Cubs

The deal: Hendrys pursuit of Garza finally pays off

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The deal: Hendrys pursuit of Garza finally pays off

Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011
7:00 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

Matt Garza had seen his name mentioned in trade rumors, but the news still caught him off-guard. For Jim Hendry, the pursuit of this front-line starter had been all-consuming.

By Hendrys count, he had spoken to Andrew Friedman every day except Christmas and New Years across the past month. It was more than just a wild idea bounced around the lobby of a Disney World resort during the winter meetings.

The Rays executive was motivated to sell and looking toward his teams next window of opportunity competing directly against the industrys superpowers in Boston and New York.

Years from now, maybe pitcher Chris Archer and shortstop Hak-Ju Lee will help form the core of the next great team in Tampa. Those two prospects were key pieces in an eight-player trade made official Saturday.

But the Cubs see Garza, 27, paying immediate dividends. They view him as a proven playoff performer, someone who will help lift them into contention next season and beyond.

Garza will be under team control for the next three seasons. And by 2014, when the 6-foot-4-inch, 215-pound right-hander will first be eligible for free agency, no one knows where this franchise will be. For the Cubs general manager, this deal strikes a balance.

We look at this as a great trade for the present and the future, Hendry said on a teleconference. Were not giving away the farm trying to win this year. That couldn't be farther from the truth with a guy like Matt Garza.

With all the physicals complete, the Cubs will also receive Fernando Perez, a 27-year-old outfielder who was educated at Columbia University, has major-league experience, and can run and play defense. They also get left-hander Zachary Rosscup, 22, who went 3-1 with a 2.64 ERA in 12 appearances last season in the low minors.

The price included Archer, Lee, converted catcher Robinson Chirinos, and outfielders and Brandon Guyer and Sam Fuld. Thats not unreasonable for a No. 2 starter who will earn around 6 million this season through arbitration especially since Hendry felt he was competing against four or five other teams for Garza.

The Cubs are confident that their system and their financial resources are deep enough to absorb the loss of Archer, who was the organizations 2010 minor league pitcher of the year after going 15-3 with a 2.34 ERA during a season split between Class-A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee.

He aspires to be someone like Garza in a few years, and we hope that happens, Hendry said. The names change every year. The Rays had every right to expect a guy like him.

The Cubs once liked a free agent named Ted Lilly because he was competitive, durable and proven in the American League East. In moving from a brutal division to the weaker National League Central, there is a reasonable expectation that Garza can annually win 15 games, make 30 starts and account for 200 innings.

Manager Mike Quade and pitching coach Mark Riggins are two baseball lifers who spent decades in the minor leagues waiting for this opportunity. They already had options as they looked at the 2011 rotation: Andrew Cashner, Tom Gorzelanny, Randy Wells, Carlos Silva, Casey Coleman and Jeff Samardzija.

But that group is labeled with question marks, the uncertainty of whether they have the stuff and confidence to remain healthy and productive for an entire season. Garza, a former first-round pick with an ALCS MVP award and a no-hitter on his resume, gives them a better chance to win, now and later.

Garza whos 34-31 with a 3.86 ERA since 2008 should be a building block for what could be an even bigger offseason at this time next year.

The Cubs could free up to nearly 40 million in payroll through buyouts, declined options and expiring contracts for Aramis Ramirez, Kosuke Fukudome, John Grabow, Silva and Samardzija.

Carlos Pena, Garzas teammate in small-market Tampa, and Kerry Wood are working on one-year deals worth roughly a combined 11.5 million. Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano could be free agents after the 2012 season. The money will be there if Garza wants it.

Garza is an emotional pitcher who says that he has matured, that he wanted this trade completed before the season started so that he could get his three children settled. Soon we will find out if this only looked good on paper.

(The Rays) gave me the opportunity and stuck behind me through the good and the bad. Its a shame it had to be like that, but its the nature of the beast, Garza said. (Now) lets try to get this turned around in the right direction. We have a lot of pieces of the puzzle.

PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Cubs aiming to finalize coaching staff this week

Cubs aiming to finalize coaching staff this week

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — If fans are feeling impatient waiting for the Cubs coaching staff to be finalized, the front office feels their anxiety.

Jed Hoyer said Tuesday afternoon at the MLB GM Meetings the Cubs hope to settle their coaching staff before the week is up, putting an end to what he joked has been a six-week human resources process.

Theo Epstein confirmed Monday Will Venable will be back as a base coach for the Cubs in 2020, though which base is not yet certain. Venable who interviewed for the managerial vacancy this fall, spent 2019 as the first-base coach for the Cubs, but also filled in at third base early in the season when incumbent Brian Butterfield dealt with vertigo. 

In addition to Joe Maddon, Mark Loretta (bench coach), Butterfield (third-base coach), Lester Strode (bullpen coach) and Chris Denorfia (quality assurance coach) are also out.

That leaves the coaching staff as follows:

Manager — David Ross
Bench coach — Andy Green
Pitching coach — Tommy Hottovy
Associate pitching coach, catching and strategy coach — Mike Borzello
Hitting coach — Anthony Iapoce
Assistant hitting coach — Terrmel Sledge
Bullpen coach — Chris Young
Base coach — Will Venable
Base coach — open
Quality assurance coach — open

It's actually been longer than six weeks since the Cubs informed Maddon they intended to move on from the World Series-winning manager, but it hasn't even been three weeks since the Cubs officially hired David Ross as the replacement. 

But the offseason is fully in gear now and the Cubs would like to turn their full attention to the roster.

"We'd love to get [the coaching staff] done by the end of the week," Hoyer said. "I don't know if that's realistic or not, but that'd be a great goal. We're starting to put together some meetings and stuff with those guys coming to Chicago, so it's not like we're not moving forward with stuff. But I do feel like it's time to have that locked down."

Ross has obviously had a say in the new additions to the staff, going through what Hoyer called a "crash course" in interviewing and hiring coaches. Ross doesn't have much experience working with Green — the most important of the new hires — but he has worked closely with Hottovy and Borzello in the past from his days as a player. He's also been around those guys and the other holdovers on the coaching staff while serving as a special assistant in the front office the last three seasons.

Still, Hoyer said the Cubs are cognizant of Ross' need to have somebody on the coaching staff he trusts. 

"You want guys to fill certain roles on your staff — coaching, strategy, etc." Hoyer said. "But there's also a camaraderie you want to create. There's a relationship with the manager that you want to give that manager. It's a really hard and lonely job at times. 

"Having someone on that staff that you trust that you've known from the past that you can vent to or grab a beer with or grab breakfast with and talk about it, I think that's really important."

Once the final two spots on the coaching staff are finalized, Ross can also turn his attention to pressing matters like immersing himself in the Cubs' behind-the-scenes processes with the research and development staff and the rest of the front office.

Ross has some knowledge of that from his front office work over the last three years, but he also was enjoying time in retirement with his family in addition to his duties as an MLB analyst/broadcaster for ESPN.

"The best way he can hit the ground running is just become really familiar with all of the stuff that we do in the office even beyond what he's already done," Hoyer said. "Using it as a great learning winter for spring training, it's really important from an organization standpoint and a message standpoint. I know he wants to hit the ground running and the best way to do that is to be in the office as much as possible to be able to map out spring training."

What Scott Harris' departure means for Cubs

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AP

What Scott Harris' departure means for Cubs

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Even before the offseason started, the Cubs knew this was going to be a winter of change behind the scenes — on the coaching staff, in player development and scouting and in the big-league front office.

One change they weren't necessarily anticipating was losing Scott Harris to the San Francisco Giants.

Harris had spent the last seven years with the Cubs, working up to an assistant GM role and emerging as one of the most trusted voices in the front office under Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. The Giants officially introduced Harris as their new GM Monday, leaving the Cubs with even more turmoil to address this winter.

In September, the Cubs had already moved Jason McLeod over to the big-league front office from his previous role as vice president of amateur scouting and player development, but McLeod won't be an exact replacement for Harris. Instead, the Cubs will spread Harris' responsibilities around — at least in the short term — and allow younger internal options an opportunity to step up and earn expanded roles.

"We're thrilled for Scott," Epstein said. "It was an opportunity he couldn't turn down — a No. 2 of another storied franchise in his hometown; it was just too good to be true. We're thrilled for him, but it was bittersweet. We loved working with him and he was a big part of our culture and guys around the major-league team love working with him. 

"It will leave a pretty significant void that we'll have to fill. We'll distribute a lot of his responsibilities around to a few different people internally and reevaluate as we continue to look outside, if there happens to be the right fit outside the organization, too."

It won't be easy for the Cubs to replace Harris, as they viewed him internally as a potential GM down the road. At the moment, he was a valued and trusted voice inside the front office at a critical time in the organization as they work to set themselves up for the future beyond their current window of contention that is set to close after the 2021 season.

"He's got incredible work ethic," Epstein said. "He's got significant intellectual capacity, but he's very down to earth, fun to be around. He doesn't tell you how smart he is. He's one of the guys everyone loves going to to share things and pick their brain. He's got good feel managing up, managing down, managing laterally, good feel with the players and uniform personnel. He'll do a really good job over there."

Now the Cubs will have to move on, though they're not in any rush to do so. 

After announcing a host of moves as part of their internal shake-up last month, the Cubs are still looking to hire a scouting director from outside the organization. Epstein confirmed they have interviewed close to 10 candidates and the Cubs are "reaching the final innings" in that process.

The same way they search for the next star player, the Cubs are also searching for the next front office star — the next Scott Harris, if you will.

"Anytime you have the opportunity to fill a spot — and there is some real turnover in our organization this year — I think you're always looking for somebody with potential to impact years down the line beyond the scope of responsibility you're hiring for," Epstein said. "This gives us anther big bullet to fire in our hiring, but we might not necessarily rush out and do it right away. 

"We have a lot of qualified people internally, too, who might take off with new responsibilities, so we'll see. We'll weigh that, but we are definitely looking outside. Same with scouting director — we're looking for an impact hire in that role." 

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