The Tigers shouldn't bother trading for Matt Garza

Are the rumors of the Tigers' being interested in Matt Garza, and willing to trade Jacob Turner (and more) for the Chicago Cubs starting pitcher, true? Man I hope not.

Over my holiday break, the Tigers were linked to Garza first casually, and then more seriously.

ESPN.com's Buster Olney reported on Twitter:

Tigers have made it known to other teams that they are willing to trade Jacob Turner in a deal for the right pitcher. That's a big piece.

I've never hidden the fact I don't mind trading prospects for established major league players, so long as you're getting a sure thing in return. (Inasmuch as any player could be considered a sure thing, anyway.) However, my belief is that you've got to get value in return for your prospects, or hold onto them for when you really need them.

I do not see trading Turner (and, again, who knows what other top names) for Garza as a great value grab or a necessary deal at this point.

2011 was his best year in the major leagues, by far. It was also his first in the National League Central. In his prior 100-plus starts, nothing about Garza said front-line starter. He'd come with some prospect hype, and he was always a steady hand in a major league rotation. He was always said to have great stuff. But he hadn't taken any steps toward elite. The result was a career ERA in the upper 3s, and an FIP in the 4s while playing mostly with the Rays in the AL East.

Again, not bad. Not great, either.

However, his numbers in 2011 were terrific: 3.32 ERA, 3.19 xFIP, a career-best 8.95 K/9 and a near-best 2.86 BB/9. His 11.2% swinging strike rate was great, but even better was his jump of 3.7% in swinging strike percentage.

Some will want to say that's due to moving to a worse league -- and I'm sure there's some truth to that.

Fangraphs recently wrote that Garza might be able to maintain his strikeout rate in 2012 and beyond, due in part to changing his approach while on the mound. In short, he throws fewer fastballs and his breaking pitches have batters whiffing.

Matt Garza looks like he could be another legitimate improvement. Is he the 5 WAR stud he was in 2011? No, we can’t just throw out the rest of his career. But there is reason to believe that he is better than he was before. His peripherals entirely support his performance and can be explained by a shift in pitch selection. Of course it’s possible that the league adjusts in 2012, but there is no reason to dismiss 2011 as a fluke.

Another believe in Garza is fellow SB Nation blog Fake Teams. They write:

Garza remade himself in 2011, and I'm buying continued success. Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild reportedly encouraged Garza to rely more on his breaking stuff, and new coach Chris Bosio would be wise to continue that philosophy, as his ground balls jumped, his fly balls dropped (as well as HR/FB), and he struck more batters out. His xFIP (3.19) was by far the lowest it's ever been and was 1.12 better than the year previous. Matt Garza's improvement is no mirage.

A side issue with Garza is collecting surplus value. If a top prospect like Turner lives up to half the hype, he'll create a fair amount of value. Garza has two years of team control left with arbitration eligibility. He was paid $5.95 million last season. It does not take a genius to surmise he's going to make at least a million more in 2012, and who knows how much more in 2013.

Again, don't get me wrong here. Garza would certainly produce plenty of surplus value if he kept pitching as well as he did last year. He'd still have some if he pitched like 2008-2009, too. But the question is, just how much value can he create?

So in the end, I guess it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. Unless Turner's trade value has totally fallen out, however, I think the Tigers are better off holding on to him for now. I'd rather save a spot for Turner in Detroit's rotation, or trade him and other prospects for a true, proven front-line starter. Garza, while a nice piece, is an unnecessary acquisition at this time. They have plenty of time before the trading deadline to figure out what they truly need.

(See our sister site MLB Daily Dish for more Garza rumors.)

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