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Garza has to go. And so does Gregg. Otherwise, a major player dump at the trading deadline later this month doesn't make sense for the Cubs, who are one win away from a successful long road trip in their latest stretch of schedule (just one victory over the A's in the next three days gives the Cubs at least five successful results in nine games away from home).
Hey Theo, don't listen to all the geniuses calling for yet another purge. You can add a little pitching depth at the deadline without devastating this year's team.
One hopes that Epstein has started to figure out that giving this team a chance to at least play .500 ball in the second half matters.
Starlin Castro, struggling mightily with an anemic .266 on-base percentage so far this campaign, has clearly been adversely affected by the "we don't really care about winning" atmosphere surrounding this year's Cubs. Not trading everyone for whom you can get anyone might just inspire other young Cubs to not let their games slide just because, you know, the front office has let the team slide.
But we aren't advocating keeping everyone. Garza, who struck out 10 in his latest greatest start in a streak of four good ones in a row, is a free agent at the end of this season. If the Cubs (who go into this week 10 games under .500 despite winning their last three series') wanted, they could re-sign him then. For now, it makes perfect sense to get several pitching prospects for him while the iron is hot, which it apparently is.
As for Gregg, well, a team needs to keep turning over its bullpen. All but the best relievers go up and down as the years go by and the best teams find ways to consistently add solid relievers so that they can quickly dump the guys who aren't performing even if they have performed before.
Exhibit A at this point for the Cubs is Shawn Camp, who was so good all last year but has struggled mightily this time around. He was last seen giving up a couple home runs in the eighth yesterday as the team almost blew a 7-1 lead.
It is time for Camp to go but the Cubs won't be able to get anything for him. The opposite is true for Gregg, whose 13 saves in 14 chances will look good to a contender.
Let's remember that while the current closer has been great for the Cubs of late, fans have seen this show turn south in a hurry before. Gregg had good stretches during his first tenure on the North Side but eventually he washed out. And he struggled at a few other stops as well before finally making his way back to Chicago.
One final note about the bullpen: The thing that has to drive manager Dale Sveum nuts is that he kept trotting Carlos Marmol out there for important situations during the first few months of the season, trying to showcase him so that the Cubs could perhaps get a little value for him in a trade. But Marmol, who among other competitive sins declined to take advantage of his struggles during the past season-plus to revamp his terrible mechanics, failed and failed and failed again.
And so the Cubs, who recently promoted successful Triple A closer Blake Parker and have him waiting in the wings should Gregg move on, blew the at least half-dozen highly winnable games that would have put them right near .500 at this point. And they did so to try to promote a guy who was so bad, they finally just had to release him last week.
While just about everyone else even remotely affiliated with the Blackhawks was busy celebrating the Cup last week, it was clear that one guy still has his nose firmly set against the grindstone. General manager Stan Bowman stayed sober throughout and sure enough, he made a couple clear-headed, if anti-sentimental deals on Sunday, moving Stanley Cup playoff finals heroes Dave Bolland and Michael Frolik for draft picks to clear room under the salary cap to re-sign emerging star power forward Bryan Bickell.
Bolland and Frolik will be missed but these deals needed to get done and Bowman put aside celebrating to do the work that enabled them to happen. He is clearly the designated driver of this organization.
Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays. He welcomes your comments.
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