Cubs and Rangers Reportedly Still Talking Garza after Deal Hit a Snag

The trade between the Cubs and Rangers for Matt Garza that was thought to be close and even imminent, according to some reports, hit a snag on Friday after the teams exchanged medicals on the players thought to be involved in the deal.

The Rangers are still interested in Matt Garza after reviewing his medicals which would lead one to think that Garza checked out fine but one of the players that was coming to the Cubs in the deal did not. There has not been a report from either team on which player or players’ medicals did not check out.

Prospects from the Rangers’ system that were thought to be in the talks included RHP Neil Ramirez, RHP Luke Jackson, RHP C.J. Edwards, shortstop Luis Sardinas and third baseman Mike Olt. The number of prospects the Cubs would receive in return for Garza varied depending on the report.

According to multiple reports, the Cubs and Rangers are still discussing a deal for Matt Garza and are trying to find the right package to satisfy the Cubs. But other teams remain in the mix, including the infamous mystery team. A report from Ken Rosenthal indicated the snag in the deal opened the door for the Cubs to discuss Garza with other teams. The Red Sox, Indians, Dodgers and Cardinals are thought to still be interested in Garza but according to Jim Bowden, the Nationals are not involved with talks for Garza as of this writing.

Both Jeff Passan and Ken Rosenthal reported the Rangers may be asking for James Russell to be included in a deal for Garza. Russell is one of the players the Cubs have been listening to offers for and his inclusion could be to increase the quality of prospects the Cubs receive back in the deal.

According to a report from the Tribune, Theo Epstein was working on a deal for Garza during the Pearl Jam rain delay at Wrigley Field on Friday night.

Matt Garza completed his scheduled bullpen on Friday, which was another good indication a trade was not inevitable because according to multiple reports from Rangers’ beat writers, Texas wanted Garza to make his Rangers’ debut on Saturday night.

It is very likely that Matt Garza will be traded before his next start on Monday … but if anything, the last year has shown that a deal is not done until it is announced.

Alfonso Soriano

The Cubs have not approached Alfonso Soriano about a possible trade yet but according to a report from the Tribune, it doesn’t sound like Soriano wants to leave the Cubs.

According to the Tribune, Soriano said it is hard for him to think about leaving the Cubs for two months. Soriano indicated he would not be able to “feel comfortable” with another team in that short of amount of time.

Report from the Chicago Tribune

Junior Lake

Junior Lake had an impressive debut on Friday night going 3-for-4 with a double and a stolen base. Dale Sveum planned to hit Lake at the top of his lineup until Lake told Sveum he was going to swing at the first pitch he saw. Lake was solid in centerfield and Sveum’s plan for Lake’s playing time is different from what Jed Hoyer said on Thursday night.

Hoyer indicated that Junior Lake would play against lefties until David DeJesus is able to return from the DL then he would be sent back to Triple-A in order to continue his development. Sveum said prior to Friday’s game that Lake would play every day until DeJesus returns.

Dale Sveum gave Lake a good compliment following his debut. Sveum said that Lake is the “first kid that’s really come up and looked like a major leaguer.”

Scott Baker

Scott Baker made his second rehab start on Friday night with the Kane County Cougars and he did not fare too well. Baker threw 60 pitches, 36 for strikes, over 2 2/3 innings. Baker allowed six runs on six hits with three walks and one strikeout.

The Cubs are confident that Baker is healthy but he is not trusting his surgically repaired elbow right now. Baker said told Bruce Miles that “better results are the byproduct of good mechanics and being able to execute pitches. Right now, that’s just not the case.”

As long as Baker is healthy, his struggles are to be expected and what minor league rehab outings are used for. Whether Baker can replace Garza in the rotation, if and when Garza is traded, is irrelevant right now. The Cubs need him to be healthy so they can make a decision on whether or not to try to re-sign him in the offseason.

Scott Baker is expected to make his next rehab start.

News and Notes

Josh Vitters was activated from the DL on Friday. Vitters started at third base and went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer.

Henry Rodriguez cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Iowa.

Jeff Samardzija is impressed with the way Matt Garza has handled himself with all of the trade rumors. Samardzija sounds like he is hoping a deal does not happen for Garza so he can stick around for the rest of the season.

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  • Ripsnorter1

    Jr. Lake may have just opened his mouth too wide. Telling Team Theo that he was going to swing at the first pitch he saw is telling them that he hasn’t learned “the Cubs’ way.”

    • Tony_Hall

      Actually he has figured out the Cubs Way, and you still haven’t.

      Get a ball you can drive!

      1st AB – Double on 0-0 count.
      2nd AB – GO 1-3 on 2-2 Count
      3rd AB – Single on 1-2 count
      4th AB – Single on 0-0 Count

      He hit all 4 balls hard and saw 9 pitches in 2 AB’s and got 2 hits hitting the 1st pitches of the AB’s. Sounds like he has this figured out just fine.

      • cubtex

        That is not the Cubs Way. That is EVERY way. That is no different philosophy

        • Tony_Hall

          Exactly, then why are you and so many others against it….oh yeah, because you think the goal is to get a walk…

          • Larry

            I agree with you. Cub hitters constantly put themselves in the hole watching strikes go by. I say look for a strike and swing!

      • Tom U

        Looks more like the Rudy Jaramillo approach.

        • Tony_Hall

          Wasn’t Rudy a little more of the swing at the first pitch you can do anything with so that you don’t get down in the count.

          • J Daniel

            It is, it is what Lake is doing, and I think it is what Tom is saying.

          • Tony_Hall

            Rudy wouldn’t have liked the 1-2 count, didn’t want guys to get into that position. Thought they had a better chance early in the count to do something with a decent pitch, versus getting behind and having to battle.

            The biggest difference that I see is Rudy wanted the zone expanded all the way with 1 strike and The Cubs Way is a progression that doesn’t open it up until there are 2 strikes. More willing to have longer AB’s and have batters that are ok batting with 2 strikes.

          • Dorasaga

            That’s what he said. Maybe he lied. :-D

        • paulcatanese

          Ya think Tom:) I agree, and don’t know why he was let go.

    • J Daniel

      Since he doesn’t fit the mold maybe they can trade him for a couple of prospects.

      • J Daniel

        It was a JOKE!

        • paulcatanese

          Don’t know, look what happened to Hairston, hit the HR in the afternoon and gone before supper:) Trade was made as he was rounding third base.

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  • Suzy S

    I’m actually pretty excited for and about Junior Lake.
    He’s the first of the position prospects coming out of our system that I feel really has a chance to stick…if not this season…then definitely next season.
    I’m aware of his inconsistencies and rough spots…hopefully he gets those worked out over time.

    The thing is…Lake represents the true beginning of the “build” portion to arrive out of our milb system.

    With the exception of Soriano, the tear down is complete…From this point forward, we should start to see a few new players arrive from the minors each season….and not have to rely as much on “has beens”
    or other team’s mlb hubris to build our own.

    It’s pretty exciting to see the “The Plan” in it’s early stages of fruition!

    • J Daniel

      I have been posting since his call up that I hope Lake plays so well they can’t send him down. Suzy, I am with you in that this is probably the start of home grown, regardless of if JH or Theo drafted them, arriving with the big club. Hopefully Alcantara is not far behind with Bryant, Soler, and Almora arriving in another year or so. I would agree with Rip that he shouldn’t say anything.I agree with Tony, especially with him being young and probably have some butterflies, see a pitch you can hit and then hit it hard.

      • Suzy S

        J Daniel, I’m in basic agreement with you…but dependent on the situation…he might play really well and they might still send him down to develop some more.

        The thing is, I believe he’ll have an excellent shot at becoming a fixture on next year’s team.

        • J Daniel

          Yes, you are correct, and it still may be a good thing. Make him even hungrier.

    • Tony_Hall

      I believe I have said the worst is over, and from here on out, we should see guys like Lake coming up that can be around for a long time or until someone better makes it to the show.

      • cubtex

        I believe you are inaccurate just like you said they would be over .500 in September last year. When Garza and Soriano and others are traded they will be worse

        • Tony_Hall

          As usual, you get your facts wrong, I never stated a W/L %, just that the team would play better as the season went on and they did, until the sell off and the lack of upper level player in the farm system to come up and help out.

        • Suzy S

          Cubtex, While I agree the parent club will be worse….once Garza is traded and IF Soriano is traded…it is more interesting to me to see any of our homegrown talent auditioning to become future parts of this team then it is to watch mlb retreads “holding the fort”.

          Re Soriano…I’m not sure trading Soriano is worth it if the return isn’t that good and we still have to pay the bulk of his salary.

          Who is he really blocking?

          I would have been happy to see Garza extended…but since that doesn’t seem to be doable….then THE TRADE is somewhat imminent in a Cubly way.

          • Tony_Hall

            Borbon, Lake, Schierholtz, Gillespie, Sappelt, not to mention BJAX or Ha and if they don’t trade Sweeney and/or DeJesus.

            All of these guys need playing time in the last 2 months to know more about them.

        • 07GreyDigger

          Technically, if they lose 100 games instead of 101 they will be better.

      • jtrain23

        I think Tony is saying that the worst is over in regards to call ups from the minors. For the last few years, most of our minor league call ups have been guys who are too old to be considered prospects and journeymen who have traveled from organization to organization trying to find a place.

        Hopefully we are now starting to see the era of our blue chip prospects being called up and contributing on the big league roster.

        • TrevorPetersma

          You saved me a lot of typing…:)

        • Tony_Hall

          That is what Suzy was talking about. Every year the farm system will be producing real major league players to help the major league team.

          • 07GreyDigger

            We hope.

      • Suzy S

        Tony, Have to give you credit…you did.
        It doesn’t mean the worst is over from a win/loss perspective…but from a homegrown talent call-up….complete teardown perspective.
        We are now free to actually build the next winner.

        • Tony_Hall

          Absolutely, August and September could be a tough month for W/L% but I like the depth of the SP this year and would like to see some more of the young guys brought up to get a taste of the big leagues.

  • cubtex

    Tony. You are inaccurate in defining the Cubs Way philosophy for hitting. It is not to swing at the 1st pitch you can drive because that has always been. It is to work the count which means TAKING pitches.

    • Tony_Hall

      You are incorrect. It is to swing at pitches you can drive. If you don’t get them take until you have 2 strikes…This is so simple why do you continue to make it what it is not.

      • cubtex

        That is no difference in philosophy. Why don’t we call this the way every team approaches how to hit. Lol

        • Tony_Hall

          Not true…there are different philosophies. We have talked about two different ones just today.

    • 07GreyDigger

      I always thought it meant to be selective and not be like Shawon Dunston and swing at everything they give you. Whether it’s taking a pitch or hitting what you like. That’s all. All hitters are different inherently, I just think the organization wants their hitters to be better at recognizing which pitches are good to hit.

  • Dorasaga

    cubtex and Tony_Hall , The Cardinals have been a great hitting team, so were the Redsox. But
    having watched too much games of both teams in recent years (for my fantasy league and
    other pleasure research), my observation is that they have two fundamental differences in their approach.

    The Redsox as a team swung better than the Cards at breaking pitches. The Redbirds swung less at 1-2 or 2-2 counts than the Sox. The Sox battled all the time, but the Cards became too selective when the situation changes to disfavor their hitters.

    Just to make sure, I’m visiting Fangraphs, and here are the numbers for both teams between 2009-2013 (28577 PAs pitches for the ST Louis Browns, and 29125 PAs for the BOSton Stockings):

    First-pitch Strike%:
    STL 59.2 %; BOS 57.9 %
    Swing Strike%:
    STL 8.4 % ; BOS 7.8 %.
    Off-the-zone Swing%:
    STL 29.2 % ; BOS 27.5 %.
    Off-the-zone Contact%:
    STL 66.4 % ; BOS 69.1 %.

    My observation of their different approach was that the Sox took more balls and hence resulted in less first-pitch strikes. Though they swung less at breaking pitches overall (most breakers end up out of the zone), they battled breakers when the counts are to their disadvantage.

    If we consider pitchers PA, the 1.7% difference between the two teams at O-Swing%, for example, is 490 PAs in these years. So as a result, the Cards would make up the difference if we could remove the pitchers numbers. Their hitters at plate might have different approaches as the pitch count changed, but they were equally good.

    Theo and Hoyer won their glory with the Redsox. I can imagine that they would preach the Beantown approach as their experience proved effective. It wouldn’t matter, because there are different ways to win, and the Cards developed a very strong lineup as well.

    • Tony_Hall

      I always love the depth of your research!

      • Dorasaga

        I tried. The least I could do here is to not misguide anyone, including myself.

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

        Agreed, good stuff Dora. I think it is that the Cubs Way is to nit swimg at pitches out of your zone. Make it be your pitch, whether it’s the first pitch or an 0-2 pitch. The first influential coach I had in little league preached the same thin. If it’s a strike but it’s in your cold zone keep the bat on your shoulder, especially when the count is in your favor. Them once you have two strikes protect the plate. My favorite coach ever…an old indian ex-pitcher for the San Francisco Seals named Smokey. I can’t remember his last name but I loved that man like a grandfather and he taught me to throw a knuckle ball an the basis of pitching. He had an iron handshake!

        • Dorasaga

          Thanks for the compliment. I must say your coach is right. Just because it’s a strike doesn’t mean you swing at it. It depends on each batter and the situation. What I mentioned earlier, what the Sox hitters did behind the count, was that they protect the plate all the time, and they would swing at breaking balls, just not out of the zone that they were NOT comfortable.

          I believe an effective (good) approach for the Sox was not to expand or reduce their zone, but to understand the situation–who’s on base, where’re the defensive positions, and last while most importantly, realize the hitter’s own limits AND skills at the plate.

          When a pitcher throws the last breaker, he would be worn, because the Sox batter worked him to no end, and that’s when the batter swing, knowing it’s time to expand the zone.

          Easier said than done. The Sox has one of the few teams that could execute such approach to good results, with consistency, and throughout their minor league development.

  • Tom U

    Happy Birthday to Matt Szczur (24), Duane Underwood (19) and yours truly (none of your business)

    • Tony_Hall

      Happy Birthday Tom! Be proud of your years of experience.

      • Tom U

        Thanks Tony, glad we didn’t have to debate it ;-)

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Happy Birthday Tom! I hope you have a tremendous day!

      • Tom U

        Thank you once again for the opportunity you have given me

    • Suzy S

      “Yours Truly” (none of your business), Happy Birthday to you!!!!
      BTW that would be a great screen name!

      • Tom U

        Thanks Suzy, but I can’t use that under the new format ;-)

    • Henry

      happy Bday Tom!

      • Tom U

        Thank you Henry!

    • paulcatanese

      You’re still a kid in my book:)
      Happy Birthday

      • Tom U

        Thank you Paul!

    • bpot92

      Tom,

      Happy Birthday!

      Quick Question though, is Matt Szczur making enough progress to have a realistic shot at making the majors soon (possibly next spring or even next July)? I believe he was either put on the 40 man roster a while ago due to the two sport thing or some other reason and since he is 24 it is getting up to the age where we see the break through to where they will be a major leaguer or not. I was just asking since many have complained that Olt is going to be 25 and in AAA while Matt is 24 and in AA.

      • Tom U

        Thank you bpot92.

        Matt Szczur was placed on the 40 man roster due to a contract snafu that only someone like Jim Hendry could make.

        Initially signed following the 2010 draft, Hendry wanted to avoid Szczur declaring himself eligible for the NFL draft by tearing up his original contract and signing him to a new one. Because it was Szczur’s second contract, ne had to be placed on the 40 man roster or be exposed to the Rule 5 draft.

        This season, Szczur has danced on the cusp of being promoted, with his average going between .280 and over .300. Depending on who you ask, his defense is considered average to above average, with enough arm strength for center but maybe not right field.

        If he is able to maintain his average over the next week and a half, it would not be a surprise to see him promoted to Iowa in the beginning of August.

        • Dorasaga

          That sounds weird, for why would Hendry worry about the NFL draft if Szczur was committed to baseball when he FIRST signed soon after the draft???

          • Tom U

            Leverage. NFL scouts projected Szczur anywhere from a second to fourth round pick, making his potentially initial football contract far more lucrative than his baseball contract.

            There is a history of athletes trying to play both ends and being good at neither (Chad Hutchinson, for an example). Just like with Jeff Samardzija, Hendry wanted assurance that Szczur would strictly concentrate on baseball.

          • Dorasaga

            Hmm, well then, we can’t construe that Hendry designed a bad contract. He ensured that Szczur plays baseball for a reasonable price, right??

          • Tom U

            No, the threat of football was always there. Hendry should have signed him for good with the first contract. By having to redo the contract, Hendry left little wiggle room in Szczur’s development and ate up a 40 man roster spot.

          • Dorasaga

            Ah. Thanks, Tony. This little piece of difference of resigning is what they say: Devils in details.

        • Suzy S

          Actually Tom, Although Szczur is not one of the more heralded prospects…it seems to me that he is finally “getting it”…and coming together nicely.
          If he continues to progress…do you see any chance he makes the “big club” next year?
          He would be interesting as a lead-off candidate.

          • Tom U

            Szczur is making a good transition from “athlete playing baseball” to “baseball player”.

            I wouldn’t say no to your question, but it also doesn’t fit in the Cubs’ concept of “finishing” development at Triple-A.

          • TheWrongGuy

            Thanks Tom for the info =)

            Suzy I agree with, you, but Szczur could possibly speed-up his clock by doing some time in the winter leagues. With DeJesus next year being good trade bait and Lake possibly being up next year Szcur I would like to see at the “The Show”.

    • 07GreyDigger

      Happy Birthday Tom! Thanks to all your hard work and education. Now all my friends ask me what I think of the Cubs young players. Yes, I take the credit, but its you who deserves it!

      • Tom U

        Thank you GreyDigger! My goal has always been to provide information and have everyone do their own thinking when it comes to players.

    • oldanddisgusted

      Age is only important when you talk about beef, cheese and wine. Happy B’day.

      • Tom U

        Thanks! Sounds like dinner plans.

    • TheWrongGuy

      Happy B-Day Tom and again thanks for ALL your reports and time. =)

      • Tom U

        Thanks Wrong Guy! I enjoy your contributions.

  • CubsTalkNow

    The Soriano Trade Talk is old news…..all these so called baseball writers need to forget about it…..not going to happen……Soriano has spoken….time to move on……

    No doubt this time next year everyone will be debating where Samardzija will end up at…..and the Prospects in return……..2014 July trading period should be the last of selling off players like Samardzija, Barney and others before this Cubs team settles in with a team to begin their drive…….

    Free Agency is what most Cubs fans should look forward to in 2015 & 2016 on which Pitchers can the Cubs sign.

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