According to both Phil Rogers and Nick Cafardo the Red Sox have Matt Garza at the top of their wish list for pitchers. This is a very curious situation because at the end of June Peter Gammons reported that the Red Sox cannot add payroll this year which means they would have to have the trading team eat money or trade for an equal contract in return. Since then it has come out they will be able to add “some” money for the right situation. The thing that also makes this really interesting is that Jim Hendry recently said he will not trade away players that are young and under team control which says Garza is likely to stay put. But with both reports coming out and the intriguing possibility that the Yankees may get involved as well if Garza is made available it puts Hendry in a tough spot. If the Yankees and Red Sox both make plays for Garza the Cubs could actually get a much better package for him now than what they originally traded for him.
Either way the Cubs are in the driving seat here. They do not have to trade Garza so they can set their price for him as high as they want. I am in favor of keeping Garza, he has been a great clubhouse guy, cheerleader, and best overall pitcher this season. Having said that if the Red Sox come calling with a ton of prospects it would be hard for Jim Hendry and the Cubs to say no. Another thing the Cubs could do is lump a bad contract with Garza; maybe Zambrano or Soriano? Given the fact the Red Sox cannot add much to payroll I would assume this would not work for them. So with all that known I offer the Red Sox this deal.
Red Sox get: SP Matt Garza, OF Kosuke Fukudome, and CF Marlon Byrd (they have a total of 10 million left on their contracts for 2011) Cubs pay 5 million of it.
Cubs get: CF Jacoby Ellsbury P Anthony Ranaudo, 3B Will Middlebrook, SP Felix Doubront, C Ryan Lavarnway, and IF Heiker Meneses
Before I get raked over the coals I first want to say that this is what I would want for those three players if I am Jim Hendry. I would insist that the Red Sox include Ellsbury in any deal for Garza and in return I would fulfill their other need at the deadline and that is RF help. Fukudome and Byrd would strengthen the outfield tremendously defensively and lessen the blow of losing Ellsbury. A lot of you think the Red Sox would be overpaying and I agree! They have to so they can obtain Garza and keep him out of Yankee pinstripes.
What the Cubs will be getting in this deal is close to perfect. I will break it down for you.
Jacoby Ellsbury- We all know what happened in 2010 and how he was almost on the verge of being traded but 2011 is a new year. Ellsbury is hitting .316 with a .377 OBP. He has hit 11 homers and drove in 49 in 361 ABs. He is your prototypical leadoff hitter and has stolen 70 bases in 2009 and has already swiped 28 bags this season. Ellsbury is 28 years old and would be the Cubs leadoff hitter for years to come not to mention having him in CF with Brett Jackson in RF and eventually Matt Szczur in their as well. What an exciting outfield and the reason why I insist on having him in a deal for Garza.
Anthony Ranaudo- Ranked the 37th best prospect in baseball by Baseball America’s midseason report he is a must have for the Cubs. His only 21 but on the fast track to the majors. In one year he has jumped for lower A to high A and is now 5-5 with a 3.84 ERA. He is a strike out pitcher but has not polished his stuff yet. Many compare his stuff to Pineda in Seattle which tells you why they are so high on him.
Will Middlebrook- A guy hampered by injuries and some off the field issues; he maybe a give or take for most of you but I see a guy that could fill the Aramis Ramirez void. Middlebrook will not be found on any Red Sox top 10 list but that may change after this season. Early on scouts suggested Middlebrook to be a defensive minded 3rd baseman in the ML who would not hit for power or average and could struggle to hit past A ball. He has now changed his batting stance and is making scouts change their opinions. Middlebrook has played in low and high A ball along with AA. This year between the two leagues he is hitting .316 with a .361 OBP with 12 homers and 6 SB in just 274 ABs. There is talk he will be in AAA before the season ends.
Felix Doubront- This pitcher was just called up to the ML to relieve for Boston at the age of 23. Scouts say he should be a starter at the ML level but the Red Sox are currently using him in the pen. In 2010 he had an 8-3 record with a 2.81 ERA in 16 starts. Very good stats for a 23 year old lefty. He could be end up being the prize of this deal.
Ryan Lavarnway- This guy went from the 16th best prospects in the Sox system to potential starting catcher in 2012. Lavarnway is not a defensive catcher but is good enough to work a ML pitching staff. He has a decent arm but need refined in calling games. His bat will make you overlook his defensive liabilities. So far in 2011 between AA and AAA he has hit .303 with a .377 OBP 21 homers and 60 RBI. He has been consistent pretty much throughout his minor league career which is a great sign. Adding a guy like Lavarnway who is only 23 could allow the Cubs to trade Soto down the road as Lavarnway continues to develop. Lavarnway could be ML ready in 2012 but would do much better if he continued to work on his defense for a year or two.
Heiker Meneses – A middle infielder who is only 20 years old and still a ways away from the majors. He is a wild card but he has intangibles that have me including him in this deal. He is a switch-hitter, can play all infield positions and even talk he can handle the outfield. The Red Sox signed him at the age of 16 and of course struggled in 3 years of rookie ball. Now the 19 year old who recently made the jump for A to AA is doing very well. Between the two squads he is hitting .286 with a .361 OBP 19 SB and 2 homers. He will need a lot more time in the minors but if he continues to do well see himself as a utility player or better in the ML by 2014-2015.
As you can see I believe Matt Garza is very important to this team going into the future and anything less than the package I suggest we get for him along with Byrd and Fukudome would be just silly. The Cubs sent 5 players to the Rays for Garza before the season. Three of the players were listed in CCO.com top 10 prospects. Chris Archer was labeled the Cubs number 1 prospect by Baseball America so when you compare that to what the Cubs are receiving this deal is not “as crazy” as it seems.
- Nick Cafardo says the Angels have expressed the most interest in Aramis Ramirez but the Braves, Mariners, and Dbacks also have interest. Something we here at HSC have reported weeks ago.
- While Hendry denies the “rebuilding” stage for the Cubs it looks like they could be heading that way. With Matt Szczur getting the promotion to Daytona other players could get a bump up like Brett Jackson, Brian LaHair, Trey McNutt, and Rafael Dolis depending on who is getting traded at the deadline.
- Cubs could be looking to see what Randy Wells trade value is. He could end up in AAA if he does not pitch better.
- The Diamondbacks and Pirates have big interest in Carlos Pena according to sources.
Until Next Time…