Examining Trades: Matt Garza To The Texas Rangers

I’m aiming for this to be the first of what will probably be a frequently occurring segment in the following weeks(as of writing, I’m already mentally drafting my Francisco Rodriguez article), due to the non-waiver trade deadline being a week away.  I will post my verdict on the trade of topic at the very bottom; feel free to disagree and tell me why you do if so!

After a very public and very apparent one suitor race, the Cubs traded Matt Garza to the Texas Rangers on Monday afternoon.  Garza was both one of the best pitchers on the market, and likely the most easy to obtain, given the Cubs rebuilding process that is in full swing.  But Chicago didn’t just give Garza away for mere salary relief; they actually made out with a pretty fair deal for both sides.

Matt Garza might be the only thing hotter than Texas in July; 4-0 with a 1.57 ERA over 28.2 innings in his past 4 starts.

Matt Garza might be the only thing hotter than Texas in July; 4-0 with a 1.57 ERA over 28.2 innings in his past 4 starts.

The Trade:
Cubs receive 3B Mike Olt, RHP Justin Grimm, RHP C.J. Edwards, and either one or two players to be named later.

Rangers receive RHP Matt Garza

Most of us have seen a bit of Justin Grimm.  After a short stint in the Majors in 2012, Grimm captured Rookie of the Month honors for May, after going 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA and 15K’s in 17 innings in 3 starts.  This promising start to what could be a breakthrough year didn’t last; Grimm’s last 3 starts were nothing short of disastrous, giving up 15 runs in 11.1 innings.  Grimm was the odd man out in the wake of any trade for a starter, and it could be a sign that Texas gave up on him.  Grimm’s minors numbers and flashes of brilliance show off signs of potential, and I expect him to at least contribute at the major league level, but maybe not before a little more AAA seasoning.

Texas might have made a tiny huge mistake.

Texas might have made a tiny huge mistake.

The most recognizable name in the trade is Rangers 3rd Base prospect Mike Olt.  Olt had a cameo with the big league club in 2012, after tearing up AA, and at one time looked like one of the best power hitting prospects in baseball not named Wil Myers.  But a rough start to his AAA stint this year, mostly caused by a freak eye injury that could have been caused by a concussion, have made some a bit skeptical.  But previous to this eye injury, Olt was an MLB ready 3rd Basemen, doomed to the minors because of Adrian Beltre, and moving him to add a very good #2 starter in Garza, when you have at least 2 more years of Beltre, was a win-win move.  Olt projects to be better than top 10 Cubs 3B prospect Jeimer Candelario, hitting for more power and having better plate discipline.  If he rebounds from this years setback, Olt  could prove to a great cleanup hitter to Anthony Rizzo over the next few years.

The second most important player in the deal is C.J. Edwards.  The scouting report on Edwards isn’t much different than Tim Lincecum; a small framed guy with mid nineties heat and a devastating curveball.  With only two years of pro ball under his belt, it might be late 2014 at earliest that we see this guy hit the majors, but most can’t wait to see how he develops.  There is a surprisingly low amount of hype for a guy who has struck out 122 in 93.1 innings in single A, but he could very well develop into another Lincecum, and it may come back to haunt the Rangers for seasons to come.

Verdict:  I like this deal for both sides.  The Rangers offensive inconsistencies this year pretty much mean they have to live and die by their pitching, which has been phenomenal when healthy.  With a rotation ailing, trading from an area of depth to add Garza just might be the move that nets them a playoff birth.  Meanwhile, Chicago is lacking any kind of raw power hitter, especially at the hot corner, and Olt could prove to be just that in the near future.  Acquiring a potential ace or future closer and a controllable back end starter with upside alongside Olt, Chicago got top dollar value.  The Cubs have to be very optimistic at this point in time, but I’m willing to bet they will be rewarded with at least comparable value to Garza’s potentially only half season in Texas.  Win-win right now, but the win could potentially go to Chicago in the next couple of seasons.

Bartolo Colon: Is it performance enhancing drugs or just dumb luck?

Bartolo Colon has had a very storied career thus far; he is well know for being part of one of the most lopsided trades in history, his 2005 Cy Young campaign, his controversial stem cell transplant that aided his return to the Majors, and last years 50 game suspension for use of testosterone boosters.

The last point might be the most memorable of all for some.  With Bud Selig dragging out this biogenesis thing to aid his never-ending campaign of publicly humiliating ARod, recently, PED talks have once again reared their ugly heads.  While discussing this with a friend last night, he was shocked to hear how defensive I was over some of the players mentioned in the scandal, which lead us to talking about Bartolo Colon, and how his success could be attributed to this alleged scandal.  I laughed out loud.

I quickly ran over to Fangraphs to cite some of his more intricate statistics to help explain his success, but what I found was much more than a good ground ball rate and a few balls that didn’t quite leave Oakland’s big back yard.   I will break down the numbers by comparison:

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If you’re familiar with some these statistics, it is true this article isn’t anything that groundbreaking for you .  But if you find yourself questioning what FIP is, check back to my blog in the near future for a breakdown of the most important pitching and hitting statistics not shown on the back of baseball cards.  But in the meantime, back to Colon…

The first thing we can gather from this chart is that; Colon has never been as good as he seems.  He was always been had something masking his more mainstream stats in one area or another, even when he won the Cy Young.  The thing about this year?  He has more than just Oakland Colosseum masking his ERA; he also has pure dumb luck.  If Colon indeed is back to taking some kind of PED, it’s not helping him much, because he’s striking out a measly 5 batters per nine, and his fastball velocity isn’t any better than it was with the Yankees or anywhere else he’s pitched since 2005.  His ground ball rate is strong, as normal, and that can attribute to much of his staggering LOB% of 80% for a guy allowing a hit an inning, but we’ve got to attribute quite a bit of it to just plain old luck.  A look in comparison shows that this luck masks his ERA by 0.53, on top of the 0.74 ERA that pitching in a place like Oakland Colsseum alone absorbs… or so you’d think.  The truth?

Colon has pitched better on the road this year.  While he has 10 more innings at home this year, his road xFIP in 58.1 innings? 3.56  Home in 68.1?  4.32.

So PED’s?  Nah.  Colon has simply been given a gift from the baseball Gods.

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