Repeat after me: it's just one game. It's just one game....
Maybe it was my fault. When asked before the game if I want Prince Fielder next year, I was too quick to shout NO!
Me and my friend Drew, who I've known all his life (actually is a classmate of my son's, and since my kids HATE baseball, and Drew loves the Cubs), went to Miller Park, bought some SRO seats, had some burgers on the deck at Fridays, and seat-weasled the rest of the game. Outside of the outcome, it was a lot of fun.
The Cubs loaded the bases in the first inning, for Carlos Pena. I realized there was a lefty on the mound, but it was just "some guy" named Narveson. I looked at the part of the scoreboard that gave Narveson's "season" stats, which of course would simply be his first start of the year, and noticed he had a 0.00 ERA and a WHIP under 1. Still, I reasoned, what does 10 million buy these days? Isn't this the time when Pena steps up and demonstrates the impact he has on a winning team?
Of course, he struck out, Garza gave up two runs in the bottom half of the inning, we answered back with a 1-2-3 from the bottom half of our order, and for the rest of the evening, it never appeared like we would win this game. Not one second. Which frustrated the visiting Cub fans and emboldened the hometown Brewer fans, and there were several brief yet furious beer tossing episodes. Miller Security had to work last night.
It is plain to see why Tampa was not willing to hand over 10 million dollars to Carlos Pena. There may be times this year when he does pull the fat out of the fire, and win us some games. Call me stuck in the past, but for 10 million, I think a guy should do this more frequently than Pena will do it this year. You can rationalize his low batting average away with all his other stats, but the fact is that this is not a man who will carry us all year, and I guess in Tampa, for 10 million, they would expect a man to carry them nearly every day. Here, I guess, not so much.
But I did not come here today, Romans and countrymen, to bury Pena. Rather, I came to advance the notion that I am beginning to understand why Tampa was willing to trade Matt Garza.
After the jump, what exactly did Garza say after the game?
I understand that Paul Sullivan was literally standing in front of Garza last night when he said this, and I was not. For whatever reason, Sully felt Garza was blaming himself for giving up 5 hits and 5 RBI the three times he faced Ryan Braun and Fielder in the lineup. Maybe his tone of voice and mannerisms suggested this. Or maybe Sully is just not willing to start up s**t so early in the season, I dunno. But to take the quote from the article:
"I'm a fastball guy, and six of their eight hits were breaking ball
pitches, or off-speed pitches, and that's uncalled for," he said.
"That's not my style. That's not who I am, and something is going to
change. I haven't had bad outings. I just don't give up 20 hits in two
games. That's not me."
Matt? What exactly do you mean by "I haven't had bad outings"? Are you referring to last night, because last night was a bad outing. I understand you did chew through 5-9 in their order, but 1-4 beat you by themselves. Or are you referring to your past, in which case I have to wonder, since you did lose 13 games last year, alone. Some of those losses were quite bad, indeed.
Getting past that statement, which okay, might have been the mis-statement of an emotional man who just lost a ballgame. But when a man states that he is a fastball guy, and that six of the eight hits were off of what presumably is not his strengths (non-fastballs), and finally, that something is going to change? A more charitable observer may decide these are the thoughts of a man blaming himself.
Me? I have both academic training and a long history of observing people assigning blame, and I unquestionably believe that Matt Garza is blaming the game plan for last night's loss. I assume this plan is worked out collaboratively by himself, his catcher, and his pitching coach, along with input from scouts, videographers, etc.
These are not the rantings of a man taking responsibility for his failings. In fact, this has gone on his entire career. First with the Twins, an organization who allegedly "does everything right", who in their infinite wisdom decided they could trade a young inexpensive pitcher with a ton of upside to Tampa, who in turn traded said talented pitcher in his physical prime for prospects. Some winter rumors based on anecdotes from Tampa suggested Garza was "Zambrano Lite", because he had a temper and tended to lash out in the clubhouse.
To conclude, I am not suggesting that Garza's comments last night are even comparable to beating up Mike Barrett, or destroying Gatorade machines, threatening to throw umpires out of stadiums, or picking fights with Derrek Lee (all of which, truthfully, seem like FUN to me). But I sure wish Matt would have chosen better thoughts to share with the class last night. After 103 years, we all get a little oversensitive to anything that threatens to extend this slump yet another year.