Despite Garza’s ‘50-50’ claim, Cubs want to deal
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com July 9, 2013 10:25PM
Updated: July 10, 2013 12:23AM
His teammates still are rooting for the scenario Matt Garza described late Monday night, when the team’s best pitcher talked about the possibility of a contract extension being “as real as a trade.”
“This team has a presence with Matt Garza on the mound,” pitching coach Chris Bosio said. “He’s a competitor who works his ass off, and we feed off him.”
But the fact is, Bosio’s job is about to get harder, just like it did this time last year, when the Cubs gutted their starting rotation with the deadline trades of Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm.
And Bosio won’t be alone.
Players such as Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Darwin Barney and All-Star Travis Wood — recipient of a standing ovation in the Cubs’ 7-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday — will decide whether the Cubs can avoid the same kind of tailspin that led to 101 losses in 2012.
Garza’s claim of having a “50-50
chance” to wind up with an extension instead of a trade overestimates the actual likelihood by about 50 percent, according to sources.
With four Cubs already traded this month, Garza heads a list of at least four more who could be gone by the July 31 non-waiver deadline, with the torrid-hitting Alfonso Soriano possibly going in August.
“We’ll see how this month goes, but if it does change, I think we’re all pretty happy with who we have here and the way we’ve been battling,” said Barney, who answered a brushback pitch in the sixth with a three-run homer on the next pitch that knocked out starter Joe Blanton.
Manager Dale Sveum said he plans to lock Castro and Rizzo in the 2-3 spots in the lineup, despite their struggles.
“Those are our core guys, and they’re going to be here for a long time and they’re going to have to figure it out,” he said.
Major-league sources outside the organization suggest that at least six teams could get serious about Garza, the top pitcher on the market, and that the Cubs have made clear their intentions to trade him.
And though Garza sounded optimistic about staying Monday, sources say he privately is making arrangements for a move.
The Cubs made their own arrangements for that inevitability last winter.
“That’s why we kind of went out and got the [Carlos] Villanuevas, for the depth in case something like this happened,” Sveum said. “And [Scott] Baker’s a few weeks away, to have more depth in that situation, as well as [Chris] Rusin and [Brooks] Raley sitting in the wings [at Class AAA].”
Baker, signed after missing most of 2012 because of Tommy John surgery, pitched a simulated game Tuesday. His next outing could be in a minor-league game.
That could put him on track for his debut about the same time that Garza is traded.
That kind of depth, along with what he already has seen, has Barney believing this year’s finish could look a lot different than last year’s two-month nosedive.
“Last year was tough,” he said. “This year we’ve had a lot of guys come up and contribute very well, especially on the pitching side. Some of the pick-ups have been awesome, and [Blake] Parker [2.12 ERA, 15 games] has been unbelievable.
“It’s up to guys like him to solidify their role, and hopefully with the back end of our bullpen being stronger, it won’t be as tough to play those games late in the year.”