My issue is this: Heading into 2011, the Cubs don't seem to be in a good position to compete for the NL Central title. They're a weird mix of overpaid veterans and promising youngsters and the consensus is that they'll likely finish behind the Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals and maybe even the Houston Astros...I like the trade for Matt Garza. We all knew Garza would not be cheap. The problem is timing.
That outlook would seem to suggest the Cubs punting the next year or two while those contracts expire (or come mercifully closer to expiration in the case of Alfonso Soriano) and the farm system — the one the Ricketts family keeps citing as a reason to keep GM Jim Hendry around — starts bearing quality fruit at the corner of Clark and Addison.
This trade, though, makes the frightful suggestion that the Ricketts are looking at their upcoming Cubs Convention not selling out and interpreting that as a harbinger of a half-empty Wrigley Field this summer...
History -- or perhaps the legacy of 2007 and 2008 -- has already dealt the Cubs a losing hand in 2011 (as it did in 2010). Adding a Jack of Hearts like Matt Garza does not make us a playoff team; it instead undermines the much-needed rebuilding process.
Those in favor of the trade wrongly assume low value among the prospects. Many of us fans remember the pain of watching Corey Patterson or Felix Pie flounder at the major league level and wrongly apply their struggles to all prospects. In truth, many prospects do fail, but so do many veterans. Baseball is a volatile sport.
And just because a prospect is in A or AA, it does not mean they're years and years away. Everyone matures at different paces, and everyone goes through the low levels at some point.
Most fans may not recognize the names Hak-Ju Lee, Christopher Archer, Robinson Chirinos, or Brandon Guyer, but each of them were among the top 20 prospects in the Cubs system. In truth, only one of them needs to succeed to make this trade worth the Rays time.
It comes down to this: The price for Garza was reasonable, the timing was not.
UPDATE: My boy Tommy Rancel is reporting the final player in the deal is minor league pitcher Zach Rosscup. Here's my rundown on ol' Zachary:
I'll be honest, I don't know too much about Zach Rosscup. He's not even in the discussion of the Rays top 20 prospects, but he's got good peripheries (low BBs, high Ks).That means the Cubs netted Matt Garza, Fernando Perez (accomplished poet, but limited outfielder), and Zach Rosscup. This is pretty much what I expected, and therefore it does not alter my perspective on the trade.
I imagine he projects to be a good-to-great reliever, but that's probably optimistic. He's still a long ways off, so you never know.
It's just the wrong time.