All Eyes on Matt Garza

Monday was all about Matt Garza. While most thought Monday’s start on the South Side could be one of his last in a Cubs’ uniform, reports surfaced earlier in the day the Cubs were considering signing Matt Garza to a long-term contract.

Garza did not do anything to hurt his value on Monday after allowing two runs, one earned, on five hits with no walks and six strikeouts in seven innings to the White Sox. Garza improved to 4-0 in his last five starts with a 0.97 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP (four earned runs on 24 hits with eight walks and 34 strikeouts).

Matt Garza confirmed that he and the team have discussed a contract extension. Garza said that he would like to stay with the Cubs and the contract talks are just as real as the possibility of him being traded. Garza said he knows where the contract talks stand and he put even odds (50-50) on an extension happening.

Several of Matt Garza’s teammates told Bruce Levine they hope the Cubs’ extend Garza instead of trading him. According to Levine, Garza will be seeking at least a four-year contract if he hits free agency in November. Garza could be looking for a deal similar to the one Anibal Sanchez signed.

The Sun-Times and ESPN Chicago reported that the talks between Garza and the Cubs have not gotten serious. And the likelihood remains that he will be traded prior to the deadline.

According to reports, scouts from the Dodgers, Pirates, Blue Jays, Padres, Indians, Red Sox and Giants were at the Cell on Monday night “heavily scouting Garza” and the Rangers had two scouts on hand to watch Garza.

Davis Kaplan spoke with an American League executive on Monday night and was told that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer know what they have in Garza and “they will not cave on what they want in return.”

Cubs Roster

The Cubs called up lefty Brooks Raley on Monday from Triple-A Iowa to take Scott Hairston’s spot on the roster. The Cubs decided to fill the open spot with a pitcher rather than a position player due to the recent overwork of the pen. The Cubs are looking to add a right-handed bat to the active roster in the near future, and it could end up being Donnie Murphy. But it could be a couple of days before a move is made.

Donnie Murphy signed a minor league contract with the Cubs on April 3. Murphy is hitting .261/.343/.459 with 12 doubles, one triple and 10 home runs in 70 games with the I-Cubs. Junior Lake is also a possibility but according to reports, the Cubs are not sure if a call-up would be the best thing for Lake’s development. The Cubs have two open spots on the 40-man roster. Murphy would have to be added to the roster while Lake is already on the 40-man.

Travis Wood

As reported, Travis Wood will not be able to pitch in the upcoming All-Star game. Wood is scheduled to pitch the final game before the break on Sunday night against the Cardinals. The Cubs confirmed on Monday that Wood will not pitch but will travel to New York to participate in All-Star festivities.

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  • 07GreyDigger

    If the Donnie Murphy rumor is true, one can assume that the tenure of Oh Henry part two is over.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Matt Garza is on a salary drive. Yup. He’s pitching hot, because he wants the dough.

    But what comes after he signs a new, big contract? Total collapse? A lot of time on the DL (like most other big FA pitcher signings?). PROBABLY.

    Big contract weigh heavy on the mind. And Garza is 29–the very heart of his prime. It’s all down hill from here. Read this article just chock full of Philadelphia regret by the name of Ryan Howard. It’ll bring tears to your eyes.

    It may surprise no one that the 2013 Philadelphia Phillies are not where they hoped to be in the win-loss column. After a disappointing 81-81 record in 2012, the worst finish for the Phillies in a decade, the hope was that even a past-prime dynasty could retool enough to squeeze another few solid years on the backs of an aging core. The team’s TV contract with Comcast expires after the 2015 season, so the front office had an obvious incentive to keep the team together in the hope of cash practically falling out of the sky, as the Los Angeles Dodgers have experienced with their new TV contract.

    Alas, it was not meant to be. The Phillies have continued their downward trajectory, and though they’re only a few games behind the Washington Nationals, that’s mainly because Washington has underperformed expectations, not due to any second wind similar to the one the Boston Red Sox are experiencing this season.

    In the middle of a second frustrating season, it’s not surprising to see fingers being pointed. Most notable among them has been team general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. calling out Ryan Howard’s performance, telling 94 WIP in Philadelphia in a pregame show last week that “if Howard is now relegated to being a platoon player, he’s a very expensive platoon player and needs to do better … right now, he’s just not doing his job.”

    Given Howard’s .266/.319/.465 line this year with typically mediocre defense, it would take some special delusion to think that he’s been doing his job. But how much blame can we really put on Howard? How much was Howard really underperforming reasonable expectations before the recent news that he’ll miss six to eight weeks with a meniscus tear?

    To get a feel for this, I went back and asked the ZiPS projection system to project Howard’s 2013 season from the point his five-year, $125 million contract was signed in April 2010 and before each successive season, with knowledge included of the large drop off in run scoring across both leagues (Howard can hardly be faulted for that).

    [+] Enlarge

    Tim Farrell/THE STAR-LEDGER/USA TODAY SportsCheer up, Alex. Your crazy contract isn’t as bad as Ryan Howard’s.

    Despite coming off a solid offensive season in 2009 (.279/.360/.571, OPS+ of 141), ZiPS was not optimistic at the time. ZiPS doesn’t project a lumbering slugger the same way it projects a speedy middle infielder, using large groups of similar-type players in history to make an estimate. Howard’s top comps are not a pretty group — Carlos Pena, Richie Sexson, Greg Luzinski, Jim Gentile, Mo Vaughn and Cecil Fielder were the top six on the list — and these are all players who aged poorly. The Howard deal started for his age-32 season and none of those six sluggers had a 3 WAR season at any point at age 32 or later.

    The top six comps being flops in their 30s was no fluke, either. If you look at the top 15 comps, only Jim Thome was a star in his 30s. Otherwise, it’s an encyclopedia of short-career sluggers, from Rudy York to Dick Stuart to Greg Vaughn.

    In a 2013 Philadelphia environment, ZiPS projected Howard’s 2013 season at .243/.333/.487 when his deal was signed, a little less batting average and a little more power than his current line, but not a dramatic difference and certainly not super-stardom. Before the 2011 season, the 2013 projection had dropped to .241/.325/.472; fast-forward another year and his 2013 projection was .246/.328/.476; and before this season, he was projected to hit .242/.325/.463.

    In other words, Howard’s 2013 performance is not a nasty surprise, but exactly what you would expect from a one-dimensional slugger in his early 30s in the middle of a normal decline phase for a player of his type.

    At this point, ZiPS projects the contract to be essentially a total loss for the Phillies, with Howard only projected at 5.0 total WAR over the course of the contract (and assuming the $10 million buyout is taken for the final year). That’s equivalent to a $94 million loss, a worse projected return than even the A-Rod contract, a deal that the Yankees find daily reason to regret, which ZiPS projects as an $88 million loss. (For the record: ZiPS still holds out some hope for Albert Pujols, projecting his contract as only a $90 million loss.)

    If the Phillies are going to do in 2014 what the Red Sox have done in 2013 and have their own renaissance, it’s going to require a drastic change in organizational thinking — and it’s going to require plenty of cash. If such a change is to happen, moving on from the executive who got the Phillies into this position — and continues to not show an understanding of either the position the Phillies are in or how they arrived there — is a good place to start. If the Howard injury doesn’t give the Phillies a ready-made PR excuse to start selling, something’s rotten in the city of Philadelphia.

    • cubtex

      Garza is 29, Edwin Jackson is 29, Shark is 28. It’s all downhill for all of them RIP :) Trade them all for low 20 year old prospects and develop your own rotation. That is the way to do it but do you want to lose badly for the next 3 or 4 more years until that happens?

      • Ripsnorter1

        We are losing now–not badly, but still under .500–and the reason is not our rotation, don’t you agree? The only bad part of our rotation is…..Mr. Edwin Jackson and his $52 million dollar overpaid contract.

        Now, the way to build a rotation is to bring them up through the farm, or acquire them thru trades (eg, Garza), or sign rebound candidates like Baker, Feldman, et al.

        I would trade Garza now. He’s so greedy, he’ll never live up to his contract next year. He’s the next Barry Zito. He’s Jake Peavy, headed for the DL to dwell there forever.

        • cubtex

          I like Garza and would rather have him than not. They will trade him I’m sure. Garza will get paid in free agency and Theo won’t want to go that high. Why would you call him greedy? Do you know what he is asking for? This is his one time as a professional player to cash in and I can say for a fact that I would do the same thing.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Why do I call him greedy? He’s making $10.25 million now.

            What’s the matter? Can’t make ends meet?

            He’ll grab all of the dough possible, and like all of the other FA signings, never live up to the contract.

          • cubtex

            But if you are Garza and you see what EJAX got in free agency. You see what Greinke got. You see what Anibal Sanchez got. Would you not want to see what a team would offer you in free agency? Have you seen the other starting pitchers who will be free agents? If a team is willing to pay you 68 mil for 4 years, would you accept a 4 year 48 mil deal? As I said….no way I would.

          • Ripsnorter1

            I would think that Mr. Team Theo would offer a fair contract to Garza, and he could be content with less than top, top dollar.

        • cubtex

          Don’t be too upset RIP but Shawn Camp was released by the Cubs :))))

          • Ripsnorter1

            PROCLAIM A HOLIDAY!

            CELEBRATE WITH GREAT JOY, FOLKS!!

        • 07GreyDigger

          I applaud you Rip. Why pay Garza big dollars when the Cubs are unlikely to be competitive until 3-4 years into the deal? At that point, who knows where he’ll be injury/performance wise. That’s the argument against not signing Garza.

          On the flip side, the same can be said for the Edwin Jackson signing, but in argument, EJAX isn’t a difference maker. You know what you get with him. That’s why they signed him. To fill a hole and not to improve their fortunes. Unfortunately, he’s not filling that hole particularly well.

          • cubtex

            So 52 mil for 4 years is what it costs to fill a hole these days? That is a pretty expensive hole.

          • 07GreyDigger

            I’ve gone over it with you before, but unfortunately, a pitcher of Ejax’s caliber that’s market rate. Especially in free agency, where you have to overpay to get it a commodity and especially one that’s fairly established.

            I believe management admitted to overpaying Ejax for that very reason.

            That’s why young pitching is so important to success. You get the best value out of a volatile position when its cost controlled and cheap. Look at the Giants who re-upped with their young guys and are a bigger disappoinment because those expensive pitchers are costing them so much money.

          • cubtex

            I agree with alot of what you are saying but if you are justifying EJax’s contract…what is the difference if you can reach a deal with Garza at say……4 year and 62 mil

          • 07GreyDigger

            I guess what I’m getting at (or at least trying to convince myself of) is that Garza and Ejax are two different kinds of pitchers. Garza is a guy who can help you win and Ejax is a guy who fills a hole. It’s about their future returns more than anything else and what you’re paying them to do.

            Because of this, you’re not going to be able pay them the same and therefore have to look at where your dollars are going. Pitchers are a volatile commodity that tend to break down as they get older (look at Garza, kind of getting there already). Because of the pay difference, Ejax is a guy (while seemingly expensive) you pay to fill a hole. Going in, you knew what you got for him and the team seems OK with plugging him in to eat innings and be a steady every five days kind of guy. But if Ejax falters, (as he has), it’s not a big loss and you can go on without him (as they have).

            But Garza, is a guy you have to pony up more money for and a guy you have higher expectations for. He’s a #2 (or a good #3) that if doesn’t meet the terms of your deal is ultimately more disappointing than Ejax. He’s a guy who makes you better. A guy you don’t find everyday. But if Garza gets injured or doesn’t meet your expectations, you have a problem and you’ve weakened your rotation further. (Similar in a sense to if you let him go and don’t replace him)

            Because of this, you have to be 100% absolutely sure that’s what you want. Jake Peavy across town is a great example of this. The Sox picked him up on contract waivers in the hope that he would be a future ace that would elevate their pitching staff. Instead, they got an injury prone starter that only completed one full year for them. They missed out on the playoffs every year because of it.

            I imagine that’s why they’re a little weary on Garza. My guess is that they want a good pitching prospect in return for him as well to mitigate the potential loss.

          • cubtex

            alot of this discussion is just for kicks because I believe he will be traded. It is just so difficult to find TOR starters. They are so valuable and when you have one, you better hold on to him or be certain that you are getting one back in a trade.

          • 07GreyDigger

            Totally. I enjoy the debate. It’s nice to have a community here of dedicated, thoughtful and passionate fans. Not too many mouth breathers on here. It’s great.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            True dat…every now and then one pops up but the regulars know their stuff.

          • triple

            What Cubtex says is why I really believe the Cubs should really work to get him signed. Look at the guys that Hendry traded for him. Archer is looking like he may work out, but he’s not looking like a top-of-the-rotation guy. Maybe something comes of Hak-Ju Lee, but I doubt it. The other 3 guys haven’t provided anything (well Fuld does flash the glove on occasion, but that’s it). In fact, from the both times that Garza has been traded, Delmon Young was the best player received for him… and I don’t even think he’s even been on an all-star team.

            As far as Garza’s age and health. He’s a guy who’s ceiling is tall enough that he’s worth the shot. Look at how Dempster pitched in his 30’s in the NL central. And that was after a couple years of injuries.

            If we have Garza, do we still need to find a TOR guy? Yes, but if we don’t, then we also need to find more guys to fill a 2 or 3 spot in the rotation, and they are proving to be hard to pick up in free agency, and very costly at that. And I don’t know how close we are to developing a guy like that from our own farm system, but it’s likely that anybody in our system that is coming up in the next 3 years will not be a gamer like Garza is.

          • cubtex

            well said.

          • mutantbeast

            Lets look at the Giants-Lincecum isn’t pitc hing up tohis contract, Cain has been up and down like a yo-yo and Baumgarner cant pitch big games. Any bets they don’t re-sign Lincecum this offseason?

          • paulcatanese

            If Lincecum has kept his contract negotiations the same way he has, year to year, you may be right. If they do re-sign him I would say at a drop in salary, if that’s possible.

          • mutantbeast

            that’s the market, Tex, like it or not. Yes, hes overpaid. So are most ballplayers. Speaking about regrets, look at the Angels-bet they really have to love those contracts to Pujols and Hamilton , don’t they?

          • cubtex

            You aren’t getting my point. If it is OK to pay EJax 52 mil for 4 years…what is wrong with paying a much better pitcher in Garza 62 mil for 4? There will be a huge hole to fill if he is gone next year.

          • paulcatanese

            Exactly, but again that no-trade clause that one wants and the other doesn’t, seems to be holding it up. I think they should re-sign him, and however they work it out, compromise and get it done.

    • Ripsnorter1

      I just don’t understand how Arod and Boras opted out of Arod’s initial contract–I thought they were nuts–and then the Yanks re-upped on that horrible deal when nobody else on the planet wanted any part of it all. I find it utterly stupefying. And yet the Yanks bought into it.

      Another of the 7 unexplained stupid moves by owners/GM in world history is….the Albert Pujols contract. $254 million tax free dollars for a soon to be nursing home resident.

      • mutantbeast

        the Steinbrenner effect-they did the same thing with Sabathia, whos not exactly pitching like a TOR pitcher anymore. I guess Hank Steinbrenner still thinks this is the 70s, when daddy could buy Catfish and Reggie and win titles.

      • texcubnut

        A nursing home resident until he plays at Wrigley…then he’ll put up 3 taters. :(

    • mutantbeast

      Not only Howard. Id imagine Amaro might want to dump Halladay, Utley or Cliff Lee(who is pitching well) on anyone willing to take on his monstrous contract.

      • Ripsnorter1

        If I were the owner, I’d also like to dump the GM who signed these contracts, namely, Ruben Amaro, Jr.

        • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

          They did get a championship out of some of those guys. Weren’t they all involved except Halladay when they won? And Halladay has been their ace since, pitching at least one no-hitter. They paid what they had to pay to get them and they got what they wanted. That’s the price of a championship I suppose. I doubt too many Phillie fans would complain when they look at it in this light.

      • daverj

        Amaro had the opportunity to dump Lee’s salary last season and passed on it. The Dodgers claimed Lee when Amaro tried to pass him through waivers last year. He pulled Lee back, however, as he wanted prospects back in addition to the Dodgers taking on Lee’s salary.

        • 07GreyDigger

          That’s a good point. But I also don’t think he thought Howard, Rollins, Hamels and Halladay would be as bad as they have been. That weighs this team down quite a bit.

  • paulcatanese

    As the reports keep popping up on Garza, I believe that no matter what fans think about him staying or going, the Cubs will do what they want, and if they get the correct deal they will extend him.

    But if it involves any kind of a no trade clause, they will deal him.

    They are very firm with the policy of no- trade clause’s in the new contracts. So everyone is still left in the dark, with no inclination of what they will do.

    It’s really too bad as Garza is fast becoming a fan favorite on a team that is losing the support that is needed to fill the stands.
    This is not to say that fans are not appreciative of how the building of the farm system is going but for the major league team.
    But it is hard to take the “big team” and throw it aside in this type of development as they are the end result of being a Cub fan.
    What blows me away is they do what they want with players they feel are “stop gap” and play the ones that they have committed to with extensions no matter what they do right now. The slumping of Castro and Rizzo see’s no end to proving their point in extending them. And it’s a perfect scenario to have them play and lose, as this is “rebuilding” and losing is to be expected while this process takes place.
    Eventually both will come around, but meantime fans
    will be left hoping for some “miracle” turnaround.
    Tough to be a Cub fan these days.

    • 07GreyDigger

      I myself have never been more excited to be a Cubs fan due to the direction the team is taking, but as the years have gone on I’ve decided to take more of an interest in the managerial and player movement side.

      But yes Paul, as a casual fan watching games day in and day out, this has been a hard team to watch. They can’t move runners over and they can’t close out games, but there have been bright spots and the team is slowly improving.

      I guess my question to you is would you do with Rizzo, Castro and EJax? Bench them? Send them to the minors? I don’t see how in Castro and Rizzo’s case how AAA at-bats improve them or any different than MLB ones. At least at the major league level, they learn the strike zone from major league pitchers and learn their tendencies. At this point, AAA would be a confidence booster at best.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Ejax will get hurt. He’ll land on the DL, and the next three years will be going between DL on and DL off.

        Rizzo and Castro: in Castro’s case, he may get his act together when he stops listening to Dale Sveum.

        Rizzo: well, it’s the sophomore jinx. He’ll be better next year.

        • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

          I think once Castro gets better he’ll be flipped for a sweet package of prospects. I just don’t see him on the roster when we play in the world series.

      • paulcatanese

        Since it’s apparent that Castro and
        Rizzo would not be sent down, I would at least move them down in the order,
        not that it would be a solution with Barney struggling as well. Barney would have to be moved up,(at least Barney is making contact) for what it’s worth. and that’s not saying much.
        But if the Cubs are going to continue to suffer with the two of them, move them down, and I mean 7-8 in the lineup, at least they know what they have with Barney, and it may get Castro and Rizzo moving.
        Rizzo has a very distinct problem with the zone that seriously needs to be addressed, but Castro is showing some signs of improving his zone.
        Both take some serious hittable strikes still, I just think they are both completely confused.

        • cubtex

          I would trade Barney now while he still has some value. They have some middle infielders in the minors with much higher ceilings that can take over soon.

          • 07GreyDigger

            Absolutely. They should have traded him in the offseason. But I think they hung on to him in the hopes he’d help make Castro better on defense. I think they know now that no one can make Castro better at defense.

          • paulcatanese

            As much as I was for Barney when he came up, I now agree with you to trade him.
            Unfortunately the other teams
            would be judging him for his glove and not his bat which seems not happening right now.
            Don’t think they would get as much as they think they would.

          • 07GreyDigger

            True. He’s controllable. That’s what he has value wise. He’s arbitration eligible staring next season and won’t be a free agent until 2017. Seemingly, if you traded for him, your organization could fix his bat and if he were traded to a contender you could put up with it.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            Agreeed but what is his value, really? I’d like to see him get a little hotter before they deal him. I think he can play better than he has of late, which has been better than at the beginning of the season. Let him get back to form from late summer 2012 and then deal him.

          • 07GreyDigger

            I love this. His late season form is totally hitting .255. Likely a career high.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            But it also included gold-glove defense which hasn’t really been the case of late. And he was getting timely hits. He was decent with RISP and two-outs, etc. He’s getting closer but I think another few weeks he may have more value.

            There’s more to look at than just a batting average…

          • 07GreyDigger

            You’re right about his timely hits and RISP numbers, but he’s a guy too that takes pitches and works the count.

            But because he doesn’t walk a ton or strike out a lot either, you have to rely on his contact and average because he really doesn’t have much else in his game. I hope he can snap out of it. But if not, let the Logan Watkins drums begin!

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            Consider me one that is banging that drum…quickly!

          • 07GreyDigger

            Me too.

        • JasonOfTheBurbs

          Barney needs to be relinquished to late-inning defensive replacement / pinch-runner / emergency infielder due to injury.
          He can’t hit. Nice guy..nice glove…can’t hit.
          Put Castro at 2B and put Baez at SS and see what the kid can do. The blow to Castro’s ego should be enough to get him to start focusing and taking his job as a professional seriously.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            Put Baez there now? In Chicago? That’s a real jump. But I do like you’re thinking.

          • JasonPen

            Maybe next year for the Castro to 2B move. I’m still for trading him to make room for Baez. Trade him for SP prospects with high upside and be done with it. Or maybe include him in a package deal with some top prospects like Vogelbach for an established young ace.

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        Totally agree with you Digger. It’s an exciting time. We may not be winning now but there is so much intrigue and the future is starting to look so bright. I’m having more fun now than I have in years as a fan. Even when they were winning recently, the composition of the team didn’t thrill me. It was pins and needles time. The future is shaping up to be dominance time and I’m glad I’m around to witness the building of it. Will make the payoff that much sweeter.

      • JasonOfTheBurbs

        EJax will be just fine…no need to panic on a guy that young, with experience, who is proven. He will come back to his normal numbers by end of the year.

        • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

          I agree

  • cubtex

    Just heard Neftali Feliz’s name mentioned as a name that the Rangers might be willing to include for Garza. I never thought of him. He is another TJ surgery guy. Another high risk/high reward. Can you imagine Feliz and Vizcaino both bouncing back and being a part of the Cubs rotation? It’s a nice dream at least :))

    • 07GreyDigger

      If not in the rotation, than quite an 8th/9th inning tandem in our craptastic bullpen!

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        I like the idea…but it would have to include another guy that is more certain like Perez. If we could get a Perez, I’d rather take a flier on Feliz than Olt as the throw-in.

        • cubtex

          Garza,Soriano and cash for Perez,Feliz and Olt. Sign it, Seal it and Deliver it!

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            I would literally do a back-flip!

          • J Daniel

            Dont do that you will probably throw your back out :) although it would be fun to watch!

    • daverj

      I like Feliz as a closer. While I agree that the rotation dream is a stretch, it’s not too far fetched to imagine Vizcaino and Feliz being shut down 8th and 9th inning relievers in 2015 (or even as soon as 2014). The Cubs lost a lot of games this year that they would have won with a strong bullpen.