(Well that'll shut the critics up for a little while.........Image: Desipio.com)
Today I was going to forage for some acorns despite the frightful weather, as my sub-zero winter slumber has burned off a lot of the fat I put on in the autumn. I planned to write a fanciful narrative on the resourceful job Brewers GM Doug Melvin had done of bringing in first base options on the cheap in the born-to-be-a-Brewer Mark Reynolds and old pal Lyle Overbay. As the sun pierced my line of sight my brother sent me a note on a cool little interview from the AV Club featuring Stephen Malkmus recalling his enjoyment of the Milwaukee Bucks and Brewers from his really early days. Then, just as I was going to head off for lunch, I literally spit out my coffee: Brewers sign Matt Garza! WTF? I’ve been one to accuse Doug Melvin of dumpster diving this offseason, but now, whether to give an indication of submission or call out for a grownup, “thus proving [my] weakness,” or granting the victor a title of respect, I call out “Uncle!” Respect to Uncle Doug, that is.
Much has been made of the fact that the Crew hadn’t inked a player to a major league deal this offseason until today. With a near-total vacuum of spending, it sure did look like the Brewers might sign a reliever or two and maaaayybbee a back-end starter to toss into the mix with Tyler Thornburg, and call it an offseason. Most observers must be pretty surprised by the addition of right-hander Garza, 30, who has had his issues with injuries but instantly fortifies what, let’s face it, was a shaky starting rotation built on the hope that that last couple months of the 2013 season could be re-created. With Yovani Gallardo, Kyle Lohse and Garza as the top three in the rotation, the Brewers’ starting five suddenly looks legit compared to what it did a few hours ago. The St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates all boast solid rotations, but maybe with Garza the Brewers can at least be competitive when lining up against those squads.
There’s been some speculation out there that Gallardo could become a trade piece for the Brewers before the season begins now that Garza is on board, but that doesn’t make too much sense to me. A trade would free up a spot in the rotation for Thornburg, and Gallardo has been the subject of rumors, some connecting him with the Arizona Diamondbacks, for example. But to trade Gallardo would only dilute the new, expensive power in the rotation so I don’t see that happening unless the Brewers could pull off a deal with a really nice return. Regarding the Garza deal, the icing on the cake is that the Brewers need not give up a draft pick; Garza could not be given a qualifying offer because he was traded during the season.
Much analysis will be put into Garza’s numbers in the coming days, and in just a few short weeks he’ll be out in Maryvale as pitchers and catchers get it going. I have to imagine the Brewers will sell some tickets on the coattails of adding Matt Garza to the rotation. As an often-skeptical Brewers fan, I will admit that this has me pretty excited about how improved the rotation could be with this signing. This is the kind of shot-in-the-arm addition Brewers fans were looking for in what has been a barren, dull winter for good baseball news. The Brewers still have much to improve upon, but I will toast this signing with an adult beverage this evening and revel in the spark of hope it’s created for this coming season. Great job, Doug (and Mark A). UNCLE!