guyer (11) and Robinson Chirinos (12), along with Sam Fuld.
Archer and McNutt are very close to one another according to Goldstein. Archer has a lot of upside but does not throw enough strikes … plus he needs to learn how to be a pitcher and not a thrower. Robinson Chirinos was on a lot of teams’ off-season lists. Goldstein admitted he may have underrated him and thinks he could end up being the surprise of the trade … but in the end it could be Chris Archer that ends up being the best player of the five dealt to Tampa.
As for Garza, Goldstein said he’s a good number three starter and a solid proven Major League pitcher the Cubs have under control for the next three seasons. Garza’s problem is his consistency according to Goldstein. For instance over the span of 30 starts, when Garza is on he will look like a number two for 10 of those starts … and he will look like a number three for 10 and a number four for 10.
Dave Kaplan heard from a source that Greg Maddux said Chris Archer has great stuff and Chris Archer wants to be Matt Garza … the Cubs now have Matt Garza.
Baseball America adjusted their Cubs top 10 prospect list in the wake of the Garza trade. With Chris Archer (1), Hak-Ju Lee (4) and Brandon Guyer (10) now in the Rays system, Jim Callis said Brett Jackson would jump to the top spot in the Cubs system with Alberto Cabrera, Darwin Barney and D.J. LeMahieu moving into the top 10.
Here’s what Baseball America had to say about Cabrera, Barney and LeMahieu …
“Quick scouting reports on the newcomers: Cabrera is a right-hander with a 92-97 mph fastball and mid-80s slider; Barney is a proven winner and quality middle-infield defender who plays above his tools; and LeMahieu is the best pure hitter in the system but needs to find more power to make it at third base, his best defensive position.”
Archer would be listed as the fourth best prospect in the Rays system, with Lee ranked eighth and Guyer twelfth.
Well, there’s the update … and I’m sticking to it.