Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

July 25, 2013

Garza is just what the doctor ordered


Mineral Wells Index

— By CLINT FOSTER

The Texas Rangers were desperately in need of a boost. Sitting three games behind the Oakland A's in the American League West and with a laundry list of injuries as long as the Brazos River, General Manager Jon Daniels had to find a piece that could provide some depth for the pitching rotation and keep this team in contention.

Daniels did just that when the Rangers completed a deal with the Chicago Cubs to send pitcher Matt Garza to Arlington on Monday.

Finally.

The 29-year-old righty out of Fresno State comes to Texas in exchange for one of the Rangers' top prospects, infielder Mike Olt. Texas also sent RHP Justin Grimm and C.J. Edwards -- another talented minor league pitcher -- plus one or two other players to be named later.

This deal, which was weeks in the making, gives the Rangers a much needed shot in the arm. An injury bug of mythical proportions has presided over the Rangers clubhouse for the better part of two seasons, with the pitching staff hit the hardest. The Rangers have truly overachieved despite the bumps and bruises, but their pitching woes were on full display in their last few series against the Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers.

Garza changes all that.

Garza figures to become the Rangers number two starter behind ace Yu Darvish. Even with all the injuries, that gives Texas an intimidating 1-2-3 punch in the rotation of Darvish, Garza and Derek Holland. If Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis can return before the end of the season, the Rangers will arguably have one of the best rotations in the majors. But for the time being, Martin Perez and Alexi Ogando -- who just returned from another stint on the disabled list -- are no slouches.

Garza has been brilliant in the first half of 2013. With a 6-1 record, 62 strikeouts and a 3.17 ERA, he is enjoying one of the best statistical seasons of his career. He has been untouchable in his last six starts, posting a 5-0 mark and a 1.24 ERA.

But the burning question is did the Rangers pay too high of a price for the best starting pitcher on the trade market?

Olt and Grimm have both shown a lot of promise in their young careers. Just last year, Olt was on the short list of prospects the Rangers would not part with under any circumstances, along with Perez and the incomparable Jurickson Profar. Grimm also impressed in his first MLB action last year. I was as enchanted with him as anyone after I watched his big league debut against the Houston Astros, when he allowed six hits and three earned runs in six innings en route to a win.

As impressive as they have been in the past though, both of these former Rangers saw their stock drop significantly this year. Olt has continued to play great defensively in the minors, but his hitting has dipped quite a bit as he has struggled with vision issues among other things. And Grimm has seen his share of struggles as a starting pitcher this year, particularly in the month of July when he has yet to last more than four innings in a game.

Baseball is a funny game and Grimm and Olt can still have long, successful careers outside of Texas (see Chris Davis), but for the moment it feels almost like a steal to get a quality pitcher like Garza for two players who have been trending down.

It remains to be seen whether or not Texas will be able to sign the newest Ranger to a long term deal at the end of the year, so for now he has to be considered a half-season rental. That means, assuming he can stay healthy, he will give the Rangers roughly 13 starts.

But 13 starts is still worth the price they paid.

The Rangers are trying to win a World Series Championship. Bottom line. That fateful night in St. Louis in 2011 when the Rangers couldn't quite get over the hump is like an indelible scar in the nightmares of Rangers fans everywhere. But this organization is determined for redemption. And the Rangers have one of the deepest and best farm systems in the MLB. This gives them the luxury of adopting a "win now" mentality, while not mortgaging their future. There are plenty more talented up-and-comers where Olt and Grimm came from and the Rangers can use some of them to go seek out another outfield bat before the trade deadline if they so choose.

This Garza deal had to be done if the Rangers want to keep pace with the A's and challenge for the World Series. No ifs, ands or buts about it. And Rangers fans should be very pleased at the commitment and hard work this organization puts in -- from the front office to the players -- to ensure that their franchise is in the best position to win, unlike a certain other team in Arlington who's stadium is within view of the Ballpark. But that's a discussion for another day.

Garza made his debut in a Rangers uniform Wednesday night against none other than the New York Yankees at the Ballpark in Arlington. There may not be a better recipe for a debut game and the first step in a march toward the playoffs.

Follow Clint on Twitter @Clint_Foster55