PITTSBURGH The Cubs say they want more Matt Garzas, not less Matt Garzas, but there is really only one like him on the trade market.
Young enough (28) and under club control for next season, proven in the playoffs and the American League East, Garza could make sense in the near- and long-tem. But dealing him wasnt necessarily automatic, and his right elbow is now another variable.
The Cubs have to already be thinking about life after Ryan Dempster. Garzas heard his name in trade rumors for so long that his default setting is blocking them out. Paul Maholm has also emerged as a potential trade chip. This could create a huge hole in the rotation.
When you have the commodities that people want, anything can happen at any given time, manager Dale Sveum said Monday. But the odds of all three of them being gone? No, those are very, very, very impossible odds.
The front office respects Sveums evaluation skills and has kept in contact, though not at the lightning-fast speed of Twitter.
Less than 48 hours after experiencing cramps in his right triceps, Garza said hes still trying to make his next start, but it wont be on Friday. Travis Wood will face the St. Louis Cardinals that afternoon at Wrigley Field. Pretty soon the Cubs will have to set their plans for the weekend, with or without Garza.
He seems very optimistic about it, Sveum said. He doesnt seem overly concerned that were going to have to put him on the DL or anything, so thats always a good sign.
As much as he competes and everything, he knows the ramifications of kind of hanging (everyone) out (to dry) and putting (the bullpen) in harms way.
Where Garza (5-7, 3.91 ERA) is a loud and high-energy presence in the clubhouse, Maholm is low-key. Garza is the big name. Maholm is a completely different pitcher, at a reasonable cost.
Maholm (8-6, 4.09 ERA) is only owed 1.75 million the rest of this season. There is a 500,000 buyout to the 6.5 million club option for 2013. His next two starts will be against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the organization that selected him eighth overall in the 2003 draft. The 30-year-old left-hander spent his entire career there until signing with the Cubs last winter.
As the Pirates fight for first place in the National League Central, and try to turn this back into a baseball town, Internet speculation has them interested in a possible reunion. Maholm is 4-0 with a 0.89 ERA in his last five games.
I dont think theyd send scouts out to see me, Maholm said. Nothings really changed from the time they drafted me until now. I want to enjoy it and compete against these guys.
Maholm, who broke the news of his signing with the Cubs on his personal Twitter account last January, knows the noise is only going to get louder.
The guys in here talk about it, Maholm said. Most are really professional and come in here and know that their job is to go out and compete and win baseball games. Until youre told youre on another team, youre going to do everything you can to win games for us.