Results tagged ‘ Matt Garza ’

Cubs deal Garza to Rangers for Olt, Grimm, Edwards and PTBNL

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Mike Olt was listed as the No. 1 prospect in the Rangers system by MLB.com. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty)

The Chicago Cubs today acquired infielder Mike Olt, right-handed pitcher Justin Grimm, right-handed pitcher C.J. Edwards and two players to be named from the Texas Rangers for right-handed pitcher Matt Garza.

Olt, 24, was the 2012 Texas Rangers Minor League Player of the Year after hitting .288 (102-for-354) with 17 doubles, one triple, 28 home runs and 82 RBI in 95 games for Double-A Frisco prior to his major league debut with Texas last August. Olt was named a Texas League midseason and postseason All-Star, and led the league in home runs and OPS (.977) despite missing the final month of the season due to promotion.

A right-handed hitter and fielder, Olt owns a .269 batting average with 65 doubles, two triples, 64 home runs, 205 RBI and a .375 on-base percentage in 305 minor league contests since he was selected by Texas in the supplemental first round (49th overall) of the 2010 draft out of the University of Connecticut. He played on the United States squad at the 2012 MLB Futures Game in Kansas City and entered this season tabbed as the Rangers second-best prospect by Baseball America.

Olt made his major league debut with Texas last season, hitting .152 (5-for-33) with a double and five RBI in 16 games following his promotion on August 2.  This year, he is hitting .219 (53-for-242) with 17 doubles, 12 home runs and 34 RBI in 68 games between Double-A Frisco (three games) and Triple-A Round Rock (65 games), including a .247 mark with 10 home runs since June 3 at Triple-A.

Grimm, 24, was originally selected by the Rangers in the fifth round of the 2010 draft out of the University of Georgia. He has spent nearly the entire 2013 season at the major league level, going 7-7 with a 6.37 ERA (63 ER/89.0 IP) in 17 starts. He was named the American League Rookie of the Month for April this season after going 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA (3 ER/17.0 IP) in three starts, fanning 15 and walking only four.

Among major league rookies, Grimm trails only St. Louis’ Shelby Miller in wins and is tied for second among American League rookies with six quality starts. He leads AL rookies with 89.0 innings and ranks third with 68 strikeouts.

The right-hander made his big league debut last season after posting an 11-6 record with a 2.81 ERA in 25 appearances (22 starts) between Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock. He earned Texas League midseason All-Star honors last year.

Grimm is 8-8 with a 6.73 ERA (77 ER/103.0 IP) in 22 big league appearances, 19 as a starter, covering the last two seasons.  Overall in his minor league career, Grimm is 19-9 with a 3.07 ERA (96 ER/281.0 IP) in 51 appearances (48 starts).

Edwards, 21, has gone 8-2 with a complete game and a 1.83 ERA (19 ER/93.1 IP) in 18 starts for Single-A Hickory this season.  He has struck out 122 batters in 93.1 innings pitched, good for an average of 11.8 strikeouts per 9.0 innings, while walking just 34. A South Atlantic League midseason All-Star, Edwards has held opponents to a .186 batting average and has not surrendered a home run.

A native of Newberry, S.C., Edwards is 13-5 with a 1.68 ERA in 32 games (31 starts) since he was selected by Texas in the 48th round of the 2011 draft. He has not surrendered a home run in his professional career while averaging 11.6 strikeouts per 9.0 innings.  All told, he has struck out 207 batters compared to just 59 walks in 160.1 innings pitched.

According to GM Jed Hoyer, the team will also acquire either one or two players to be named (depending on who the Cubs choose), and the additional players will be pitchers.

Garza, 29, went 21-18 with a 3.45 ERA (143 ER/372.2 IP) in 60 starts for the Cubs after he was acquired by the club in an eight-player deal with Tampa Bay on Jan. 8, 2011. He owns a 63-62 major league record with eight complete games, three shutouts, one save and a 3.80 ERA in 181 career games (178 starts) with the Twins (2006-07), Rays (2008-10) and Cubs (2011-13).

Cubby Blue: Name that Cubs facial hair

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1000 Words: He’s Baaaaack

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

The Cubs team strength should get even stronger tonight in Pittsburgh. After a 10-month absence, right-hander Matt Garza will make his highly anticipated debut as the Cubs take on the division rival Pirates. To make room for him in the starting rotation, Carlos Villanueva has been moved to the bullpen.

Garza’s last start was on July 21, 2012, before a stress reaction in his right elbow shut him down for the season. He came into the spring healthy, but suffered a left lat strain in his first bullpen session in Mesa, Ariz, and has been on the DL all year. In his last start with Triple-A Iowa on May 16, he went six scoreless innings on 75 pitches, walking none and striking out six. Garza has said he hopes there will be no limitations on him in his first outing, but manager Dale Sveum will likely keep the veteran at 85-90 pitches.

In two seasons with the Cubs, Garza is 15-17 with a 3.52 ERA in 49 games (301.2 IP).

Garza back at Wrigley after making season debut

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

A little rain wasn’t going to stop Matt Garza. With elbow and lat issues keeping the the 29-year-old out of action since July and rehab stints getting pushed back by rain and a dead arm, it’s been awhile since he’s taken the mound in a competitive atmosphere.

“I didn’t think there was anything that was going to stop me from going out there,” Garza said of his rainy Wednesday return with the Double-A Tennessee Smokies. “A long delay—I sat on a bike for a long time.”

Poor whether caused the game to be delayed for more than an hour and a half, and it was eventually called in the bottom of the fifth. But Garza had a successful, pain-free outing, going 2.2 innings (42 pitches), with one earned run on one hit and two walks. He was back at Wrigley Field on Thursday to check in with the major league squad before heading out to Iowa for his second rehab start on Monday.

“I was just glad to throw strikes, glad they were swinging. It’s a good sign,” Garza said. “I put the ball in the zone a lot, so that’s all I was looking for.”

The right-hander has been on the DL since July 21 of last season after aggravating his throwing elbow. Then early in the spring, he tweaked his lat, causing him to miss all of Spring Training. Manager Dale Sveum said the club would make some decisions about a potential return to the big league club after Garza’s third rehab start. Even though the ace can finally see the light at the end of a very long tunnel, he said his focus is solely on his Monday start.

“I’m just looking forward to [start] No. 2,” he said. “When I get to three, we’ll make those decisions. But right now, I’m just going to prep my body for No. 2, prep my mind for No. 2—going to go from there.”

Garza was 5-7 with a 3.91 ERA in 103.2 innings for the Cubs in 2012.

Hot Off the Presses: Vine Line’s Opening Day Issue

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You can never have too much pitching.

If you need further proof of that old baseball axiom, let’s look at the 2012 Cubs. They started the season with a fairly solid rotation behind a pitching-out-of-his-gourd Ryan Dempster, reliever-turned-starter Jeff Samardzija, a rejuvenated Paul Maholm and young veteran fireballer Matt Garza. At the back end, there were two options: newly acquired lefty Travis Wood and underachieving former top draft pick Chris Volstad.

Things looked pretty good on paper. But, as we all know, that didn’t last long.

The offense didn’t score. Injuries took their toll. The trade deadline came and went. And, well, the rest is lamentable Cubs history.

It turned out the team didn’t have much major league-ready talent behind those guys—in the starting rotation or in the bullpen—and baseball president Theo Epstein’s preseason prediction, “The numbers show you’re going to need your ninth starter through the course of the year,” came true.

As a result, the front office was laser focused on one thing throughout the hot stove season: acquiring more serviceable big league pitching to ensure there isn’t a repeat performance of last season.

“I think that probably the biggest weakness when we got here was depth in pitching, especially at the upper levels,” General Manager Jed Hoyer said. “Ideally, you want to home-grow all of your pitching. We don’t have that luxury right now, so we actively sought out a lot of starting pitching. We brought in four guys we see as starters: [Edwin] Jackson, [Scott] Feldman, [Scott] Baker and [Carlos] Villanueva.”

The Cubs might not have a traditional “ace” coming into the season, but they have three guys with the ability to fill that role in Samardzija, Garza and Jackson. If strike-throwing machine Baker can fully recover from last April’s Tommy John surgery, he should be a useful veteran addition to the staff. Feldman and Villanueva have both proven they can start and relieve in the big leagues, giving manager Dale Sveum plenty of flexibility. And Travis Wood, the only lefty in the starting mix, has tremendous athleticism and mixes in six different pitches.

The team also solidified the bullpen by re-signing veteran Shawn Camp and bringing in Japanese reliever Kyuji Fujikawa. Even Rule 5 pick Hector Rondon, who is required to stay on the 25-man major league roster all season or be offered back to the Indians, looked impressive in his spring appearances.

The April issue of Vine Line takes a look at the Cubs pitching staff from top to bottom to give you an idea of what each pitcher throws, how they attack hitters and what to expect this season.

We also sat down with Hoyer to get a sense of where the organization stands as he enters his second season in the driver’s seat. The team certainly still has work to do, but there are many reasons to feel optimistic about the future.

“We’re trying to build something that every year [fans] know is a playoff-quality team,” Hoyer said. “It doesn’t happen overnight, and we’ve been really honest about that. But I do think fans deserve to start seeing the fruits of our labor, and I think you’re going to start to see that coming together now.”

Still, winning organizations are not built solely by shrewd front office maneuvers. They require buy-in from coaches, players and personnel at every level. While we were in Mesa, Ariz., with the team this spring, we got a firsthand look at how the Cubs’ message is being passed along from veteran players, like David DeJesus and Alfonso Soriano, to the younger generation, like Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson. It’s a time-honored baseball tradition—each spring, older players take the young studs under their wings to teach them the ins and outs of the major league game.

To read these stories and more, pick up the April issue of Vine Line, on sale now at select Chicago-area retailers. Or subscribe to Vine Line today. And you can follow us on Twitter at @cubsvineline.

Baseball is back. Let’s see where this ride takes us.

Samardzija gets Opening Day nod, E-Jax set for home opener

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(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty images)

On Thursday afternoon, manager Dale Sveum and pitching coach Chris Bosio announced the Cubs rotation for the first week of the regular season. Right-hander Jeff Samardzija will get the nod on Opening Day, April 1, at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

“That’s what I signed up for,” Samardzija said. “If you don’t want those expectations for yourself, then you may as well go play somewhere else. That’s just kind of a given. There’s going to be pressure, and there’s going to be a lot riding on what you do.”

Samardzija came into last season just hoping to land a spot in the rotation after a successful 2011 in the bullpen. This year, most see the Shark as a front-of-the-rotation guy and a possible ace. He commands five pitches and was third in the league in average fastball velocity last season. His four-seamer clocked in at 95.9 mph, and his two-seamer averaged 95.4 mph.

He’ll be followed in the first week by righty Edwin Jackson, lefty Travis Wood, righty Scot Feldman and righty Carlos Villanueva.

Jackson, who signed a four-year, $52 million contract this offseason, will get the start in the Cubs home opener April 8 against the division rival Brewers.

Both Matt Garza and offseason acquisition Scott Baker will miss the start of the season recovering from injuries.

Cactus Notes: Sveum on Fitch, leadership and the future

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A steady rain drowned out most of the final day of Cubs baseball at Fitch Park on Wednesday, but there was still a little news.

The Cubs announced the starters for the opening games of their Cactus League slate, which kicks off this weekend. Travis Wood will get the Saturday start against the Los Angeles Angels in Tempe, and Jeff Samardzija will pitch the Sunday home opener against the San Francisco Giants. Carlos Villanueva will pitch Game 3 on Monday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Edwin Jackson will start on Tuesday against the Colorado Rockies.

Matt Garza’s debut has been pushed back due to a mild lat strain on his left side. It was announced Tuesday that he’ll likely be out about a week before resuming baseball activities.

Manager Dale Sveum also held his daily presser, despite the lack of on-field action. Here are Sveum’s best quotes from the day:

Then vs. Now
“We have a lot of the same guys in camp [from a year ago] that ended getting some time in the big leagues. But like I said yesterday, there’s just a whole different look in their eyes. Having that experience and going through some adversity with some of the young guys, it’s a whole lot different. There’s just so much more talent in camp this year than there was last year—and also depth. Guys that are very capable of pitching in the big leagues or guys that are on our radar getting really close to the big leagues. … There’s just more playable talent in camp this year.”

Leaving Fitch
“Spring Training is what it is in any park. Here it’s a little bit unique because you have to move [from Fitch to HoHoKam]. Probably my first memory here is when I had to come over here 25 years ago and rehab my leg clear across from Peoria [in extended Spring Training]. We shared it with the Cubs at that time.”

Prospect Watch (Javy Baez, Jorge Soler, Junior Lake, etc.)
“We have so many split-squad games they’re going to get quite a few games in before being sent down. There are a lot of at-bats out there.”

“I’m very anxious [to see them]. Those are the guys you talk about that are on your radar in the minor league systems that have all those God-given tools—the speed, the arm, the power, hopefully the hitting ability, meaning OPS and those things. A lot of that stuff comes a little bit later in careers. But it’s pretty special talent and bat speed those guys have. You want to see it in person and at game speed.”

Veteran Leadership
“We do have some personalities that are able to fill those [leadership] roles. I think [Anthony] Rizzo is one of those guys. I think [Darwin] Barney is ready to be that guy. Obviously Rizzo’s rookie year and Barney winning a Gold Glove—those kinds of things give you added ability to be a leader in the clubhouse because people look up to people like that. We have [Alfonso] Soriano, and [Jeff] Samardzija is going to take on that role, as well as [Matt] Garza and Edwin Jackson. So we have plenty of personalities that can do that.”

Building for the Future
“Going into this last year, you knew the plan we had, and we weren’t going to take any shortcuts to vary from it. Within a year, the whole organization has changed so dramatically for the good. You just get better players in the organization, and you create an atmosphere where people want to play here, and they want to come to this ballpark and work. That’s all you can do. That’s the transformation we’re trying to do all the time here. And it’s changed a ton in a year.”

Cactus Notes: Quotes from Hoyer, Sveum and Castro

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

Tuesday was the second-to-last day for the Cubs at the Fitch Park practice facility. The team will move over to HoHoKam Stadium after practice tomorrow, and they’ll move into their new complex in the Riverview section of Mesa, Ariz., next year. Manager Dale Sveum jokingly said he’d likely shed a tear for Fitch when the team packs up tomorrow.

There was good news this morning, when General Manager Jed Hoyer announced that an MRI showed Cubs pitcher Matt Garza has only a mild lat strain on his left side and shouldn’t be shut down for more than about a week. There was also much talk today about (and by) Starlin Castro.

Here are some select quotes from Tuesday’s action.

Hoyer on Garza

“We’re probably going to let him rest for about a week—make sure he’s pain-free—at which point he can ramp back up his throwing. It’s safe to say it pushes back his first Cactus League start. What it means for the regular season, it’s clearly much too early to say. But we felt like it was really good news. It’s just a mild strain, and we think it’ll be about a week until he should be pain free based on the MRI. Matt is in good spirits. He felt much better yesterday. We’re optimistic. It was certainly a positive read from our standpoint.”

Sveum on Garza

“[It was] probably about as good as we could get out of the MRI. He’ll set back maybe five or seven days without throwing. Then we’ll get him back out there. Obviously, it affects probably his first outing—for sure his first outing. But everything else from there hopefully is fine for the start of the season.”

Sveum on Castro

“I like the way he’s been going about his business for the first three days in camp defensively. It’s one thing I challenged him to do. [I said], ‘Your next step now in all this is to win a Gold Glove.’ Obviously, that takes a lot of focus and hard work and being focused for 150 pitches a game and 162 games. He’s got the ability to do it. The rest is up to him.”

“I think the next step for him is to become more of a winning-type hitter. Just understanding any situation about driving runs in. It’s having great at-bats in those key situations and not trying to do too much when the game is on the line. Grinding out at-bats and not making quick early outs on pitcher’s pitches.”

“Besides obviously a couple lapses … He improved tremendously throughout the season. I saw it, so hopefully he keeps improving. That’s all we’re asking for out of a guy like him because the upside there just keeps growing. The rest of it now is pretty much up to him with the experience he already has in the big leagues.”

Castro on Castro

“Some people think that our team is not very good, but we think that this team is very good because we’ve got four good starters. If you’ve got four good starters, you can compete with whatever team.”

“I know that God gave me [the ability to] hit. That’s why when I went to the Dominican, I worked very hard every day on my defense. I want to be like [Darwin] Barney and win a Gold Glove. It’s going to be fun to win a Gold Glove at shortstop, second base and first base. It’s going to be fun because [Anthony] Rizzo is very good too. … It’s good motivation for me. I know I can be like those guys and play very good defense.”

“[If the team is winning], I’m going to be even more of a superstar than I am supposed to be in the future. I know I can be very good because I’ve never been lazy with my work habits. I work hard to be better every day.”

“[Getting the long-term contract] didn’t change anything, but you feel a little more relaxed because my family is going to be good now. I can just play baseball and forget about everything.”

“This year, I concentrated more on my game plan. It’s going to be perfect.”

Cactus Notes: Quotes from spring camp

Today was the second full day of Cubs camp in Mesa, Ariz., and the team definitely stayed busy. Outfielder Tony Campana was traded to the Diamondbacks, it was photo day, the bunting competition got underway, and Dale Sveum and Jed Hoyer addressed the media. Though GM Hoyer said the team is not overly concerned about Matt Garza’a lat injury, the team will schedule an MRI for the right-hander in the next 24-48 hours. Here are some select quotes from Monday’s session.

Hoyer on Garza’s Lat Injury

“The good news is his arm felt really strong and he was throwing really well. It’s unfortunate for sure, and it’s going to set him back a little bit. But we’re still really confident. Our concern, obviously, was with the elbow injury that shut him down last year.”

“It wasn’t the most fun live BP session to watch. He looked great and free and easy where you feel really good about what you’re watching, and the next thing you know, you see a guy stretching his side. Right away, when you see a guy like that stretching, you think the worst. It was a bummer but I’m glad his arm feels good, and Matt is in real good spirits because of that. It’s the kind of injury that you’re thankful happened in the first live BP. When these injuries happen in the last start of Spring Training it really hurts you in the season.”

Sveum on Kyuji Fujikawa

“I’ve probably seen him throw a good four bullpens. I missed him yesterday. I was on another field when he threw. But everybody said his split was really nasty, and that’s his out pitch. … When you have a split finger like that and you throw strikes and you can get ahead of hitters, it’s a pretty devastating pitch. So I think he’s going to do fine. He’s a great athlete, so I think he can make things happen. Even on the days he doesn’t have his split, he knows how to elevate, pitch inside, pitch down and away, use his two-seamer.”

Sveum on Alfonso Soriano

“I had never met him at all in my life until the first day of camp last year. We have a great relationship. I consider him a friend now as much as somebody I manage.”

“Seeing him on the other side of the fence, I was completely blown away by the kind of person he is and the work ethic he puts in. I rank him in the top five people I’ve ever been around in the game as far as work ethic, people and everything.”

Spring Training Preview: The Starting Five

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

Finally, baseball is back. As pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training this past weekend, Cubs fans everywhere got a little more excited with the realization that the baseball season is nearing.

And to get us back into gear, the February issue of Vine Line previewed the squad heading into Mesa, Ariz. We broke the team down into five groups—starting pitching, relief pitching, infielders, outfielders and catchers—to give people a clearer picture of what the team could look like when it breaks camp and heads to Chicago.

Below is the starting rotation preview. The February issue is on newsstands now, with single issues available by calling 800-618-8377. Or visit the Vine Line page on Cubs.com to subscribe to the magazine.


If everyone stays healthy—always a big if—the Cubs will have an abundance of starting pitching for the first time in a while. Matt Garza, Edwin Jackson and Jeff Samardzija are locks for the rotation, while Scott Feldman, Scott Baker, Travis Wood and Carlos Villanueva will battle for the final two spots. Baker, who has a 63-48 career record, underwent Tommy John surgery in April. Though he may be ready come Opening Day, the Cubs’ depth allows them to be patient with his return.

Garza’s rehab from the elbow issues that knocked him out for the final two months of 2012 appears to be on schedule, and he’s been adamant that he’ll be ready by April. A healthy Garza could build on his impressive 2011 season, in which he had a career-best 3.32 ERA and 197 strikeouts. The Cubs’ surplus of starting pitching makes the idea of parting with Garza in a trade for prospects slightly easier to stomach. That’s certainly a possibility, either in March when he’s proven he’s healthy or at the July trade deadline.

Jackson’s acquisition provides the team with a reliable innings-eater—he’s made at least 31 starts and tossed at least 180 innings in each of the last five seasons—a wildly underappreciated skill. Any manager who’s had to overuse his bullpen, like the Cubs have the past few seasons, will tell you how much he appreciates having a pitcher he can rely on to deliver six quality innings every fifth day.

Feldman and Wood both have the ability to be competent starters, and Villanueva showed flashes of brilliance last season, including an impressive 22.9 percent strikeout rate and 6.7 percent walk rate in 92 innings as a starter. However, he has yet to prove he can deliver those numbers over 160-plus innings.

The real breakout star in the rotation may be Samardzija, whose road to this point has been bumpy. In the span of two seasons, Samardzija has gone from failed prospect, to reliable bullpen arm, to possible future ace, thanks to his dogged work ethic and electric arm. Samardzija will have no innings limit in 2013, so it’s a good bet he’ll take another step forward and become the anchor for a rotation that has the potential to be the team’s strength.

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