Perhaps the biggest opportunity lost at the trade deadline was the inability of the Cubs’ front office to trade starting pitcher Matt Garza. For majority of the month of July, Garza was pitching to top of his caliber and thus elevating his trade value to a place where it has never been any higher. It was looking very likely that the Cubs were going to trade Garza prior to the July 31 trade deadline. However, Garza injured his right triceps with a little over a week before the trade deadline.
Garza was diagnosed with right triceps cramping and the expectation was that Garza would miss one start, while still being able to start one more time before the trade deadline. Garza never made that start. In fact, Garza has yet to pitch in game since being pulled from his start in the fourth inning against the St Louis Cardinals on July 21. Now, it would seem that Garza will not be making a start for the Cubs for at least the next two weeks.
Garza was scheduled to make his return to the mound tonight in San Diego, however it will be Brooks Raley making the start for the Cubs. Garza, instead of traveling to San Diego with the team, was sent back to Chicago to undergo more evaluations on his right elbow. Garza threw a successful bullpen session in Los Angeles. However, on Sunday, Garza felt stiffness in his right elbow and the Cubs opted to send him back to Chicago for more testing. Garza has since been placed on the disabled list, and Cubs’ general manager Jed Hoyer told reporters on Monday that Garza is out indefinitely and the pitcher will not perform any baseball activity for at least the next two weeks.
With Garza being out for the next two weeks and presumably more weeks after that, there has been talk that the Cubs could shutdown Garza for the remainder of the season. That would seem to make the most sense. Even though Hoyer and Theo Epstein have indicated that Garza is the type of pitcher they would like to build their starting rotation around, the Cubs’ front office still has the intention of trading Garza. The chances of the Cubs being able to trade Garza during the off-season are slim to none. Reason being that interested teams would want Garza to string together a few successful starts together to prove that he is healthy.
That is something that Garza likely will be unable to do during the final two months of the season. One would figure that Garza is going to miss at least the next weeks, and that would mean Garza is ready to resume baseball activity during the third week of August. Figure it would take Garza a week to two weeks before he is ready to pitch in game action. That would make Garza ready for game action in the first week of September. After not pitching in a Major League game since July 21, the Cubs likely would want Garza to go on a rehab assignment. Garza potentially could pitch in the final regular season series for the Iowa Cubs during the first week of September. Meaning that Garza likely will not be ready to take the mound in a Major League Baseball game until mid-September. At that point, with nearly two weeks left in the regular season, it would make little sense for the Cubs to bring back Garza to make two or even three starts at the most.
The Cubs should shutdown Garza for the remainder of the season. End any possibility of Garza thinking he could return this season, and possibly adding unnecessary wear and tear on Garza’s elbow. Of course, this means that Garza would not be traded in the off-season and would start the 2013 season with the Cubs. That is something that Hoyer admitted yesterday. Under that scenario, Garza would return to the Cubs in 2013 fully healthy. While his trade value will certainly be as high as it was this season, a healthy Garza would figure to benefit the Cubs by next season’s trade deadline as the Cubs’ baseball department plans to have a similar approach that they had this season.