Matt Garza and the travails of intra-division trades

Open Thread: Kind of a big deal
Fan Confidence Poll: January 10th, 2011

The Yankees were not particularly fazed by Matt Garza or that thing he had growing off of his chin this year. In three starts against the Yanks, Garza threw 16.2 innings of 8.10 ERA ball. Despite 14 strike outs, the Bombers drew seven walks and blasted five home runs in those three starts, and Garza hardly resembled the pitcher who threw a one-walk no-hitter against the Tigers in July.

Still, three starts does not a pitcher make, and over the past few seasons with Tampa Bay, Garza has been a reliable right-hander who has succeeded in the AL East. In his three full years with the Rays, he put up a combined 7.9 fWAR by missing bats and keeping the ball in the park. His numbers slipped a bit in 2010, but his 200 innings of pitching well above replacement level makes him a valuable commodity.

Last week, then, it was only natural for Yankee fans to ask if Garza would be a potential target. After all, he’s far better than Sergio Mitre or Ivan Nova, two pitchers still projected to be in the Yanks’ Opening Day rotation, and in fact, in his mailbag on Friday shortly before the Cubs landed Garza, Mike fielded a Garza-related question. Mike wrote an answer one could call prescient today:

He’d be an ideal target, but I can’t see the Rays trading him within the division. Andrew Friedman’s been calling the shots in Tampa Bay since the end of the 2005 season, and he’s made exactly three trades within the AL East: He acquired Chad Bradford and Gregg Zaun from the Orioles in separate deals, and he also dealt Nick Green to the Yankees. Just not gonna happen, not at a reasonable cost anyway.

As Garza went to the Cubs in the NL, the point was a moot one fairly quickly, but as fallout from the trade percolated over the weekend, the ties that bound the Yankees to Garza were perhaps a bit stronger than we first expected. The Yanks and Rays had briefly talked about Garza, but Tampa Bay wanted too much from their intra-division rival.

“We never got off the dime,” Brian Cashman said to reporters, “but strong impressions were that it would be something that would cost us more because we are in the division, kind of like Roy Halladay. We like Matt Garza and I had a conversation early in the winter and it was clear that what it would take would be more significant than I wanted to do. And there was also reluctance from them to trading within the division.”

That’s the business of baseball in a nutshell. The Mariners were so eager to trade Cliff Lee to the Rangers because it netted them one of their key division rival’s top prospects. The Blue Jays wanted Jesus Montero plus more for Halladay because such a move would have left the Doc in the AL East. In a vacuum, the Yanks knew what Garza was worth on the open market, and they knew what his AL East asking price would be. It wasn’t worth the further discussions.

Now, the Yanks and Rays could, as Chad Jennings explored this weekend, fight over some remaining pieces. Both teams have some dollars to spend and both teams need a right-handed bat and some bullpen arms, and for the Yanks, the hunt for a pitcher continues with one less arm on the market.

Open Thread: Kind of a big deal
Fan Confidence Poll: January 10th, 2011
  • Chops

    I’m not sure whether to be happy or sad that he’s not in our division anymore.

    • mbonzo

      He’s got very good potential. He could be a top second in the rotation pitcher.

    • Mickey Scheister

      After blasting 5 homeruns in 16.2IP and an 8.10 ERA. I’m kinda sad he’s gone. Potential, yes. Results, at least last year against the Yanks, no. But since the Seahawks did beat the Saints, you never really know. I think Garza will do well in tbe NL, I just really hope that thing growing on his face goes away, dude looks like a goat.

      • wow

        Ever heard him talk? He sounds like he swallowed a goat.

        • ShuutoHeat

          So you’re saying he’s a cannibal?

          • jsbrendog (returns)

            cannibal goat sounds like a metal band. or an emo band.

      • ShuutoHeat

        That thing won’t be going away anytime soon, it even has it’s own Twitter account: Matt Garza’s Beard.

        • jsbrendog (returns)

          and remember that thing gaudin had when he was on the cubs..i think it was the cubs…either way, garza’s beard is no boone logan/chad gaudin monstrosity

          • Big Apple

            or Jeff Bagwell’s in his heyday…that’s the real reason Bags isn’t getting enough HOF support. He looks like he has a broom attached to his chin.

            • jsbrendog (returns)

              that was the main contributing factor to his white hotness. craig biggio is none too pleased since he cannot grow facial hair

    • The Real JobaWockeeZ

      As said, 3 starts doesn’t make a pitcher. Yankees won’t kill him for 8 ER per outing forever.

  • Bernard

    Depending on how you feel about Alcides Escobar/Cain (do they develop into good major leaguers? or are they no more than weak starters?), you can make a strong argument that TB got a significantly better return for 3 years of a good pitcher than Kansas City got for a 2 years of a great pitcher. Definitely not willing to pay that sort of price for a guy like Garza…

  • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

    The question no one is asking: Why were the Yanks will to trade Montero for half a season of Lee but not a full season of Halladay? Doc is the much better pitcher.

    • jsbrendog (returns)

      isn’t lee younger? maybe that had something to do with it. but this is a valid question

      • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

        Lee is 14.5 months younger and has a 112 career ERA+. Halladay has a 136 career ERA+. Going into the season only one of them pitched their entire career in the AL Beast. Halladay also signed a three year $80M contract…


        • CS Yankee

          But what about the postseason W’s?

          Just kidding, Halladay is the best pitcher on the planet over the last 5 years. The only pitcher that would be a better bet would be King Felix (due to age).

          Lee is great, but let’s not forget he was a late bloomer, has a bad agent (more costly, ego based Boras type), has been collecting checks on the DL often, and is the getting old.

          A couple of years down the line they will be paying him to pitch to a 4.50 ERA while Arod will be batting .260 for us; in which both will be way, way overpaid.

        • UYF1950

          Maybe part of the reason the Yankees were willing to go out on the limb with trade versus Halladay was even though there is only 14+ months difference in their ages Halladay has pitched 900 more innings than Lee that’s the equivalent of 4+ years pitching. Add 4+ years in equivalent years plus 1+ years in age and all of a sudden their is over 5 years difference in work load. Maybe that was a factor?

    • Zack

      Because it wasn’t Mongrel alone, it was him, Joba or Phil, plus more.

      • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

        When they had already decided that Joba was going to the pen? So Montero and a middle relief pitcher?

        Somehow the Lee package plus Joba was too much?

        Fo’ shame we have a moron running the front office. Halladay is clearly the better pitcher and it ain’t even close. Meanwhile, look what the Phils gave up…Joba plus Montero easily beats that package.

        • Joe Pawlikowski

          Dude, chill. From everything I understand the Yanks did offer Montero for Halladay.

          • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

            But they wouldn’t include a middling relief pitcher? THAT was the deal breaker?

            • Joe Pawlikowski

              You don’t know that, and I don’t know that. I do know that Cashman has said on multiple occasions that he offered Montero for Hallady and Lee (twice).

              • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

                What more could it have been? The Phillies package was not great, considering what they got back (pitcher and contract).

                Moreover, we do know that Nunez was the hold up for Lee. That says everything.

                • Joe Pawlikowski

                  While Nunez might have tipped the scales, I really think it was Montero who held up the Lee deal.

                  • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

                    How so? I thought Montero was the given.

                    Look it’s one year later and we realize our GM makes no sense. He holds onto Joba for no good reason and Montero wasn’t the deal breaker.

                    Line it up:

                    Joba > Drabek; especially a year ago (i.e., before he was deemed a relief pithcer)
                    Montero > d’Arnaud

                    Given that advantage, and with the Jays having no real interest in Taylor (flipped for Brett Wallace who was then flipped for another OF), I really don’t see what the hold up to Halladay could have been that doesn’t look completely ridiculous now.

                    • CS Yankee

                      Don’t forget that you have a Canadian in their deal?


        • Tim

          They hadn’t already decided that at all. Chamberlain was still considered a candidate for the rotation, even into spring training last year.

          • Tim

            And the “moron” in the front office who’s running the team can’t take your call now. He’s busy polishing his 5 WS rings.

          • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

            But yet one year later, when they have an obvious need, they refuse?

            That makes no sense.

            They made up their mind about Joba last off-season. The competition was a sham.

        • jsbrendog (returns)

          Fo’ shame we have a moron running the front office.


    • Zack


  • Yank the Frank

    It seems that when teams look to trade with the Yankees they have one set of guidlines which is “get as much as you can because the Yankees are desparate”. When they deal with everyone else the guidelines are more “take what ever you can get, we have to move this guy”.

    • Big Apple

      agree…Yanks always seem to have to give up more including top prospects and current players. The Yankee FA contracts almost always include additional years, player options, opt out clauses etc. Other teams seem to have more team options, which are nice insurance if a guy sucks. Yanks pay more $$ but also seem to have to give better terms. Maybe that’s the additional price to pay for the added pressure.

      Now, another strategy would be to fire the guys under cashman and get them hired by teams who have prospects/young players the yanks want. It worked pretty well for Boston in the AGonz deal. I’m still amazed at what little they gave up for him.

      • CS Yankee

        I thought the BoSox dudes quit for a better job?

        Anyhow, Theo did well to overhype his coverted SS and when he struggled a bit he moved him quickly. They picked up a so-so Lackey last year for way too much money, but added some nice pieces this year (but again with the overpay for a LF’er).

        I’m surprised they can get away with this sign after the first day of the season to avoid any luxury tax. They go out of their way to avoid paying their share while bitching about the team that pays more than their share…which is another reason why Manhatten Clam Chowder beats NE Clam Chouawder eight days a week.

    • Ted Nelson

      I don’t think that’s the case… I think:

      A. You care more about the prospects they give up and see them in a more favorable light than the random prospect names thrown into other deals, and
      B. The Yankees are involved in a lot of deals for top players with long track records and high stock, which is going to cost you.

    • bexarama

      Cough Abreu trade, cough Swisher trade.

      Wait until the details of the Gonzalez contract come out before you make a judgment on that, too. If the Red Sox don’t get a significant discount, they had to give up more to get him than we did for Teixeira.

  • CS Yankee

    I understood not getting Halladay at the time, but didn’t agree with it.

    If the two rumors of Montero & Joba would make the trade were true & if the other thing about Joba to the ‘pen was decided well before Spring Training…it doesn’t add up.

    It is easy to be critical after the fact, but after winning it all in 2009, Cash goes into the offseason likely thinking;
    1) I have AJ (who just brought the team back in the series in game two) already committed to major coin.
    2) Halladay will likely net a 120M+$ contract; as this will likely be his last one for his career.
    3) He believed (believes) that Hughes would roll into the SP role well & cheap.
    4) His farm has solid choices for SP in a few years.
    5) How do I explain to my people that I care about our young talent in getting another high price 30-something player.
    6) Maybe Hal said…Cash, you need to cool the spending a bit…we just won everything & MLB/ownership group will scream cap if we get the best big dollar talent again.

    Who knows, its water under the bridge…yes he signed at a huge discount to play in a sad city to boot but they can’t get everything, all the time…nobody can.

  • Big Apple

    hoyer may have quit, but i think he got fired by the Dbacks…you have to suck pretty bad as a GM to be fired by the Dbacks. His Dbacks legacy is trading CarGo (hate the nickname) to the rockies.

    The sox have been overvaluing their draft picks for sometime now. The last few “sure things” haven’t done much at all. Hoyer was around when the three prospects were drafted so he’s “familiar” with them…but then Eric Patterson rounding out the deal as the PTBNL??

    • CS Yankee

      Really, I thought that CarGo (love the meme) came in the Matt Holiday trade to the A’s with Street, and actually came from the St Louis farm before that?

      • Big Apple

        you’re right…its amazing the information you find when you atually look something up at the source rather than reading if from a blog! my bad

    • Mike Axisa

      Hoyer got fired because he refused to fire his manager. Ownership then canned both of them.

      And trading CarGo, who was in A-ball at the time, for Dan Haren is a move that only looks bad in hindsight.

      • Big Apple

        i know…i was just piling on hoyer….

        hopefully all three of those prospects the sox traded for Agonz will end up as perennial all stars and AGonz will be mediocre in the AL!

      • bpdelia

        exactly. More than one organization traded Gonzales. It’s the same thing as with Gio Gonzales. He was shipped all over the place.

        It happens. In fact what about A Gonzales.

        Maybe it’s jsut having the name gonzales.

        PS did anyone read the Madden piece that asserts as FACT that the yankees would trade Montero and Nunez for Soria. WE don’t get a source. Not even an unnamed source. It’s just floated out there. And people are responding on Pinstripe Alley as if this is truth.

        I find it incredibly hard to believe the yankees would trade Montero and Nunez for Soria.

        • Benjamin Kabak

          I personally don’t put much stock in the Soria rumors. Considering the Yanks won’t part with the 31st pick of the draft for Rafael Soriano, I have a hard time believing they’d trade their top prospect for Soria.

      • Mike Axisa

        Oh by Hoyer I mean Byrnes, duh.

  • Big Apple

    I’m having a hard time believing any of the rumors about the yankee deals this off season. In one minute the ink is about to dry on the signatures and in the next the Yanks had no real interest.

    IMO, i think Lee was the one and only target and everything else is just a bunch of crap rumors made up by Heyman’s tweet machine.

    I like this approach – there is nothing on the market so lets just sit tight. Its just that no one is used to it because the Steinbrenner run yanks have always had to make an off season splash.

    • bpdelia

      yeah. These rumors are ridiculous. 90% of them make absolutely no sense. There’s nothing to be had. I’m of the belief that Soriano would help but I’m also not wedded to the idea. I don’t think its as clear a bad move as some on here but it’s not a move that improves the yankees dramatically. IF Cashman wanted to up the enthusiasm the very best move he could make right now is to sign Rauch and tell the press that Chamberlain will begin the season at SWB stretching out to become a starter again. That is the best move left on the table quite frankly. I’m well aware that this is not in their plans but I don’t see how the FO is unable to see that a Joba to the rotation A) has the potential to help the yankees more than any remaining deal out there B) increases Joba’s value and puts us in better trade position come mid season and C) is a PR win across the board.

      • Big Apple

        agree…what’s even more annoying is the response from non yankee fans lining up the next potential deal or saying “oh, another guy the yanks can’t sign” when they know that the deal made no sense from the get go.

        so much noise, so little substance….how many days to spring training?!?