Nick Cafardo on the Cubs and a Matt Garza non-rumor

theo-epstein-apMLBTR led to me this article by Nick Cafardo, which talks a bit about the Cubs.

“We’re certainly farther along than we were last year at this time,” said Epstein. “When we got here, we identified one core player [Starlin Castro] and now we can look around and see Anthony Rizzo, Darwin Barney, Jeff Samardzija , and others. We do have more positional prospects than pitchers, so we felt Jackson will be with us for many years to come.”

Epstein is hoping his top prospects — namely outfielders Jorge Soler (a Cuban defector), Brett Jackson, and Albert Almora , shortstop Javier Baez , and pitcher Arodys Vizcaino — will all be in the majors together by 2015. First baseman Rizzo is already there.

The Cubs have been waiting 108 years for a championship, a feeling Epstein is familiar with from his Boston days. While he doesn’t feel the Cub fans’ pain the same way, he understands it. He has always wanted to build a team from the ground up, and he’s getting that opportunity.

“I think, initially, what I’d been through in Boston was of interest to our fan base,” he said. “But I think they have bought into our plan and our vision. People are excited about good young players and we hope to keep adding to it and get to the point where we’re an exciting contending team year in and year out.”

They may be farther along, but they still have a ways to go. When you’re hoping that prospects that are in A ball and lower (Soler, Almora, Baez), along with an oft-injured pitcher, there’s a whole lot that can go wrong. That said, there’s no denying they’re in better shape today than they were this time last year. Another good season from some of the top prospects and the Cubs will be in much better shape this time next year.

Also of interest, Cafardo mentions Matt Garza.

Hard to read the Cubs, since they’re building for the future while also signing veteran pitchers. Garza still has to show teams in spring training that his injured elbow is OK; the Cubs would listen on a possible deal.

I think a spring training deal is possible, but it’s not very likely. There aren’t many quality players traded during spring training and ones coming off injury are probably traded even less frequently. My guess is that teams will want to see what Garza can do over the course of an extended period in which he’s giving it 100% rather than several weeks in which he’s working up to 100%.

I won’t be surprised if they do trade him, but I don’t think trading Garza is going to turn the Cubs future around so I’d prefer they hang onto him and see what he can do during the season. Maybe he has another 2011-like season and becomes even more valuable than he’d have been a year earlier. Garza is only under contract through 2013 so whatever return the Cubs get will be limited. They could probably land a decent prospect in return, but the hopes for multiple prospects went out the window when he got injured.