Cubs

What's next for Garza: Extension or trade?

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What's next for Garza: Extension or trade?

David Kaplan reported earlier this week the Cubs' front office may be in the business of a complete rebuild. The Sean Marshall trade could be the first step in that.

Will Matt Garza be next?

Theo Epstein has already said Garza is exactly the type of pitcher teams try to build around. He reiterated that same point Friday after the Marshall trade became official, but proposed another possibility.

"It's hard to find top-of-the-rotation type guys, so if you have them and there's a way to keep them around, that's always compelling for the club," the new Cubs president said.

Does that mean an extension could be in the works?

Not necessarily.

"That said, we've been honest with you guys too where we're in a mode where we have to listen on everybody," Theo went on to say. "Now, if there's a way to improve the long-term outlook for this club in a significant manner, we can't look past opportunities like that. We're not in a situation where we have to do anything with Garza. But generally, we're in the business right now of taking our short-term assets and turning them into long-term assets.

"In the case of Marshall, that ends up happening through a trade. We take a short-term asset, one year of Sean Marshall, and turned it what we hope will be three long-term assets. Five years of Travis Wood and the entire careers of two interesting prospects.

"So in the case of Matt Garza, perhaps nothing happens or perhaps we're able to convert him into a long-term asset by extending him on a deal that makes sense for everybody. There's always an active trade market for top-of-the rotation guys with multiple years of control."

With the recent trades around the MLB, the Cubs may be able to fetch quite a haul for a guy like Garza. A package that could make the team's future significantly brighter.

But then again, if the team needs starting pitching both now and in the future and a guy like Garza is exactly the type of guy teams want to build around, an extension -- much like the one John Danks just got on the South Side -- makes sense, too.

The idea of trading Garza has been prevalent throughout the entire offseason thus far, but that hasn't put any undue pressure on Theo or his front office staff.

"We aren't rushing into anything with Matt Garza," Epstein said. "We don't take lightly what it means to have a top-of-the-rotation-type guy in-house and one that you'd potentially be able to keep long term."

Adbert Alzolay makes some memories on an otherwise forgettable night for the Cubs

Adbert Alzolay makes some memories on an otherwise forgettable night for the Cubs

The Cubs lost an entirely forgettable game on Tuesday night, dropping the second of their four games against the NL East-leading Braves by a score of 3-2. They left four men on base, only managed four hits, ran into two outs, and made one error in a game that was over well in time for a Clark Street nightcap, or three. 

What was memorable about Tuesday night was the performance of Adbert Alzolay, the Cubs’ top pitching prospect who was making his first major league start. The final line: 4.2 innings pitched, one hit, one run, four walks and four strikeouts. It’s certainly not the prettiest line you’ll see in tomorrow’s box scores, but the 24 year old passed the eye test with flying colors. 

“Everything was good - he was outstanding,” Joe Maddon said after the game. “I just think he hit a well there at the end. We just have to get him more used to that. Listen, he’s been injured in the past, he’s coming back - you’ve got to be real sensitive to the number of pitches and workload you put on him, because you can see how good he’s going to be.”

Things got off to an inauspicious start for Alzolay, whose first pitch of the game was crushed 413 feet into the left field bleachers for a leadoff homer, courtesy of Braves’ outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. It would prove to be the only hit and run that Alzolay allowed on the night. 

“It’s just one pitch,” he said. “You have to keep working - the game continues. I was just starting the game, so if you lose your mind in that situation than you’re not going to last a lot of innings.

“Even after the home run, he came right back and said, ‘I’m fine’,” Maddon added. “Then he went up and got three really good hitters out. I liked the mound demeanor, we’ve just got to get him a little further along in regards to being stretched out.”

After coming out flat with his secondary pitches during his 4-inning relief appearance on June 20th, Alzolay flashed better command and execution of both his curveball and changeup. Half of his strikeouts came on the curveball - one to get left fielder Austin Riley in the 2nd and one to get Acuña in the 3rd. After throwing 13 changeups in his debut, Alzolay double that number on Tuesday (27). 

“I’m feeling really confident throwing the pitch in any count,” Alzolay said of his changeup. “Tonight I threw it a couple times when I was behind in the count and I got a good result after that, so I’ll just keep on throwing it.

“For us to get confident at something, you have to practice, you have to execute it, and you have to use it in the game,” said catcher Willson Contreras, who plated both of the Cubs’ two runs with a double in the 4th. “For him to be able to throw the changeup for a strike, and strikeout people, it’s really good - especially at his age.”

Maddon couldn’t answer when Alzolay would make his next start. With Kyle Hendricks eyeing a return around the All-Star break, there would seemingly be a few more opportunities ahead of the rookie. Given what he showed on Tuesday night, it’d be hard to argue against it.

"He can be really good in the big leagues," Contreras said. "He still needs to make adjustments like all of us, but with the confidence he has, the ability he has, and the way he prepares before the games, it's going to take him a long way."

Cubs Talk Podcast: Ryne Sandberg: Part 1

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Ryne Sandberg: Part 1

Luke Stuckmeyer sits down with Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg for a wide-ranging conversation centered around the infamous "Sandberg Game."

Ryne gives insight into his feelings upon being traded to the Cubs (2:00), and discusses the reason he ended up with the No. 23 (5:00). Plus, how the 1984 season changed everything and raised his personal expectations sky-high (9:00) and the "Daily Double" dynamic between him and Bob Dernier (16:00).

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

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