Injuries Could Heal Cubs’ Farm System


June 18, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Matt Garza (22) pitches against the Chicago White Sox in the first inning at U.S. Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-US PRESSWIRE

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein likely are enjoying hearing each other voices for the first time in their respective careers. Prior to this season, Epstein was the general manager of the Red Sox and with Cashman manning the baseball department for the rivaled Yankees, the pair rarely picked up the phone to discuss potential trades.

In fact, Cashman joked during this past off-season that it would finally be nice to construct potential trades with Epstein now that he is in the Cubs front office and no longer a part of the Red Sox organization.

There is a good chance that Cashman will be hearing Epstein’s voice this week. Or at least the voice of Cubs’ general manager Jed Hoyer.

New came today that both C.C. Sabathia and Andy Pettitte of the New York Yankees have been placed on the disabled list. Sabathia went on the disabled list with what is being called a muscle strain, though, the consensus is that the injury is not too serious and the Yankees’ ace should be ready to go after the All-Star break. Meanwhile, Pettitte suffered a much more severe injury. The Yankees learned today that Pettitte has broken his ankle and will be out of action for at least the next six weeks.

Cashman said while addressing reporters that Pettitte could be placed on the 60 day disabled list. If that is the case, that would put Pettitte’s return around late August or early September. The Yankees may not be able to tread water with the likes of Freddy Garcia while Pettitte recovers from his broken injury. In fact, the main reason why Pettitte is a part of the Yankees this season is because the team’s starting pitching depth was suspect at best.

As things stand the Yankees are 4.5 games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles for first place in the American League East division. While the Orioles may not last for the entire season, the Boston Red Sox (6.5 games back) likely will continue their climb towards the top especially if Carl Crawford comes back healthy, and the Tampa Bay Rays (also 6.5 games back) have proven to be a strong second half team.

The thing that makes a division leading team prevail over the other teams in their division is pitching. More specifically, starting pitching. This is why not only does the Pettitte injury increase the chance that Yankees will have a strong interest in Cubs’ starting pitcher Matt Garza. but the Red Sox and Orioles may also join the Yankees in their pursuit of Garza.

On the surface, Garza’s 3-6 record to go along with an ERA of 4.06 would suggest that the starting pitcher has struggled this season. But, in fact, Garza is having a solid year for the Cubs. For starters, Garza’s poor record could easily be contributed to the lack of run support the starting pitcher received from the offense during the beginning months of the season. In addition, Garza’s WHIP of 1.09 this season is on pace to be the best in his career. Garza has been better of late as well. In his 31 innings pitched during the month of June, Garza has an ERA of 3.77 to go along with a WHIP of 0.97 and 30 strikeouts.

At 27 years of age, Garza is still on the path of becoming one of the top starting pitchers in all of baseball. That alone makes him an attractive trade candidate. The fact that Garza has already proven while with the Rays that he could be successful in the American League East division should also attract him to a team like the Yankees. The final reason why Garza is an attractive trade candidate is because of the fact that Garza is still under team control for another season. The same can’t be said for Garza’s teammate Ryan Dempster, who is a free agent after the season.

Epstein, of course, knows all this about Garza. This is why Epstein and Hoyer haven’t been coy with their comments suggesting that the Cubs are working on an extension for Garza. Their probably his been some dialogue about a potential long-term deal for Garza, though, it is also possible that the Cubs are using those talks as a ploy in their attempt to trade Garza. Nonetheless, whether it is the Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles or any other team interested in Garza, the Cubs stand to receive a highly regarded package of prospects for Garza.