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  1. Who would this potential deal bump out of the Cubs rotation?

    Comment by Xeifrank — January 7, 2011 @ 11:26 am

  2. Not that i think Garza is *much* better than Harang, but this is exactly why we need some kind of competition adjustment. Garza pitches in the AL East, Harang pitches in the NL Central, kind of a huge difference in divisions.

    Comment by bill — January 7, 2011 @ 11:26 am

  3. 2 major differences:

    -Innings totals in recent years/injury risk

    -Age difference

    Comment by Sidd Finch — January 7, 2011 @ 11:27 am

  4. Also when you look at Garza’s home/road splits as a Ray, he pitched significantly worse outside of Tropicana.

    Now he’s going from one of the best defenses and most pitcher friendly parks to Wrigley which has the 2nd highest run park factor in the NL.

    Comment by matchst1ck — January 7, 2011 @ 11:28 am

  5. Another difference: Garza’s fastball and slider are 3mph faster than Harang’s. Maybe the means aren’t important when the ends are so easily comparable, but I think that’s gotta be worth something.

    Also, to add to what bill said, AL vs. NL is one thing, but AL East vs. NL Central has to be even more disparate.

    Comment by Alex Walsh — January 7, 2011 @ 11:31 am

  6. Agreed on the innings. Garza’s thrown about 400 innings over the last two years while Harang has thrown about 270 innings. That’s a big difference.

    Also, Harang’s K’s went down last year and his BB’s went up. In ’08-’09 his K/BB was about 3/1 and last year it went down to about 2/1. That’s not very encouraging.

    As Dave said, Garza is a valuable innings eater. Harang, on the other hand, is a gamble.

    Comment by vivalajeter — January 7, 2011 @ 11:33 am

  7. Harang’s Fastball value per 100 pitches over the past 3 years (with no drop in velocity):
    -1.7, -2.1, -13.4

    Garza’s Fastball value per 100 pitches over the past 3 years:
    28.0, 1.4, 11.8

    I would bet on Garza. I don’t know if I’d bet as much as the Cubs did, but I definitely think there’s a difference between the two.

    Comment by Joshua Maciel — January 7, 2011 @ 11:41 am

  8. Also wanted to add that last year, the Cubs team UZR was -7.3, and they replaced a solid/elite defending 1B (Lee) with a career negative defender (Pena). Aside from Soto and MAYBE Dewitt, no one on the field is a safe bet to be quicker or more nimble next year or at any point in the future.

    Comment by ICEYhawtSTUNNAZ — January 7, 2011 @ 11:45 am

  9. Will pitching in a division that includes GABP, Wrigley, that short porch in LF in Houston, and Miller Park inflate Garza’s HR/FB totals? That could work to offset the talent difference between the AL East and NL Central.

    Comment by Chuck — January 7, 2011 @ 11:47 am

  10. Garza is the better pitcher. However, the Cubs are giving way too much for him (if the players rumored are correct)

    Comment by John — January 7, 2011 @ 11:48 am

  11. I thought Harang took a small contract because he wanted to pitch in his hometown. Sometimes you can’t just sign player X b/c player X doesn’t want to pitch for you.

    Comment by Steve — January 7, 2011 @ 11:48 am

  12. Well, answering the question myself, last year he played half his games in a below average HR park (#17 in MLB). This year he will play in an above average homer park (#9) in MLB. He’ll play about 2/3 of his games in parks ranked in the top 11 in homers in 2010.

    I don’t know how this plays out w/ advanced stats…..any help?

    Comment by Chuck — January 7, 2011 @ 11:55 am

  13. Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, and Tom Gorzelanny are guaranteed spots, so Garza would probably bump Randy Wells or Carlos Silva. Chris Archer was supposed to compete for the fifth spot as well, but he seems to be headed to Tampa.

    Comment by Fire_Jim_Hendry — January 7, 2011 @ 12:03 pm

  14. Archer could be great, but he’s 22 and is still in AA. Lee is 20. Guyer was in AA at age 24 after 200 at-bats at the same level the year before. Chirinos is old. Fuld is older.

    Yes, Archer was a valuable chip, but still a prospect. Garza is proven.

    Comment by Alex Walsh — January 7, 2011 @ 12:04 pm

  15. Yea, forget that 20 year old kid Castro. I’m positive he’s only going to get worse. /sarcasm

    Comment by John — January 7, 2011 @ 12:05 pm

  16. All this aside, it doesn’t mean that Garza would be worth what the Cubs may (or may not) put out there for him!

    Relative to what they would trade to get Garza, it may be worth it to sign Harang to an incentive-laden, short term contract as a low-risk, high-reward guy.

    Comment by Sidd Finch — January 7, 2011 @ 12:05 pm

  17. Castro has nowhere to go but up, and should improve next year. Lee is a solid 1B defender, but Pena isn’t horrible. Soriano has an iron glove, but still has decent legs and a good arm. Aramis Ramirez is probably the team’s biggest liability on defense.

    Comment by Alex Walsh — January 7, 2011 @ 12:06 pm

  18. The better comp for Matt Garza is Matt Cain. I look for Garza’s HR/9 to drop below 1 in the NL, his K/9 to increase, and his BB/9 to decrease. Garza like Matt Cain has consistently outperformed his xFIP and there is ever reason to believe this outperformance will only increase in the NL.

    Comment by giantsrainman — January 7, 2011 @ 12:07 pm

  19. Tacking on to what Alex and Josh said: Garza’s fastball and slider are markedly better pitches than the same for Harang, both in velocity and in runs/100. That was the first thing I went to look at after reading this article. I feel like Garza’s stuff would play up against a much weaker league and division. 3 mph on a fastball makes a huge difference, particularly for the skill set you describe.

    The deal has apparently come to an agreement with Chris Archer and Hak-Ju Lee at the center of a 5-player package in return for Garza and 2 minor leaguers. That’s really not as drastic as one might think. None of the players except Sam Fuld have gone beyond AA and only Archer may have a considerable ceiling. Depending on what else the Cubs got back, they may have won this one.

    Comment by Jonathan — January 7, 2011 @ 12:09 pm

  20. Look at Garza’s performance outside of Tropicana field in the past three years and tell me if you still feel the same way.

    Comment by matchst1ck — January 7, 2011 @ 12:11 pm

  21. Ugh, why do people still think Aaron Harang is good? I sorta hope he falls on his face in San Diego just so people can get over him. He hasn’t been good the past few seasons despite above average peripherals and while Garza has been outperforming his FIP, he is younger and is on the upswing of his carer, which is the exact opposite of Harang’s situation.

    Comment by Pat — January 7, 2011 @ 12:12 pm

  22. It’s official: Christopher Archer, Hak-Ju Lee, Brandon Guyer, Robinson Chirinos, and Sam Fuld for Garza, and two minor-leaguers. Archer is already a better pitcher than Garza, and Lee’s just as good as Starlin Castro. Hendry the idiot strikes again. Build up the farm system, then break it in one move. Perfect strategy.

    Comment by Fire_Jim_Hendry — January 7, 2011 @ 12:12 pm

  23. I think it’s a stretch to say Archer is better than Garza and Lee is as good as Castro RIGHT NOW.

    But it was a bad trade. They did give up too much.

    While the competition is easier in the NL, Garza will be moving to a park that gives up even more HR and BB. He already has a poor HR rate and meh BB rate so that’s not going to help.

    Comment by Disco — January 7, 2011 @ 12:23 pm

  24. Admittedly I don’t much about Cubs prospects but if what “Fire Jim Hendry” said about those guys is true then that is quite a haul for TB. That almost sounds comparable to what KC got for Greinke even though he’s a much better pitcher than Garza.

    Comment by Dwight Schrute — January 7, 2011 @ 12:32 pm

  25. While I understand all the fear(Cubs fans) and derision about the package, there are a few things to consider. No one overvalues prospects more than readers of Fangraphs. The truth is that if half of them get to the bigs and contribute it will be great. And the deal is 5 minor leaguers for Garza and 2 minor leaguers. Hendry has shown good ability to extract quality players from other organizations farm systems.
    Garza may be a headcase to a certain degree, but he should benefit from the move. Wrigley is a better place for him to pitch 90% of the time. The Cubs now have an abundance of proven starting pitchers. They can deal for an outfielder with who ever they don’t want to keep.

    Comment by ofMontreal — January 7, 2011 @ 12:33 pm

  26. There were only three pitchers in the MLB last year that averaged four walks per nine (which is what Archer did in AA). Archer might succeed, but unless his control improves drastically, he’s an outside shot of being anywhere as valuable as Garza.
    i like Lee, but even in a perfect world he’s nowhere as good as Castro (except on defense), so he was expendable.
    both the outfielders were fourth outfielders at best, and Chirinos is both blocked, and not that great of a prospect. I think it was an even trade.

    Comment by JayT — January 7, 2011 @ 12:33 pm

  27. By this logic, every prospect for veteran trade is a win.

    Comment by Steve — January 7, 2011 @ 12:35 pm

  28. A few weeks ago there was a question about what the Yankees would do if they didn’t get Cliff Lee and one option was to go after Garza as the best pitcher that might be available in a trade. I suggested that John Danks might be available since he has declined opportunities to sign long term with the White Sox. He is 18 months younger and has nearly identical K/9, BB/9, HR/9, ERA, IP, BABIP and strand rate with a slightly better GB%.

    So why does Danks have more WAR (13.3 vs 9.9) and 2 seasons of 4+ WAR if the other stats are so simiklar? Can someone explain?

    Comment by MikeS — January 7, 2011 @ 12:40 pm

  29. Besides being younger, the Cubs will also have Garza under team control for the next 3 seasons, right? So they’re getting 3 seasons of Garza as opposed to 1 season of Harang and who among us would sign Harang to a 3 year deal even if it was for just $4 million per season?

    I don’t know about the prospects traded or which of the Cubs starters they might trade in order to fix other holes but it’s not just 1 year of Harang vs. 1 year of Garza, as the post implies.

    Comment by chuckb — January 7, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

  30. - Exposure to Dusty Baker

    Comment by Jay — January 7, 2011 @ 12:51 pm

  31. This article totally overlooks the WAR boost that the Cubs would get from having both Garza and Gorzo in the same rotation.

    Comment by Nadingo — January 7, 2011 @ 12:53 pm

  32. Oh yeah, Castro. Of course I meant everyone BESIDES him. /half-assed attempt at self-preservation

    If you like UZR, Pena is horrible at defense. In 9 seasons worth of data, he has a lifetime 1B UZR of -16.2 and UZR/150 of -2.7. In the last three seasons, he had a good 2008 (UZR 5.6) but woeful 2009 and 2010 (-4.6, -2.8).

    Even IF the Cubs had an elite defense, though, this is still a silly trade. The division is already 3-deep at the top this year, so why go all in now when all the contenders (except maybe the Reds) will be worse next year? Better to keep the prospects and wait til next year–when the Brewers lose Prince and maybe others and the Cardinals are either Pujols-less or hamstrung by a gigantic Pujols contract.

    Comment by ICEYhawtSTUNNAZ — January 7, 2011 @ 12:58 pm

  33. Their career stats may be similar, but their year-to-year stats differ a lot, mostly in HR/9 allowed. Danks had a really bad year for that in 2007, and two really good years in 2008 and 2010 (his two >4 WAR years). Garza’s HR/9 has generally been higher than Danks’.

    Comment by Nadingo — January 7, 2011 @ 12:58 pm

  34. Proven? Proven to what? get the Cubs from fourth place to third place? And that’s IF everything goes right?

    Comment by JamesDaBear — January 7, 2011 @ 12:59 pm

  35. Hey when you get a chance to add Garza and be able to pair him with Zambrano, you’ve got to do it. Who wouldn’t want to build a rotation of total headcase?

    On a more serious note… without looking at the numbers (gasp!) Garza seems to me to be a poor-man’s Zambrano from a few years ago. Great arms, two cent heads.

    Comment by Otter — January 7, 2011 @ 1:01 pm

  36. how does a park give up BB?

    Comment by U-G — January 7, 2011 @ 1:32 pm

  37. Anyone else get annoyed by how often Garza spits between pitches? Its like 2 or 3 times between every pitch.

    Comment by DWrek — January 7, 2011 @ 1:44 pm

  38. “Wrigley is a better place for him to pitch 90% of the time. The Cubs now have an abundance of proven starting pitchers. They can deal for an outfielder with who ever they don’t want to keep.”

    I’d think the switch to the NL helps him but the combination of the park and defense will actually hurt him.

    Also, will someone like Gorzelanny really fetch alot in a trade?

    Comment by redsfandan — January 7, 2011 @ 1:44 pm

  39. earthquakes

    Comment by suicide squeeze — January 7, 2011 @ 1:48 pm

  40. I wouldn’t say Gorzelanny is “guaranteed” a spot. He’s been rumored to be on the trading block.

    Comment by dat cubfan daver — January 7, 2011 @ 1:59 pm

  41. I don’t like the comparison. Garza is 5 years younger than Harang. He’s just now entering his prime. Garza has no injury history and has pitched over 400 innings the past 2 seasons. Harang is an injury- prone pitcher who is 5 years past his prime. I really don’t understand the comparison by Dave. Yes, Harang could have a year similar to Garza, but Garza could also have a 4-5 WAR year while Harang throws 40 innings. Who knows. I’ll take the 27 year old.

    Btw, Garza WAR the last 3 seasons= 8+ WAR

    Harang WAR last 3 seasons= 5 WAR

    Comment by John — January 7, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

  42. 22 in AA isn’t a bad thing, that’s about age appropriate.

    Comment by Aaron/YYZ — January 7, 2011 @ 2:44 pm

  43. As has been mentioned already, Garza is not the injury risk that Harang is, so that’s a factor.

    Garza has a no-hitter, so his “stuff” can’t be as average as the author tries to downplay.

    Garza has more velocity than Harang.

    Finally, the fact that Garza held his own in the AL East while Harang has been languishing in the NL Central the last several years means that Garza should be “OK” making the switch and in fact I think he improves his ERA and K-rate this year simply due to NL factors (pitcher batter/weaker lineups).

    Garza will be the Cubs #2, mostly because I can’t see Dempster being better than him. Zambrano-Garza-Dempster-Silva-?

    Great move by the Cubs, considering they didn’t give up any high-end prospects.

    Comment by DIVISION — January 7, 2011 @ 2:59 pm

  44. Unfortunately, he is not really more valuable than Jose Lopez.

    Comment by D — January 7, 2011 @ 3:29 pm

  45. Garza has a no-hitter, so his “stuff” can’t be as average as the author tries to downplay.

    Bud Smith threw a no-hitter. So does he have above average stuff too???

    Comment by Jason — January 7, 2011 @ 3:52 pm

  46. The UZRs posted by Pena that you consider “good” and “woeful” are within nine runs of each other. On average, he’s -0.6, or essentially a league average defensive first baseman.

    Comment by Alex Walsh — January 7, 2011 @ 4:00 pm

  47. Facing pitchers instead of DHs will more then make up for this. Garza should see both is HR/9 and his BB/9 drop while increasing his K/9.

    Comment by giantsrainman — January 7, 2011 @ 4:10 pm

  48. Steve: Theoretically, every trade is a mutual gain for both teams. Otherwise, why would they agree to do it? Also I just offered Jeremy Hellickson for Aaron Rowand in a keeper league, what do you think of the deal?

    James: Garza is a fine bet to throw 200 above-average innings next year. That doesn’t mean he will, but he’s looked strong and has posted solid WARs over the past three years — about one more WAR than Harang every year, actually. That seems to me to be as good of proof as you’ll find in pro sports.

    Aaron: I acknowledge the correctness of your comment. I meant to demonstrate that a lot can happen between AA and MLB; I’m not saying he will and I’m not saying he won’t, just that the uncertainty about Archer’s future is why this was an eight-player deal and not a one-for-one swap.

    Comment by Alex Walsh — January 7, 2011 @ 4:13 pm

  49. Because throwing a no-hitter is based entirely on “stuff.” Because clearly Hideo Nomo has better “stuff” than Felix Hernandez.

    Comment by Seth — January 7, 2011 @ 4:21 pm

  50. Seriously? You think ‘on the road’ in (mostly) New York, Boston, Toronto, Baltimor is comparable to ‘on the road’ in St. Louis, Milwaukee, Cincinatti, Pittsburgh, Houston??

    As a quick comp check, the winning percentage of those groups last year was: .518 for non-Tampa AL East vs .478 for non-Cubs NL Central. Would you rather play half your games against teams over .500 or under .500?

    If you think Tampa isn’t going to be as good, then the non-Tampa winning percentage should go up–all things being equal. And if you think the Cubs are going to be better, then that below .500 divisional mark stands to get worse.

    Only suggesting that the quality of opponents he’ll face is as much, if not more, pertinent than just home/road splits.

    Comment by Jimbo — January 7, 2011 @ 4:32 pm

  51. “Theoretically, every trade is a mutual gain for both teams. Otherwise, why would they agree to do it?”

    Disagree. It’s not a paradigm of co-operation, rather of competition. There are specific situations where win/win trades are possible, but even in those cases, teams jockey and negotiate to make sure the value is as good as possible for their side. Teams agree to trades when they think it’s a good move for them; just because theoretically both teams think they’re coming out ahead in any given deal does NOT mean or imply that theoretically, every team is a mutual gain for both teams. It means that theoretically, the better GM will be rewarded for his superiority by acquiring more value than he gave away in the deal.

    Comment by Oscar — January 7, 2011 @ 4:45 pm

  52. Be an interesting discussion…top 10 worst pitchers to ever throw a no-no.

    Comment by Jimbo — January 7, 2011 @ 4:53 pm

  53. Matt Garza is Aaron Harang is Carl Pavano is Joe Blanton.

    They’re all ridiculously similar.

    Comment by BX — January 7, 2011 @ 4:56 pm

  54. and please tell us you’re joking about giving up jeremy hellickson for aaron rowand

    Comment by fredsbank — January 7, 2011 @ 5:17 pm

  55. i can’t think of an appropriate way to mock you for claiming that he’s “already a better pitcher than garza” so i’ll just stick with calling you stupid… stupid.

    Comment by fredsbank — January 7, 2011 @ 5:36 pm


    Comment by Eric — January 7, 2011 @ 5:46 pm

  57. rowand sucks and is not even a starter. hellickson is on the rise. come on really?

    Comment by phoenix2042 — January 7, 2011 @ 5:54 pm

  58. “He’s a valuable innings eater, but he’s not a front line starter, and there were much cheaper, easier ways to acquire this kind of pitcher this winter without punting a big part of the farm system.”

    Please give at least one example.

    Comment by Paul — January 7, 2011 @ 6:01 pm

  59. Given that Garza is a pitcher and not a team, using team records isn’t really a very good way to tackle this issue. We’re only interested in the quality of the opposing hitters, not of the whole team.

    Comment by Terminator X — January 7, 2011 @ 6:34 pm

  60. Me! Duh!

    Comment by Aaron Harang — January 7, 2011 @ 6:56 pm

  61. ME.

    I’m certain as long as you paid my salary, you wouldn’t have to give up prospects for me. And my salary is pretty much fair market price.

    Comment by Joe Blanton — January 7, 2011 @ 7:04 pm

  62. I think it bumps either Gorzelanny or Silva. I think Wells pretty much has a spot. Productive innings eater. Has posted solid FIP/xFIP’s the last 2 years.

    Comment by tony — January 7, 2011 @ 10:26 pm

  63. Guyer has developed enough in the past year, offensively and defensively, to think that there’s a chance that he could be a starting OF on a 2nd tier club.

    I actually love the Chirinos addition. Robinson could challenge Jaso for the starting catching job. He has excellent work ethic, is viewed as a mentor, is a very strong defensive catcher, offers discipline at the plate, and most believe that some of the power that he’s shown in recent years is legitimate development, and not a case of an older guy dealing with younger kids.

    Comment by tony — January 7, 2011 @ 10:29 pm

  64. He faces those same teams that he does on the road at home in roughly the same quantities.

    Yet he performs considerably better in his pitcher friendly park.

    I think that’s quite relevant.

    Comment by matchst1ck — January 8, 2011 @ 9:33 am

  65. since when are prospects “sure things?” Garza is good,not great but since when do AA prospects become untradeable commodities? They are assets. As long as you treat them as such they are valuable. Trading him or not, who cares. They don’t play and contribute to the majors.

    Comment by Sam — January 8, 2011 @ 3:29 pm

  66. Hey has anyone recently on Fangraphs written any pieces about inflated FA contracts awarded this off-season and how it’s evidently become more cost-effective to trade prospects for established major league talent?
    No one?

    Comment by 81 — January 8, 2011 @ 4:22 pm

  67. oh? i’m sorry, please demonstrate to me in what possible world is this kid ‘already a better pitcher?’

    Comment by fredsbank — January 8, 2011 @ 5:55 pm

  68. I normally really like Dave Cameron’s pieces, but this one smacks a bit too much of that “I know better” attitude that traditionalists will label stat-heads with. Dave’s ignoring a couple vital points, chief among them being innings. Saying “Why would anyone trade for Garza when they could sign Harang” is like saying “Why would anyone sign Lee when Rich Harden has the best numbers in baseball?” Of course Harden has the best rate numbers — on the rare occasion he’s not on the DL. Garza is younger and healthier, whereas Harang has the signs of a pitcher is serious decline.

    While I agree the Cubs overpaid for a pitcher who looks better than he is thanks to stellar defense, I really don’t expect Harang to provide as much value as Dave is expecting.

    Comment by Patrick G — January 8, 2011 @ 8:37 pm

  69. BlakeDeWittareyoufuckingkiddingme?

    Comment by Corncake — January 10, 2011 @ 9:22 am

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    Comment by Jaime Zuziak — March 29, 2011 @ 1:53 pm

  71. like a lot of articles on this site…absolute B.S. keep carrying the torch though. ESPN with a different biased slant.

    Comment by steve-o — December 1, 2011 @ 9:56 pm

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