Cubs

Levine: Garza Deal Will Be Focal Point For Years

Matt Garza. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)

Matt Garza. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)

Bruce Levine Bruce Levine
Bruce Levine covers both the Cubs and the White Sox for CBSChicago.co...
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By Bruce Levine-

WRIGLEY FIELD (CBS) — Pitching against his old teammates for the second time this season, Matt Garza continues to be a focal point around the Cubs and their future.

Garza was moved in July of 2013 for Mike Olt, Justin Grimm, C.J Edwards and Neal Ramirez.

Garza pitched poorly for Texas, who failed to make an offer to the 30-year-old pitcher when he became a free agent in November of 2013. He signed a 4-year $50 million contract with the Brewers late in the winter.

Garza called out the Cubs organization, saying it cost him 10 wins a season due to a lack of support around his pitching. It appears the Cubs have had the last laugh, garnering four young players, all 25 or younger, to help in the rebuild of the Cubs’ player base.

Garza, due to injury and underachievement, has been a disappointment in the last two trades he has been the centerpiece of. So far this year, he has a 2-3 record and a 4.98 ERA entering his start Saturday against Chicago. Overall, he has a 69-70 record with a decent 3.88 ERA for his career stats.

He was 21-18 with the Cubs in three and two-thirds seasons. That record was pretty impressive considering those teams he pitched on were a total of 90 games under .500. If you like the modern way of deciding his worth, his W.A.R was right around 1.5 with the Cubs after peaking with a 3.5 in 2008 and 2009 with Tampa Bay.

Getting value for a pitcher considered too old and too costly for a rebuilding team like Chicago was the hope of the Cubs brass when they made the deal at the deadline last July.

Olt has been a tough player to evaluate so far. The good: Olt leads all National League rookies in RBI (19) and home runs (8). The bad: Olt has a strikeout ratio of 35 percent. Grimm has been the work horse of the bullpen having made 21 appearances, the most on the staff and in the top five of all relievers. Ramirez has come through the minors quickly and appears to be a closer of the future. Edwards may have the most potential of the four. He was on a fast pace up the minor league chain before coming up with a shoulder injury in mid-April.

Trades are tough to evaluate at the surface for a recent transaction. As an example the deal that sent Sean Marshall to the Reds for Travis Wood. Wood had a terrible spring training in 2012 and was sent to the minor leagues. Marshal flourished as one of the top set-up men in baseball. That deal went in reverse last season when Wood became one of the top left handed pitchers in the league and Marshall continued to deal with injuries. The Cubs ended up with a solid rotation pitcher under contract control for three more seasons, making the minimum in salary. Marshall makes $16.5 million over the life of his three-year deal that expires after 2015.

Expect the Cubs to continue adding to their pitching cache with deals of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel before August 1.