Cubs get little done against Matt Garza in 5-2 loss to Brewers
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter April 25, 2014 10:58PM
Milwaukee Brewers' Carlos Gomez slides in with a double next to Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro during the fourth inning of a baseball game Friday, April 25, 2014, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Darren Hauck)
Updated: May 27, 2014 6:18AM
MILWAUKEE — The reintroduction of the Cubs to Matt Garza on Friday night was little more than a bat-breaking, teeth-kicking reminder of the cost of starting an expansion-like rebuilding process without timelines or big-market resources.
Nine months after trading Garza to the Texas Rangers for four prospects, he was back as a $50 million free agent for the division-rival Milwaukee Brewers, back to health and strength enough to easily handle the makeshift Cubs in a 5-2 victory at Miller Park.
The Cubs are well on their way to a fifth consecutive losing season with no end to the process in sight. Garza — whom they once tried and failed to sign to a long-term extension — is pitching for the team with the best record in baseball. And he has a four-year deal that gives him a chance to face the Cubs as many as six times a season.
“Yeah, it’s a lot of fun to win,” said Garza, who sounded a lot like Alfonso Soriano barely a week earlier talking about escaping the Cubs for the New York Yankees.
“When you go through three years of constantly hoping, you kind of run out of hope. And then you come to a team like this where every day we’re going out to win. We’re not going out to hope to win; we’re going out with the attitude we’re going to win.
“It brings out a lot more emotion, a lot better emotions. And it’s not hope, it’s confidence.”
There’s no guarantee the Brewers will get full value out of that free-agent deal with Garza. Or that Soriano will produce as he did after last July’s trade to New York.
But that’s the thing about organizational overhauls built on strip-mining major-league assets to collect kid prospects as multiple seasons pass without a chance to compete.
The other guys don’t stop trying to win or reloading their rosters and systems.
“When we got him [in Chicago], he was pretty good,” said third baseman Aramis Ramirez, a teammate of Garza’s in Chicago in 2011 and in Milwaukee. “The Cubs gave up a big-time prospect [pitcher Chris Archer to the Rays] to get him, but it didn’t work out for the team or for him. Now he’s got a fresh start here, and we’ve been playing pretty good, and we’re going to need him.”
The Cubs meanwhile?
On this day they actually had three of the four players acquired from the Rangers in the Garza trade on the big league roster, including rookie pitcher Neil Ramirez, who made his big-league debut with a scoreless sixth inning.
But as if to underscore the uncertain nature of these processes — or at least their non-linear nature — the fourth player, the most coveted of the group, made the most news Friday, for the wrong reason.
Top pitching prospect C.J. Edwards had an MRI on his sore pitching shoulder that revealed inflammation that is expected to sideline him for a month or two.
Manager Rick Renteria said the organization breathed a “tremendous sigh of relief” over the diagnosis because no structural damage was detected.
But even assuming a best-case recovery for Baseball America’s 28th-ranked prospect, his timeline to prove himself with a full, problem-free season shifts to 2015.
It’s all about the future for the Cubs, as Soriano said last week. “I just want to be part of the present,” he said from the Yankee clubhouse.
Like Garza. “It’s great just to be here,” he said. “I’m happy where I’m at, and I love going out there and giving my team a shot to win every five days.”