Reassessing the Matt Garza deals as they stand today

One of the underrated aspects of being a GM is understanding the talent on your own team.  That goes for the big league team and the minor league system.  After the 2010 season, a season in which the Cubs finished 73-89 and were now 2 years removed from their last playoff appearance, Jim Hendry was in a position where he had to answer two questions: Is my team talented enough to contend in 2011? And, if the answer is yes, 2) Wh0 can I afford to give up?

The correct answer for question number 1 was no.  So normally the 2nd question becomes academic.  But Hendry either misjudged and felt his team was good enough to contend or was starting to feel the pressures of job security.  So he decided to make a high risk deal in an attempt to make the playoffs and perhaps save his job.  It accomplished neither.

Fast forward to 2013  and the Cubs new front office is in a position where they need to try and salvage value from Matt Garza, the principle piece coming to the Cubs in that deal.  This Matt Garza is better in terms of results than the Matt Garza the Cubs acquired.  He had starting fulfilling some of the expectations scouts had of him as a prospect.  He also allayed some concerns about his fiery nature.  Garza managed to keep it together as a Cub and became known as a relentlessly energetic presence but also a good guy and good teammate.  That was the good news.  The bad news is that the clock was ticking and Garza had lost nearly all of the cost control that gave him so much value as Tampa Bay’s main train commodity.  Exacerbating the situation was that the Cubs were unable to deal him earlier because of an unfortunately timed injury.  Thankfully, Garza was able to return for 2013, his final year before free agency.  It also helped that he pitched very well and showed some of the good stuff that made him so coveted three years ago.

The Cubs were able to trade him to Texas for a haul of prospects that most considered a great deal by the Cubs under the circumstances.  There is no question that based on where the Cubs are right now, they won this deal.  They received 4 prospects in return for 2 months of Matt Garza.  There is also little question that, while Garza outperformed every player the Cubs traded back in 2010, the deal was ill-advised given the timing.  In hindsight, the Cubs would have been better off in the long term had they not made that deal with Tampa.

But the question to ask now is this:

Were the Cubs able to salvage value for Matt Garza?

Here’s a recap of what the Cubs lost and what they gained by dealing Garza:

What they lost:

  • Chris Archer, RHP
  • Hak-Ju Lee, SS
  • Sam Fuld, OF
  • Robinson Chirinos, C
  • Brandon Guyer, OF

What they gained:

  • C.J. Edwards, RHP
  • Mike Olt, 3B
  • Justin Grimm, RHP
  • Neil Ramirez, RHP
  • Zac Rosscup, LHP (from original deal)

It’s an even 5 for 5 in terms of numbers but an interesting exchange of talent.  The original Garza deal was almost 3 years ago, so we have the benefit of some hindsight with some of the prospects in that package.

The Departed

Chris Archer

The major piece at the time of the deal was then #1 prospect Chris Archer.  He remains the focus of the deal and as of today is easily the best player in the group.  Archer is 9-7 with a 3.03 ERA.  If you look deeper into stats, he hasn’t been quite as good as those numbers.  He’s been pretty lucky with BABIP (.242) and strand rate (80%).  He also hasn’t missed as many bats as you would think from a pitcher with his stuff (6.5 Ks/9IP, 17.9% K rate).  His FIP is more than a full point higher at 4.14.  Still, given his age (turns 25 in about a week) and raw stuff, you’d have to be pleased and optimistic about his future if you’re a Rays fan.

Hak-Ju Lee

Lee is another top 100 prospect in large part to his excellent defensive skills and ability on the bases.  He’s an average hitter with a solid approach and not much pop on offense, but given his glove at SS, it would easily make him around a league average SS overall.  Lee hit .261/.336/.360 in AA as a 21 year old.  He then got off to a nice start in AAA before a gruesome collison left Lee writhing on the ground and out for the season with a knee injury.  It’s fair to question how much that injury will affect his speed on the bases and range on the field, and if it does, it would take away from two of his best assets as a ballplayer.  The Rays are hopeful he can return to full strength next season.  From the Cubs point of view, they have 3 talented players, all 23 and under, capable of playing SS at the big league level in Starlin Castro, Javier Baez, and Arismendy Alcantara.  It doesn’t affect the loss in value, but it’s a loss the Cubs should be able to absorb even if Lee returns to his previous level of play and potential.

Sam Fuld

Fuld got off to a nice start with the Rays, making some very visible, ESPN worthy catches that made him a constant early reminder of what the Cubs gave up.  Since then he has played more to the level of his original expectations, which is a 5th OF”er/replacement level type player.  With all due respect to Fuld, the Cubs should be able to replace his value from within their system or off the waiver wire.

Robinson Chirinos

The part of the deal that proves the Rays team of scouts and statisticians are not infallible.  The Cubs had Chirinos and Welington Castillo rated fairly equally at the time, but the Rays insisted on the more disciplined Chirinos.  He has since been released and is now with the Texas Rangers.  Phew.  This could have been a lot worse.

Brandon Guyer

Guyer is another 4th/5th OF’er type but he appears to be more of a AAAA player, often succeeding in AAA but struggling at the MLB level.  Guyer spent his age 27 season in AAA this year.  The Cubs have plenty of extra outfielder types in their system.  Again, with all due respect, the Cubs can easily replace this type of player from within their system.

Incoming Talent

C.J. Edwards

As the most physically gifted player in the deal, the tempting comparison is with Chris Archer.  Like Archer as a prospect, there are some doubts as to whether Edwards can remain a starter.  Archer’s issues centered around command and a 3rd pitch.  Edwards questions center around his build and how it affects his durability.  Still, Edwards has been more dominant than Archer was at any point in his minor league career, going 8-2 with a 1.83 ERA (1.78 FIP) in Class A and then posting a 1.96 ERA (1.81 FIP) in advanced A ball with the Cubs.  His strikeout rates have been outstanding.  He struck out 32.4% of batters at A ball (11.76/9 IP) and then increased that to 36.3% in Daytona (12.91/9 IP).  But while Edwards has been dominant, the jury is still out on him as a starter at the MLB level.  There are no such questions with Archer at this point.

Mike Olt

The tempting comparison here is with Lee as the top rated position player prospect in the deal and again, there are similarities in that there are questions — though the source of those questions differ.  Both had injuries and while we don’t know the effects of Lee’s injury, we have seen the early effects of Mike Olt’s vision issues.  Both are talented players with the ability to provide plus defense and be at least league average at their respective positions.  Olt has the chance to be the more productive offensive player, but Lee plays a more premium position.

Justin Grimm

Grimm is an underrated part of this deal.  He was the Rangers 5th rated prospect per Baseball America heading into the season but was rushed to the majors when injuries hampered the Rangers ability to put together a full rotation.  He predictably struggled, finding that MLB hitters weren’t as eager to swing at his big breaking curve as minor league hitters were.  Grimm gets a second chance in Chicago and he’s pitched out of the bullpen late in the season and has impressed, able to hit the mid 90s with his fastball which gives him a second out pitch to go with his curve.  The Cubs like him in that role and he’ll get a crack at a bullpen spot next spring.

Neil Ramirez

Ramirez was once the 5th rated Rangers prospect himself on the strength of a mid 90s fastball and what was considered the best curveball in the system.  His star fell in 2012 as questions arose about his delivery and ability to command consistently.  The encouraging thing about Ramirez here is that he adapted.  He refined his change-up and it now gives him a viable alternative to his curveball.  The future role is as of yet undetermined.  Some like Ramirez out of the bullpen, as he can reportedly peak at 98 mph in short bursts and it’d make him less reliant on that inconsistent curve.  He obviously has the pitches to start if he can harness that curve, but even if he doesn’t, he can be a late inning power reliever.

Zac Rosscup

The throw-in in the original Garza deal, Rosscup is the last man standing for the Cubs in that trade.  Once considered a long shot, Rosscup has shot through the system since returning from a shoulder injury and what’s more, he has returned with more velocity, able to sit at 92-94 mph with good deception and some late run.  He also throws a good slider, but the FB alone is a weapon that generates swings and misses and an occasional broken bat.  Rosscup’s long term viability will depend on his ability to command his pitches.  The stuff is more than good enough.


Remarkably, the Cubs were able to recoup assets in this deal and from that standpoint, you have to ecstatic at what the front office was able to accomplish.  The key difference in the deal right now is Chris Archer’s early MLB success and there is no guarantee that any player in the Cubs group will make a similar impact in a starting role.  It’s very possible, however, that the Cubs may get more long term MLB players out of these deals.  At least two players are MLB players now (Grimm, Rosscup) with Olt perhaps getting an inside track for the 3B job next year.  The key to evening out the deal from an impact standpoint, however, may depend on what CJ Edwards does.  But the Cubs may end up with 5 MLB players out of this because of the proximity of their acquired prospects to the big leagues.  Only Edwards has yet to have success at the AA level and he’ll get that shot next year.

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  • I love your analysis of this trade and have stated since the trade with the Rays that it was not about who we gave up but that the timing was the problem with the deal. Glad to see the new FO, be patient enough to get a return that can make this deal a positive in the long run.

  • In reply to Tony:

    Thanks. Agree on the timing aspect. If the Cubs had made a similar deal in 2007 0r 2008, you'd probably give up an Archer for a Garza while their window was open. Definitely not in 2011.

  • Love this article John. Great analysis as usual. I thought about this same thing about a month ago after the trade, wondering how the Garza trade looks after the haul the Cubs got from the Rangers.

  • In reply to KSCubsFan:

    Thanks KSCubs.

  • Very thorough. Like everyone else you place way too much emphasis on strikeouts, probably the most over-rated metric in baseball.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    Strikeouts are the best indicator of present stuff/movement/command which is what separates top of the rotation one from mid to bottom guys. I think sometimes the opposite holds true - that people think that a guy who can't miss bats in the minors is going to come up and be successful in the majors. It usually doesn't work that way. You have to show some ability to miss bats in the minors to have a greater chance of success in the majors.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    John's right on. Strikeouts at the major league level can be overrated, but for prospect analysis - it's HUGE!

  • Right now I would say that the Rays got the best of the deal because of Archer. Starters like him are hard to come by, one hates to see one that got away.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I think as it stands now, the Rays are best off because of Archer (or in terms of this piece, the Cubs are worse off for having lost him). Do you think it stays that way long term?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Depends, I guess it stays that way until it's not. Archer looks impact and only Edwards has that upside. So I think it does.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I still believe Archer will become a reliever. He has improved his command beyond what I originally projected he would and that does give him a chance to stay as a starter now, but I just don't think he will ever be consistent enough and once he goes around the league a couple of times I think hitters will be able to lay off his pitches outside the strike zone a little more often and his effectiveness will lessen to some degree.

    His slider is devestating and that alone will make him effective and allow him to find success in the majors in some role, but I think people are overrating him a little based on limited looks.

  • From what I was told Archer was not the focus of the trade Lee was. The Rays would have taken McNutt or Archer. Imagine what how that trade would would if they would have traded McNutt instead.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Yes -- that was the other choice: Archer or McNutt. Rays made the right choice there.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Given our player development shortcomings with the previous regime, there's no way of knowing how McNutt vs. Archer would have worked out, had it been reversed. maybe McNutt would have reached his ceiling ala Archer if he was in a different system. Is it a fair assumption to think Archer may have benefited by being in the Rays system a couple years?

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    That's a good point. I actually thought about that but it's such an unknown that I couldn't quantify it, so I left it out of the analysis. I think it's not an unreasonable assumption to make, but we'll never know. The Rays development system didn't help Chirinos, who was rated fairly equally at the time with Castillo -- though admittedly from a tools standpoint it wanh't close

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Amen to that thought HD! I think player/prospect development in general may have been our single weakest area w/in the entire sphere of baseball operations. Assuming Archer would have succeeded to the level he currently has risen to as a Cub is a very significant assumption that should be reasonably questioned.

  • With the question being "Salvaging Value", I would say Yes but clicked 'About the same'. Overall, I see the the Cubs with the better "Haul" but Archer being the best overall prospect at the exact time of each deals.

    At the time of both trades Archer ranked higher (#27 in 2011) than CJ does now (Sickels #73) as far as prospect rankings. Lee was younger then but both he (#92 in 2011) and Olt (mlb #63) are top 100. I think the rest of the package that the Cubs received (Grimm. Ramirez, Rosscup) is better than the rest of the pieces than the Rays received (Guyer, Chirinos, Fuld).

    As far as the better deal cant say either way as of yet. Archer is the sole player on an MLB 25 man roster & an integral part of this Rays team, but lets not forget that the Cubs actually got 60 starts out of Matt Garza.

  • In reply to Cub Fan Dan:

    Oh, I know it's too early too tell. I'm asking you guys to look into your crystal balls :)

  • I've read that it was Hendry's choice to trade Archer instead of McNutt. Is that true, or is it just more Hendry bashing?

  • In reply to clarkaddison:

    There was some split in the organization as to whom they liked better but it was the Rays who insisted on Archer and I think that was actually what held up the deal for awhile. I think that's false. Hendry was the guy who traded for Archer in the first place, Wilken drafted McNutt.

  • Plus we got to use Garza for 2.5 years.

  • In reply to John57:

    This is true -- but I was trying to focus from this point going forward. Will the Cubs be better off long term?

  • In reply to John57:

    Yeah, this was my thought. Having Garza isn't really relevant when analyzing the prospects exchanged, but the fact that Garza was a solid #3 (and basically our #1), that has to be factored into the equation for a holistic analysis. Also, we paid Garza, what, $20M for his service so that is a factor as well.

    I think we come out ahead though - since we traded for Garza with 3 years of team control and we got so much for just 2 months of control.

    Man, if Olt can figure it out / get healthy, that really gives the FO a ton of flexibility for trades / cheap ML talent. If he could just be a .260 / .350 / .450 hitter with 25+HR and solid D at 3rd - that would be a nice asset. Is that his ceiling? Or his 'middle of the road' projection?

  • Although you hate to see Archer go, and there is still a decent chance that Lee becomes a major league average player, I think CJ Edwards could be the one that got away from the Rangers. There is a small chance that the Cubs may have traded one good young starter in return for three starters, a bullpen guy, and an everyday third baseman. Obviously not all the prospects for the Cubs will pan out, but if they do, or if 3/5 do, this may look like a fantastic transaction for the Cubs.

  • In reply to noscbs:

    Agreed. I think it would be worth it if it works out that way.

  • The Cubs gained more than just prospects in the deal. They also gained a guy... I can't remember his name.. he played for a us a couple of years... oh yeah, Matt Garza.

    That cannot just be ignored. We could have been subjected to more Justin Germano types in his absense. That counts for something.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Of course :) But the focus of this particular piece is the long term ramificantions. Not looking back on this, strictly looking forward.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Just joking, but you did put Chirinos in the Rays ledger though he isn't a part of their future :)

    Fair is fair.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Ahhh, but I still disagree! I agree it'd be fair if I was comparing the Rays future impact with the Cubs future impact, but that is not what I intended for this piece. The article is made from a Cubs-centric point of view, so Chirinos fate is worth mentioning, especially relative to Castillo. It's not a comparison with the Rays. It's a question of whether the Cubs would have been better off with the "departed" package of prospects or the current package of prospects -- and Chirinos was part of that "departed" package.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, Garza put a few more fans in the stands for two years than a Justin Germano-lookalike would have or more than Chris Archer did those two years also. The affects of the trades really start when the first trade was made.

    I'm not sure why people are so high on Lee. The track record for position players coming over from Japan, Korea, and China really hasn't been that good. There's a few exceptions, like Ichiro, for sure, and Shin Soo Choo, and maybe Aoki, but a lot of them just can't hit major league pitching.

  • Excellent analsis, as usual. What is missing (but is impossible to quantify) is what you allude to in the opening of your article is the hypothetical "road not taken." Namely, that the window (at least in terms of deep playoff runs) had pretty much already closed for the North Siders. Had it been possible to begin the reboot after the 2010 offseason, we would probably all feel a bit better about he current state and make up of the Big League roster.

    Totally realize that multiple factors probably prevented this from being an option at the time (the pending Ricketts transation, embattled GM, organizational interia, etc) but this was my single biggest qualm at the time. I felt (and still do) that the Garza trade was fair value for both sides, but only a move you make to put you over the top (which we were far from being).

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    Making or not making this trade would have had very little or no impact on the timing of the rebuild. The guys we lost are no closer to contributing than the guys we got gained. All are either just beginning their MLB careers or are a year or two away from doing so.

    Having or not having Matt Garza would not have made trading the contracts of Z and Soriano and any of the other vet pieces (outside of Demp maybe) any quicker because no teams wanted those contracts. Any impact the original trade had on the rebuild has turned out to be negligible.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Think that is probably fair and wise counsel mjvz. My only point was a wish in Fall 2010 on my part to not do the Garza deal and overall turn into a seller and not a buyer, even if it meant accepting $0.60 on the dollar for more "illiquid" assets like Z and Sori. Had we truly bottomed out in 2011 and 2012 and rebuilt from the ground up then, chances would be that we'd be further ahead than not earnestly beginning that process until a year or two later (especially prior to seismic changes in the CBA which virtually limits speeding talent acquisition for big market clubs by overslotting).

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    Thanks R2G. And agree. I think this was a good deal considering Garza had value considering his cost control and entering his prime years. It's a good deal if you are ready to win. Unfortunately the Cubs were nowhere near ready as it turned out.

  • fb_avatar

    Lee is an intriguing guy here. We've talked to the point of exhaustion about Castro/Baez as the long term shortstop, but Lee is the best defensive shortstop of that group by a wide margin. He was not a Hendry player at all -- hence at least part of the willingness to trade him -- but given his defense and approach, I think he's a guy this front office would have liked a lot.

    My realistic hope for the trade is that Grimm, Rosscup, and Edwards provide as much value out of the bullpen as Archer does as a middle of the rotation starter.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    How was Lee not a Hendry guy? Did Hendry take a leave of absense during the time Lee was signed? Or are you saying he wasn't the type of player Hendry liked? Because athletic, up the middle players was kind of Wilken's MO and it was the type of players the org also seemed to target in the IFA market. Seems like if that type of player wasn't Hendry's type of player he would not have hired or kept around Wilken or Fleita for so long.

    Forgive me if I am misreading that statement, but I do not understand it at all.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to mjvz:

    Hendry liked aggressive hitters and didn't put much emphasis at all on walks. That doesn't describe Lee at all. Hendry also put a huge premium on offense over defense. Again, that is the opposite of Lee.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I will grant the Cubs did employ an awful lot of aggressive hitters and that did seem to be the direction the FO gave. But to imply he would trade a guy or be willing to trade a guy because he took walks is a huge stretch.

    Every GM in baseball put a premium on offense over defense during the era that Hendry was the GM. Yes, even Theo, and even Beane and all the other Moneyball type GMs. To imply Hendry didn't care about defense is just plain wrong. Again, the entire front office seemed to target athletic (generally leads to good defense) up the middle (the important defensive positions) players. If Hendry didn't believe in that philosophy he would not have directed or allowed his people to target those kinds of players.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to mjvz:

    The Epstein traded Nomar Garciaparra to improve his defense. That was a clear example of valuing defense over offense.

    On the other hand, Hendry signed or traded for: Michael Barrett, Juan Pierre, Milton Bradley, Delino DeShields, Jacques Jones and whole bunches of others I don't feel like looking up right now. He was clearly offense first (only?) and defense is kind of nice.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Yes, other GMs put more emphasis on defense than Hendry but everyone put more emphasis on offense than defense. Yes, the Cabrera/Mientkiewicz(sp?) deal was one example of Theo valuing defense over offense. But Hendry also made deals to acquire guys like Cesar Izturis. He just didn't win a WS that year. I can also make a list just like yours of guys theo acquired that were all offense/poor defense guys: Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon, Mark Bellhorn, Wily Mo Pena, Eric Hinske, Kevin Millar.

    I will not argue that other GMs empahsized it more, hell Theo always had guys like Mientkiewicz or JT Snow or Olerud or Royce Clayton. They were complimentery. But none of those guys were the core of their team. Many of the players he did acquire were good both offensively and defensively and he obviously factored defense into his thinking, but it wasn't the main priority. Those teams were built around two guys that provided zero or negative defensive value (Papi and Ramirez). Having a dominant DH allows you the luxury of sacrificing a little offense for defense at SS.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    You could not win in that era without good offense. It didn't happen. If you could field a good offense while still putting good defensive players at a couple of key positions then of course teams would do it. And everyone puts a premium on guys that can do both.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Lee is definitely the best defender of that group. He was a Hendry guy but the thinking was that Castro was ahead of him and Lee wouldn't have as much value as a 2B.

    At this point, Lee's value is in question untili we see how much of that good range he's able to recover.

  • It will be interesting to see what Garza signs for after this season. I don't know if any specifics were revealed on the Cubs offer, but that could end up being the better offer.

  • In reply to ejs1:

    I don't think Garza is coming back here. I don't want to rule it out because he loves it in Chicago, but my feeling is they'll go in a different direction.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Taking EJS' question a step further, assuming Garza's FMV fell substantially, for whatever reason, might that change your prior hunch?

  • fb_avatar

    Looking at the first Garza trade in a vacuum, it was actually a pretty good trade by Hendry. Garza performed very well, and we didn't give up anything that would have helped much from 2011-2013. Hendry overall was an excellent trader, and this is just part of that.

    The problem of course was what you pointed out John; it wasn't in a vacuum. If we were the 2010 Phillies or Rangers or Brewers, it's a GREAT trade. But as the 2010 Cubs, it wasn't. It's all about context.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Agreed. Would have taken that deal if it happened 2-3 years earlier -- even with Archer emerging this season.

  • Excellent assessment - as usual. With the possible exception of Archer (for whom the jury is still out IMO) - everybody given up in the intial trade to get Garza was somebody we can easily replace now, or who's position was expendable at the time.

    So - for essentially giving up 1 high-level pitching prospect, a SS with league average potential, and a couple of replacement-level OFs and Catcher we got ~1.5 years of Garza starting, a couple of solid-seeming bullpen guys, a good pitching prospect or two, and a guy who has a high likelyhood of being our daily 3B next season,...

    Works for me.

    I didn't understand the trade when they made it to bring in Garza - although when healthy he was a dandy pitcher - simply because there was no way that 2011 team was going to contend. But - Lemonade out of Lemons by Theo/Hoyer.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Thanks. They definitely made some quality lemonade there. That it's even a discussion as to whether they were able to recoup value says a lot about how good the deal with the Rangers was.

  • I'd agree with the article. Essentially the Cubs recouped their value for the initial Garza trade. The issue is they lost 2.5 years of development time for those packages. For a team in rebuild mode, they'd have been better off staying pat.

    However, it sounds like the Cubs would have had an even better package last year if Garza had stayed healthy. Perez, a healthy Olt + would have looked awful nice.

  • In reply to SenatorMendoza:

    I think getting Perez would have at least equalized the Archer loss.

  • For fun, lets take this one step further back.

    Mark DeRosa for CJ Edwards.

    Archer came back from Cleveland when we traded DeRosa there. Archer was the key piece in the TB deal that brought us Garza. CJ was the key piece when Garza was traded.

    So....Who would do that deal? DeRosa for CJ.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Absolutely I would!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    No question on that one. While criticized at the time, dealing DeRosa was a good move by Hendry, and yet another example of the good trading he did. That's why I don't understand Hendry being dragged through the mud all the time; he was a pretty good GM. My main complaint about Hendry's reign relates to the farm system, not how the ML roster was managed. (and the FA deals were bad in the end, as we all know)

  • I've read some seemingly conflicting reports on CJ Edwards. Some say he has a "high effort delivery" because of his slight build (implying he may not be able to stick as a starter), while others describe him as having "easy velocity." Can anyone reconcile these assessments?

  • In reply to Nate Dawg:

    The latter is correct from what I've seen and heard. My concern with his build is less about effort and more about stamina. I think the Cubs will try to build that up this fall.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, nice write-up, and well-reasoned. Obviously the jury is still out until we see what happens with Edwards, but *right now* you have to assume the Rays won the trade.

    Question on Edwards and his stamina -- is it out of the question that he could simply be an excellent 5-inning starter? Or is that not what people mean when they say "stamina issues"? Is it more about the season grind as a whole?

  • In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    Thanks Matt. I want to clarify that I'm not trying to compare whether Rays or Cubs won deal (they both won their respective individual deals, in my opinion). I'm trying to address whether you think the Cubs would be better off from this point forward with Archer, Lee, Chirinos, Guyer, Fuld or with Edwards, Grimm, Ramirez, Olt, and Rosscup. If you could pick one of those 5 sets of players, which would you choose as of today?

    I'm guessing your answer would be the same because of Archer, but I just wanted to clarify that little bit of confusion. I should have been more clear what I intended in the piece.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Ah, OK, yeah, I went the other way with it. I'd still choose the former but obviously still with the caveat that it's subject to what happens with Edwards.

    Another thing which really can't be factored in that much (or perhaps more accurately, predicted) is injuries. For instance, some people might change their tune here if Lee wasn't injured. Or if Garza wasn't injured, we'd probably be talking about Perez, Olt, and Rosscup instead of the five we have. To me the only semi-reasonable way of looking at those things is by trying to predict injury likelihood. Did the traded player have a history of injuries or show some form (arm angle, etc.) that predicates injury issues? If not, you can't really blame a team for taking on a healthy player and having a freak thing happen.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I hope that Edwards build toward stamina doesn't effect his stuff or risk injury. Maybe the Cubs should just let the stamina evolve.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I see what you mean, but I think they're just going to try and add a bit more muscle weight and cardio -- and totally agree, you wouldn't want to bulk him up too much and lose flexibility and that loose body which allows him to do some of the things he does. Someone said the other day is to try and do what they did with Blackburn, add strength and stamina without compromising the things he does well.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Well, one thing about high end prospects the club will want to keep tabs on what they are doing and not doing in the off season.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks John. And great analysis. I haven't seen anyone else look at the Garza saga this way. You da man.

  • In reply to Nate Dawg:

    Thanks Nate.

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    In reply to Nate Dawg:

    He is definitely not a "max effort" guy. His delivery is easy and smooth. The game I watched him live (his very last start of this, his longest season by far), he went from 95-96 in the first inning to 92ish in the 5th, but his delivery never changed and he had easy command. The stamina issues everyone alludes to are in regards to him building up to 200 inning seasons and maintaining that velo late in games, and while they're hypothetical, they are legit concerns.

  • CJ Edwards has some mystique about him. Loved the recent article about him by GWitt in the Sun Times.
    And just the fact that we retained Beef is huge. The way he seems to have improved this season, he may end up as the most valuable Cub over the next five years.

  • In reply to baseballet:

    Also enjoyed that article. Also a good one out there on BP.

  • John, I love the analysis. You may have to revisit this annually for a few years to see the true winner. My question is would the Rays have traded Archer to the Rangers to receive the same compensation the Cubs received for Garza? Lets pretend the Rays had the same record as the Cubs.

  • In reply to Hairdogg:

    I think you're right. I did it last year too but that was before the latest trade, of course. Definitely have to check back in at the end of each year.

  • I'm excited about CJ Edwards and think they shouldn't mess with the natural development of his body too much. He's wiry strong. He's dominating with the musculature he possesses. Thinner you are, the less effort every motion takes, is another way to look at it.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    True, but a bit more stamina would be nice. Put him through a regimen that focuses more on cardio and lean muscle (high rep, lower weights) than bulking up.

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    Nice article. There was a similar analysis on BCB several day ago that went back to the Derosa-Archer trade. My take is, stripping away the replaceable roster fodder guys such as Fuld, Grimm, etc the net net of those three trades is: Derosa and archer for cj Edwards and mike olt.
    Can't finally evaluate them all until we see where edwards and olt end up, ceiling wise.

  • Its really easy to look back on a team that finished 71-91 and say they didn't have enough talent to compete but I don't think that's fair. The opening day lineup featured, at the time, 5 former all stars not including Starlin and Byrd and the pitching staff had 4 former all stars of its own plus the addition of Garza. That should have been enough talent to 'compete'. At the time there were 4 playoff teams in the league and every year there are two or three teams that come up about a week short. That means they only had to be 6th out of 15 to compete. The club just didn't for various reasons but talent on the opening day roster wan't one of them. I think most of us thought they would be competitive. I can remember being excited.

    I thought it was a great move at the time and I also liked the move in July. Archer is looking like a good pitcher but he wasn't in the "can't miss" category like a couple of the guys they have now. I bet we'd all complain at some point about Lee not hitting enough if he were still a Cub and as you said Guyer's and Fuld's grow on trees. I think the Cubs won the first deal in hindsight, actually. Them not taking Welly and Rosscup as a throw in is going to end up being a nice stroke of luck for this franchise. Plus they've now spun Garza into some nice guys. Grimm is an x-factor. I can see him playing a reliable bullpen role similar to the one Bob Howry played in '07 and '08. CJ Edwards looks like a really nice piece. Pedro was slight. As far as Olt, I've never been a huge fan of picking him up over the years BUT now that he's here I'm glad he's in the fold and I'm all for him succeeding. I think he's going to have to be versatile to have any kind of prominent future role, which sucks for him because he's a plus defender at third but there are other, better guys behind/around him. Every team needs a Mark DeRosa type, back up 1B, RF platoon, 3B twice a week, LF or 2B for a few innings if something weird happens, hits lefties really well kind of guy. He has a shot. Or he'll get traded.

    I voted for better off.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Well reasoned Ben20, and agree on paper to open the season that team looks competitive. Even in 2011 though that team is skewing older than MLB averages in years, and while competitive is not a preseason favorite to go deep in the playoffs. Still, plenty of teams have played deep in October with even less top to bottom talent in recent history.

    Also, don't forget we were throwing the keys to that car to the immortal Mike Quade......

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    Thanks. I feel bad for Q honestly. Every single one of his best players had the worst year of their career that year. If that team would've finished 91-71 we'd all love the guy and he'd still have a job somewhere.

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    In reply to Ben20:

    Q lost me when he invented the 2 for 1 switch. The first time I saw it, I believe the Cubs were in a 3-2 defecit vs the Dodgers. Q pinch hit Jeff Baker for Blake DeWitt, then replaced Baker with Darwin Barney for defensive purposes, ultimately burning two players when he could have used just one, considering it was a tight ballgame and extra innings was a distinct possibility.
    Unfortunately, he went on to do this several more times. In addition, he hurt the organization by deciding it was more important for K-arlos Pena to hit 30 jacks (which he didn't anyway) than to find out if LaHair could play 1B every day. he also gave playing time to career back-up Koyie Hill over Beef when Geo was out with an injury, and again in September, after rosters expanded.

  • How about this -- would you rather have Rizzo or Cashner right now?

  • In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    Rizzo. I like Cashner but I think that over the course of the deal that Rizzo just signed Cashner's elbow and or shoulder won't make it. They both should get better and it looks like a really fair trade. One of the fairest I can remember actually.

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    In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    What about Chris Davis as well if we're going there? If Hendry would have pulled off the Gorzelonny/Chirinos for Davis, Rizzo would not have been needed. Would you take Davis and Cashner over Rizzo, Chirinos, and Gorzelonny?

  • In reply to Ryan Kalasz:

    Oh, Butterfly Effects...

  • In reply to Ryan Kalasz:

    I suspect that deal didn't get done because the Garza deal was the priority and both Tampa and Texas wanted Chirinos and not Welly. It's possible the Davis deal only gets done if Tampa would have taken Welly instead -- which changes the deal yet again. Enough to make your head spin.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree but if Garza doesn't get done, we have a rotation of Shark, Cashner, Archer, and Wood. Or if we had to include Beef in the deal for Garza, we can see what a veteran catcher potentially does to a pitching staff Pittsburgh.

  • In reply to Ryan Kalasz:

    The Cubs were prepared to send Castilo if that's who the Rays wanted, so the deal would have gone through unless Tampa changed their minds over it. We can't know for certain there.

    I'd point out too that Cashner has a 4.00 ERA and an average 7/3 strikeout to walk ratio outside of Petco. In Petco, he pitches to contact because he has that luxury in that park (2.14 ERA there). Can't assume he'd put up the same overall numbers if he were with the Cubs.

    And seeing that some Cubs fans are giving up on Rizzo after one bad year, would they have been more patient with Chris Davis' bad year after that proposed trade? He hit .266/.305/.402 with just 5 HRs in the year the Cubs would have acquired him. Hard to imagine Cubs fans not clamoring for a replacement since it seems minds tend to change quickly after one season. I think some would want to run him out of town just like some want to do with Rizzo, Castro, and/or Samardzija... and then watch him hit 50 HRs somewhere else.

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    It's interesting to follow the trail of trades. Mark DeRosa was signed as a free agent and was later traded to Cleveland for Chris Archer (as well as Stevens and Gaub). Archer becomes part of the original Garza deal, Garza is traded for Olt, Edwards, Grimm and Ramirez.

    Many years ago, the Cubs drafted pitcher Ken Holtzman and eventually traded him to the A's for outfielder (and my favorite childhood player) Rick Monday. Monday went to the Dodgers for Bill Buckner and Ivan Dejesus. Dejesus was eventually traded to Philly for Bowa and some guy name Sandberg.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    That is a pretty cool trail of trades.

  • I do think that Garza's production at the big league level should be a part of this analysis. Had the Cubs not had Garza, they would have had to replace him with another (or multiple) SP, who would have to have been acquired by draft, FA, trade, or some other manner.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    I think that's a different, more broad analysis. Mine was more simple. Which set of 5 products/players would you rather have as of today?

  • John, I just want to know what you were doing up at 6:30 am?

  • In reply to Ibleedcubbieblue:

    LOL! I scheduled that one. I'm never up at 6:30...maybe up UNTIL 6:30 :)

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I think most writers are night owls by nature. I usually get to bed around 3:00am and get up at 8.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    That's pretty much my sleep pattern too.

  • Based on this, the Cubs obviously got the better of both deals because they also got 2.5 years of Garza's services which neither other team did. So it's not just Archer vs. Edwards. Garza was the better major league pitcher than Archer. And the Rangers got a pitcher with even more miles on him than we got... but as a rent-a-player.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    Question is not about who won trade. The question is meant to ask what would you rather have going forward, the 5 prospects they had before they traded Garza or the ones they got for him now?

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    If that is the question, my answer most definitely, is they guys they have now.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Wish I would have made that a bit more clear. It was a common interpretation.

    Back when I used to train/develop employees, my thought was if one of them doesn't get it, it's on him/her. If several don't get it, it's on me.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    If I were the Cubs, I would like the prospects we got back the best. If I were the Rays, I'd be happy with the trade they made, although at the moment would slightly prefer the Cubs' haul -- although they would not have been smart to have held onto Garza for 2.5 years for the marginally greater return. They got the Cubs to take on the salary and injury risk, and they got Archer into their instructional program sooner. It's also worth noting that there is no guarantee that Archer would have been the same pitcher with the Cubs, as the Rays were then known as better developers of pitching talent.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    I think both the Rays and the Cubs made a good trade. Was just wondering if people thought the Cubs were better off with Archer, Lee, Fuld, Guyer, and Chirinos or Edwards, Olt, Grimm, Ramirez, and Rosscup.

    One thing I would add is that unlike the Cubs, the Rays were a good team -- could they have used Garza rather than waiting 3 years for Archer? They've been close and maybe that extra vet pitcher could have helped. Lots of ways to break this down, which is why I was trying to keep the question simple ;)

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    The two deals are basically a wash. The Cubs overpaid to get Garza, but then so did the Rangers. The very fact that the two deals end up cancelling each other out, and there is still the chance the return from Texas could exceed what was paid out to Tamp Bay, just goes to show how relentless this FO is as compared to the last FO.

    Team Theo would rather make no deal than a bad one. Whereas had Hendry still been in charge, what the Cubs likely would've gotten for Garza wouldn't have been anywhere near what they actually got.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Interesting way to look at it. That they had just 2 months of Garza and were even able to approach recouping what Hendry gave up for 3 years of Garza, says a lot about this FO.

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    In reply to John Arguello:


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    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    MC, I agree with that perception of the FO. I think that became evident when they backed out of the original Garza-to-Detroit talks. They were asking a king's ransom at the time, and when they didn't get what they wanted, they held on to their asset, rather than sell him like a used Buick for "best offer"

  • Micheal: I agree it's a wash at this point, and that's fine at this time. We just need Olt to regain what he had earlier. That's the key for us as far moving anyone to or from 3rd! I also think the pitchers have a chance to produce. FO is still going the correct way of building a good team every year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • The Garza trade this season has the potential to be the best trade Theo/Jed have ever done. All five players should see some time at the major league level, and if Edwards and Olt become productive starters this trade will be a huge win.

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