In the wake of the Matt Garza deal, there has been a whole host of opinion written about it. Some of it (such as what I wrote last night) is negative, but there are some in Cubbyland that are very excited indeed.
When asked if he thought it was a good move, Michael Wilbon’s response was —
Yes. I like that!
My impression of sports fans in the Mid-West is that they are loyal, proud, and unapologetic. Michael Wilbon is no exception, so his feelings about Garza are not surprising.
More research uncovered this article, written by a Jon Greenberg of ESPN Chicago. In it, Greenberg praises the Cubs for giving up their top prospects for a quick fix. He insists that the Cubs are contenders and seems bitter that an owner would ever stress the importance of a strong farm system.
Greenberg writes —
When you hear owners talking about how great the farm system is or touting a “young, hard throwing” pitching staff, that’s code for “we stink and we’re not spending any money to get better.”
He talks about the disenfranchised Cubs fan as if they not only wanted Matt Garza, but deserved him. They are contenders, after all.
But they’re not, really.
There are certain groups of fans that are susceptible to what I call Yankee Arrogance. It’s this assumption that winning is a birthright and that somehow your team is immune to the usual ebb & flow that others are cursed with.
Yankee fans are this way. Cowboy fans are this way. Cubs fans are, too.
None of these types of fans understand that eventually you will have to reload your gun. You may have great talent now, but they’re going to get older. You can sell off your few valuable possessions to pay the mortgage, but that championship window will one day close.
Those fans don’t want to hear it, though. They don’t care about farm systems or scouting or prospect development, because that’s something financially challenged teams have to worry about.
This is basically the point that Greenberg is trying to make. He doesn’t care about prospects, because he wants to win now. He’s betting the future on the present, because the guys that the Cubs gave up are just names and they don’t guarantee anything.
Of course, in the same article where he paints him as the savior of the franchise, Greenberg implies that Garza might find himself giving up a significant number of long-balls in 2011, which suggests that maybe Garza’s not a guarantee either.
Maybe he’s preparing the Cubby faithful for when it all falls apart, it’s hard to say.
Still, this article as a whole is disappointing. Greenberg fails to explain to me exactly why Garza will turn things around for a team that finished 2010 16 games behind their division leader.
All things being equal, in 2011 the Phillies, Braves, Reds, & Cardinals will be good and the Giants, Rockies, & Brewers will be good enough.
If the Cubs can get the best of those 7 teams, then I will owe someone an apology. I’m not sure who, though.