We move to the last member of the Cubs pitching staff who has a rotation spot locked down. As we all know, the should-have-been-rebuilding Cubs swapped three baseball players (and Sam Fuld) to the Rays at the beginning of last season for the getting-expensive Matt Garza. Garza went on to have a much better year than anyone expected, completely changing his pitch mix to generate more ground balls and quiet the worries that too many of his pitches would end up on Waveland. Through the first few months of the season, Garza was posting Marmol-esque strikeout rates, and ended the season striking out just a hair under a batter per inning. Unfortunately despite those crazy early season strikeout rates the opposing batters were hitting them where the Cubs weren't, or at least given the Cubs woeful defense, where they should have been. His BABIP numbers normalized as the year went on and ended at .306. I'm sure all of you want me to skip over all this stuff and list the most important stat, which is wins. Garza won only 10 wins last year, which means he's Not An Ace, even though he and Ryan Dempster tied at 10 wins. I guess they're both third starters. Garza and the Cubs settled at $9.5m before the arb hearing, probably because Garza knew that Thoyer was going to throw that win total in his agent's face. At least I think that's how it would have gone.
Here are Garza's projections for 2012:
The projection systems like Garza to both pitch well and stay healthy. Based on these averages, Garza is slated to provide 29.43 runs above replacement, or 3.02 WAR. At a valuation of $5m per win, the Cubs are getting $5.5m of surplus value from Garza.
The Cubs have Garza under control for one more year, his final arbitration year. There have been rumblings that they might discuss an extension with Garza, but I think Thoyer will keep him around. The new FA compensation rules kick in next offseason, and it's an easy bet that Garza will make more than the compensation threshold in free agency. Under the new CBA a team that trades for a player with an expiring contract midseason can't get the compensation picks, so if he's traded it will be this year. As Garza gets more and more expensive it will get harder and harder to pry away a player of equal value. I think those compensation picks will be much more than the Cubs will likely be able to get, though Thoyer will surely shop him around anyway in case some team catches a case of Dan Snyder.
Previous pitcher projections