Matt Garza Comes to Chicago and Everybody Loses

Today the Cubs traded Christopher Archer (ranked our 3rd best prospect by Baseball-Prospectus), Hak-Ju Lee (5th), Robinson Chirinos (12th, yet he's been putting up gaudy stats for a catcher), and Sam Fuld for Matt Garza (an above average starter), Fernando Perez (a more successful poet than outfielder), and a later-named minor league pitcher. This final component could drastically change the trade, but -- at present -- it looks like a steal for the Rays, and a head-scratcher for the Cubs.

You can read my full reaction here at DRaysBay. In summation, my Cubs side groans, and my Rays side celebrates:

Here's the trooff: As a Cubs fan, I'm pained to see them trade away prospects for a pitcher of whom they already had several -- especially since he's going to a flyball-unfriendly park with an average-at-best defense behind him. As a Rays fan, I'm actually fine with seeing Garza go -- he was never one of my favorites.

But still: There is no such thing as a lose-lose trade. Most MLB trades tend to be win-win, just with varying degrees of win. Both teams were trading according to their situation: I think the Cubs suspect they will need starters in 2012 and 2013 (Garza will be around through 2013), and the Rays would prefer to put Garza's cash towards a DH (I've heard rumors of Vladimir Guerrero, uh, yes please).

Still, we are entitled to believe in what we want. Some may choose to believe in Santa Clause until their dying day. But I never believed in Santa, and I rather liked this trade (for the Rays).

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  1. This is why I hate the internet. "Wow! Look at all these Hall of Famers we got!!! And now we can use that Garza money to sign an aging Vlad Guerrero to go along with our decimated lineup and shitty rotation!!! World Series!!! here we come!!!

  2. Hi Anthony! Welcome to Cubs Stats!

    First of all: I'm really sorry my writing has made you hate the Internet. Personally, I hate the Internet because it encourages the proliferation of organizations such as Al Qaeda or the Russian mafia, which utilizes the web as video platform for exploiting human trafficking and sex slaves. But I can see your point too.

    I'll be honest: I'm not terribly sure I understand your criticism, but judging by your Twitter page, you appear to be a Cubs fan strongly in favor of the Garza trade. As such, I am quite jealous of you and really hope you convince me to feel otherwise.

    I should apologize if I have made myself appear over-zealous of the Rays haul in the trade. I honestly believe none of the prospects the Cubs sent (Lee, Archer, Chirinos, or Guyer) are Hall of Fame bound. In fact, I would be hardly surprised if 2 out of the 4 didn't even make it to the majors. Such is the way in the game of ball they call "base."

    Rather, as I noted the full-length version of my article, I don't really believe in lose-lose trades -- or even many win-lose trades. The truth is both teams received something according to their perceived needs. The difference, then, comes in what I perceive as needs for the Cubs organization. Personally, I did not think the Cubs needed an upgrade in pitching talent, thereby the acquisition of Garza really doesn't help much. If you can bench 300 pounds but only curl a TV remote control, one extra bench press doesn't help as much as one extra curl.

    In other words, for this trade to work to the benefit of the Cubs, they have to flip a lot more players (I'm thinking Gorzo, Silva, and even Fukudome). For this trade to work to the benefit of the Rays, all that needs to happen (as Dave Cameron pointed out on Fangraphs today) is for the Rays to get backup catcher-like production out of ONLY Robinson Chirinos. That's not asking a lot.

    However, there is still a player yet named in the deal. If it's Matt Moore or Nick Barnese, this deal evens out a lot more. Otherwise, it appears the Cubs wrongly perceive themselves contenders in 2011 -- which few people think they are.

    Concerning the Rays, I would posit their lineup has almost always been decimated: When it wasn't filled with black holes like Dioner Navarro or Pat Burrell, it was mired with under-performances by its more solid contributors like Carlos Pena or Carl Crawford. They have always survived -- regardless of which metric or statistic you prefer -- on pitching and defense, which they continue to have in spades. In Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann, and Jeremy Hellickson, they have three of the best young pitchers in the American league (again, this is regardless of your stat-of-choice). These guys are cost-controlled and under team contract for many years. The haul they got from the Cubs was nice, but Archer just entered a much greater competition in Tampa's minors than he had in Iowa and Peoria.

    Pundits and gurus who have already discounted the Rays 2011 season as one focused on rebuilding will find themselves quite surprised -- as they did in 2008. Those like the readers at DRaysBay, Another Cubs Blog, or Fangraphs will find themselves smiling smugly for a lot of the 2011 season.

    Still, I hope you are right in the sense Garza ends up being a key component in restoring the long-faded glory of the Chicago Cubs.

  3. I sure would love to see Garza do well in Chicago. I agree with you that I don't see how this trade can help the Cubs with their future though. It's rather mind-boggling considering the club's financial situation, either real or engineered.

    I'm a firm believer that the Cubs got hosed in this deal, but maybe with a bit of luck on our side, the Cubs can outperform their Pythag...who knows? *sigh*

  4. Definitely, Kin. I too want -- and honestly expect -- Garza to do well in Chicago. The problem is that Chicago probably won't do well in Chicago.

    But you never know -- a few injuries to the Cards, Reds, and Brewers, and then a few career years from the Cubs, and BAM! We're in contention again!

  5. Someone please fire Cruller Jim. I can't take much more of his regressive approach to roster construction.

  6. For all his faults, Hickey also has some immense strengths. He revitalized a bare minor league system in the 90s and early aughties, and he also put together a good set of teams in 2003, 2007, and 2008.

    I really think the Cubs FO won't find greater consistency until they bring in and encourage greater statistical review. They have the proper skills in scouting, but an insufficiency of balance. Maybe that means Hendry slides over, back into the head of scouting, and someone from the Rays or Red Sox takes over the main GM duties, I don't know.

    But yeah, something kinda needs to change.

  7. Yeah, what a terrible trade. The Cubs had to give up future Hall of Famers Chirinos, who took a cool 9 years to get to AAA; Archer, whose control is suspect; Fuld, who's had a couple of shots with the Cubs, but for some inexplicable reason (maybe talent) hasn't stuck with the team, and single A player Lee. All the Cubs got in return was a starting pitcher who in each of the past 3 seasons 1) made at least 30 starts; 2) had an ERA in the 3s; and 3) gave up fewer hits than innings pitched. Most places would be thrilled to get him, but apparently not the town that gave us Bozo the Clown.

  8. I think the park factor will temper some of Garza's strength listed by our anonymous friend here. For one, some of those flyballs that turned into outs at the Trop might turn into hits (of the kind that are not playable) at Wrigley Field. For another, the questionable defense behind Garza with the Cubs may make that ERA rise a bit. He'll still make his starts and eat up innings, methinks. But I don't think Brad's point was that we traded HOFers for Garza, it's that the timing and context of the trade sucks.

    I want Garza to do well though. If only for my own sanity.

  9. Everything Kin just said.

    I like Garza -- I failed to make that clear. I don't like -- however -- the timing of this trade. As I've said before, the Rays only need Chirinos to become a backup catcher for the deal to be good for them. The Cubs need a significant overhaul just to place 2nd in our division.

    And as a avid follower of the Rays, I can say with certainty he is good, but not the savior the local media paints him to be. His ERA does show a portion of his talent, but really does more to underscore the incredible Rays defense.

  10. Hey Brad, who is Zachary Rosscup? Just thought I'd ask you before I started B-Ref and Googling it.

  11. 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).

    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.