Jim Hendry began the off-season with three main goals … add a frontline starting pitcher, add a left-handed power-hitting first baseman and add a power reliever. And with very little payroll flexibility, the Cubs’ GM accomplished what he set out to do.
With the addition of Matt Garza, Hendry has added three of the pieces on his off-season to-do list and in the process added less than $10 million to the Cubs’ 2011 payroll … Kerry Wood, $1.5 million plus incentives, Carlos Pena, $3 million ($2 million paid in December of 2010 and $5 million deferred to January of 2012) and Matt Garza who figures to earn around $6 million in his second year of arbitration.
Here is the rest of the update, including notes from Gordon Wittenmyer’s interview on XM Radio and tidbits from Bruce Levine … Talkin’ Cubs Baseball
Before getting into the highlights from Saturday morning, Bruce Levine checked in several times Friday updating the news on the Matt Garza deal.
- There is a possibility that the Cubs could begin the year with three lefties in the bullpen … Sean Marshall, John Grabow and James Russell or Scott Maine.
- The Cubs did not want to include Chris Archer and Hak-Ju Lee in the Garza deal. The Rays asked for either Chris Archer or Trey McNutt. The Cubs feel McNutt was the better of the two and decided to let Archer go.
- The Tigers and Rangers had deals on the table for Matt Garza. Jim Hendry had to include Archer in order to get Garza.
- There are rumors still floating around that Tom Gorzelanny is still available.
- On Friday, Levine said it could be two to three weeks before the Cubs and WGN Radio announce Pat Hughes’ replacement.
Fred Huebner discussed the latest on Matt Garza and the Cubs with Bruce Levine on Saturday morning (ESPN 1000), here are the highlights …
- Levine thinks adding Matt Garza is huge for the Cubs and it will help them compete with the Cardinals, Reds and Brewers this season.
- The Cubs want Andrew Cashner to be the fourth starter in the rotation this season … behind Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano and Matt Garza.
- The Cubs have lots of options for the fifth spot …Randy Wells, Jeff Samardzija, Casey Coleman, Tom Gorzelanny and Carlos Silva.
- The Cubs consider Trey McNutt a superior prospect to Chris Archer.
- Chris Carpenter was never a part of the discussions in the Matt Garza trade … was going to be either Archer or McNutt.
- Jim Hendry started working on the Garza deal at the Winter Meetings and kept in touch on just about a daily basis with Andrew Friedman.
- The Cubs feel the addition of Matt Garza takes a little pressure off Andrew Cashner to perform well right away in the rotation.
- The Cubs are projecting Chris Carpenter and Trey McNutt to be in the rotation in the near future.
- The addition of Matt Garza does not impede the development of the system.
- Levine pointed out the fact Jeff Samardzija is out of options and will make the team out of Spring Training. The Cubs feel they would lose Samardzija if they tried to send him through waivers.
Wally Hayward, the Cubs Executive Vice President of Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, joined the Levine and Huebner Saturday morning to discuss the upcoming Cubs Convention.
Hayward confirmed that Aramis Ramirez will be making his first appearance at a Cubs Convention.
As for the tributes to Ron Santo, Hayward said it will be an emotional but uplifting session. The Cubs will not be making the announcement on Pat Hughes’ new partner during the convention. The Cubs will take their time and it could be a few more weeks before the announcement is made … and it might not happen until just before the games begin in Arizona on February 27.
Gordon Wittenmyer on XM Radio
The Cubs’ beat writer for the Sun-Times joined Casey Stern during Inside Pitch (XM Radio) on Saturday morning.
Wittenmyer did not think the Cubs would be able to acquire Matt Garza from the Rays. The talks for the right-hander began at the Winter Meetings and Wittenmyer knew Hendry was trying to make the deal happen.
Wittenmyer said he got wind that the trade was on the verge of happening on Tuesday. He said that Hendry had to get ownership on board before he could get aggressive on the prospects he could offer in the deal.
The Cubs did not want to include Chris Archer in the deal. Wittenmyer thought that Archer was one of the two or three untouchables in the Cubs’ system.
The Cubs also like Hak-Ju Lee’s upside but he does not think there were ever any internal discussions about Lee being able to move Starlin Castro to second base down the road.
Wittenmyer does feel the acquisition of Matt Garza is in response to the pitching the Cardinals and Reds already have and the additions the Brewers made this winter. The Cubs felt they had to improve their starting pitching and the pitching within the central may have caused Hendry to be more aggressive in his pursuit of Garza.
Wittenmyer thinks the Cubs are a much, much improved team. He feels the team should be right in the middle of the conversations about the central in the upcoming season.
As for how Matt Garza will pitch for the Cubs … Wittenmyer thinks Garza will put up good numbers in the National League.
With the three additions Jim Hendry made this off-season, according to Wittenmyer on paper it looks like a strong winter for the Cubs.
This is not the first time the Cubs tried to land Fernando Perez. The Cubs tried to trade for the speedy outfielder a couple of years ago … and once again, Jim Hendry got his man.
A report from the Daily Herald indicated Perez, who was a switch-hitter, will hit only right-handed after dealing with injuries to his hand and wrist.
Well, there’s the update … and I’m sticking to it.