By George Ofman-
(CBS) Let’s go already. What are you waiting for? Matt Garza is still a Cub. He shouldn’t be.
Nothing personal, other than he sports one of the worst beards of all time, worse than Patrick Kane’s. It looks as if he raked a cat cage and slapped it on his chin. It hasn’t affected his pitching, though.
Garza’s value can’t be any higher than it is now, especially after the Marlins dealt Ricky Nolasco to the Dodgers. And GM Jed Hoyer said Garza’s recent performances have opened up some eyes in the trade market. You think? After last night’s effort against the White Sox, Garza has given up four earned runs in his last five games. Scouts know. Other general managers know. Even though word circulated the Cubs’ brass had explored a long-term deal, odds are Garza will be gone. This is why it’s incumbent upon the Cubs brain trust to deal him ASAP. Keep waiting and you’re asking for trouble.
Remember what happened last year?
Garza’s name was swirling around in trade rumors. If it wasn’t the Toronto Blue Jays, then it was the Texas Rangers. Both were in hot pursuit. Garza had two bad outings in late May, but otherwise was pitching quite well as the trading deadline approached.
Then came July 21st and a three-inning outing at St.Louis. He didn’t allow a run but his elbow was ailing. Garza was eventually shutdown, and with that, poof – no trade. Somewhere in the bowels of Wrigley Field, Theo Epstein and Hoyer were probably swearing up a storm and “gosh darn it” was probably not in their vocabulary. A chance to restock the team through Garza failed. He missed the rest of the season, but that didn’t end speculation he might be dealt during spring training if he appeared healthy.
Here we go again.
Days after reporting to training camp, Garza suffered a mild lat strain and somewhere in the bowels of Fitch Park, Epstein and Hoyer probably reprised their tantrum. Was this the curse of the Cubs? Did someone bring a Billy goat to Mesa? Was this a message from the heavens that the Man in charge happened to be wearing a White Sox cap? The mild lat strain wasn’t so mild. Garza didn’t make his season debut until May 21, at which time the rumors began again.
What did you expect, a contract extension? Wait, I think we discussed that already.
Garza isn’t your low-key fellow. Hyper might be one way to describe him. A little screwy might be another, but then again, there are a lot of pitchers playing with a 48-card deck. But Garza has talent – lots of it. He is a short-term asset to a contender. He’s a guy who can help a team in October. That team is not the Cubs, not this year or next. But the longer the boys at Clark and Addison wait, the more they’re playing Russian roulette. Will he injure his elbow again? Will the lat strain reappear? Will he slip on a banana peel or get kicked in the shin by our good friend the Billy goat?
Time may be on the Cubs side to wait for the best deal possible. Then again…
George Ofman is a sports anchor and reporter for WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9FM. Look for him on Facebook and find him on Twitter at @georgeofman.