DENVER – The 24/7 nature of Twitter and the sell-off questions the Cubs have heard since spring training make it easy to forget there are still 10 days left until the trade deadline.
Matt Garza has been at the center of the social-media storm, nearly shipped to the Texas Rangers over the weekend and scheduled to make a written-in-pencil start on Monday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.
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“I’d say 100 percent he’s going to be pitching tomorrow,” manager Dale Sveum predicted on Sunday at Coors Field.
So “Garza Watch” continues, with team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer waiting for the team that will meet their asking price, which is believed to be three players, at least one close to major-league ready, with an emphasis on pitching.
That’s roughly what the Milwaukee Brewers received last year – one prospect turned out to be All-Star shortstop Jean Segura – when the Los Angeles Angels went all-in to get 13 starts from Zack Greinke before his free-agent megadeal.
Sunday marked exactly one year since Garza knew something was wrong, walking off the mound at Busch Stadium. He had just struck out St. Louis Cardinals slugger Matt Holliday with a 96 mph fastball. What would be diagnosed as a stress reaction in his right elbow killed his trade value at a time when teams like the Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers had strong interest.
“You’re not ever thinking about anything like that,” Sveum said. “We all know those things could happen to anybody at any given time. But you certainly don’t change things or do anything different. I got more things to worry about.”
The Cubs apparently feel it’s worth the risk, knowing Garza’s medicals weren’t the issue in the proposed Texas deal. This would create another five-day window before Garza would pitch again, and maybe a sense of urgency for contending teams. It could be more time for rival executives to find their direction, maybe get anxious as they assess their roster’s health and the potential playoff field.
The National League West is wide open. The Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates play in small markets desperate for winners. Boston Red Sox ace Clay Buchholz (neck), who hasn’t pitched since June 8, is reportedly going to visit Dr. James Andrews.
“It’s obviously the big talk, but it doesn’t consume me like maybe you guys think,” Sveum said. “All I know is he’s pitching tomorrow. Like I said, if we get a phone call and something changes, that’s the way it is. But it’s not something that consumes me. I don’t live my life that way.”
The Cubs have an open mind and can also offer help in the bullpen (Kevin Gregg), the outfield (Nate Schierholtz) and behind the plate (Dioner Navarro).
“In here, we can’t really worry about it too much – if it’s going to be a different team, who’s getting traded, who’s getting moved, because ultimately we have no (say in) the decision,” pitcher Carlos Villanueva said. “Unless you have a no-trade clause, if they want to trade you and somebody wants (you), then you’re gone.
“You try (to) not have that much emotion, because it’s gonna happen. It’s happened before. It’s happened to me a couple times – never during the season – but it’s part of this rollercoaster business.”
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Sveum – who unlike many players and team officials has refused to join Twitter – said the Cubs wouldn’t move Travis Wood up one day in the rotation to take Garza’s place. Sveum also ruled out emptying his bullpen with a “wing-it” approach because the Cubs are in the middle of an 18-games-in-17-days stretch.
Chris Rusin would probably be the next man up from Triple-A Iowa, but Sveum said there’s no contingency plan stationed in Phoenix yet.
“If anything’s that close, I would imagine there would be,” Sveum said. “As of right now, there’s no ‘body’ on its way.”