News and notes from around the league

  • Yoenis Cespedes won the Homerun Derby last night defeating Bryce Harper in the finals. Cespedes put on a show in the first round with 17 homers and again in the finals when he topped Harper’s 8 homers with 5 outs left.
  • Matt Harvey and Max Scherzer will start the All-Star game for their respective teams.
  • Travis Wood shaved for the All-Star game.

Other Cubs News

With the All-Star Break, there’s not much news around the league. David Kaplan wrote that Garza was likely to be traded this week according to “sources” and then a semi-juicy rumor started by a Texas sports show host out of Dallas (take that for what it’s worth) saying the Cubs, Mets, & Rangers have a deal in place that will send Garza and Byrd to the Rangers, with Olt being the centerpiece involved. I don’t think Olt’s a target for a Cubs system with quite a few high end 3B and there’s no reports confirming this. However, there’s a moratorium on official news from teams during the All Star break so nothing official can happen until later this week and with all the recent debating amongst Cubs fans about trading versus extending Garza I wanted to share my 2 cents before a deal does get done one way or another.

Garza’s going to get at least 5 years, 15-20M per year on the open market, from some team who wants to pay him until he’s 36, maybe 37. If I had to guess I’d say he gets around the 5/80 deal every second tier pitcher seems to get, like Anibal Sanchez, John Lackey, etc.  If Garza was taking a 3 year extension for around 15-18M per year then I’d say yes, or even 4 years with a slightly lower AAV then I’d be willing, but obviously he’s not or the Cubs would have locked him down to a team-friendly deal already. He might want to be a Cub but he wants to get paid like the front line starter Garza  of 2011 (and the first 6 weeks of 2012). Except the Garza pitching for us know is not pitching the same way.

He’s already showing some signs of decline with his injuries and a decrease in velocity (1MPH drop on average fastball this year compared to 2011). The velocity is a major concern because his out pitch is his fastball which he’s throwing 68% of the time this year. He’s returned to using his fastball the amount of his Tampa/Minnesota days when he used to use it nearly 70% of the time. In 2011, his first year with the Cubs and his best season of his career, he only threw it 53% of the time.

Years

ERA

WHIP

SIERA

H/9

K/9

HR/9

FB%

GB%

% of fastballs

Pre-Cubs

3.97

1.32

4.30

8.7

7.1

1.1

40.8%

39.7%

69.8%

2011-2012

3.52

1.23

3.39

8.2

8.7

0.9

32.9%

46.7%

55.1%

This year

3.17

1.14

3.80

7.7

7.9

1.0

38.8%

39.8%

68.0%

 

 

 

I thought his evolution to a front line starter was directly related with his lower usage of the fastball and increased usage of his off-speed repertoire. Due to the injuries, he’s reverted back to his old, lesser productive ways. You can already see the same trends building from his earlier years with this year. His HR/9 is up, his K/9 is down, his groundball percentages (GB%) are down, and his flyball percentages (FB%) are up. He’s been helped by excellent defense from the Cubs and has a career low batting average against and BABIP right now (which was ultra low before last start’s 10 hits). Despite his low ERA, it’s a recipe that will not keep yielding these results. With all the peripherals matching his production of his pre-Cub years, it’s only a matter of time before the hits, and thus runs, catch up to him this year which will show he’s more of a #3 or 4, not a #1 or 2.

I don’t think this front office is going to spend big money on players on the wrong side of 30 which Garza hits this year. History shows the vast majority of pitchers start declining right around 30 and Garza already has some red flags. The only pitchers worth risking big money, long term deals on past the age of 30 are the top 2% of pitchers like Sabathia, Hernandez, Price, Verlander… because when they decline, they slip from aces to mid rotation guys. When a mid rotation guy slips, he’s a back-end starter or worse. The Cubs should and most likely will flip him for prospects while his value is high which will give another shot to an already strong farm system.

If you believe in run differential which has an excellent track record of predicting win/loss records, the Cubs have performed right around a .500 team.  The front office knows this, and the Cubs are much closer to being competitive than the record indicates. That’s why I expect the Cubs are only going to trade a handful of players this year including Garza, Schierholtz, Navarro, Gregg & possibly Soriano with an eye on next year being the first season the Cubs are competing, not rebuilding.

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