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Matt Garza needs to get back on the hill...so the Cubs can trade him.
How Bad Is It?
11-17 (.393), 6 games back in NL East, 5 games back of NL Wild Card
Chicago's rebuilding plan under Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer currently sits in a holding pattern, waiting for the fate of proposed renovations at Wrigley Field to be decided before the next step.
Epstein confirmed as much to ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers last month:
We have a baseball plan and we have a business plan and they're timed to sync up with one another. They are interdependent. If we don't get the Wrigley renovation done in a timely manner and done in a right way we can't accomplish our business objectives and that will certainly get in the way of us ultimately accomplishing our baseball objectives. So it's very important.
Let's assume for a moment that negotiations with all interested parties on those renovations continue throughout the season. While that will certainly delay the plan that Epstein and Hoyer have in place, it doesn't mean that smaller steps in the rebuilding process can't be made.
Key: Trade Matt Garza
Matt Garza needs to get back on the mound and prove that he's healthy before the Cubs can even entertain the thought of trading him. If he is healthy, the 29-year-old right-hander will be one of the more sought-after pitchers at the trade deadline.
Garza hasn't pitched in a major league game since last July. Nonetheless, he is a proven commodity with prior success pitching in both leagues and deep into the postseason, reaching the 2008 World Series as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Currently working his way back to the major leagues, it's going to be a few more weeks before Garza even considers rejoining the team, according to MLB.com's Carrie Muskat:
A free agent after the season, Garza's trade value is significantly lower than it was last season before he injured his elbow. That said, Chicago could still obtain multiple pieces to further the rebuild in exchange for him—while still having the option of re-signing him as a free agent after the season.
With Jeff Samardzija entrenched as the team's ace, Travis Wood looking like a part of the solution and a veteran innings eater in Edwin Jackson under contract through the 2016 season, the Cubs have three solid arms at the front of their rotation. Keeping Garza is an option, but it's not a necessity.
Key: Work out a Deal with Rooftop Businesses
While we are operating under the assumption that the renovations to Wrigley Field will still be a point of contention at the end of the season, it's an issue that needs to be solved sooner rather than later.
The biggest holdup, from all reports, is the team's desire to install a 6,000-square-foot video screen in left field.
While owner Tom Ricketts says that the team must be able to generate revenue in the outfield, owners of the rooftop clubs that surround Wrigley Field and offer unobstructed views into the ballpark are up in arms over the proposal. They claim it will negatively impact their business and are threatening legal action.
In response, Ricketts bought up the option of moving the team out of Wrigley Field, baseball's second-oldest active ballpark, if he doesn't get what he wants—something that nobody wants to see come to fruition.
There's a happy middle ground here for the team, the rooftop clubs and the fans. Those involved must find it to keep the Cubs where they belong—and to ensure that the team is able to go out and make the moves necessary to field a contending team.
Key: Find out What You Have in Brett Jackson
Brett Jackson's star isn't shining quite as brightly as it was two years ago, but the 25-year-old outfielder remains one of the team's top prospects. The time has come for the Cubs to find out his place in the team's future outfield.
Detractors will point to Jackson's mediocre numbers for Chicago in 2012 and the decline in his numbers at Triple-A over the past three seasons:
| ||G ||BA ||OPS ||HR ||RBI
|Cubs (2012) ||44 ||.175 ||.644 ||4 ||9
|Triple-A Iowa (2011) ||48 ||.297 ||.939 ||10 ||26
|Triple-A Iowa (2012) ||106 ||.256 ||.817 ||15 ||47
|Triple-A Iowa (2013) ||19 ||.219 ||.721 ||2 ||9
But couldn't that decline—especially this season—be a result of frustration on Jackson's part?
The major league team isn't winning, yet he's not getting a chance to show whether he can help turn things around. Most of us would feel the same frustration if we were in Jackson's shoes.
Yes, Alfonso Soriano remains an immovable object in left field thanks to his albatross of a contract. But he, along with David DeJesus and Nate Schierholtz are not parts of the long-term future in Chicago.
Jackson might be.
It's time to get a more definitive answer to that question.