The Cubs get Matt Garza in an eight-player deal

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UPDATE:  Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago says the deal is done: eight players are involved in the deal that sends Matt Garza from Tampa Bay to the Cubs.

Specifically: the Rays will get pitching prospect Chris Archer — the Cubs’ number one prospect — outfielder Brandon Guyer, catcher Robinson Chirinos, shortstop Hak-Ju Lee and outfielder Sam Fuld. In addition to Garza, the Cubs will get a minor-league pitcher and a minor-league outfielder.

This is a big, big deal. Mostly for the Rays, who have added multiple top prospects to an already-stocked minor league system.  While Garza is a fine pitcher, he’s not that fine.  And the Rays aren’t going to miss much of a beat anyway, what with Jeremy Hellickson taking his spot in the rotation.

For the Cubs this is a head-scratcher. They need pitching, but their payroll is bloated and their farm system thin.  At some point they’re going to need to integrate some cheap talent into that mix, and they just gave away a lot of it for a good but by no means great pitcher.

This is a win for the Rays. It may mean a short term improvement for the Cubs, but I don’t like this deal for them.

10:52 AMBruce Miles reports that the Cubs are nearing a trade for Matt Garza.

We first reported that the Cubs and Rays were talking about Garza a month ago. There have been multiple on-again, off-again reports since then.  This stuff now seems like a new, more urgent push, with people in the Twitterverse who are in the know characterizing it as close to being done.

The rumored return: prospects Chris Archer, Hak-Ju Lee,Brandon Guyer and Robinson Chirinos.  Baseball America ranked Archer as the Cubs’ number 1 prospect last year, Lee as the number 4 and Guyer as number 10. Not sure on Chirinos, but I hear he has a great personality. (UPDATE:  Chirinos is the number 16 prospect)

Seems like a steep asking price for Garza.  But the Cubs are pretty desperate for some starting pitching.  We’ll update this as events unfold, of course.

Theo Epstein named The World’s Greatest Leader

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Fortune Magazine has put out a list of The World’s Greatest Leaders. Not the greatest business leaders, not the greatest leaders in a given industry, but the Greatest Leaders, full stop. The greatest according to Fortune: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein.

For some context, Pope Francis was third. Angela Merkel was 10th. Lebron James was the next greatest sports leader, ranked 11th. Take Fortune’s methodology with a grain of salt, however, given that it has John McCain above Merkel — what, exactly, does he lead now? — and Samantha Bee in the top 20.

So what makes Theo the world’s best leader according to Fortune?

The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox.

I don’t want to take anything away from what Theo has done — he’s a Hall of Fame executive already in my view — but I feel like maybe one needs to adjust for the fact that this is a baseball team we’re talking about. They’re the whole world to us and their brands are nationally and even world famous, but as an organization, sports teams are rather small. There are guys who run reasonably-sized HVAC companies with more employees than a baseball team and they don’t get the benefit of an antitrust exemption and a rule which allows them to get their pick of the best new employees if they had a bad year the year before.

Really, not trying to throw shade here, just thinking that being the spiritual father for 1.2 billion Catholics or running a foundation that serves 55 million needy children — like the woman who comes in at number 14 — is a bit of a tougher trick.

But this will make a great framed magazine article on Theo’s wall in Wrigley Field.

 

 

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.