Why Matt Garza Is A Good Idea

Matt Garza is a highly debatable subject. There is no doubt about that. Many Tigers fans scoff at the idea of parting with prized pitching prospect Jacob Turner for Garza. I have even seen the suggestion that a straight up deal is something that some would not take, and that is just taking this love of our prospects a little too far. Of course, Theo Epstein and the Cubs are not going to trade Matt Garza straight up for a prospect, so that is a moot point. Not only will Garza cost multiple prospects, he is more expensive financially, and only under contract for two years. When you talk in terms of cost only, it does appear that Garza wouldn’t be worth it.

Talking about cost isn’t the whole story however, so I wanted to talk about the benefit. There is a reason that there are talks going on.

Let’s state the obvious. Matt Garza is a good pitcher first and foremost. Can we all just agree on that? He is the bird in the hand in this situation. No matter how much Tigers fans are drooling over the prospects of Jacob Turner, the reality is, Turner would be doing well to reach the level that Matt Garza has already obtained. You can look up the stats for yourself. You just have to click on the highlighted Matt Garza in this article. What you will read is a guy who is at the very least, a very capable 3rd starter in any big league rotation. Maybe even a #2 in some, and potentially even the Tigers if he can repeat his 2011.

You will also see that he had his best season of his career in 2011, going into his prime of his career at 28 years old. You are going to see a guy that is likely to be around the 200 innings mark, an ERA somewhere in the threes, and a guy with a good K/BB rate. What you don’t see right away is why Garza had the best season of his career, and it all comes down to his learning to pitch in 2011. If you haven’t read it, check out our own Garret Craig’s article on Garza and what he did differently than before, changing up his pitch mix significantly to get better results. It has convinced me that this is a guy that is going beyond just good, and now is the time to acquire him.

Garza also has significant post-season experience the last couple of years. I don’t think this is something to overlook. I don’t doubt for a second that the Tigers can get to the playoffs again in 2012 without Garza, but that isn’t the point. He fills out a rotation that could be one of the best in the American League. You can’t say that if the Tigers are running out a variety of youngsters in that 5th spot. The Tigers are on the verge of taking the next step, and with Garza filling out their rotation, and being a good big game pitcher, he can only help the Tigers in their quest for a World Series. Garza has a career 3.48 ERA in the post-season.

I do want to say, if the deal for Garza is to include both Turner and Castellanos, this would be a no for me as well. But if it is Turner, Crosby and 2 others, or something like that (maybe even Smyly), it is worth the investment considering the Tigers are in the World Series window right now with Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera in their primes. It’s not like he is a rental either. The Tigers would have Garza for at least two years, which would give them a couple years to make a decision on which 3 of the 5 starters they would like to keep. Two of them could easily be flipped for multiple players in return in the future, making an argument that this would ruin their future a little bit like a Tiger without teeth.

I understand that getting Garza might lack a little in long term value, especially if Turner turns out to be a front of the rotation stud, but the time to strike for the Tigers is now. They had several guys have career years last year, and while they got close, they still came up short. And this was before other teams like the Angels starting going nuts and getting much better. If the Tigers are going to compete beyond the Central, a move like Garza would push them in that direction.

Yes, once they get to the party they have a chance. I acknowledge that. I  also acknowledge that Garza would be the Tigers 2nd or 3rd best pitcher on their team if they acquired him, and he could potentially help make up for some of the regression the Tigers might suffer from 2011.

Either way, David Dombrowski is in the drivers seat here. The Cubs don’t stand much to gain by holding onto Garza, while Detroit is in a position to stand pat if they should want to. Making it likely that if a deal occurs, it will be to Tigers fans liking.

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Tags: Casey Crosby Chicago Cubs Detroit Tigers Drew Smyly Jacob Turner Matt Garza Nick Castellanos

  • ChrisHannum

    A straight up deal of Turner for Garza I would definitely take. I would also take Turner plus Oliver or Crosby. Turner plus Smyly I might balk at, and that may be where those negotiations are sitting right now.

    • JimCrane

      @ChrisHannum Cub fan here … I can understand where everyone is coming from on this topic. Last year we went through the same thing when Jim Hendry traded away some of our top prospects to get Garza. But I think the bottom line is that quality starting pitching is hard to come by and prospects, no matter how highly rank, are still unknown quantities. So from my side, I hope that Garza isn’t traded if the return isn’t at least what we gave up for him. The part of Garza that has not been touched on here is that he is a someone that will be in the game even on days he isn’t pitching. He sits as close to the action as possible and cheers everyone on. These kind of guys are hard to come by.

      • MCBjohnverburg

        @JimCrane@ChrisHannum Thanks for giving a Cubs fan perspective Jim.

        • JimCrane

          No Problem! I basically live on MLBTradeRumors.com these days! :)

        • MCBjohnverburg

          @JimCrane Love the blogs weigh in segment. Not because we make it from time to time, but to see what others are doing out there. There are some good ones. Poor Phillies guy taking it on the chin today. Haha!

          I got your Cubs in the 25-21 farm system rankings on here if you want to check it out. Just felt they lacked the high end guys, though there is quite a bit of depth.

        • ajones12

          @MCBjohnverburg@JimCrane Also Cub fan, but do your rankings take into account the Marshall and Cashner trades because i’ve read from a few places that they rank around the middle or possibly a bit higher after those trades. Also found you on mlbtraderumors haha, any mention of a cubs player will spark my interest.

          It’s funny that from your perspective the tigers are in the drivers seat because most cubs bloggers would say Theo has the upperhand since we have him for another year and theo believes Garza could be a part of the cubs future too and may extend him if he cant get a big haul. Also if they don’t get anything great now, they can wait till the trade deadline or next offseason when teams could be more desperate.

        • MCBjohnverburg

          @ajones12@JimCrane I think he is likely moved at the trade deadline at this point as well, and maybe desperation will play a factor. I say the Tigers are in the drivers seat right now because frankly they don’t absolutely need Garza, though he would be a nice addition. Also, the Tigers are probably offering the best singular prospect thus far in Jacob Turner that I have heard, and keeping Garza for 2012 is likely going to do nothing for the Cubs. Both teams really don’t have to do anything at this point, but there is some pressure for the Cubs to deal him now in my opinion. 2011 was a career year of sorts for Garza. I do personally believe he can continue, but if he doesn’t, the offers aren’t going to get better.

          Interesting to see what happens. I just believe the longer they wait, the less likely franchises are going to give up top prospects for a shorter period of time they will have Garza in return.

        • MCBjohnverburg

          @ajones12@JimCrane As for rankings, I do feel that almost all the teams say 14-22 are pretty interchangeable. In my 20-16 I kind of mention that, and even the Cubs could be part of that group. The reason I have them a little lower is impact. Brett Jackson, Javier Baez or Anthony Rizzo as a top prospect to me isn’t as good as say a Miguel Sano, Devin Mesoraco, or Mike Trout on teams that I have ranked above them. I also think their pitching prospects are somewhat pedestrian, and I love Dillon Maples potential. McNutt took a step back, or at least flattened out some. Dolis seems like a reliever. And there is just guys who don’t look like top of the rotation guys to me. I like their depth though. I like that they are aggressive in the international market. Torreyes could be another Altuve.

        • JimCrane

          @MCBjohnverburg I think that most Cub fans wood agree with me that we have no problem keeping Garza. If the Cubs are 2 or 3 years away from contending then Garza could be a big part of that and a solid anchor to the rotation.

  • valordesign

    John, I’m sure you know the information I am about to type better than most anyone but I will layout my counter argument anyway.

    I’m not necessarily sold that the Tigers have to be in *Win Now* mode. First, next year I think the competition in the Central will be at its most vulnerable its been in a while. Though I think many Tiger fans underrate the Royals up and coming talent, I believe they will be the biggest challenge to the Tigers and I don’t think they’ll be ready to truly compete for the division until 2013. Keeping our young talent in the system will set us up to year after year to have a chance to continually break into the playoffs, and it just takes one year for the pieces will fall into place at the right time to win it all.

    Sure the anchors of the team, Verlander and Cabrera are entering their prime, but they are going to be with the team for at least the next 3 (end of JV’s contract) to 4 years (end of Cabreras contract) and I would be very surprised if JV didn’t get extended longer. They are both 28, who is to say we can’t get all star production out of them for the next 4+ years running? Besides, there is still alot of youth on this team, with many on the upside of their career like Avila, Ajax, Boesch, Porcello, and they have some nice pieces coming along in Castellanos, Smyly, Crosby, and of course Turner.

    Overall, their team is in a solid position to have a playoff contender for years down the road. If left as is, it seems there is a very good chance the Tigers will have a good pitching staff for a long time. Boesch and AJax can hold it down in the outfield, get another FA like Cespedes and they could be set there for a while. The only area I can see as being a true weekness is parts of their infield, and I have faith we can pick up those pieces through free agency or possibly swing a trade here and there.

    I can see how Garza could put the Tigers over the top, I just think the asking price (with all of the teams interested I’m sure will be higher than expected) would be cashing in too early and could short circuit the possibility of having a long run of playoff years.

    • ChrisHannum

      @valordesign The strongest argument that the Tigers should be in ‘win-now mode’ probably comes from Mike Illitch’s age rather than anything else to do with the organization. Whoever follows him – even if it is his own family – isn’t likely to be as willing to tolerate red ink.

  • http://www.DoctorDaveT.com/ DoctorDaveT

    There is a problem with this argument: playoffs only require a 4 man rotation.

    So, the Tigers are already a heavy favorite to win the Central – As Is. Whether we add Garza, or cob together a 5th guy from the minor league roster, we are already odd-on favorites. (Remember: a 5th starter need only win 10 games!) What we need to look at is post-season improvement.

    Does Garza do that? Only marginally. He’d replace Porcello or Scherzer as the 4th starter – MAYBE. And maybe Garza is only 5th best on this 2012 staff. So – do you trade Turner & Castellanos for a post-season long relief pitcher? NO WAY.

    If you’re going to sell the future for a shot now, you need to obtain OFFENSE, not a #3-5 starting pitcher.

    Question: if you’re trading “Turner & Castellanos” (+ some marginal big league talent, like Dirks or Rayburn, etc.), can’t you get a GOOD 3rd baseman that can hit a ton, or a GREAT 2nd baseman that can hit well, or a GREAT LF (that can legitimately hit leadoff)? I think the answer to that is “yep”.

    If the argument is to win the postseason now, Garza isn’t what you give up the future for.

    • MCBjohnverburg

      @DoctorDaveT I think I will respond to this paragraph by paragraph. I realize playoff rotations are 4 pitchers long. Garza is clearly better than Porcello, and most would take him over Scherzer. Therefore, he would at least by my 3rd starter, and if he can repeat 2011, he would be my 2nd starter.

      Secondly, post season improvement can be had from a guy that has proven to pitch well in the post-season. Not one Tigers starter can boast the record in the playoffs that Garza has, including Verlander.

      Saying he could maybe be a 4th starter and maybe a 5th is absolutely ridiculous and a blatant Tigers homer attitude. Scherzer you may have an argument, but I will take the guy headed in the right direction in Garza over the inconsistent Scherzer.

      At the start of the 6th paragraph, I clearly say if a deal included Turner and Castellanos that I wouldn’t do it. Yet you ask if I would do that for a post-season long relief pitcher? Of course not. But calling Garza a post-season long relief pitcher is absolutely laughable.

      I would debate the Tigers are giving up the future. How is acquiring a 28 year old successful starting pitcher giving up the future? Could they not extend him? They would have him for at least two years, and it gives the Tigers options to let their five quality guys compete for extensions. You then turn 1 or 2 of those guys that you don’t extend into multiple prospects and you stay young. Heck, you might even get a couple position guys out of those deals.

      I don’t get the mentality that people think the Tigers would stop making moves all of a sudden, and that there isn’t a way to acquire players for the future down the road. There will be two drafts and one starter traded regardless if the Tigers got Garza over the next two years. Acquiring Matt Garza just means we lose some prospects, it doesn’t doom our future.

  • timoteus

    Like the man (I think it was Kenny Rogers) said: Know when to hold ‘em. For me, that time is now ….

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  • benjaminwenger

    I’m a Cubs fan as well. I see both sides of the fence as well, but I find it odd that people don’t want the Tigers to go “all in” right now. Garza would easily be the number 3 pitcher on your staff, and with a real defense behind him (A Jax, Inge, etc), may perform even better than he did last year. I know Turner is a top notch prospect, but how many of those guys flop? Prior, Homer Bailey, heck even Porcello himself. I think the AL Central has a nice window for the Tigers this year, as next year the Royals could take a big leap forward, especially if they surprise everyone and sign Greinke back as a FA. Long story short, I don’t think the Tigers will overpay, but they should go after a guy like Garza. WS flags fly forever (as a Cubs fan, I don’t know what that feels like :) )

    • MCBjohnverburg

      @benjaminwenger Thanks for stopping by. Obviously as the author, I do agree. I understand Tigers fans apprehensions, but at the same time, it doesn’t appear the offensive pieces the Tigers need are available at this point on the market. So, getting a quality #3 to me is a good idea. I’m in the minority, but I would be happy if the Tigers could make a fair deal to get Garza.

      • benjaminwenger


        Look at how the Reds are approaching the NL Central. They smell blood in the water with Braun’s upcoming suspension, Fielder and Pujols becoming FA, and the Cubs blowing it up completely. They gave up a lot to get Marshall and Latos, but now I think they actually have the ability to compete for the WS in the NL. I think the Tigers are in a similar situation. Chance to have the best record in the AL, JV/Garza/Fister in a playoff series. This is a good year to go for it. There may be other pitchers out there, but Garza is probably the best available that won’t take both Turner and Castellanos to get. If you go after Shields or someone like that, be prepared to give up both those guys and more.

  • Tigers1234

    I agree getting Garza would be terrific for this team (if Fister and JV can perform similar to last year). It would push Scherzer and Porcello back in the rotation which would be nice (making Porcello a bullpen piece during the playoffs). If they can get a deal down with either Turner or Smyly I would be perfectly fine with that. Castellanos for me I want to stay, 3B are hard to come by. Turner and Crosby with Strieby should be enough, if not than walk away and look elsewhere. If they are going to give up big prospects I would prefer they took their buisness to Tampa and put up an offer for Shields.

    • MCBjohnverburg

      @Tigers1234 Thanks for commenting. This is pretty much right along my thinking, even the Shields preference. Hope to see you commenting more Tigers1234.