Matt Garza, The Cubs’ Most Worthless Player?


Regardless of how successful Matt Garza is in his first season as a member of the Chicago Cubs, there are bound to be online bloggers that have the sole purpose of criticizing the 27 year old starting pitcher because they did not agree with the trade. But instead of going after the Cubs front office for making that trade, those critics prefer to pick apart the production of Matt Garza.

There was a question posed on bleacher report asking who was each team’s most worthless player for the 2011 season? Having watched the Cubs I figured that the choice for the Cubs would have been Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, or Carlos Pena. But to much of my surprise, the choice for the Cubs wound up being Matt Garza.

Needless to say I was shocked that Matt Garza was elected as the Cubs most worthless player for the 2011 season. But what is confusing is how did they determine the worth of Matt Garza to the Cubs. Here is an excerpt from the section labeling Garza as the most worthless player for the Chicago Cubs this season:

"When the Cubs shipped off their top-prospect, pitcher Chris Archer, and a countless number of other minor leaguers, one would have thought they were trading for Roy Halladay. But that was not the case. In fact, it was far from it. The Cubs got Matt Garza, a very talented pitcher, but by no means the solution to their 100-plus years of turmoil."

So the decision was apparently based on the prospects the Cubs gave up to acquire Garza. Although, that does not make much sense. Because the overwhelming sentiment echoing from many baseball insiders is that the Cubs did not really trade away any can’t miss prospects. Meaning that the prospects the Cubs sent to Tampa Bay were good, but not great. Obviously, no one will truly know till about 3 or 4 years down the line. But at this point in time, the Cubs acquisition of a 27 year old, top-end starting pitcher in the form of Matt Garza is indeed warranted.

So assuming Taylor Holland–the writer of the story–was not basing his decision off of the prospects given up by the Cubs, he must have been basing his decision from Garza’s production. No offense to Mr. Holland, but he falls under a category that is very common in the sports industry and that is “out of town stupid.”

Looking at the preliminary surface of a starting pitchers stats is no way to determine the worth of said starting pitcher. Sure, a record of 1-4 with an ERA of 4.43 is not going to look good for Matt Garza. But in this day and age, a pitcher is judged by much more than his record and ERA. Something Mr. Holland may have not realized when looking over Garza’s 2011 stats.

Matt Garza has actually been really good this season, in fact, he has been one of the best starting pitchers in the National League this season. The biggest indicator of Garza’s success this season is the fact that he has an FIP of 1.63. Again, FIP is a more accurate way of determining an ERA for a pitcher as it focuses on the things that the pitcher has control over. In fact Garza’s FIP is second only to Roy Halladay’s this season. In addition. Garza’s WAR (Wins above replacement) of 2.2 is second only to Roy Halladay’s as well this season. Garza’s K/9 rate of 11.78 is the highest among all qualified pitchers this season.

So while Mr. Holland feels the Cubs gave up a package for Matt Garza that was greater than Roy Halladay’s. The numbers actually go in the Cubs favor and say that Garza has been as valuable to the Cubs this season as Roy Halladay is to the Phillies. Meaning that both were very good investments made by the Cubs and Phillies. So if Garza is the Cubs’ most worthless player, does that mean that Halladay is the Phillies most worthless player?