Cubs

Cubs still trying to answer Garza question

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Cubs still trying to answer Garza question

If you listen closely enough, it sounds like the narrative has shifted for Cubs executives.
Theyve gone from saying We need more Matt Garzas, not less Matt Garzas at the beginning of spring training, to pointing out the unfortunate timing of his elbow injury just before the trade deadline.
Theo Epstein said he only meant that the Cubs didnt get a chance to play it out with Garza. And the president of baseball operations couldnt guarantee that Garza would have been traded anyway.
But coming from a front office that likes to picks its spots, shape the message and throw out blanket no-comments, this seemed like a purpose pitch.
Garza is only 28 years old and under club control through 2013, meaning his timeline could match up to the contending phase in Epsteins rebuilding plan.
But Epstein publicly acknowledged what others around the organization sensed that negotiations with Garzas camp had no momentum.
Everythings still in play, Epstein said Wednesday. We did have talks earlier in the season. They didnt come to fruition. I think when that type of thing happens, you have to be open-minded about moving a player. But certainly theres a time and place to address an extension again.
Between Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm, the Cubs just traded away 40 percent of their rotation, and Epstein doesnt see waves of pitching coming through the minor-league system.
The Cubs seem to be right back where they started not sure how to answer the Garza question. Its either cashing him in for multiple prospects or building around him and Jeff Samardzija.
Its too early to say, Epstein said. Well see what our situation looks like and what the market looks like.
A contender can now only get Garza to impact one pennant race, not this season and next. But everyone knows that he can handle the American League East and the bright lights of the postseason.
Garza (5-7, 3.91 ERA) still hasnt put it all together yet, the way Matt Cain has with the San Francisco Giants. Cains reported 127.5 million guarantee over six years reset the market near the end of spring training.
Garza had often been compared to White Sox left-hander John Danks, who got a five-year, 65 million extension last winter and is now preparing for season-ending shoulder surgery.
Maybe theres a deal to be made somewhere in the middle. Garza certainly hasnt priced himself out with a career year, and this could offer security after two seasons on the North Side with questions about his right elbow.
Garza hasnt pitched since July 21 in St. Louis, and he wont start again at the earliest until Aug. 7 in San Diego. The Cubs say the MRI showed just traces of fluid, that it was only cramping and nothing more sinister, not related to the bone contusion in 2011.
Clearly, a healthy Matt Garza would have been a very sought-after player at this deadline, Epstein said. Whether we would have done something or not, its hard to say, but we didnt get a chance to fully explore it.
When a buying teams last data point is seeing a guy walk off a mound holding his elbow, its not the kind of thing they want to act upon.
Whenever Garza returns, he could be pitching for his next contract with the Cubs, or auditioning for a new team. How Epstein responds will say a lot about the direction of this franchise, how soon the Cubs might be buyers again.

Theo Epstein brushes aside rumors: 'There's essentially zero trade talks involving the Cubs'

Theo Epstein brushes aside rumors: 'There's essentially zero trade talks involving the Cubs'

No, the Cubs are not currently talking to the Baltimore Orioles about bringing Manny Machado to the North Side of Chicago.

So says Theo Epstein, the Cubs president of baseball operations who met with the media at Wrigley Field ahead of Friday's series opener with the San Francisco Giants.

Epstein vehemently shot down the notion of trade talks and specified the major diffence between trade rumors and trade talks, while refusing to comment on Machado in particular.

"I'm not addressing any specific rumor or any player with another team," Epstein said. "I would never talk about that in a million years. The simple way to put it is there's been a lot of trade rumors involving the Cubs and there's essentially zero trade talks involving the Cubs.

"There's a real disparity between the noise and the reality and unfortunately, sometimes that puts a player or two that we have in a real tough circumstance. And that's my job to clarify there's nothing going on right now.

"We have more than enough ability to win the division, win the World Series and we really need to focus on our roster and getting the most out of our ability and finding some consistency. Constant focus outside the organization doesn't do us any good, especially when it's not based in reality right now."

The Cubs have presented a united front publicly in support of Addison Russell, whose name has been the one bandied about most as a potential leading piece in any move for Machado.

After all, the Cubs have won a World Series and never finished worse than an NLCS berth with Russell as their shortstop and he's only 24 with positive signs of progression offensively.

Trading away 3.5 years of control of Russell for 3-4 months of Machado is the type of bold, go-for-it move the Cubs did in 2016 when their championship drought was well over 100 years.

Now, the championship drought is only one season old and the window of contention is expected to remain open until through at least the 2021 season.

Epstein likes to point out that every season is sacred, but at what cost? The Cubs front office is still very much focused on the future beyond 2018.

"Everybody's talking about making trades in May — the first part of the season is trying to figure out who you are," Epstein said. "What are the strengths of the club? What are the weaknesses of the club? What's the character of the club? What position is the club gonna be in as we get deeper in the season? What's our short-term outlook? What's our long-term outlook? What's the chemistry in the clubhouse?

"All those things. It's a process to get there and figure it out. If you rush to those kinds of judgments, you can oftentimes make things worse. I think it's important to figure out exactly who you are and give guys a chance to play and find their level and see how all the pieces fit together before you make your adjustments."

So there's no chance we could see the Cubs once again jump the market and make an early deal like they did last year for Jose Quintana or five years ago for Jake Arrieta? Will they definitely wait another five weeks until July to make a move?

"It's just the natural order of things," Epstein said. "We wouldn't be opposed to doing something, but that's not the case right now. It's not happening."

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 10th, 11th homers in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 10th, 11th homers in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa is heating up, but even a red-hot Sosa doesn't automatically equal wins for the Cubs.

Slammin' Sammy notched his first multi-homer game in 1998 in a 9-5 loss to Kevin Millwood and the Atlanta Braves. Sosa drove in 4 of the Cubs' 5 runs on a solo shot in the 4th inning and a three-run shot in the 8th. 

Sosa tallied 830 feet of homers in the game, with his first blast going 410 feet and the second shot measured at 420 feet.

The big game bumped Sosa's overall season slash line to .337/.411/.551 (.962 OPS) with 11 homers and 35 RBI.

Fun fact: Mickey Morandini hit second for the Cubs in this game and went 4-for-4, but somehow only scored one run despite hitting just in front of Sosa all game. That's because Morandini was caught stealing to end the 3rd inning, leaving Sosa to lead off the 4th inning with a solo blast.