MORRISSEY: It’s time to deal Matt Garza
BY RICK MORRISSEY firstname.lastname@example.org July 9, 2013 10:02PM
Updated: July 19, 2013 11:38AM
Against my better judgment, I’ve been trying to understand the thinking of the Cubs fans who now are desperately in love with Matt Garza and see bliss right around the corner. I assume these are people who get nostalgic about Glenallen Hill.
A recent Comcast SportsNet poll question asked what the Cubs should do with Garza, a good, veteran pitcher with trade value. Fifty-five percent of the respondents said the team should deal him for a top prospect. These are smart, reasonable people who understand what management is trying to do with a franchise that hasn’t won a World Series since 1908.
That leaves the 45 percent who said the team should sign him to a long-term contract. I worry about these people.
There might be a psychological disorder involved here, something akin to hoarding. Cubs fans not only cling to the past, they cling to the present. They like Garza so much they think the club is a year away from winning. If they could go back and put a glass bubble over the 2013 Cubs Convention, creating a Biosphere of full-on Cubbiness involving fans, current players and former players, they’d be in heaven. I think we have a reality show on our hands.
Let me sum up what and where this team is, because it seems to be lost on too many people. Going into Tuesday’s games, the Cubs had the eighth-worst record in baseball. They were 14 games out of first place in the National League Central, which was an improvement on June 20, when they were 17 games out.
I’m aware that they are in the toughest division in baseball. I’m also aware that they’re still on pace for 90-plus losses and that not all of it is attributable to the difficulty of being in the Central.
Many Cubs fans would like to see some results now, which is why a significant percentage of them want the team to hang on to Garza. It’s human nature to embrace a sliver of a good thing when there’s a lumberyard of badness. Garza has had a fine month, which, in these parts, makes him Greg Maddux.
This is ingrained behavior. Cubs fans fall in love with their players, always have. There is example after example of it. I don’t mean to pick on Kerry Wood, but he’s the first to come to mind. He’s still treated like a superstar on the North Side, even though he never won more than 14 games in a season. The ratio between accomplishment and reverence is all screwed up in Cub Land. Go down the warm-feelings list. Rick Monday. Bobby Dernier. Joe Pepi-tone. If Manny Trillo came to town, there might be a parade.
And now Garza, who, by the way, has had bone-related elbow injuries the past two seasons and has a screw in his throwing elbow from a childhood injury. Given that these are the hard-luck Cubs, they might want to hurry up on a trade.
The news apparently hasn’t gotten through to everyone that this team is a rebuilding project or, better, using our hoarding imagery, that this is a forced garage sale. I’ll be kind and call it an estate sale, which sounds classier and evokes a death in the family — the death of the old Cubs.
Everything must go.
Ah, but there are fans who have attached themselves to Garza’s ankles, weeping about the possible departure of a pitcher who is 62-62 lifetime.
That is so Cub.
And in perfect Cub symbiosis, Garza insists he wants to stay.
“I like being a Cub,’’ he said. “I want to win. I want to get this team to October and win it here. Like I said before, it would be one hell of a party.’’
That is so Cub too. Every player and manager who comes through the North Side says the same thing. But there should be a foundation, a reason to believe a World Series is possible, for Garza to say such a thing. He has to admit there is nothing to suggest “one hell of a party” is anywhere on the horizon. So why wouldn’t he want to go to a place where he can win?
Something happens to players when they get to the Cubs. Alfonso Soriano, exercising his veteran’s veto power, nixed a trade that would have sent him to the Giants last August. You know, the Giants who went on to win the World Series.
So very Cub.