Tag:Matt Garza
Posted on: December 29, 2011 12:27 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2011 12:28 pm
 

Under new Cubs regime, patience is the word



By Matt Snyder


Back when the Cubs first hired Theo Epstein to be the club president, I wrote that we shouldn't expect to see a short-term fix to a currently badly flawed team and organization. "The band-aid-on-a-broken-leg approach got Jim Hendry fired, so there's no way [Cubs chairman] Tom Ricketts would hire Epstein to do the same thing," I wrote.

It's now a few months later and we've seen a bevy of moves by Epstein, but none of them are big names. David DeJesus, Ian Stewart, Travis Wood, Andy Sonnanstine and Manny Corpas will hardly be mistaken for Jose Reyes, Albert Pujols, Jonathan Papelbon and C.J. Wilson anytime soon.

In that same article I referenced above, I wrote that Epstein had three possible routes to take in building the Cubs. I incorrectly guessed he'd try to win now while also building the foundation. Instead, Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer have elected to take the long, slow rebuild route. It would appear any veteran with trade value is going to be dealt (Matt Garza and Marlon Byrd likely the next two, while one would expect the likes of Carlos Marmol, Geovany Soto and Ryan Dempster to be available by the trade deadline in July) as Sean Marshall already has been.

Now, it's awfully tough to tell a fanbase that has never seen a World Series championship (I mean, there can't possibly be a 110-year-old Cubs fan that remembers when he was seven, right?) to be patient, but that's how it has to be. The franchise needed a complete overhaul, and the process has begun. Give Ricketts credit for hiring a guy and giving him enough leeway to take as long as he needs to rebuild the organization. In return, the fans need to be patient and keep their eyes on the prize. Ricketts, Epstein and Hoyer are trying to slowly build one of the best farm systems in the majors while also being able to put together a massive payroll that dwarfs those of the competitors in the NL Central.

Cubs offseason
One would expect most fans to be open-minded about the situation. Thankfully, I couldn't find any "fire Theo Epstein" boards on the Internet (at least not from his Cubs perch) just yet. Our @EyeOnBaseball Twitter account did receive a deluge of messages from a disgruntled fan last week, though. The fan wanted Epstein fired immediately because he didn't sign Pujols and Mark Buehrle while also keeping Aramis Ramirez. I'm betting this kind of short-sighted sentiment is in the minority, but let's be realistic here. The Cubs were 71-91 last season. They have a mediocre farm system. Any attempt to make a quick fix would handcuff the franchise.

Let's keep all of this in mind when the 2012 Cubs suck. Any they will. They are going to be really bad. Any veteran performing well will probably be flipped to a contender in July (picture the Astros last season trading Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn while also shopping Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers). The fans who abandon the Cubs after a bad 2012 season aren't the real ones. The fans calling for the heads of Ricketts, Epstein and Hoyer aren't the ones with foresight. No, the real fans are the ones who will realize it's a rebuilding process and that the new braintrust is building the foundation through all these trades and can expect a top five overall draft pick in 2013. Also realize the Cubs, who can likely afford a player payroll of $150 million, only have $33.05 million committed in salaries in 2013 (Cot's Contracts).

Remember, this is a process. It's one that will likely transform the Cubs into a major player in the National League landscape -- possibly by as early as 2013. You don't change a century-plus loser into a winner by spending money like Montgomery Brewster (who, funnily enough, wore a Cubs jersey) just to fill two or three of dozens of holes. For now, the Cubs are a sleeping giant. In a few years, they might just be the Evil Empire of the NL Central.

As for the fans, listen to Axl Rose: "All (you) need, is just a little patience."

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: December 23, 2011 4:02 pm
 

As Cubs look to deal, is Matt Garza next?

Matt Garza

By C. Trent Rosecrans

If I'm Matt Garza, I'm not getting too comfortable in Chicago.

During Friday's conference call to announce the trade of Sean Marshall to Cincinnati, Cubs president Theo Epstein said, "I don't think we're done" and "generally we're int he business of taking short-term assets and turning into long-term assets."

Reading between the lines it means Epstein knows the Cubs are going to stink in 2012 and hope to have a team that doesn't stink in the future.

Epstein said the team was looking at building depth in the rotation at both the minor-league and major-league levels, noting they would have "to make sacrifices."

Epstein was asked about Garza, who has been rumored to be on the trade block.

"Matt Garza is the type of pitcher you want to build around," Esptein said (via ESPNChicago.com). "He's a proven top-of-the-rotation guy, a proven performer in the playoffs. I think last year he had his best season, all things being equal.

"It's hard to find top-of-the-rotation guys, so if you have them, and if there's a way to keep them around, that's always compelling for the club. With that said, we've been honest. We are in a mode where we have to listen on everybody. And if there's a way to improve the long-term outlook for this club in a significant manner, we can't look past opportunities."

Epstein added the team isn't in the place where the team has to deal Garza, but as the market has shown recently with the Mat Latos and Gio Gonzalez trades, starting pitching is the most valuable commodity on the market right now and can bring back several pieces in return.

Garza made $5.9 million last season and is due a raise through arbitration for next season and is also arbitration-eligible for the 2013 season before becoming a free agent.

"We'll listen," Epstein said. "Because there's always an active trade market for top-of-the-rotation guys with multiple years of control."

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: December 21, 2011 4:55 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 6:05 pm
 

Reds, Cubs close to dealing lefties



By C. Trent Rosecrans

After adding to the front of their rotation, the Reds are adding to the back of the bullpen, getting closer to acquiring Cubs lefty reliever Sean Marshall in return for left-handed starter Travis Wood and two prospects, CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler confirms.

Marshall, 29, has just seven career saves, but figures to be either the closer or set-up man for Cincinnati, which lost closer Francisco Cordero to free agency. Marshall was 6-6 with a 2.26 ERA with the Cubs last season, striking out 79 batters in 75 2/3 innings. He is signed through this season at $3.1 million in 2012 and will be a free agent after the season. He would join fellow lefty Bill Bray in the bullpen, as the team has said it expects Aroldis Chapman to move to the rotation.

Wood, who will be 25 next season, is 11-10 with a 4.18 ERA in 39 big league games and 35 starts. Last season he was 6-6 with a 4.84 ERA, striking out 76 batters in 106 innings. The Reds drafted Wood out of high school in the second round of the 2005 draft. He's under team control through the 2016 season and isn't arbitration-eligible until after the 2013 season.

The Reds sent three of their top 10 prospects to acquire Mat Latos and appear to be selling out for the 2012 race after watching their biggest divisional rivals lose major pieces with the Cardinals losing Albert Pujols and the Brewers facing a season without Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun facing a 50-game suspension.

The Cubs, on the other hand, appear to be listening to offers for just about anyone on their roster -- except for maybe Starlin Castro. Several sources have said the new Cubs brass now sees the state of the franchise as a long-term project and that there will be no real quick fix. David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com wrote the same thing on Wednesday, noting baseball officials say Chicago could be in for a "complete and total rebuild."

Wood would help the team long-term, even if he's nothing more than a fourth or fifth pitcher in Chicago, because he is affordable and under team control for so long. The Cubs could also try to deal closer Carlos Marmol, who is under contract through 2013 and outfielder Marlon Byrd, a free agent after the season, in an attempt to shed payroll and acquire prospects. However, finding takers that will take both money and give prospects could be tough for any of those names. The team's best trade chip is right-hander Matt Garza, who is under team control for the next two seasons. Based on what the Reds gave up for Latos, the Cubs could be tempted to move him for prospects -- the exact thing the previous regime gave up to get Garza.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: December 8, 2011 1:38 pm
 

How will Texas respond to Angels' challenge?



By C. Trent Rosecrans

A year ago the Rangers were crushed when Cliff Lee went to Philadelphia. This year they expected to lose C.J. Wilson, but the difference is the landing spot. Lee went to the National League, Wilson is staying in the American League West -- and joining Albert Pujols in Anaheim.

The Rangers will now step back and reassess where they stand in regards to their divisional rival.

"Our job just got more challenging," Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine told CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler. "We just saw him seven games and I can't say we figured him out."

The question now is whether the Rangers try to counter with big moves of their own. It's still possible, despite the denials of team president Nolan Ryan, that the team goes after Prince Fielder. Ryan says the team is comfortable with Mitch Moreland at first base, but he said the same last year about Michael Young and third base before signing Adrian Beltre.

MLB Winter Meetings

And then there's the rotation. As it stands now, the Rangers rotation is Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, Alexi Ogando, Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz. That's not bad, but it's not the Angels' rotation.

Feliz -- like Wilson and Ogando before him -- is being moved from the bullpen to the rotation. It's worked well enough before for the Rangers, so this could work. Feliz came up in the minors as a starter, starting 27 games in 2008 and 13 in 2009, the last time he started. The Rangers also signed Joe Nathan to make sure they had an experienced closer to fill his shoes.

Another possibility is moving Scott Feldman back to the rotation. The 28-year-old right-hander started two games in 2011 and has 80 career starts under his belt. Feldman won 17 games in 2009 and is 29-28 with a 4.69 ERA in his career as a starter, striking out 4.8 batters per nine innings, down from the 5.6 strikeouts per nine as a reliever.

Texas, though, could very well go outside of their organization to bolster their staff. General manager Jon Daniels scouted Yu Darvish in person this past season and the team has had success in Japan before with Lewis. Darvish, though, must go through the posting system, which is hardly a sure thing on a blind bid for the posting fee.

Another possibility is Matt Garza. The Cubs have let it be known they are open to trading anyone -- including the 28-year-old right-hander is arbitration-eligible and will be a free agent after the 2013 season. Garza went 10-10 with a 3.32 ERA in his first year in Chicago. The Rangers are talking to the Cubs about a deal for Garza, who would help their rotation.

Roy Oswalt is also a free agent and could be a fallback option.

The Angels shocked the baseball world on Thursday, the Rangers were among them. But the Rangers are unlikely to sit still and will certainly be worth watching going forward.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: December 7, 2011 10:52 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 11:30 pm
 

Cubs, Rangers talking Matt Garza trade

By Matt Snyder

DALLAS -- Cubs starting pitcher Matt Garza is being discussed in a possible trade with the Texas Rangers, sources have told Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com. Garza has been rumored to be on the trading block throughout the offseason, though at other times he's been rumored to be part of the Cubs' future plans. Basically, new Cubs' braintrust (Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer et al) seem to be keeping everything very close to the vest.

The Rangers' interest is obvious. Though still in the running for free agent starting pitcher C.J. Wilson, the Marlins and Angels appear to be the obvious favorites. Rangers general manager Jon Daniels told reporters Wednesday that he wouldn't be surprised to lose Wilson.

Full Winter Meetings Coverage | Free Agent Tracker

While Neftali Feliz is moving to the rotation, the Rangers still only have four definite starters in Feliz, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison. They can use either Scott Feldman or Alexi Ogando, but acquiring Garza would allow them to keep the bullpen very strong in front of new closer Joe Nathan and setup man Mike Adams.

Garza, 28, was 10-10 (with awful run support and defense behind him) with a 3.32 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 197 strikeouts in 198 innings for the Cubs last season.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: December 3, 2011 8:39 pm
Edited on: December 3, 2011 9:39 pm
 

Saturday rumors: Kuroda, A's and more

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Saturday's the last day at home for a couple of days for most in baseball, as the winter meetings kick off Monday in Dallas -- and that goes for reporters, as well. That meant a rather light day in rumors, but expect things to pick up on Sunday and then go fast and furious on Monday. Last year news of Jayson Werth's deal with the Nationals came on the day before the start of the meetings, so that goes to show things don't just go down in the hotel lobby.

Hiroki KurodaThe news of Chris Capuano's signing with the Dodgers seemed to signal the end of Hiroki Kuroda's time in Los Angeles, and maybe even his time in the United States. However, the Rockies are pursuing Kuroda (Denver Post). Kuroda's also been mentioned as a possibility for the Red Sox, Yankees, Tigers, Angels, Rangers and others. Kuroda blocked deals to the Tigers and Red Sox last season. WEEI.com reports Kuroda is open to pitching in Boston. His former team in Japan, the Hiroshima Carp, have also offered him a contract.

The A's could be popular in Dallas, as the team has pitching for sale. "I wouldn't rule anybody out," assistant GM David Forst told the San Francisco Chronicle. The A's are looking for an outfielder in return. Closer Andrew Bailey is among the most popular trade targets on the team, already drawing attention from the Rangers, Blue Jays, Reds, Padres, Mets and Mariners. (Chicago Tribune)

Someone put in a bid for Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima. The Seibu Lions are expected to accept the bid, regardless of the amount. (Kyodo News)

Matt Garza's agent told the Cubs' right-hander to prepare for "an active winter meetings." Garza told him he'd be in Italy. Garza was dealt from the Rays to the Cubs last offseason and is under team control through 2013. The Cubs have let it be known that they're open to trading just about anyone. (MLB.com)

The Rockies are interested in Japanese second baseman Kensuke Tanaka. The left-handed hitter played in just 49 games this past season for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters because of an ankle injury, but is said to be healthy now. (FoxSports.com)

The Red Sox will meet with Bob Garber, the agent for C.J. Wilson and Roy Oswalt, during the winter meetings. (Boston Herald)

Not many have thought that Rays general manager Andrew Friedman would consider taking the Astros' GM job, but free agent outfielder Johnny Damon seems to think it's a possibility. "He's not going to sign me and then leave," Damon told the Boston Globe of Friedman. "If he goes to Houston, his hometown, he's going to try and bring me along with him. That's where my waiting game is." Damon also said he told David Ortiz to play in New York and take advantage of the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium.

Casey Blake is drawing interest from nine teams, including the Indians. He can play both corner outfield spots and both corner infield spots. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

The White Sox are looking to trade for a starter and an outfielder and are dangling John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Carlos Quentin and Matt Thornton. Among the teams that could be a match are the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Nationals, Reds and Braves. (Chicago Tribune)

Tim WakefieldKnuckleballer Tim Wakefield said he has a "strong desire" to pitch for the Red Sox next season. The 45-year-old needs seven wins to surpass Roger Clemens and Cy Young as the franchise's all-time leader. (Boston Herald)

The Reds held their annual RedsFest in Cincinnati this weekend, so there's plenty of news from the banks of the Ohio thanks to the media availability of GM Walt Jocketty, manager Dusty Baker and most of the team's roster and top prospects. Jocketty said the team is looking for a "top of the rotation" starter and have targeted six different players, but didn't name any of them. Jocketty also said the team had looked at Detroit infielder Ramon Santiago as a backup shortstop, and would ideally like to sign a left-handed hitter or switch hitter to back up Zack Cozart (Cincinnati Enquirer). Baker said the team is looking both internally and externally for a closer, but will not have a closer by committee to replace Francisco Cordero (MLB.com). 

Follow all the moves with the CBSSports.com free agent tracker.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 28, 2011 7:15 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2011 11:06 am
 

Trade rumor du jour: Matt Garza available



By Matt Snyder


Earlier Monday, Buster Olney of ESPN tweeted that the Cubs were willing to trade starting pitcher Matt Garza and there's been much discussion all day about where he might be headed, if he's traded. This isn't really news, though, because it's widely known the Cubs will listen to trade offers on just about everyone (21-year-old shortstop Starlin Castro probably isn't headed anywhere, but everyone else could surely be had at a reasonable price).

Still, we might as well just take the opportunity to talk about where Garza would fit. It's that time of the year, after all, with the Winter Meetings starting in just one week.

Rumor Mill
We know the Yankees and Red Sox want starting pitching. They always do. The Blue Jays, Rockies and Reds are also looking and a trade would fit better than spending big on a free agent. The Marlins and Nationals have been heavily involved in courting free agent starting pitchers, and in doing so they wouldn't have to cough up a good package of prospects, but don't count them out, either. And the list could be even bigger, this was just picking out a few obvious teams.

Expect the new Cubs administration -- led by Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer -- to actively seek out ways to restock the farm system as they look to build a strong foundation. That means if you see a name in trade rumors, it's probably true the Cubs are listening to offers. To reiterate, they're listening on virtually everyone. They're looking for any opportunity to start planning for the future, even if it's at the expense of the present.

Garza, 28, was 10-10 with a 3.32 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 197 strikeouts in 198 innings last season, his first in Chicago. Sabermetric stats such as FIP, xFIP and WAR loved Garza last season, too, so front offices with analytical leanings will certainly be contacting Epstein, Hoyer and company.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 25, 2011 3:09 pm
Edited on: November 26, 2011 1:38 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Minnesota Twins



By C. Trent Rosecrans


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no waivers, no minor- or major-league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. 

For years, the Minnesota Twins were the model of how to build a consistent winner in a small market. From 2001-2010, the Twins appeared in the playoffs six times and recorded just one losing season. But the wheels fell off in 2011, with a mixture of bad fortune and bad pitching. The Twins have two former MVPs in their lineup, but it would be tough to find two former MVPs who did less in 2011 than Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer. Those two homegrown players were supposed to be cornerstones for the franchise, but their performance last season was more fitting a tombstone. The team's fortunes, for better or worse, will be tied to those two for the next few years.

Lineup

1. Denard Span, CF
2. Michael Cuddyer, 3B
3. Joe Mauer, 1B
4. Justin Morneau, DH
5. Torii Hunter, RF
6. Jason Kubel, LF
7. Wilson Ramos, C
8. Danny Valencia, 2B
9. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, SS

Starting Rotation

1. Matt Garza
2. Nick Blackburn
3. Kevin Slowey
4. Brian Duensing
5. Anthony Swarzak

Bullpen

Closer - Jesse Crain
Set up - LaTroy Hawkins, J.C. Romero, Pat Neshek, Glen Perkins, Grant Balfour, Peter Moylan

Notable Bench Players

A.J. Pierzynski, Ben Revere, Luke Hughes, Trevor Plouffe.

What's Good?

With Ramos and Pierzynski on the roster, there's zero reason for Mauer to get anywhere near catching gear -- unless it's for another commercial. With Mauer freed of pitching duties, he can concentrate on first base and Justin Morneau doesn't have to worry about playing in the field. Even though Morneau is a very good defensive first baseman, keeping him off the field could keep him on the field. Last year he suffered concussion-like symptoms after merely diving for a ball. Limiting his risks for a recurrence of head injuries should be a top priority for the Twins, and the easiest way to do that solves the team's other big problem, getting the most out of their long-term deal with Mauer. While the Twins don't have anyone on this list with a large number of saves on their resume, there are a ton of good relievers.

What's Not?

It's a good thing the team has good relievers, because they're going to need them -- and even more than the seven listed above. The rotation, after Garza, is shaky. That rotation isn't going to get much help from its defense, either. The roster makeup requires several position shuffles, including Cuddyer to third, a position he's played, but is not too keen on playing. The Twins also have to put Nishioka at shortstop. Although he played there some in 2011, the team signed Jamey Carroll to play shortstop every day in 2012 for a reason.

Comparison to real 2011

Well, if you thought it couldn't get much worse in Minnesota than it did in 2011, it may with this lineup and rotation. Minnesota went 63-99 in 2011, and it probably breaks the 100-loss barrier with this squad, but don't expect them to be historically bad, so it'd probably only cost four-to-eight wins in my unscientific research. Either way, it's an ugly summer in Minneapolis.

Up next: Pittsburgh Pirates

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com