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Atlanta is an interesting team in the Matt Garza sweepstakes

Atlanta is an interesting team in the Matt Garza sweepstakes
Mike Minor

So, I actually wrote this yesterday, but the Anthony Rizzo call-up and the Marlon Byrd story surfaced yesterday...and it was my wedding anniversary, so I wasn't around for most of the evening.  It may not be breaking news, but I thought the Braves possible interest in Garza was worth exploring...

First off, I'm a Cubs fan and everyone else is a distant second, but one of the "other" teams I've always liked has been the Atlanta Braves.  Part of that may have been because I was able to watch them on TBS, but part of it is they have consistently done things the right way.  It started with GM John Scheurholz and it has continued under current GM Frank Wren.

I was as disappointed as any non-Braves fan could be in their collapse last year, was glad to see them off to a good start this year, and now I'd like to see them bolster their chances in what is a tough NL East this year.  The Braves strength was thought to be pitching, but an injury to Brandon Beachy, the regression of Jair Jurrjens, and the inconsistency of talented young pitchers Mike Minor and Randall Delgado have left the Braves with two starting pitchers. Where once in Braves history it was "Spahn and Sain and pray for rain", now it's been Hudson and Hansen and take your chances...(okay, so maybe rhyming isn't my thing.)

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that there are 6 teams known to be scouting Garza including the Blue Jays, Royals, Tigers, Red Sox, Cardinals and, of course, the Braves.

The Royals are unlikely because they were just swept and John Morosi of Fox Sports now expects them to be sellers.  We've talked about the Tigers, Red Sox, and Jays in the past.  That leaves the Cardinals and the Braves.  I'm loathe to want to help the Cardinals with anything, unless they blow us away, and with a revamped farm system, they certainly have that ability, but it's the Braves that are kind of an intriguing team in this scenario for me.

I want to start off by saying that the Cubs should want no part of Jurrjens.  He's done it with smoke and mirrors for so long, he doesn't have impact starter type stuff, and it appears the league has caught up with him.  As a secondary guy...maybe.

The Braves do have plenty of what the Cubs need, which is pitching.  I've started my mid-season pitching prospect list and let me tell you that it's not nearly as fun as making the position player prospect list where the Cubs have several potential impact prospects.

Pitching is a whole different story.

Again, I'm not going to speculate on specific trade packages, so I'll leave that up to all of you.  But there are a lot of good pitchers in the Braves system, starting with potential front line starter Julio Teheran, who has 3 quality MLB pitches -- a plus-plus change, a fastball that can reach 97 mph, and he also mixes in an above average curveball.  Teheran is 5-4 with a 3.50 ERA but a mediocre 26 walk to 47 strikeout ratio in 64.1 innings helps contribute to a less than encouraging 5.05 FIP.  Would the Braves sell on their top prospect?  Unlikely, but he doesn't seem likely to help them this year.  On the other hand, he's only 21, so it doesn't seem like they should be ready to give up on him.

LHP Sean Gilmartin, 22, is having a better year in AA with a 5-6 record and a 3.17 ERA (3.31 FIP).  He's more of a polished pitcher whose best pitch is his changeup, though his fastball and slider are solid average pitches.  He's a #3 starter type who relies on good command and keeping hitters off balance more than flat-out overpowering them.  He's the safest arm in this bunch, though probably the one with the lowest ceiling.

They also have the inconsistent young pitchers I mentioned earlier, RHPs Mike Minor and Randall Delgado.  Minor, 24, is having a rough year at 3-6 with a 6.14 ERA.  Though his 33 walks to 70 strikeouts in 80.2 innings offer some promise, it's his whopping 18 HRs allowed that give cause for concern.  Is there a fixable flaw there?  Do the Cubs take a flyer on a former top prospect as they did with Chris Volstad?  Minor's xFIP which normalizes HR rate is still a pedestrian 4.55, so it appears there is more to work on than just taming the gopher ball.  Minor, however, has solid, if not overpowering stuff.  He works with a 90-91 mph fastball (94 peak), a slider, curve (or is it just one slurve?), and a change, with the change being his best pitch.  He has solid stuff and good pitchability, some think he has the profile of a #2 guy...but the results have been disastrous so far.

Randall Delgado, 22, throws harder than Minor, sitting at about 92-93 and able to reach the mid 90s.  He also has a sharp breaking curve and a change up.  He has struggled most with consistency on  the curve this year and it has led to a 4-8 record with a 4.52 ERA (4.14 FIP).  His control has been an issue, walking 4.64 batters per 9 innings while striking out a solid 7.26.  Like Minor, he has a #2 ceiling but probably more of  a #3 guy when all is said and done.  He lacks Minor's athleticism and pitchability, but has better raw stuff.

Arodys Vizcaino, 21, was obtained from the Yankees in the deal that sent Javier Vazquez and throws harder than both Minor and Delgado, sitting at 93-95 and reaching 97 mph.  He has a second plus pitch in his hard curveball and a solid change-up.  Why would the Braves even consider giving up such a pitcher?  Because he just had Tommy John Surgery, the second time in 3 years he has torn ligaments in his elbow.  It seems to much of a risk for the Cubs, who have already had arm issues with top prospects Robert Whitenack, Ben Wells, Dillon Maples, and recent 4th round draft pick Josh Conway, not to mention nagging issues with Trey McNutt that have limited his pitch count.  Can they really afford to add another member of the walking wounded, despite Vizcaino's great stuff?

Like the Dodgers, there's some intriguing arms but there's no sure thing here.  The Braves, however, have pitchers with MLB experience that, with the exception of Vizcaino, can join the rotation this season.  I also think teams are more willing to deal pitchers sometimes once they're actually out of the minors and it becomes more reality than dream and projection.  Can the Cubs find a match with Atlanta on Garza, or maybe even Dempster?  The pieces are there but it will depend on how much the Cubs like what the Braves have to offer and how willing Atlanta is to give up cost-controlled arms for another shot at the playoffs this season.

Filed under: Rumors/Speculation

Tags: Braves, Garza

Comments

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  • I say give them both demp and Garza for Teheran, Gilmartin, and Jurrjens

  • I wonder if the Braves might want someone cost-controlled as part of the package...or at least another part that can help them win this year. They need some help, it's a tough division. They're the team I'm rooting for so I hope that they get the player(s) that can help put them over the hump.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think adding dempster and possibly a position player prospect from us (since that is our strength) might get us some of their high quality pitching assets

  • By the way Vizcaino just had TJ.

  • In reply to WickitCub:

    I know, it's in the article :)

  • In reply to WickitCub:

    Sorry, didnt finish thought. He has pitched yet this yr so, I would be concerned with how he recovers.

  • In reply to WickitCub:

    Second time he's torn the ligaments in that elbow. Big red flag there.

  • John - I see a bunch of depth, but no real impact guys (at least that Atlanta would reasonably include as part of a Garza deal). My line for Garza is that you've got to get back at least one impact guy (preferably two), even if that impact won't be realized for a couple of years.

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    There's no doubt that guys like Teheran and Delgado are potential impact guys and they're so close that they're more likely to reach it than an A ball guy. I also think Minor and Gilmartin have a chance to be solid rotation mainstays.. Another LHP to go with Wood would be a nice fit.

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    What do you consider an impact guy? is Garza an impact guy? If your talking ace potential then either the cubs need to pay a lot for it or it will be a long shot ace. No team is going to give away someone they think will be an ace for a year and a half of just garza. The Braves are a well built organization and they wont threaten the foundation theyve built for one good chance at making the playoffs.

  • In reply to Andrew:

    When I say impact guy, I'm talking about someone who is at least a #2 or a top of the line #3, so Garza would qualify there.

    True #1 starters are rare in baseball, you can probably count them with two hands, maybe one. I don't expect the Cubs to get a guy who is a "can't miss" #1.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I probably should have been a little more clear in my post in that I just don't see an organization as savvy as the Braves giving up Teheran so I really didn't consider him in play. So then you are down to Delgado and some other interesting parts, but the only other one I would qualify as "impact" would be Vizcaino who is clearly an injury risk.

    My definition of impact is also a really good #3 or a #2, a "2.5" or better :)

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    I don't think they'll give up Teheran either, for what it's worth. I like the other guys too, though, but Cubs probably shooting for #1 type guy...the way their system is unbalanced right now, could use some good, MLB ready arms.

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    I live in Atlanta and see the Atlanta Braves and Gwinnett Braves players quite a lot. None of the players mentioned in the article are closed to polished or ready to impact the Chicago Cubs roster. Cubs need more than "hard thrower with potential" for a number 2 pitcher with October experience. Most of their pitchers are more of the same that the Cubs already have, a 7th inning hard thrower who comes in and walks the leadoff man and then is effectively wild the rest of the inning. Minor is a left handed Randy Wells. Teheran has the most upside right now. The Cubs would need him and 2 other players. The Cubs should be looking at Braves AA Mississippi for pitchers.

  • In reply to Jay Menadue:

    Any suggestions as to whom?

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    If Teheran is not part of the deal, then they better get Gilmartin, LaStella a .300 hitting 2B in high-A and Andrew Russell in the pen would not be bad for the future.

  • In reply to Jay Menadue:

    I like Gilmartin...not sure on LaStella though. Some thought that he'll have to move to OF and he'll need a lot of bat to be a starter there. I think he's a bat off the bench type. I'd rather take a chance on the arms, even someone like Minor.

  • I can see the Braves being pretty aggressive. They do have a lot of prospects to work with and I think they'll want to make a big push during Chipper's final year.

  • In reply to cowboy2024:

    Good points. They may want to erase that memory of that collapse last year. Coming from behind and making the playoffs would go a long way toward that.

  • I woudn't mind if the Cubs traded with the Braves, they always have decent pitching prospects. My issue with them is that I think their farm system is overrated to be honest. A lot of sizzle but little steak, to borrow an old saying.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    I think it's top heavy, but those guys at the top have been inconsistent -- but they're young. Considering the level they're playing at, I think they've done pretty well.

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    Tehran and Gilmartin would be my starting point, and they would be deal breakers.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    That would probably be a deal breaker for the Braves too.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    So be it. Dealing with the Braves is dangerous. They've rarely been on the losing end of a trade. Over the years, the prospects they've dealt have rarely turned out as well as the ones they've kept.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    They're a smart organization. They may be willing to pay a little bit extra if it means getting over the top, but I don't think they'll vastly overpay.

  • i think if the braves want garza theyd have to include teheran and betancourt and some loA guys. remember theo and co. need to be blow away, somehow i cant see struggling players and guys who are having tj surgery blowing them away.

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    John, what else besides Garza or Dempster might the Cubs be able to provide for the Braves?

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I think a reserve RH bat might be a nice fit, someone like Baker or Johnson. They've had Mather in the past, so I don't think they want him. Baker is a nice fit who can fill in if something happens to Chipper Jones. Johnson works because he can play CF.

  • The teixeira trade where the braves gave up Andrus, Matt harrison and Neftali Feliz, shows the Braves might have a tendency to buy big when they think theyve got a shot. Then again, Texeira was more sought after than Garza is and since they got burned in that deal, I wonder if theyd be less quick to pull the trigger to give up big prospects again

  • In reply to Andrew:

    That's a good point. Agree that it's mixed. Shows they're willing to go all in, but it may make them a little gun shy.

  • Injury update, Dempster will take longer on the DL. God
    must have a sense of humor for this to happen to us Cub fans

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    My thoughts exactly....they got embarrassed in that trade and I'm sure they are scared to make a similar one. I mean they gave up 3 impact major league players who are all reaching their potential.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Oh and congrats on the anniversary. I hope there are many, many more in the future. You wife must be very supportive of your love and work for this team. My fiance cant even sit through a game without complaining lol

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Thanks Marcel! My wife loves baseball...but she prefers going to minor league games. Which is great because you all know how much I love minor league ball.

  • I hope you had a nice anniversary celebration. It seems your wife has put up with your hours (many late) at the keyboard so, for all of us who enjoy your work, I hope you gave her extra special appreciation. If it helps, I have heard woman enjoy diamonds...no pun intended. Seriously, good wishes.

    As per Garza, should one assume the issue coming down to the (trade deadline) wire?

  • In reply to Hubbs16:

    Thanks Hubbs! She's very patient with me, and I do take time off for her when she gets home off of work...then I do a lot of writing after she falls asleep. It's where my insomnia comes in handy :)

    I think Garza will be closer to the deadline.

  • Anyone know anything about Yasel Puig?

  • In reply to Eddie:

    He's got residency in Mexico and looks like he's set to become a free agent before July 2nd. Looks like some powerful people pulling some strings there.

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    Hopefully the Cubs will make sure that Garza will showcase his pitching in one of the 4 games in ATL next week. I will be there for Tues July 3 game.

  • In reply to Jay Menadue:

    Sweet. Hopefully he's he usual self.

  • John

    Thanks for starting this thread on possible trades with the Braves.

    But, as we wrote last week, over the years the Cubs have made at least 5 trades in which they have acquired Braves pitching prospects and we have gotten duds EVERY time. As you have written before, a good trade is one that helps BOTH teams. Since the Cubs and Braves have NEVER made a good trade, I would even go so far as declaring a moratorium on ANY trades with Atlanta.

    Have a good one ...

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    "Puck":

    I am in agreement with what both you and Michael Caldwell are expressing. We are going to want SP pitching prospects back in any deal; and the Braves have too strong of a reputation for only parting with ones who ultimately will not bring added-value to the organization they are being traded to. Living in Upstate New York, I've had a chance to see the Yankees AAA team on a couple of different occasions; and I am not impressed with what I've seen. I didn't see Banuelos pitch, but I'm hesitant on both he and Betances(who has 69 walks in 74 innings). For me, it always comes back to the Blue Jays(who I don't believe will part with enough pieces) and Tigers(doubt they'll throw Castellanos in with a top SP prospect). I am intrigued about what the Dodgers may offer for Dempster. This Reed kid seems cut right out of "Threeo" cloth; 96 MPH fastball with fairly good control and an Ivy-League type education on the West Coast. When it's all said and done though, I'm wondering if the boys will go back to their roots in moving forward-and work out a Garza deal with Boston...

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    Not much luck with the Braves, I know. But they've always settled for mid-range prospects. They can't afford to do that when it comes to Garza.

    I know they really liked Robinson Lopez a lot (the main piece for Derrek Lee) and didn't want to give him up. Great stuff, just didn't pan out for some reason.

  • An ESPN blog thinks the Braves will also target another bullpen arm. I know Camp isn't the sexiest name out there, but he's been effective. I wonder if he could be included to sweeten a package. I like what he's done in the Cubs pen but he's obviously not part of the future.

  • In reply to cowboy2024:

    Camp's a reliable BP arm if you're not looking for a closer. I could see that, though I think a lot of teams will ask about Russell instead.

  • Texas just lost Lewis to an injury. The price for starting pitching just went up.

  • Hopefully...I just hope someone like Greinke doesn't bring it back down again.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I mentioned Grienke & Marcum the other day and you told me not to worry!

    Grienke + the injury could kill the Demp mkt, or severely limit it. I think Garza is a different animal, due to extra yr of control.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    I did? Didn't mean to give that impression. I'm not worried about Marcum. Semi-worried about Greinke.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I think we should wait it out and see what grienke goes for. Will set a precedent on what Garza will net. No way does he bring us less than the brewers get for grienke with that extra year of control. I'm actually hearing that considering grienke is a free agent and the team that trades for him gets no draft pick the package will most likely be below market for a pitcher of his caliber. If I'm a team I go after Garza.

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    Rizzo watch: 2-3 double and an RBI. But I think the most impressive stat. Starlin Castro 1-2 WITH A WALK! Rizzo effect? Lol

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    good point Marcel! Let's hope he keeps rubbing off!

  • Thanks for the article detailing what the Braves have to offer for Garza. In my opinion, Garza is too young and valuable with proven big league success to trade for only prospects. If Cubs trade Garza, they should expect one young (still under team control) player in return who is already in the big leagues.
    I know the Cubs farm system is lacking starting pitching prospects, so trading big league assets for top pitching prospects makes sense. But when I saw the Braves mentioned in the headline for this entry, my first thought was trading Garza for Jason Heyward. That would give the Cubs 2 proven, extremely young big league hitters in Castro and Heyward...cornerstones for the offense for the next decade. If Rizzo, Jackson or any of the other younger hitting prospects materialize, the offense would be strong.
    It seems like an interesting trade, although both teams might be hesitant to pull the trigger.

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