Results tagged ‘ Matt Garza ’

3/24 The Garza deal

Rangers GM Jon Daniels apparently is kicking himself after last July’s trade with the Cubs in which he sent four players to Chicago for Matt Garza.

“I thought way too short term with the Garza deal last year,” Daniels told the Arizona Republic. “That one’s got a chance to haunt us and haunt me.”

The Rangers dealt Mike Olt, C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm and Neil Ramirez to the Cubs in exchange for Garza last July.

“Having seen all of them, and C.J. will throw for us on Tuesday night, I won’t speak for [Daniels],” Cubs Rick Renteria said. “Do I think we’re in a good place with the guys we got? Sure. That’s all I’ll say.”

Garza went 4-5 with a 4.38 ERA in 84 1/3 innings for the Rangers, who didn’t make the postseason. Olt is vying for a spot on the Cubs’ Opening Day roster, Edwards had a terrific season in 2013 and will start Tuesday night for the Cubs, and Grimm is in the mix for a bullpen spot.

12/30 A look back at 2013

The 2013 season was another step in the Cubs’ rebuilding process. For the second straight year, the Cubs dealt 40 percent of their starting rotation. They seemed to set a record for most deals in July as Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Marmol and Scott Hairston also were traded. In August, David DeJesus was sent to the Nationals.

In return, the Cubs felt they strengthened the organization with players such as third baseman Mike Olt and pitchers Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm, Jake Arrieta, Ivan Pineyro, C.J. Edwards and Corey Black. It’s all part of Theo Epstein’s plan since taking over as Cubs president of baseball operations.

All the transactions didn’t solve the 2013 team’s problems, and the Cubs finished last in the tough National League Central at 66-96, the fourth straight year they’ve posted a sub .500 season.

As 2013 comes to a close, here are five storylines from the Cubs’ season:

5. Hot prospects

Every time Javier Baez hit a home run, or first-round Draft pick Kris Bryant won another award, there were questions about where the Cubs top prospects would fit in the big league lineup. Baez, the No. 1 pick in 2011, and Bryant, who was the second overall selection in June, stole some of the headlines from the big league team. The Cubs front office’s mantra is that the kids need time to develop but fans are eager for someone to cheer for. Baez, who belted 37 homers and drove in 111 runs combined at Class A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee, and Bryant, the college player of the year who was named the Arizona Fall League MVP, aren’t the only super kids. The list of potential impact players in the Cubs system also includes Albert Almora, C.J. Edwards, and Jorge Soler. Now, the question is when.

4. Marmol, Fujikawa and Gregg

Carlos Marmol lost the closer’s job one week into the regular season, and Kyuji Fujikawa took over but he was limited because of elbow problems. The Japanese pitcher eventually needed Tommy John surgery, and the Cubs had to scramble. They signed Kevin Gregg, who was released by the Dodgers April 3, and he proceeded to reclaim the job, finishing with 33 saves. Marmol was eventually traded to the Dodgers for Matt Guerrier, and didn’t get another save opportunity the rest of the season. The Cubs bullpen was a problem most of the season, ranking on the bottom of the National League in ERA, walks, and home runs allowed.

3. Alfonso Soriano is traded to Yankees

For the second straight year, the Cubs were busy at the Trade Deadline, but none of the moves affected the players the way the departure of Alfonso Soriano did. The veteran outfielder was dealt to the Yankees, where he began his U.S. pro career in 1999. He has one year remaining on the eight-year, $136 million contract he signed with the Cubs in November 2006. While fans were critical of Soriano’s defensive ability, he was revered in the Cubs clubhouse. Soriano topped the Cubs in home runs and RBIs at the All-Star break, and they struggled to fill his spot in the lineup after he left. The Cubs may have been the only team to use a backup catcher, Dioner Navarro, in the No. 4 spot.

2. Manager Dale Sveum is dismissed

Sveum was a no nonsense kind of guy. He held players accountable. He believed in face to face communication. In Spring Training, he organized a bunting tournament, and included himself in the bracket. When Sveum was hired in November 2011, Epstein trusted the manager and his coaching staff to compile “The Cubs Way” handbook, to be used throughout the organization.

The Cubs lost 197 games in two seasons under Sveum, but Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer said the record wasn’t the reason the manager was dismissed. There were issues regarding the development of some of the Cubs, and Sveum got his signals crossed with a few players and the front office.

“There has to be a clear, unified message, and [players] can’t be getting different signals from different directions and collectively — myself included — we failed to provide that,” Epstein said.

Sveum wasn’t out of work for long. Royals manager Ned Yost waited one hour after Sveum was dismissed before calling to offer him a job on Kansas City’s coaching staff.

1. Starlin Castro takes a step backward

Castro was disappointed when he didn’t bat .300 for a third straight season in 2012, finishing at .283. But no one expected the shortstop to struggle as much as he did in 2013, batting .245 — including a .167 June. What happened? The shortstop lost his aggressive approach, struck out a career-high 129 times, and often looked lost at the plate. He was dropped to eighth in the order in August.

“This year, it’s too many things to think about [and] I’m not supposed to think [up there],” Castro said. “Sometimes you have a tough season, and you want to please everybody. But it’s not right. You have to listen to the things that can help you — not everything. When you come to home plate, you don’t have any idea, because you listen to too many things.”

Toward the end of the season, Castro announced he was just going to “be me.” The shortstop may be the Cubs’ new leadoff man in 2014 — he batted .263 there this past season — and the team can only hope he regains his approach, especially since this is Year 2 of his seven-year, $60 million contract.

– Carrie Muskat

8/23 Cubs get Ramirez

The Cubs claimed right-handed pitcher Neil Ramirez off waivers from the Rangers, and he will be the “player to be named later” to complete the Matt Garza deal. Here’s a scouting report on Ramirez:

Ramirez was the No. 14 prospect on the Rangers’ Top 20 list when he was sent to the Cubs as the player to be named in the Matt Garza deal. The right-hander was initially a supplemental first-round pick in 2007 and developed slowly. He had a huge breakout season in 2011 that saw him pitch at three levels, ending in Triple-A. That momentum didn’t continue in 2012, as he was demoted to Double-A to try and right the ship. He has spent all of 2013 in the Double-A Texas League again and was leading the circuit in strikeouts at the time of the trade. Still only 24, he has an intriguing combination of stuff and command, that if he can rediscover consistency, he has what it takes to be a mid-rotation starter. He can command his fastball well and throws a deceptive changeup. He throws both a slider and curve, with the former the better of the two. Given his up-and-down career, it’s hard to know exactly what Ramirez’s ceiling is. He is still young enough to figure it out and help out a big league rotation in the future.

To refresh your memory, the Cubs sent Garza to the Rangers on July 22 in exchange for right-handed pitcher C.J. Edwards, right-handed pitcher Justin Grimm, third baseman Mike Olt and a player to be named later (now Ramirez).

Olt was batting .121 (12-for-99) in 28 games at Triple-A Iowa with two home runs, two doubles and four RBIs. He was batting .213 in 65 games with Triple-A Round Rock before he was traded. He had vision problems that caused him to miss all of May. Olt batted .288 with 28 home runs and 82 RBIs at Frisco in 2012.

Edwards has a 1.84 ERA in four games with Class A Daytona, striking out 20 over 14 2/3 innings. He was 8-2 with a 1.83 ERA in 18 games with Hickory before he was dealt.

Grimm is 1-3 with a 5.46 ERA in six starts with Iowa, striking out 33 and walking 12 over 31 1/3 innings. He was 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA in one start at Round Rock before the deal.

– Carrie Muskat

8/4 Neil Ramirez update

Matt Garza has made three starts for the Rangers since he was acquired on July 22, but there’s still a player to be named later that the Cubs will receive as part of the trade. Double A Frisco pitcher Neil Ramirez could be that player or the Rangers could sent two other players to Chicago.

“You hear stuff from the Internet, but I’m just trying to get healthy,” Ramirez told “Whatever happens, happens. It’s one of those things you can’t control so there’s no use in worrying about it. Either way, I just got to get healthy, go back out there and compete again.”

Ramirez was placed on the disabled list on July 24, retroactive to July 21, with a right shoulder injury. The 14th best prospect in the club’s farm system, according to, has had shoulder problems before during his six years in the Minors.

“It’s kind of been from throwing and a combination of some other things,” Ramirez said on the injury. “For the sake of not really wanting to get into that, it was just an off the field thing. It wasn’t anything serious. I’m just glad to get back out there now.”

The Rangers supplemental first round pick in the 2007 MLB First-Year Player Draft threw a 35-pitch bullpen session this week and plans to have another session Sunday, throwing around 45-50 pitches. If all goes well, Ramirez thinks he’ll be ready to return.

“I’m just taking it day-by-day, but it’s definitely feeling a lot better,” Ramirez said. “I thought the effort level and intensity was good. I was able to make all my pitches with no problems and felt comfortable.”

7/22 Cubs deal Garza – UPDATE

Instead of pitching for the Cubs Monday night, Matt Garza is headed to the Rangers.

The Cubs will receive four players, and possibly five, in return for Garza, including third baseman Mike Olt and right-handed pitcher C.J. Edwards. Olt, 24, was Texas’ first-round pick in 2010 (49th overall). He was batting .211 in 61 games at Triple-A Round Rock with nine home runs and 14 doubles. Edwards, 21, the Rangers’ 48th round pick in the 2011 Draft out of Mid-Carolina High School, was 8-2 with a 1.83 ERA in 18 starts at Class A Hickory with 122 strikeouts in 93 1/3 innings.

The Cubs also will get right-handed pitcher Justin Grimm and a player to be named later. Minor League right-handed pitcher Neil Ramirez could be added in the deal if he has no further issues with his right shoulder. The Cubs could also choose two other Minor League pitchers instead.

Grimm is 7-7 with a 6.37 ERA in 17 starts this season and 2-4 with a 9.91 ERA in his last eight starts. He left his last start against the Tigers on July 12 with some stiffness in his right forearm but has been available to pitch since the All-Star break. Olt was No. 2 among the Rangers’ top 20 prospects, as ranked by, while Grimm was No. 10 and Edwards No. 20.

The Rangers, who trail the Athletics in the American League West by three games, had been the most aggressive in pursuit of Garza, who was 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA in his last six outings.

Texas had five starting pitchers on the disabled list (Matt Harrison, Yu Darvish, Alexi Ogando, Nick Tepesch and Colby Lewis), and opened the second half with Derek Holland, Ross Wolf and Martin Perez in the rotation. Darvish was expected to come off the DL on Monday, and Ogando could do the same Tuesday.

Last year, the Cubs helped the Rangers rotation when they dealt starting pitcher Ryan Dempster for Minor League right-hander Kyle Hendricks and third baseman Christian Villanueva. Dempster went 7-3 with a 5.09 ERA for Texas, then signed a two-year, $26.5 million deal with the Red Sox.

– Carrie Muskat

7/20 Matt Garza update

Talks between the Cubs and Rangers regarding Matt Garza reportedly hit a snag Friday. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal said the problem may have been related to the medical records of one or more of the players in the deal. Garza threw a bullpen on Friday in Denver and was prepping for his Monday start against the Diamondbacks. A National League team could get involved, and there were reports that the Nationals were interested in the right-hander. Stay tuned.

7/19 Matt Garza update

Matt Garza is one of the most coveted names on this year’s trade market. And he’s still waiting. Garza is well aware he’s at the heart of trade rumors, but he’s waiting for the “could” to turn into an official deal.

”When it rains, then it will be real,” Garza told reporters in Denver, including’s Ian McCue, before the Cubs’ series opener Friday against the Rockies. “Right now it’s just rumors. It is what it is, you just keep going about your business.”

While the Rangers are rumored to be the frontrunners to land the pitcher widely considered the of the top arms ahead of the non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Dodgers, Indians, Nationals and Blue Jays are also rumored to be in the market for Garza.

Garza also said his agent was told a deal could happen, but this isn’t his first time his name has been the hot topic of trade rumors. The Cubs were looking to deal him before a right elbow injury last July. He already has been traded twice in his career — first from the Twins to the Rays in 2007, then to the Cubs in 2011.

”Last year they told me something could happen, and the year before that something could and did happen,” he said. “ … So my entire career’s always been a lot of ‘coulds.’”

That experience makes Garza hesitant to believe he will be out of a Cubs uniform in the next week until the pen hits the paper. For now, the waiting game continues.

“I’m just going to keep going until a ‘could’ turns into a ‘does’ and I’ll keep doing what I do,” Garza said. “Just kind of stick with a nice time-old saying from [the movie] Finding Nemo: ‘Just keep swimming guys,’ that’s it.”

Garza threw a bullpen on Friday in Denver. His next scheduled start is Monday against the Diamondbacks.

In Arlington, Texas, Rangers GM Jon Daniels and various assistants kept busy in their offices on Friday while working on a deal to acquire Garza.
As various names get tossed into the rumor mill – most notably infielders Mike Olt and Luis Sardinas and pitchers Neil Ramirez and C.J. Edwards – indications are the talks continue but with no resolution in sight as the Rangers prepared to play the Orioles on Friday.

“I’ll get excited if what we’re talking about comes to fruition,” manager Ron Washington said told reporters in Arlington, including’s T.R. Sullivan. “I’m not going to get excited if the property we’re talking about is not ours. This is a tough business. You’ve got to play with what you have. That’s the attitude we have.”

If Ramirez is involved in the deal, it didn’t keep him from starting for Double A Frisco against Corpus Christi in the first game of a doubleheader on Friday.

7/19 Matt Garza rumors

Matt Garza tweeted Friday morning that he was headed to Denver to join the Cubs, who open a three-game series there. How long will he stay? According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs and Rangers are close to a deal. Among the names discussed are Triple-A third baseman Mike Olt and Class A right-hander C.J. Edwards. Edwards, 21, is 8-2 with a 1.83 ERA at Class A Hickory with 122 strikeouts and 34 walks. Rosenthal reports the Cubs will receive a strong package of prospects for Garza, who will be a free agent at the end of the season.

– Carrie Muskat

7/18 Matt Garza rumors

Will Matt Garza start Monday for the Cubs against the Diamondbacks? According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi, trade talks have intensified regarding Garza, considered the top starting pitcher available on the market. Rosenthal and Morosi report the Rangers are the “most motivated” of any team in discussions with the Cubs regarding Garza. Texas currently has five starting pitchers on the disabled list (Matt Harrison, Yu Darvish, Alexi Ogando, Nick Tepesch and Colby Lewis). According to Rosenthal/Morosi, the Rangers tried to acquire Garza in 2011 from Tampa Bay but the Cubs put together the better package at that time.

The Indians, Cardinals, Pirates, Dodgers, Red Sox and Diamondbacks also have expressed interest in Garza, who will be a free agent at the end of the season.

According to’s T.R. Sullivan, the Rangers will open the second half with Derek Holland, Ross Wolf and Martin Perez as their starters. Darvish is expected to come off the DL on Monday, and Ogando could do the same Tuesday. Tepesch has started playing catch but isn’t close to being activated. Lewis is unlikely to be an option before the Trade Deadline.

Rangers GM Jon Daniels said the team is looking for starting pitching and a right-handed bat.

“We could go both ways,” Daniels told Sullivan. “We’re having active conversations on both fronts. We’d like to improve the club.”

7/17 What’s price tag for Garza?

The Cubs were willing to part with top prospects Chris Archer, Brandon Guyer and Hak-Ju Lee to get Matt Garza in January 2011. Which team will find the right combination by the Trade Deadline to acquire the right-hander?

The Rangers are reportedly the front-runners for Garza as July 31 approaches, but’s T.R. Sullivan reports they will not part with Venezuelan left-handed pitcher Martin Perez, 22, who is 3-2 with a 3.00 ERA in six starts. Right-hander Luke Jackson, 21, has drawn some interest. A first-round pick — 45th overall — in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, Jackson is 8-4 with a 2.51 ERA in 16 starts at Class A Myrtle Beach. He has struck out 86 over 82 1/3 innings.

Another player the Cubs may be looking at is Mike Olt, a 24-year-old right-handed hitter who was Texas’ first-round pick in 2010 (49th overall). He was batting .211 in 61 games at Triple-A Round Rock with nine home runs and 14 doubles.

The Cardinals, Pirates, Indians, Blue Jays, Red Sox and Dodgers also have had scouts at Garza’s recent starts. The right-hander has been impressive, posting a 5-0 record and 1.24 ERA in his last six outings.

“He’s handled it great,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Garza. “Obviously, he knows [about the rumors], as well as last year at the same time when his name was all around. He’s pitched in as good a five-game stretch as he has in his whole career.”

In January 2011, Jim Hendry traded five Minor League players, including Archer and Guyer, the Minor League player of the year, to the Rays for Garza. Tampa Bay added two other players in the deal in reliever Zach Rosscup and outfielder Fernando Perez, but Garza was the Cubs’ target.

“It’s a good, old fashioned baseball trade that doesn’t often get made with the volume of people involved and for the right reasons for both organizations,” said Hendry, the Cubs general manager at the time.

Several of the teams interested in Garza consider him to be a No. 3 starter for their rotation — the Pirates, for example, already have an ace in Francisco Liriano. But could Garza be the piece needed to get Pittsburgh to the postseason? All-Star Jeff Locke (8-2, 2.15 ERA) was not available for Tuesday’s game because of lower back tightness. The Pirates may decide Garza is worth the high price tag the Cubs have set.

“Obviously, he’s throwing extremely well and he’s very healthy and there are teams out there looking for pitching who are going to call and try to acquire him,” Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, said on Friday. “For us, he’s helping us win games now, there’s a chance to possibly retain him beyond this year, so we’ll just balance all that out and do what’s best for the organization.”

There has been talk about a possible contract extension, but the more likely scenario is the Cubs deal Garza by July 31. The right-hander will be a free agent after this season, something bidding teams have to factor in their decision as to which players to part with for what could be a two-month rental. There is another option: If Epstein does not deal Garza, the Cubs could make him a qualifying offer at the end of the season.

The Cubs players like having the right-hander on the mound, or on the top step of the dugout in games he’s not starting.

“He’s a leader in the clubhouse,” Jeff Samardzija said. “He leads by example. He can talk a little bit but that’s not his main point. He does that for fun. He loves talking. He’s just a great dude to have and the more guys you have like that out of your 25, the better chance you have for a successful season.”

Garza was rumored to be traded last season before an elbow injury sidelined him for the final 2 1/2 months. He made his last start July 21. A strained lat in Spring Training delayed his 2013 start until May 21, and he looked sharp in his season debut, holding the Pirates to one hit over five shutout innings.

“He’s one of the hardest working pitchers you’ll ever be around,” Sveum said. “Even the four days he doesn’t pitch, he’s on the bench and rooting his teammates on. You’re always going to hear him on the bench. He’s one of those special starting pitchers who will always be involved in the game, and position players who play every day and other people appreciate that.”

So, any teams interested in Garza, be prepared. He’s loud, he needs Popeye’s chicken on the day he starts, and a quiet place for an hour or so to watch comedy shows on his iPad before he takes the mound. He can be loud, is quick with the post-game pie in the face, and devoted to his family.

On Sunday, the Cubs closed out the first half of the season with a loss to the Cardinals. Garza, who had picked up a win the night before, holding St. Louis to two runs over 6 2/3 innings, left the clubhouse about 11:30 p.m., eager to spend the All-Star break with his kids.

“You get caught up in [the rumors], but I’ve been through it so much that I’m just oblivious to it until something happens,” Garza said Saturday. “It’s stressful but at the same time, I have a great outlook. I get to pitch every five days. I just keep going and keep looking forward to that next five days.”

His next scheduled start is Monday against the Diamondbacks.

– Carrie Muskat


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