The Garza Watch Continues and Other Cubs Notes

The trade that was supposed to happen on Friday is still in limbo and might not happen at this point. Matt Garza remains with the Cubs and is preparing to make his start in Arizona on Monday night. Most still think Garza will still be dealt before Monday but what was thought to be imminent two days ago is in doubt and if reports from Texas are correct, it could be dead.

The Cubs appear to have backed out of the deal after reviewing the medicals of the prospects they would have received from Texas for Matt Garza. Reports have not surfaced on which player or players did not check out but Neil Ramirez told ESPN Dallas that his shoulder is fine.

The Cubs have re-engaged talks with other teams about Garza, including the Oakland Athletics. The A’s have serious interest in Matt Garza according to Ken Rosenthal. Reports have not surfaced about which players have been discussed with Oakland in a possible deal for Garza.

The Indians are very interested in trading for Garza but not for what the Cubs are asking for in return. The Cubs have been trying to trade for third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall for a couple of years and according to multiple reports the Cubs asked for Chisenhall to be included in a deal for Garza. The Indians balked at the asking price according to a report from Paul Hoynes. The Indians feel that Chisenhall will eventually hit and are not willing to give up on him yet.

As for Chris Rusin, he is still pitching on the same day as Matt Garza down in Triple-A. Rusin reportedly took a couple of days away from the I-Cubs after the Triple-A All-Star game and flew to Texas on Saturday to catch-up with his Iowa teammates. Rusin is scheduled to start Monday’s game at Principal Park against the New Orleans Zephyrs.

The Rangers lost Saturday night, a game they were hoping to have Matt Garza start. Texas has dropped six of seven and could be willing to match the Cubs asking price even with Yu Darvish and Alexi Ogando expected back early in the week.

Carlos Villanueva

According to multiple reports following Saturday night’s loss in Denver, Carlos Villanueva’s spot in the rotation is in jeopardy. Dale Sveum was not happy with the sequence of events in the fourth inning that led to the Rockies taking the lead. Villanueva walked pitcher Juan Nicasio with a 3-2 slider then threw a fastball to Dexter Fowler on a 3-2 pitch. Sveum called the pitch selection backwards. The walk to Nicasio was the 12th free pass issued by Cubs’ pitchers this season to the opposing pitcher.

The Cubs could turn to Jake Arrieta to fill Villanueva’s rotation spot over the final two months of the season. And the team is looking for Scott Baker to be able to fill Matt Garza’s spot once Garza is traded.

Sveum said the Cubs have had discussions about the rotation but would not tip his hand following Saturday’s game.

Pedro Strop

Dale Sveum mentioned the possibility of Pedro Strop sliding into the closer’s role once Kevin Gregg is traded. The Cubs are expected to move Gregg at some point before July 31. Strop’s performance since being acquired from the Orioles in the Scott Feldman deal has apparently moved him ahead of Blake Parker as the prime candidate to pitch the ninth inning once Gregg is gone.

Blake Parker was the next in line for the ninth inning last month. But things in baseball change on a daily basis and Strop has been very good in a short time with the Cubs.

David DeJesus

David DeJesus returned to the field on Saturday night and hit leadoff for the AZL Cubs, the first of what figures to be at least a week of rehab games.

DeJesus went 0-for-1 with a walk before the game was suspended due to rain after four innings.

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  • Theboardrider

    I love me some Strop so far. His pitches move all over the place and he hits 95 like a Sunday stroll. But I like Parker too. Very good problem to have. I’d probably go with Parker and keep Strop in his current role but some experimentation wouldn’t hurt.

    • SomeGuy27

      I think Neil mentioned that there is concern in the Cubs org that Parker may not have that “It’ it takes to close in MLB. His numbers do confirm he has trouble when he falls behind as well. I like him but he may be better suited to be a 7th/8th inning guy. Strop does have an electric arm.


      He could be P-STOP!

  • Ripsnorter1

    My gut says it is Neil Rameriz’s health that stopped the deal. He has a big swing and miss arm–huge strikeout numbers–but has been injured before.

    • SomeGuy27

      Agree. He’s had a balky shoulder which is much more concerning than an elbow issue. I would guess there is a lot of inflammation in there. I know from experience you can pitch around it and even maintain velocity but eventually something gives.

  • Ripsnorter1

    It appears to me that Garza will be traded on July 31, or not traded at all.

    • SomeGuy27

      Uh, thanks for weighing in Captain Obvious. :)

  • cubtex

    I have been in Dallas and the big talk has been is that they need Garza. They need to make a move. They didn’t really spend any money in the offseason and you know……this is Dallas. They compete with Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban. The radio talk is if they can get Garza and pencil him as your #2 behind Yu and in front of Holland they have a great chance in the playoffs. I still think the deal will get done

    • Suzy S

      Thanks for the local take, Cubtex…what are their other options…Peavey, Norris etc.???

      • cubtex

        Garza is who the radio guys and fans seem to want but not at the cost of Martin Prrez. Talk is that Mike Olt could be the one who had medical concerns. Concussions.

        • Suzy S

          Concussions…that would be a huge contributor to the drop off in production….and could derail Olt’s entire career.
          I hate seeing a young guy fall to the wayside by something like that.

        • J Daniel

          Not good for Olt, but if they want Garza then they need to replace him with another comp. player.

  • mutantbeast

    If the Strangers want to give you sore=armed pitchers and concussed/nearly blind hitters for a #2/3 starter, then tell them to get lost.

  • Suzy S

    Kind of interesting that the Cubs have said that they need pitching back for Garza….but with at least 2 teams, (according to reports), they have targeted 3rd basemen over pitching. (Chisenhall and Olt).

    • paulcatanese

      Not only interesting, but confusing. It seems that what they have now is not enough.
      First round choice, signed, maybe 1-2 years away, and getting production there now, for the short term.
      And the need for pitching, they (Cubs) have been ranting that all along, yet they are willing to trade a legitimate starter (Garza) for unknown prospects and weak 3rd basemen.
      Could it be that we are the ones that see what is needed?

    • DWalker

      The problem there was that the rangers ahd no interest in trading their best pitching prospects for a rental, but the guys coming back were by no means terrible even if they weren’t an overall top 20 prospect, which olt still seems to be hovering around. Chisenhall is still regarded as a top 50 prospect, and again it may be a situation where no better pitchers were being dangled by the indians. As much as we might wish, other clubs gm’s do not exist just to make us easy mode trades and the market for rentals is not the same as a few years ago. clubs are a lot less eager to trade for a rental now. The flip side though is, grab the best players you can in the trade and if you get a logjam, now you have players who are not rentals you can trade. prospects for prospects is going to be a much different environment than prospects for rentals. Pitching is needed, but its also kinda like the draft, take the best players available in a deal like this and flip them if you need to.

      • Suzy S

        Well said.

      • Theboardrider

        Pitching will be the centerpiece. Olt or Chisenhall would have been throw-ins as was stated above. They are the closest to the show but the lower level pitchers, such as Edwards, would have been the main piece.

        • Suzy S

          I’m not so sure as both fall in the “top 50 prospect levels”.
          If a throw in’s medicals are holding up a deal…it should be easy to replace a throw in.

    • SomeGuy27

      Also, you have to keep in mind 3B is a tough position to fill. It’s tough to find an agile guy with a strong arm who can hit for power and drive in runs. It is the least represented position in the Hall of Fame after all.

      Generally, the progression is this: 3B’s are failed catchers who can hit. However, if they can’t hack the defensive side but can run they end up in a corner OF spot. If they can’t run then 1B.

      So, as DWalker said you stock up because any of these guys (Bryant included) can end up in another position or be used to acquire talent in positions of need.

      Shortstops also fall into the “stockpile” category, except offensively it’s not necessarily the power/RBI potential (you keep those) but on-base/run scoring ability.

    • J Daniel

      I don’t believe Olt is the target guy but the addition guy to get the deal done. Plus, you can never have enough prospects because they will need to move some at some point to fill in a position of need when in a race.

  • Tom U

    Minor League Notes:

    Dan Vogelbach has quietly moved himself to a .290 batting average. With August 1 a traditional promotion day, Vogelbach could find himself in Daytona for the final month of the season.

    The parallel move for Daytona would be Dustin Geiger moving to Tennessee. Like Vogelbach, Geiger is nearing 100 games and has maintained a high level throughout the season.

    If those two moves occur, expect Matt Szczur to get the call to go Iowa rather than Justin Bour. While Bour has more Double-A games, Iowa could use Szczur more now that Junior Lake is with the parent club.

    While Szczur moving to Iowa would leave Tennessee with only two outfielders (Rubi Silva, John Andreoli), both Jonathan Mota and Nate Samson have outfield experience.

    Although Jacob Rogers would make sense for Kane County if Vogelbach is promoted, expect the nod to go to Cael Brockmeyer. The Cougars already have a first baseman in Rock Shoulders and both Willson Contreras and Brockmeyer have experience there.

    The system’s hottest hitter of late has been Carlos Penalver. Since a brief exile to Arizona while Boise was in Canada, Penalver has an 8 game hitting streak and batted .381 over that stretch.

    • paulcatanese

      Lost in all of the Garza stuff, I had forgotten about Vogelbach, thanks, sounds like he is progressing.
      If some of my posts the last two days sound combative, I have been dealing with a “poop pyramid” , and the coolest has been 105 and the highest 114. So temperament has not been the best. ( anyone who owns an RV knows what I am talking about). Hard to get Sue outside to work on it, she’s not too quick in her wheelchair:)

      • Suzy S

        It’s not easy when you’re hot and miserable…I’ve been there this past week doing the gardening.
        Just “think cool thoughts”. :-)

      • texcubnut

        Last year, Paul, we had 32 consecutive days over 100 degrees. So, temperatures well over 100, and me, well over 60, well, let’s just say I understand!! :)

    • Suzy S

      I’d really like to see that Szczur promotion. I think he can add another dimension to our offense….a lead-off hitter with some base stealing capabilities that can hit for average.

      The last time we truly had those capabilities in a package…Kenny Lofton and Bobby Dernier…(in different seasons). Both of those guys were an instrumental weapon to getting us to the playoffs.
      I realize the big guns (Soler/Almora/Baez/and Bryant) are coming up right behind Szczur….
      But if he continues his progress…there will be a place for him on our next winning team.

      • J Daniel

        Really would be good. They should have re-signed Lofton but may after run in with Sosa that was it? Never know the behind the scenes stuff.

  • cubtex

    I really hope Garza gets moved before his next start. One thing about Theo’s tenure so far…….trades don’t come easy for this front office. Marmol, Dempster etc.

    • J Daniel

      If they came that easy it would mean they are getting the short end of the deal. Everyone is trying to make the best move for them. I find it the other way … they have been difficult because they are not pushovers, are well prepared, and are asking for really good players in return.

    • John_CC

      I think it is really important to remember that the level of internet scrutiny and literal constant chatter about potential trades continues to increase every year. My point is that now we have so much information at our hands that it is easy to say – because it appears to us – that the trades aren’t working smoothly etc. But in reality, I assume that the trade process has always been a long and muddled back and forth. It’s just that now it seems like they aren’t doing well because we hear a rumor – and don’t forget, they are all rumors – about a hangup or it is a done deal or whatever just about every 3 minutes in 140 characters or less.

      Imagine if there was the same level of twitter and blog chatter when He dry was pulling off some of his better moves, ie Aramis, Lofton, and Simon for Bobby Hill and whoever else was in that deal. Pretty sure that wasn’t just a simple swapping of names and then a handshake.

  • Tom U

    I hope Brian is out there reading. I just wanted him to know that I was retweeted by Kim DeJesus last night!

  • CubbyDenCritic

    It looks clear across the League that Theo has a reputation of getting what he wants. Many GM’s fear Theo and are backing out of deals at the last second. Rangers got burned last year with Chis Davis trade with the Orioles. Garza deal will happen. Plus many more other Cubs trades.

    • BosephHeyden

      I wouldn’t go so far as to say they got burnt. The Rangers needed bullpen help and Uehara provided it to them. All it cost them was a starting pitching prospect that didn’t seem like he was going to pan out into anything more than a fourth starter (to Baltimore’s credit, they did convert Tommy Hunter rather successfully thus far into a good late inning reliever) and a first baseman who seemed like he’d be a good player, but not great (and no one could have predicted this).

      If the Rangers had tried a bit harder to lock up Uehara, this trade wouldn’t look as bad as it does. It would still look pretty bad based solely on Chris Davis having a career year that most great players wish they would have, but, a few years down the road, the trade could also wind up looking like a wash for both teams if Davis doesn’t match what he has right now for his yearly numbers.

    • cubtex

      I don’t think that is the case. He hasn’t really robbed anybody in trades in Boston or Chicago.

      • J Daniel

        Unloaded Nomar on us!

    • paulcatanese

      Epstein may have that reputation of getting what he wants, and this will not be liked by many, but I thought it was pitching that he wanted. I do believe his expertise is in other lines besides pitching. I haven’t seen a lot of arms coming to the Cubs.
      In fact pitching up and down the line in the organization leaves a lot to be desired, I see no game changers here.
      He is more adept at bringing in prospect position players, and If bringing in Jackson on an extended contract and trying to get rid of Garza almost in the same breath is any example of his ability to garner pitching, I just rest my case.

  • Suzy S

    BTW…mlbtraderumors is reporting that the sweepstakes for Cuban defector Miquel Alfredo Gonzales looks like a five year, 50 million contract.
    If so, they speculate, he will become a Dodger.
    ESPN Chicago did a piece last week that said he would be in a mlb rotation by next year…(but I can’t find that piece now).