UPDATE 3:47: Gordon Wittenmeyer tweets that there is no teeth to the Garza extension rumor. They were just covering their bases and the conversation went nowhere. Anybody surprised here. This is pretty much what we expected and kudos to Wittenmeyer for debunking the rumor.
With that...here's some fun trade speculation regarding Garza and a team that we know is scouting him. We also know from multiple sources that the Cubs are scouting the Giants farm system.
Based on what we've heard the past couple of days -- click here in case you missed it -- the Cubs and the Giants have a mutual scouting relationship going on right now.
Tom has heard that the Giants will have a top scout to watch Garza's start tonight while we have heard internally that the Cubs have had scouts at various levels of the Giants system. Today I communicated with Justin Gallagher, editor of the San Juan Star, via Twitter (follow him here) and he told me that the Cubs had scouts to see 21 year old LHP Edwin Escobar's start last night. He described Escobar as" a pitcher with a big time arm with swing and miss stuff". Escobar is a bit of a late bloomer who tweaked his mechanics a bit and added some life to his fastball, which now sits around 92-93 mph. He also throws a very good change and has shown advanced command and the ability to miss bats. He also keeps the ball down and in the park. His weakness -- and if you've been reading us lately then you already know what's coming -- Escobar needs work on this breaking ball, which is more of a slurve right now.
Escobar is 3-4 with a 3.01 ERA but, more impressively, has struck out 11.09 batters per 9 IP while walking just 2.05/9 IP. As mentioned, he keeps the ball in the park, allowing just 0.36 HRs/9IP and his FIP is a ridiculous 1.98.
Does this guy fit the Cubs profile or what?
Gallagher also told me to keep an eye on a pitcher named Ty Blach. I'm less familiar with Blach, but Gallagher gave me this report,
Outstanding command, fastball usually sits 91-93. Good change up. His command stands out. Cal League is a notoriously offensive league. Throws a ton of strikes, guys haven't hit him.
Blach is a 22 year old LHP pitcher in the aforementioned California League. Blach has walked less than a batter per 9 innings (0.90) while striking out 8.13 batters per 9 innings. His FIP is outstanding at 2.31. That is an incredible walk to strikeout ratio and that along with the FIP are certainly numbers that bode well for him as he moves up the system. His traditional numbers are outstanding as well, as he's 9-3 with a 2.61 ERA. It seems he may even be ready for a move to AA, which fits the Cubs desire to bring in guys who can help at the upper levels. And did you notice that his best pitches were his fastball and change-up? No mention of a breaking ball. Hmmm...if this is true, then I think there is no denying the Cubs have a certain profile right now when it comes to pitchers and both Escobar and Blach fit that profile perfectly.
We both pretty much ruled out Kyle Crick as a return but when I mentioned that the Cubs may want an MLB ready player, he did mention LHP Mike Kickham, whom we talked about in the previous article and also Gary Brown, whom we also talked about in that same piece linked above.
If the Cubs are seeking LHPs from San Jose -- where Gallagher says the real prizes are, then perhaps Brown makes more sense, especially in light of what Jed Hoyer said today in his conference call that the Cubs would like to add a RH bat whether it's from the farm or one he can acquire. Well, Brown fits in nicely as a RH outfielder who has shown an improvement in his offensive numbers of late. He's the Giants former top propect (currently #4 on BA's list) and an excellent athlete who runs extremely well and can handle CF.
Brown is currently hitting .244/.304/.422 with 11 HRs but he switched back to his old upright stance at the end of May. Since June 1st, Brown has hit .301/.335/.552 with 8 HRs and 6 SBs.
Brown is basically MLB ready and would allow the Cubs to let Junior Lake continue to develop in AAA. They've debated bringing him up with some of the personnel presumably hesitant to accelerate his development, but Brown would be an excellent solution to both issues.
Would you take Brown, Escobar, and Blach for Garza?
Sounds like a solid deal to me if that is indeed what's being offered, but the Cubs are now reportedly considering extending Matt Garza. Heyman says that it's the first time in about a year that the Cubs have broached the possibility with Garza. Perhaps it's an indicator that the Cubs are not liking the offers they're getting. It could mean that the Cubs would rather keep the 30 year old Garza, knowing he likely has 3-4 good years left -- which fits the Cubs timeline.
Or it could be a message to teams stating that if you want Garza, you're going to have to bring in more serious offers.
Filed under: Rumors/Speculation