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When you give up a package of prospects rated as highly as the deal the Cubs sent to the Rays, your franchise should be expecting some great production. I think it's fair to want that, because when you look at similar packages of players, they have netted stars like Johan Santana, Zack Greinke, and Dan Haren.
Matt Garza is none of those players. For all intents and purposes in MLB, Matt Garza has never pitched like an Ace.
Stop calling him an Ace.
He isn't even the Ace of this team yet. He could just as likely be worse than Dempster and Zambrano this season as he's likely to be the number one guy.
But that's what Cubs fans are apparently expecting from the 27-year-old starter. The fans predicting big things out of him, but it makes you wonder if they did more than read his name in the newspaper. Upon even the most simple inspection of who he is and what he's done, you realize a few things.
He is an extreme fly-ball pitcher. He's played his whole career in Tropicana, which happens to be a spacious pitcher's paradise. He is now moving to Wrigley, which is a field that resides in the top 10 offensively-slanted parks.
One that consistently allows more than its fair share of home runs.
Another thing about Garza? Very few pitchers in baseball allow more home runs than him for every 9 innings. He gave up 28 home runs last year, third-most in the American League. This was lowered by the fact he got to play half of his games at Tropicana Field...which he won't have the luxury of next year.
Over the last three seasons while on the road, Garza had a 4.53 ERA. At home in Tampa Bay? A staggeringly lower 3.21 ERA. Almost a run and a half of discrepancy, which is a pretty huge deal.
His production has been noticeably altered in a positive way by his team's defense his entire career. Very simple reasoning behind it? The Rays have been just fantastic in the field over the last four seasons.
Garza will be going from a team where his defense is greatly aiding him to a team with a problematic and slow defensive situation. It is going to cost him noticeably in the ERA and WHIP department, as a lot more of his fly-balls are going to fall in for hits. It's something that is going to be frustrating for Matt, in joining his new North Side teammates.
I understand that some fans think the shift from the American League to the National League means an instant jump to star-production. Yet the NL has plenty of bats better than anything he's faced in the AL East. Facing guys like Albert Pujols, Joey Votto, Ryan Braun, Matt Holliday and Prince Fielder will hurt you. They'd enjoy the pleasure to do so.
Garza has some crazy talent though. This is something any scout or person who has watched him consistently pitch pretty well over the last three years will attest to. If he can cut down on his fly-ball rates, he could do something special for the Cubs.
There is concern and there is hope. If he pitches identical to the last three years, I would be content, Too bad Cubs fans wouldn't be, though. He's already gone through the hype machine, and there's no coming back.