The Chicago Cubs are only nine back in the loss column to the Cincinnati Reds. They have not a team ahead of them in their division that can keep them from a playoff spot. This is key because the Cubs have plenty of games against all three teams that currently control the National League pennant race. The starting rotation – Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza and now Scott Feldman – has given the Cubs one of the most coveted three pitchers on the open market. Now, while Samardzija might not be on the block, Garza certainly is.
Cubs are currently playing some of the best baseball of their season. Their low point had to be when Carlos Marmol gave up four runs to keep the Cubs from a sweep of the Mets. That game was not representative of their recent play. Since June 13th, the Cubs have won ten games over a 22-day span. Ten games every three weeks would be a swell pace if they could keep it up. The current stretch sees them traveling to Oakland, then coming home to face the Pirates, finishing up with series at home against the Angels and Cardinals. That’s a tough stretch of games, but the Cubs have an opportunity to raise their profile if their starters can provide good outings. The Cubs nearly blew a 6-run lead on Sunday. In Oakland, Chicago will have an awful tough time in that ballpark whereas that Athletics team plays great at home. The Cubs are trying to assemble a little bit of winning momentum as they’ve won 6-of-10 and played well after the GM got rid of some weight. While Kevin Gregg is a trustworthy closer, it’s getting to him that’s the problem. Now with the absence of Feldman for Arrieta and Strope this seems like a pretty even deal. At first glance I balked but then looking at the additional bonus money you’re getting with the age of the two players that can jump right in to everyday baseball. The Cubs have a still winning now mentality. Jake Arrieta was a very promising young talent that is still just turning 27 this past March. Pedro Strope has closed games before. This is a prototypical baseball trade where one team is getting marginal gain by giving up the best player amongst a bunch of other big leaguers. Theo did his homework on what kind of numbers would Arrieta churn out in this ballpark, while facing that division. Expect to see Arrieta as soon as this home stand.
Why can’t the Cubs score a bunch of runs like they’re capable of putting up? Is it too much to ask for Rizzo, Schierholtz, Valbuena, Castro and Soriano to hit the ball and not strike out? Can Castro not hit into so many tailor-made double-plays or give away outs with free swinging early in the count? I watch Rizzo achieve a perfect night of 3-3 with 3 runs scored and maybe a stolen base; if he could do that more the Cubs would have a contender. As for Garza chatter, let’s see how the season works out before calling for his trade. After all, he’s been fabulous. Edwin Jackson can certainly go, but Garza and Samardzija should stay. Once Theo gets out from under Soriano’s contract, he can trade with anyone because he’ll have a lot of young, raw talent and capital. That’s the name of the game in baseball. Soriano’s dead-weight is only minimally acceptable because he takes up a spot in the batting order and plays consistently. For what he’s being paid the Cubs could have a José Bautista. That – combined with Rizzo and Castro – would ignite the Cubs’ franchise. A player with that kind of power and hitting prowess would immediately make the Northsiders believe they have a chance.
If Theo wants to pull of some kind of move whereby he trades someone proven for someone proven, well that’s fine. Garza for a bunch of kids that won’t pan out for five years, though, is simply ludicrous. A team like Texas comes to see the Cuban defector and Garza in a short span. They’re hungry; try and get Nolan Ryan to make a bad trade for once in his tenure. Get Theo to snag up Miguel Gonzales and trade Garza in the same month, and you’ve got a a coupe. The success of Deduno and the Twins will make the Rangers go mad. The next 29 days for Cubbies’ fans will determine all. One thing is for certain, the way Epstein has been able to build all these pieces has been a real work of art. Now if he can just grab Gonzales and Alvarez to go along with Soler everyone can breathe easier. Not 1908-easy, but easier nonetheless.