Will the Cubs deal Garza?

595066.png

Will the Cubs deal Garza?

Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein let word leak last week at the GM meetings in Milwaukee they would be interested in hearing offers on any player currently on the Cubs' roster. It was assumed Matt Garza and Starlin Castro would be the top two untouchables from the group, but maybe not any longer, as Ken Rosenthal tweets:

embedly_twitter_98322576background:url(http:a2.twimg.comprofile_background_images54604124Foxsports_background.png) C0DEED; padding:20px; embedly_twitter_98322576 pbackground:fff;padding:10px 12px 0px 12px;margin:0;min-height:48px;color:000;font-size:18px;line-height:22px;-moz-border-radius:5px;-webkit-border-radius:5px embedly_twitter_98322576 .embedly_tweet_contentbackground:fff;padding:10px 12px 10px 12px;margin:0;min-height:48px;color:000;font-size:18px !important;line-height:22px;-moz-border-radius:5px;-webkit-border-radius:5px embedly_twitter_98322576 p span.metadatadisplay:block;width:100;clear:both;margin-top:0px;height:40px; padding-bottom: 12px; embedly_twitter_98322576 p span.metadata span.authorline-height:15px;color:999;font-size:14px embedly_twitter_98322576 p span.metadata span.author aline-height:15px;font-size:20px;vertical-align:middle embedly_twitter_98322576 p span.metadata span.author imgfloat:left;margin:0 10px 0 0px;width:48px;height:48px embedly_twitter_98322576 p a color: 0084B4; text-decoration:none; embedly_twitter_98322576 p a:hovertext-decoration:underline embedly_twitter_98322576 .embedly_timestampfont-size:13px;display:inline-block;margin-top: 5px; embedly_twitter_98322576 .components-above span.embedly_timestampfont-size:10px;margin-top: 1px;line-height:12px embedly_twitter_98322576 a color: 0084B4; text-decoration:none; embedly_twitter_98322576 a:hovertext-decoration:underline embedly_twitter_98322576 .tweet-screen-name font-size: 14px; font-weight: bold; embedly_twitter_98322576 .tweet-full-name padding-left: 4px; color: 999; font-size: 12px; embedly_twitter_98322576 .tweet-actionsmargin-left: 10px;font-size:13px;display:inline-block;width:250px embedly_twitter_98322576 .components-above span.tweet-actionsfont-size:10px embedly_twitter_98322576 .controlsline-height:12px!important embedly_twitter_98322576 .tweet-actions a margin-left:5px embedly_twitter_98322576 .tweet-actions a bfont-weight:normal embedly_twitter_98322576 .components-above span.tweet-actions a bvertical-align:baseline;line-height:12px embedly_twitter_98322576 .components-above .tweet-textfont-size:13px;vertical-align:baseline embedly_twitter_98322576 .tweet-image float: left; width: 40px; embedly_twitter_98322576 .tweet-user-block-image float: left; width: 48px; height: 48px embedly_twitter_98322576 .tweet-row margin-left: 40px; margin-top: 3px;line-height: 17px; embedly_twitter_98322576 .tweet-user-block margin-left: -40px; embedly_twitter_98322576 .stream-item padding-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 12px; embedly_twitter_98322576 .simple-tweet-image img margin-top: 4px; embedly_twitter_98322576 .simple-tweet-content margin: 0 0 13px 0px; font-size: 14px; min-height:48px; embedly_twitter_98322576 .in-reply-to-border border-color: EBEBEB; border-style: solid; border-width: 1px 0 0; embedly_twitter_98322576 .in-reply-to-text margin-left: 4px; padding-left: 8px; padding-right: 10px; color: 999; font-size: 12px; embedly_twitter_98322576 .tweet-actions i background: transparent url(http:a2.twimg.coma1306889658phoeniximgsprite-icons.png) no-repeat;width:15px;height:15px;margin:0 4px -3px 3px;outline: none; text-indent:-99999px;vertical-align:baseline;display:inline-block;position:relative; embedly_twitter_98322576 .tweet-actions a.retweet-action i background-position:-192px 0; embedly_twitter_98322576 .tweet-actions a.reply-action i background-position:0 0; embedly_twitter_98322576 .tweet-actions a.favorite-action i background-position:-32px 0; @Ken_Rosenthal
Ken RosenthalRangers can't be ruled out on starters. Have shown strong interest in Garza in past. Cubs' new regime willing to move him. CubsMLB
Nov 22 via Twitter for MacFavoriteRetweetReply

Don't get carried away just yet. Rosenthal may be one of the best in the business, but he can't possibly have his hand on the pulse of Cubs beat completely while spending all his time nationally. In saying the new Cubs regime is willing to move Garza, that might be getting a bit ahead of himself.

I wouldn't put it past Jed and Theo to listen to offers on Garza, but to say they're willing to move him seems to be jumping the gun. It would likely take a small army of prospects or high-upside players to get the Cubs to move Garza, especially considering the old regime gave up three top prospects (Chris Archer, Hak-Ju Lee and Brandon Guyer) from a shallow farm system to get the energetic pitcher to Chicago.

That being said, it was the old administration. Hoyer and Epstein don't have the same attachment to any players like Jim Hendry or anybody else would. And why would they? All they care about is getting the Cubs back to the World Series.

With regards to what the Cubs gave up to Tampa Bay for Garza, what's done is done and that's the way Theo and Jed are looking at it. They can't go back and re-do that trade. They can't turn the "force trades" option on like a video game. So why would they not at least entertain the option of trading Garza?

A team like Texas may be a perfect fit. After losing two straight World Series, they could be anxious to do anything they can to get over the hump in 2012. Maybe they give up too much for Garza because the pressure gets to them. It doesn't hurt Jed and Theo to listen to the offers.

But at the same time, both men have preached the Cubs' need for run prevention, namely pitching. How can they say that's the area with the biggest need for improvement for the team in 2012 and then trade away the team's best pitcher?

If Garza is traded, that would likely assume 2012 will be a rebuilding year. Hard to make the playoffs when you trade your ace.

Garza won't be 28 for another couple of days and is coming off one of the best seasons of his career. He boasts four straight seasons with an ERA under 4.00 and a WHIP under 1.27. You can't give a guy like that up and hope to contend next year.

Then again, if Rosenthal is right, maybe Jed and Theo don't intend to contend in 2012.
That's kind of a scary thought.

Cubs hope adding Joe Nathan to bullpen can be like making a trade-deadline splash

Cubs hope adding Joe Nathan to bullpen can be like making a trade-deadline splash

MILWAUKEE – As the New York Yankees engaged in the bidding war for Aroldis Chapman, the Cubs welcomed Joe Nathan into their clubhouse, hoping a six-time All-Star closer can become a game changer for their bullpen.

At the age of 41 – and after two Tommy John surgeries on his right elbow – Nathan won’t be throwing 105 mph. But even if the Cubs aren’t getting Nathan at the height of his powers, it’s still a potential upgrade before the Aug. 1 trade deadline.

“We’ll see,” Nathan said before Sunday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. “These guys obviously have done something special the first half of the season and put themselves in a great (position) to make the postseason.

“Time will tell who is the right fit. And if they’re going to make more moves, who knows? I’m sure they’re checking to see what’s out there. But for us, we just want to concentrate on today and getting a ‘W.’”

To activate Nathan off the 60-day disabled list – and add a reliever who’s eighth on the all-time list with 377 career saves – the Cubs optioned Adam Warren to Triple-A Iowa to stretch him out as a starter.

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

The Cubs believe Nathan is still hungry, even after making more than $85 million in his career, wanting to write a different ending after facing only one hitter with the Detroit Tigers last year, his season ending on Opening Day.

Nathan was willing to take the prorated major-league minimum, sweat through the heat at the team’s Arizona complex and try to find it again at Double-A Tennessee and Iowa.

“Right from Day 1, it really wasn’t a question of if I’m going to try to come back from this,” Nathan said. “Why not? Why wouldn’t I at least put my best foot forward? If I’m going to rehab it, I might as well go 100 percent at it and see where it goes.

“The good test for me was I was living at home, going through it, bringing the kids to school, doing homework, doing normal stuff. At the same time, I still had the itch.

“That kind of told me, too. If I was home, and I was like, ‘You know what, this is kind of nice,’ it would have been easy to just say: ‘No, I’m good.’ But I still had that kick in the butt to get up and come back to this game.”

Cubs have ‘all kinds of different lines in the water’ leading up to trade deadline

Cubs have ‘all kinds of different lines in the water’ leading up to trade deadline

MILWAUKEE – The White Sox would never trade Chris Sale to the North Side and give the Cubs this year’s potential American League Cy Young Award winner to pair with the National League’s reigning Cy Young Award winner (Jake Arrieta), the game’s most entertaining manager (Joe Maddon) and one of the most iconic venues in sports (Wrigley Field), making the biggest story in baseball ever bigger.

Silly season is already in full swing with reports that the White Sox sent Sale home from U.S. Cellular Field on Saturday…because their all-world pitcher cut up throwback jerseys he didn’t want the team to wear during his scheduled start against the Detroit Tigers.

You can’t make this stuff up. But it’s yet another reminder of what Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer predicted leading up to the Aug. 1 trade deadline: “Expect the unexpected.”   

By late Saturday night, Twitter buzzed about a Fox Sports report that the New York Yankees are telling teams that they will hold onto All-Star reliever Andrew Miller and are moving closer toward dealing 100-mph closer Aroldis Chapman.

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

President of baseball operations Theo Epstein never likes to rule anything out, running a front office that keeps all options open. So expect to hear more rumors about the Cubs trying to engineer a deal for a controllable starting pitcher, canvassing the bullpen market and scouting rentals like Oakland A’s outfielder Josh Reddick.

“All I know is that Theo and Jed really have all kinds of different lines in the water,” manager Joe Maddon said before a 6-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. “Like any of the GMs at this time of the year, they’re always going to look to make us better. So if something makes sense to these boys, I’m sure we’re considering it.”

It’s difficult to see Reddick or the offense being a priority or a focal point when the Cubs are so loaded with position players and have plenty of short- and long-term pitching issues. But the Epstein regime has already poured so much capital into their lineup, rebuilding the franchise around hitters. Why stop now?

Epstein has also hinted the Cubs could pivot in a bad market for starting pitching or if the prices for relievers become prohibitive.

 [RELATED: Cubs ready to activate Joe Nathan, but is that enough for this bullpen?]  

“Sometimes, if the marketplace makes it hard to improve a weakness,” Epstein said, “you can compensate for that by making an area of strength even stronger. That’s not necessarily the direction we’re going to go, but it could be.”

Reddick has Boston Red Sox roots, hits left-handed and will become a free agent after this season. The Cubs just welcomed back their leadoff guy (Dexter Fowler) and have a Gold Glove right fielder with a $184 million contract (Jason Heyward) and multiple options in left field (Kris Bryant, Ben Zobrist, Willson Contreras) plus Chris Coghlan (strained ribcage) and Jorge Soler (strained hamstring) rehabbing at Double-A Tennessee.

“‘CC’ last year was really big for us and we’re still waiting on George,” Maddon said. “I wouldn’t create conjecture for or against. I mean, it’s possible, it absolutely is. They are really hunkered down trying to figure out what’s best for us right now.

“They’re probably looking at us as two different teams versus righties and versus lefties and what we need in those particular moments. And: How far is George actually? I don’t think George is that far off, and I don’t think ‘CC’ is either. But regarding my conversations with (Theo and Jed), they are looking at a lot of different options.”

Frustrated John Lackey after Cubs lose in Milwaukee: ‘This is the big leagues’

Frustrated John Lackey after Cubs lose in Milwaukee: ‘This is the big leagues’

MILWAUKEE – Cubs fans took over Miller Park again on Saturday night, booing Ryan Braun when he stepped into the batter’s box, wearing Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant and Darwin Barney jerseys and chanting “Let’s go, Cubbies!” over and over again.

Big Boy Game? Eh, not so much for John Lackey, the two-time World Series champion the Cubs imported to anchor their playoff rotation and give the clubhouse some much-needed edge. Not when it’s late July and the Milwaukee Brewers are near the ground floor of a full-scale rebuild. 

But the Brewers haven’t sold off All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy yet, and Lackey still looked annoyed some three hours after a game-changing play in the first inning.

“You guys can decide” if that was a double-play ball, Lackey told the reporters at his locker after a 6-1 loss. “This is the big leagues.”

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

Lackey threw up his arms in frustration after Braun hit a groundball toward second baseman Javier Baez, who flipped the ball to shortstop Addison Russell for the second out. Lucroy, the next batter, hammered Lackey’s 93-mph fastball off a second-deck advertisement in left-center field for a two-run homer. 

Baez (age 23) and Russell (age 22) have the potential to become Gold Glove winners, already transforming this team’s defensive profile. Lackey has a reputation for being ornery on the mound and with the media. This isn’t the first time Lackey (7-7, 3.79 ERA) has alluded to tightening things up, and it probably won’t be the last.   

Even though you could wonder about the offense, the rush from Dexter Fowler’s return to the top of the lineup wearing off quickly as rookie right-hander Zach Davies limited the Cubs to only one run across 6.1 innings, drawing comparisons to Kyle Hendricks from manager Joe Maddon.

[RELATED: Cubs ready to activate Joe Nathan, but is that enough for this bullpen?]

And Cubs fans started heading toward the exits in the eighth inning after Mike Montgomery – the high-upside lefty Theo Epstein’s front office acquired in advance of the Aug. 1 trade deadline – gave up a three-run homer to Kirk Nieuwenhuis that made it a beat-the-traffic game.

Nieuwenhuis (.195 average entering Saturday) had led off the fourth inning by homering off Lackey, who put together his first quality start since June 30 but still hasn’t earned a win since June 8. 

“They just purely beat us,” Maddon said. “Give them credit.”

The Cubs (58-38) say they aren’t scoreboard watching now, even though the St. Louis Cardinals (52-45) have closed to within 6.5 games in a division race that looks much tighter now. 

“No, you can’t,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “They’re playing well. They’re a good team. They know how to win. That’s what they have done for a long time. It’s not going to be a cakewalk. But that’s the way baseball is. We know that. Everyone knows that.”