On The Most Entertaining Day Of The Season


Today — what is still July 22nd, 2013 — is when shit really hit the fan.

Yu Darvish shutout the Yankees over 6.1 IP; so that’s good.

Jon Daniels traded 3B Mike Olt, RHP Justin Grimm, RHP C.J. Edwards, and 1 (or 2*) player(s) to be named later in exchange for Cubs RHP Matt Garza. Which is interesting.

And, of course, MLB whored out Ryan Braun, which leads to a ton of questions, including what this means for Nelson Cruz and the Rangers moving forward, if anything.

So let’s start with the worst and work our way back to Yu Darvish, shall we?

* * *

Major League Baseball died a little bit on Monday afternoon.

After a season-long what if? PED scandal, the what if? became a reality when news manifest that Ryan Braun — in cooperation with both MLB and the Player’s Association — had cut a deal, and the damage will be Braun forfeiting the rest of his 2013 season, a punishment he has already accepted, that he will not appeal.

In the last week we learned that the MLBPA will not be protecting players with substantial PED evidence against them. Today we learned that Ryan Braun and the head of the MLBPA, Michael Weiner, were acting in-cahoots with Major League Baseball to decide the best course of action, in what has turned into about the filthiest situation imaginable.

If the PA isn’t looking out for the best interests of all its players — rather than cherry-picking Ryan Braun and making a snitch out of him — then what’s the point of having an “association” in the first place? What’s basically being said here is We Will Protect Ryan Braun Because Ryan Braun Is Important To Baseball. In a flawed old-man’s game, where such concepts as instant replay are used only sparingly, where Gold Gloves are still rewarded through reputation, where Cy Young‘s are still given to the pitcher with the most Wins, where Batting Average and RBI still decide the MVP … and yet, we are focused on Performance-Enhancing Drugs.

The best game in the world, being played in an era where the talent on the field has never in history been better, and we are focused on Performance-Enhancing Drugs.

When Hank Aaron hit 40 Home Runs in his age-39 season, was anyone questioning whether or not he was behaving nefariously behind the scenes? No. But when Barry Bonds was chasing his all-time HR record, hitting more home runs at an even later age, Aaron was one of the champions saying the new records should not count as legitimate. I’m not unfairly implicating Hank Aaron, but rather the idea players of the same ilk, because it’s MLB’s former cheaters, from some the more romantic wrinkles in baseball’s history that need not be questioned, who don’t want the current cheaters to be have any slice of their precious, diluted Hall-of-Fame pie.

This is a game of heroes, of living legends, and these various columnists simultaneously kiss MLB’s ass while vilifying the players — who are, after all, the reason fans pay overly-expensive prices on tickets, and everything else within the confines of a ballpark — which in turn takes away from both the excitement and competition of the sport.

Like sure, in the hundred-plus-year history of baseball, players never tried to circumvent the laws of the game until the late-1990’s and 2000’s. That makes sense. It’s a sport stuck in an era it will never be able to get back to, and rather than getting with the times, rather than admitting its flaws and moving forward in a progressive manner, it is focused only on witch-hunts, bringing in only negative attention.

Yet they still call it America’s Pastime as if that still means something ….

* * *

The Rangers traded for Matt Garza on Monday afternoon.

In return, the Cubs received 3B Mike Olt, RHP Justin Grimm, RHP C.J. Edwards, plus a player to be named later.

My gut feeling when the trade went down was shock, followed by the vague disappointment a fan can only feel when his team trades beloved prospects for a player he or she isn’t particularly thrilled about, who will most likely only be with the organization for a couple months.

But hey, the Rangers haven’t really been those guys over the last 5-6 years, so perhaps this is one of those scenarios where having faith in a front office that isn’t prone to letting down its fan base is more important than the fact that, at least ostensibly, the Cubs appear to have done very well for themselves in this trade.

I’ve written about how I feel about Garza here, and Michael wrote more in-depth about the trade in its entirety here.

Basically, like every other trade, it comes down to how you view what the Rangers are relinquishing. If you think Mike Olt is an All Star, and that Justin Grimm could be a #3 someday, then it’s irrelevant what happens with C.J. Edwards or the player(s) to be named later. Even if Olt only amounts to something like a +2.0-2.5-win player, that’s still in the neighborhood of +12.0-15.0 wins over the next 6 years — which is how much team control he has left.

Justin Grimm threw almost 100 innings in the 1st half, in a season which he was due to pitch at Triple-A Round Rock the whole year. Circumstances changed, and he had a fringy, unlucky go of it in Arlington. All told, the Cubs aren’t looking at his 6.37 ERA; they’re looking at his 4.25 xFIP, and hoping with a little more Minor League seasoning he can develop into a serviceable back-end starter.

From a Win perspective, the Rangers traded away, on the low end, roughly 15.0 wins of value over the next half-decade. This is, of course, not counting C.J. Edwards perhaps becoming a #3-#4 starter down the road, and not counting any sort of impact from the PTBNL.

Whether born through desperation or practicality, or some combination of the two, the Rangers paid a hefty price in quantity for what they hope will be 2-3 months of quality out of Matt Garza.

Are the Cubs getting a ton of high-ceiling merchandise in this transaction? No. They are likely getting average-to-solid Major League regulars. And that has a place, too, especially for how cheap Olt and Grimm will cost over the next few years.

The Rangers, on the other hand, are acquiring baseball’s best available starting pitcher, which isn’t saying a whole lot. Obviously.

Talent-wise, he’s not Yu Darvish. He’s not Derek Holland. He is, for all intents and purposes, the #3 starter. At best-case scenario, depending on the health and effectiveness of Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison when/if they return, Garza is probably worth something like +1.0-1.5 wins over the rest of the regular season. It’s a minimal upgrade, but an upgrade nonetheless.

This article has gone way too long, so I’ll just get to Yu Darvish in the morning.