Not only was Garza counted on to be an integral piece of their early rotation, but he's also important for their future plans.
It has been speculated and debated about what Matt Garza’s future holds with the Cubs. However, the majority of Cubs observers believed he would be dealt sometime before the deadline.
Disappointingly, those plans have taken a major hit.
Matt Garza was predicted by many—myself included—to be the Cubs' No. 2 starter behind Jeff Samardzija to open the season. Now, the organization must find a fifth starter to round out an otherwise uncertain starting rotation.
Luckily for the Cubs—in a “glass half full” scenario—the injury could not have occurred at a better time. They now have roughly four weeks to prepare Garza’s replacement as the fifth starter.
It does not take a clairvoyant to see that the leading candidate to land in the now-open fifth starter spot is free-agent signee, Carlos Villanueva—not to be confused with Christian Villanueva.
In “Projecting the Cubs’ 5 Man Starting Rotation for 2013,” I predicted Carlos Villanueva would be a long-relief guy in the bullpen, but he could be used for spot-starts if others were to miss starts. It looks like that could be the case to open the season.
With Matt Garza having thus far been inconsequential to Cubs spring training, preparations were already underway to have Carlos Villanueva open the season in the starting rotation
And while Villanueva has struggled in his early Cactus League starts, given the time frame, the Cubs have plenty of time to prepare Villanueva to begin the season as the fifth starter. Still, even if he is able to shake off the rough start he has thus far incurred in spring training, Villanueva is no Matt Garza.
But Garza’s injury could have an even greater impact in the organization’s future plans as opposed to their immediate.
If the dominoes fell into place—Garza healthy and pitching well coming off of last season’s injury—the plan for the Cubs was to trade him at the deadline for a prospect package much like they did with Dempster last season.
However, Garza’s increasing injury problems are beginning to anchor to his value.
The Cubs needed him to open the season injury free and remain that way until July—or a relatively close facsimile—so they can demand better compensation. Now that he will be beginning the season on the DL, compounded with last year’s season-ending stress-reaction injury to his right elbow, you would have to believe the quality of prospects they can request in trade will not be what they could have been.
Garza’s lat injury hurts the Cubs twofold: Not only do they lose a key member to the starting rotation, but also in the quality of considerations in a future deal.