The Matt Garza Effect: How former and would-be Cubs prospects are faring

The Matt Garza Effect: How former and would-be Cubs prospects are faring

There was a lot of hype this offseason about the Cubs trading Matt Garza and there were a lot of names thrown around.  Much of it was speculation, so we can't know for certain if these were the players the Cubs were talking about (if they were talking at all).  Even though it's early and it's looking more and more like the Cubs are leaning toward giving Garza an extenstion, I decided to take a peek and see how the prospects traded for Garza are doing as well as some of the rumored/speculated names we heard in the offseason.

First off, here Matt Garza's early numbers...

1-0, 1.23 ERA (2.48 FIP), 1.84 walk ratio/ 8.59 strikeout ratio.

Players traded for Matt Garza

  • Chris Archer, RHP, (AAA): 1-1, 10.38 ERA, 9.35 walk rate, 10.38 K Rate,
  • Hak-Ju Lee, SS, (AA): .204/.291/.245.  2 doubles, 6 walks, 12 strikeouts, 2 SBs
  • Brandon Guyer, OF (AAA): .186/.300/.349, 1 2B, 2 HRS, 6 walks, 10 strikeouts
  • Robinson Chirinos, C (Rays): .218/.283/.309, 2 2Bs, 1 HR, 5 walks, 13 strikeouts
  • Sam Fuld: Injured

While it's early, there has to be concern with Archer's control/command issues and you have to think he's getting that much closer to being converted into a reliever.  Lee, meanwhile, has struggled for parts of two seasons at AA.  Combined he's hitting .195 and slugging just .289 in 169 combined PAs.  It's still a pretty small sample size, but it's worth noting that he has yet to adjust to more advanced pitching. Like many of the Cubs own infield prospects, slugging is the key for Lee to hit that next level and Lee did slug a very respectable .443 last season in high A ball, so it could be just a matter of him adjusting to AA pitching.  Guyer and Chirinos are backup types and the Cubs seem to be doing fine with backup OF'er types and catchers in their system.

Players rumored/speculated as coming to the Cubs

From Tigers

  • Jacob Turner, RHP (AAA): Injured.  Lost velocity this spring and the Tigers have held him back since.
  • Andy Oliver, LHP (AAA): 0-1, 2.79, 8.38 walk rate, 12.10 strikeout rate
  • Casey Crosby, LHP (AAA):, 0-2, 9.00, 7., 71 walk rate, 9.00 strikeout rate
  • Drew Smyly, LHP (Tigers): 4 IP, 2.25 ERA, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts
  • Nick Castellanos, 3B (A+): .372/.404/.512, 3 2Bs, 1 HR, 3 walks/12 strikeouts

Castellanos and Smyly are off to decent starts.  Smyly had one horrendous start in AAA but pitched fairly well in his debut.  Oliver has a nice ERA but that walk rate indicates he's still struggling with command and will likely end up a reliever.

From Rangers

  • Martin Perez, LHP (AAA): 1-1, 2.60 ERA, 3.12 walk rate/6.23 strikeout rate
  • Neil Ramirez, RHP (AAA): 0-1, 5.00 ERA, 3.00 walk rate/10.00 K rate
  • Mike Olt, 3B, (AA): .209/.277/.419, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 4 walks/15 Ks

I didn't put Jurickson Profar on this list because I didn't think the Cubs had a chance of getting him but if you're curious, he's off to a slow start with a .214 average and 3 HRs.  I was also hesitant to put Perez on this list because I don't think Texas will part with him, but you'd think the Cubs would insist on Perez if they were to trade Garza, which seems unlikely at this point.

From Yankees

  • Manny Banuelos, LHP (AAA): 0-1, 10.13 ERA, 11.81 walk rate/3.38 K rate
  • Jesus Montero, C/DH (Seattle): .286/.270/.400, 1 2B, 1 HR, 0 walks/6 strikeouts
  • Delin Betances, RHP (AAA): 0-2, 10.38 ERA, 7.62 walk rate/9.00 K rate

So far, not so good.  Serious control problems for both "frontline" pitchers, particularly Banuelos.  You have to wonder if these guys, like Archer, wind up as bullpen arms.  Montero has a nice bat but he should be a DH.

From Red Sox

  • Will Middlebrooks, 3B, (AAA): .333/.347/.538, 3 2B, 3 HRs, 1 walk
  • /9 Ks
  • Anthony Raunado, RHP (AA): Injured.  Reportedly not serious, but has yet to pitch in 2012
  • Xander Bogaerts, SS, (A+): .289/.357/.444, 3 2Bs, 1 HR, 3 walks/9 Ks

I doubt the Red Sox would part with Bogaerts, but I mentioned him because he's a guy the Cubs would almost certainly ask for.  Middlebrooks is off to a nice start with the bat and there's a sense that Kevin Youkilis won't be in Boston much longer.  Also, in case you're wondering, compensation arm Aaron Kurcz is at AA where he has an 0-1 record with an 8.22 ERA in 4 relief appearances.  He has 5 walks vs. 9 strikeouts in 7.2 IP.

From Blue Jays

  • Anthony Gose, CF (AAA): .163/.263/.180, 1 extra base hit (double), 6 walks/12 strikeouts, 3 SBs in 6 attempts
  • Travis D'Arnaud, C, (AAA): .222/.317/.306, 3 2Bs, 5 walks/6 strikeouts
  • Drew Hutchinson, RHP (AA): 2-1, 2.16 ERA, 1.62 walks/6.48 strikeouts
  • Deck McGuire, RHP (AA): 0-2, 9.90 ERA, 1.80 walks/9.90 strikeouts, has given 11 hits, 5 have been HRs
  • Jake Marisnick, CF (A+): .238/.400/.429,  4 2Bs, 2 3Bs, 7 walks/11 strikeouts,  3 sBs in 4 attempts
  • Noah Syndergaard, RHP (A-): 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 3 walks/14 strikeouts in 9 IP (2 starts)
  • Justin Nicolino, RHP, (A-): 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1.5 walks/12.00 Ks in 6 IP (1 start)

The lower level Blue Jay pitchers are off to great starts.  Hutchinson is also performing well in AA while Marsinick has a hit for some extra base power and has a solid OBP despite a low batting average.  As always, I'm not suggesting these names are actually in play.  It's doubtful right now that Toronto would part with some of these prospects (particularly Syndegaard) at this point.

I'm not advocating trading or not trading Garza here.  I'm simply following up on some of the rumors/speculations we heard during the winter.  My impression is that a Garza trade is not being discussed at this point, but I thought it'd fun to look at what might have been in terms of former and would-be prospects are doing early in the season.

Filed under: Cubs Rumors

Tags: Matt Garza


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  • Any thought on who Giants use to close??? Could we put a bow on Marmol???

  • In reply to Hubbs16:

    I don't know yet. I'd be a little worried about dealing for Marmol. The encouraging part has been his last 2 outings and his increased velocity and movement over last year (per Brooks Baseball), but if I'm a team that thinks it can contend, I want to see a bigger sample and get my scouts out to see him first hand. If it happens, I don't believe it will happen for awhile.

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    In reply to Hubbs16:

    The Giants have Sergio Romo, who has pitched better than Wilson (or just about any reliever in baseball) for 4 years. He's most certainly the closer now.

    Here's the link to his stats:

    He has a career MLB WHIP of 0.89.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    Forgot about Romo. Maybe they'll actually look to acquire a set up guy to replace Romo. It'd be cheaper in terms of salary and prospets.

  • I've been reading your stuff for a while now, finally signed up for the site. Good stuff as always, I always enjoy the articles you and Tom write.

    Even though it's early, it's nice to see that patience is paying off at least for right now. Garza has been brilliant, and none of the prospects that the Cubs were linked to are making anyone regret not doing the deal.

  • In reply to King Jeff:

    Thanks King Jeff! Appreciate you reading and glad you signed on to comment.

    While I understand why the Cubs would entertain the idea, I'm wary of trading good pitchers in their prime years for prospects. Historically it hasn't panned out to well for the team getting the prospects. If you're a small market team, you may have no choice but to trade Garza, but the Cubs do have a choice and it gives them some leverage to either ask for a ton and minimize their risk or just re-sign him and keep a guy whom they feel is a frontline pitcher. He's 28 and barring injury, should be good for the next 5-10 years. If the Cubs can't compete in that time frame, then something is seriously wrong.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree. Garza is young enough and inexpensive enough that the Cubs have very little reason to trade him. Unless some team blows them away with an offer of several top 10 prospects, there is very little incentive for a move.

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    Nice post, John. I'd like to see this in a follow up in a couple of months just to see what the prospects are doing (unless the Cubs sign Garza to an extension by then).

  • In reply to Just Win:

    Thanks Just win. I'll definitely do a follow up when we've had a larger sample size. A couple of months sounds like a good plan.

  • Garza, Castro, Samardzija, and Clevenger, and Dolis are the only players on the active roster right now that will still be around when (not if) they are contenders. Maybe Barney.

    So they need to sign Garza and Castro long term.


  • In reply to clarkaddison:

    Agreed. Especially on Castro and I'm starting to really lean that way on Garza too.

  • I think Hendry was unfairly hammered making the Garza trade. Right now, only Lee looks like a really top notch guy (Archer seems destined to the pen IMO).

    I think the way Garza is pitching, and with the struggle of starters in general, the price for Garza needs to be even higher than it was in the offseason. He could be approaching top 20 starter status if he continues down this road.

  • In reply to bwenger:

    He really was, though he did make that deal because he overestimated how good the team would be in 2011. If Lee winds up being an above average SS, then I'll say Tampa got the better of the deal, but it certainly is not as bad as some made it out to be.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It may well turn out that Hendry will have gotten the better of this trade, but he oversaw the scouting operation that drafted the lemons he ended up unloading. Blame Hendry and/or former ownership for their poor/cheap drafts, but it's hard to dole out attaboys to Hendry for this.

  • In reply to baseballet:

    No attaboys warranted at all. Hendry got lucky on this one if it pans out. His intentions were to try and compete and save his job, so they weren't exactly noble. The fact that he got a good, young starter is nice, but the deal at the time was ill-advised given where the Cubs were (and still are).

    And as I mentioned somewhere on this thread, I think if just Lee winds up an above average SS, I'd have to give Tampa the win on this one.

  • I like the Cubs draft from last year, especially Javier Baez. After watching his video on youtube last summer, I saw the super quick swing with authority and thought maybe, just maybe another Gary Sheffield. This spring, he's shown his mean side too, just like Sheffield, lol. Saw Dan Vogelbach on youtube also and his chirping and laughing as he approached the plate reminded me of Smokey Burgess, a good hitting catcher for the Pirates a long time ago, but the quick wrists and powerful portside swing along with the big trunk and short legs made me think of a miniaturized version of Babe Ruth, but w/o the powerful left arm. Ruth was a good pitcher before converting. The signings of players like Jeimer Candelario and Jeffrey Baez as free agents together with all the rest from Cuba, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, and Taiwan by Fleita in the last few years makes me think that the Cubs farm system is in better shape than that of the Padres and Redsox right now. Now let's sign the 19 year old, free agent outfielder from Cuba.

  • In reply to shalin:

    His swing is fun to watch. I was trying to analyze it, pause it...but it isn't easy. He really gets that bat around quickly.

    He definitely has some fire and you hope he channels it more like Garza than Zambrano. He's 18, though, so he has time to grow up a bit. I don't think he's a bad person, just lets his competitive side get the best o him.

    Agreed on the international signings, atlhough you have to give Steve Wilson a lot of credit for Taiwan and the far east.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, I've seen other references to Baez's "volatile behavior" but can you be specific? Why does everyone make veiled references to some kind of character issue? I'm curious what exactly he's done.

  • In reply to baseballet:

    I don't know if you read the recent incident where Baez hit something like a 425 ft. HR, stood at home, and watched it go out. The Angels coach screamed "run the bases!" to him, so Baez did but when he got to home plate, he said, "I can do whatever the F#@& I want!"

    It's immature at the very least, he is just 19 years old, after all, but you also don't see that from every teen. Most of the time, hes a pretty good kid but he lets his competitive nature get the best of him. You want to have confidence, but you don't want him to be too cocky either. It's a fine line. I'm sure it's something the Cubs will monitor.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'd say that's a pretty good example! If I ran a team I'd have a rule that my three best players could not have horrible attitudes. If your superstars have good attitudes then everyone else sort of has to fall in line. But when your superstars run amok it destroys the clubhouse. Until Kerry Wood smashes their boombox.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm not horribly familiar with how extended spring training works, but if an opposing coach yelled at me to do something, I can understand Baez's response. He should tell the coach to tell his pitcher not to give up HR. If a Cubs coach told him to run the bases, he should say, "yes sir."

  • In reply to Denvil Farley:

    That's why I think it's more his competitive nature. I doubt he would have done the same thing if it were a Cubs coach. Still, I'd rather he hit the HR and run, no need to show up the pitcher. Let his big bat speak for itself.

  • Good stuff as usual. A few weeks doesn't make a career, but it's useful to see that trading a good player for prospects isn't all it's sometimes cracked up to be. Tough sport to project.

  • In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    Thanks Cubswin!

    It is hard to project and although it's early, I think we'd be a little worried right now if, for example, the Cubs had made a trade for Jacob Turner without Nick Castellanos.

    You just never know, and that's why I think the Cubs need to get as much as possible to minimize that risk. Whoever winds up with Garza (Cubs included) is going to get a good pitcher for at least two years.

  • Because of the last two big, and long term, given to pitchers
    will the Cubs be able to give Garza what he his worth in the
    market now.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    That's a great question. Signing Garza is a good idea to a point. If the salary gets out of hand, then the Cubs may have to re-consdier other options.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    He is a better pitcher than Danks. So Danks' contract is probably the starting point if I'm Garza's agent. However, if you are the Cubs, you can't afford to pay him to much more than Danks. I wonder if using Danks' contract as a base and then giving him a bunch of incentives to up the potential value of the contract would get this done.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    He is better than Danks, but their stats line up nicely. Danks + incentives is not a bad idea.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I was a GM in a former life.

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    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I would also like to see them resign Garza just because he is one of the only vocal, supportive players we've had in years. He's constantly cheering on his teammates. We need more of that.

    On a side note, there doesn't seem to be much of that in sports anymore, and there also doesn't seem to be many recognizable leaders. I wonder how much of a role huge salaries have in that.

  • Hey John, Where is Theo and is he doing anything? He is flying under the radar again.....

  • In reply to johnnywest333:

    I think it's just early and teams aren't ready to make bigger deals yet. May see some activity in May, but usually don't see a lot of trades in April if memory serves.

  • I don't know if anyone saw this on SI today, but I thought it was super interesting:

    Verducci talks about the issue with closers today (especially in light of Wilson's injury) and how they're hard to stick and have sustained success. Thought it was very relevant with the Cubs (Marmol's struggles), with other smart teams (the Rays seemingly de-prioritizing the closer), and with what to potentially look for in the future (the next market inefficiency, Theo?).

  • In reply to mosconml:

    Interesting. I do think Theo will want to have a good closer, but isn't going to pay big money, and more importantly, a lot of years for one.

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    In reply to mosconml:

    That was a good article, and for teams to all be doing the same thing, yet all having the same poor results, is kind of crazy when you break it down that way.

  • Good stuff as always John. I have to say that although I think Jim Hendry's time with the Cubs had it's ups and downs he was a better than average ML GM. His drafts weren't always the best and signing free agents weren't his strong point either. But as far as trades went, he excelled imo. Aramis Ramirez, Derrick Lee, Matt Garza, and even Eric Karros and Mark G-Man to a lesser extent. Hendry must have been one of the worlds best B*llsh*tters! Everyone in baseball knew that the Cubs "prospects" were usually bad, and yet he convinced these other GMs to give up their proven talents, in the prime of their careers, for "our best prospects." He sold high in Chris Archer, Hee Sop Choi, Bobby Hill and all the other "top level" prospects that he gave up to get back talent.

    Even if Lee winds up being a star the Cubs still won the trade because there's no way Lee winds up being better than Castro and the rest of the guys as you pointed out were over-rated.

  • In reply to irishivy75:

    Thanks irishivy!

    I think Hendry did well early in his career. And, if you look back at that 2007 free agency bender, he didn't do all that bad. The extra 2 years on Soriano was not his idea, plus Ted Lilly and Mark DeRosa were nice signings.

    There's no question Hendry made his share of his mistakes (the extensions, overpaying for releivers, Milton Bradley, etc.) but I think people are quick to dismiss and forget his better moves.

    I don't know if I'd call him below average or above average, but he did have his moments, both good and bad, and he did get the Cubs to the playoffs 3 times, got the Cubs to the brink of the WS, and put togther the best team in the NL in 2008.

  • I believe one of the players the Cubs were also interested were Drabek. I would make this trade Garza for Drabek, Nicolino and Syndergaard.

  • In reply to WickitCub:

    That'd be a hard deal to pass up. Syndegaard alone would make it interesting. Question is would Jays even put Syndergaard out there. He's arguably their top prospect right now.

  • Cortisone shot for Woody. DL looming?

  • Just saw that, out until Friday. Wonder who comes up if he does go. Beliveau or Maine, maybe?

  • Hate to see anyone go on the DL. Another lefty in the 'pen would be nice.

  • I was just wondering about this today. I must have sent out the mental vibe.

    Those numbers give further credence to your post about the ceiling needing to be pretty high because prospects don't usually pan out.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Exactly. In fact, I think you need multiple high ceiling guys to make this deal.. Teams can always keep their prospects, but there's some risk if they do. Sometimes they end up losing value, like the Yankees guys. They've refused to trade Banuelos, Betances and now they're stuck with 2 guys who look like non-closing relievers right now -- if that. Even though it's early, I'd be very hesitant to trade for those two right now.

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