The Return Of Garza
Matt Garza returns from whatever graham cracker piece fell of off him last time tonight, and that kind of tickles me. While Jim Hendry still gets panned for this deal, I still can’t bring myself to hate it. Sure, it was the wrong kind of deal for what the Cubs were in 2011. Garza is the type of pitcher you bring in when you’re one step away from real contention or trying to cement your place in the penthouse of the league. You don’t sacrifice “prospects” when you’re falling off the map, as the Cubs were.
But then I was never married to the prospects the Cubs gave up. Sam Fuld is bad at baseball. Chris Archer’s ERA is over 4.00 at Triple A this year, and he turns 25 in September. Window would seem to be closing. Ok, Hak-Ju Lee is tearing up AAA at the moment, hitting over .400 in 15 games. But shortstop was already filled, and there are more infield prospects on the way. I doubt in two years anyone’s going to care or even remember Lee was in the Cubs system.
And I love watching Garza pitch. Call it my neanderthal gene that gets fed by watching a true power pitcher. While it’s entertaining to watch Travis Wood right now kind of just finagle his way through a lineup, there is no unique joy like watching a guy who can make major league hitters look so futile as Garza can when he’s on. No, he’s not Price or Cain or Kershaw, but he’s the best we’ve got.
Once Garza piles up some starts, the debate will rage about whether to trade him or to sign him — losing him this winter for nothing is obviously not an option. In the end, I bet it comes down to how these preliminary contract negotiations that were buzzed about around the Rizzo signing go. If Epstoyer get the idea that Garza is asking for the moon or simply doesn’t want to be around here long-term, they’ll punt him. Or if they get blown away by an offer, they’ll send him out.
But I wouldn’t be upset, and in fact would probably be pretty happy, if Garza was signed for a few more years. As we’ve commented before, while the Cubs system is not barren it is way short on pitchers. Any promising prospects who hurl from the mound (not in the style that I would hurl from the mound) are years away. Even if the Cubs can take Mark Appel in June’s draft, they’d still be short. So someone is going to have to take the ball.
And to me, if Garza was re-signed, and you went into next year with Garza-Shark-Jackson-Wood, with possibly Appel joining in around June if the projections come up trumps, that looks pretty tasty. Sure, it depends on Wood maintaining his current form and Shark continuing to improve — but not at a ridiculous rate.
Best yet, that rotation really wouldn’t have added a huge expense to anything, depending on what Samardzija is signed for. There would be plenty of money left over to plug the massive leaks in the pen. Without mortgaging any part of your future or plan, you could have a plus rotation with a decent pen. In the NL, that’s all it takes to be competitive if not contending.
I wouldn’t dismiss the possibility.