He can't even write a convincing smile.

The headline writers at the Chicago Tribune generally do a pretty good job coming up with descriptions of Phil Rogers’ nonsense that actually make the nonsense seem readable. But there are times when no amount of creative juice can hide the fact that Phil Rogers is a terrible writer during the full swing of the baseball season, so during the offseason he has to write dreck like, “A year later, what was point of Garza trade?

With a strong breeze blowing through the pine trees and palmetto bushes, the Tampa Bay Rays walked out of their clubhouse and down a stone path, headed toward back diamonds for practice. They walked alone or in groups of twos and threes, and, to be fair, they weren’t all former Cubs.

Phil truly makes F. Scott Fitzgerald look like Stephanie Meyer.

Only half of them.

Half of the guys on the Rays’ roster have connections to the Cubs? Really?

OK, not really.


But the five guys who Jim Hendry sent to Tampa Bay for Matt Garza are conspicuously on display for a team that is successfully mixing a small budget with big expectations.

Oh, shit. Did everyone forget to invite Phil to the press conferences announcing the firing of Jim Hendry and the subsequent hiring of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer? Because that would be AWESOME.

Outfielders Sam Fuld and Brandon Guyer and catcher Robinson Chirinos all made the Rays’ 2011 team picture…

Guyer had 41 at-bats in 2012. Chirinos had 55. ALL OF THEM CRUCIAL.

…with Fuld turning into a cult hero during the unlikely ride from a 1-8 start to a wild card appearance in the 2011 playoffs.

The Legend of Sam Fuld: .240/.313/.360

It is truly a tale that Rays fans will be telling their grandchildren for years to come.

Shortstop Hak-Ju Lee and right-hander Chris Archer profile as significant pieces for the organization’s future.

I’m not saying that Lee and Archer aren’t going to be decent players. I’m just saying that I wouldn’t trust Phil Rogers to evaluate the quality of my Netflix Instant Watch streaming video.

“I don’t think any of those guys have done things we didn’t expect them to,” Rays general manager Andrew Friedman said. “It’s not like any of them had a year where they just blew the doors down. They’re all good players, they play the game fundamentally well and that fits with our organization. They’re part of the depth that we believe in, and that’s why we made that trade.”

“Also, we couldn’t afford to keep paying Matt Garza. Did I mention that part? That it was a decision motivated quite a bit by the salaries of the respective players involved? I don’t want to call it a salary ‘dump’ per se, but we certainly would have loved to still have had Matt Garza last year during the playoffs.”

So much for the wisdom of trying to patch things together on a year-to-year basis, as Hendry worked to do in three different periods of the Cubs’ ownership.

Maybe that’s why he got fired. For performing terribly at his job. I understand why this might be a completely foreign concept to Phil, but most of the American workforce has to worry about it.

The Rays have gone to the playoffs three of the last four seasons by building from the ground up, in the style that the Ricketts family is attempting to emulate.

Wait. Let’s get something straight. The Ricketts family still has no fucking clue how to manage or build a baseball team. I’m very excited that the Ricketts family is, apparently, self-aware enough to realize that they have no fucking clue how to manage or build a baseball team. They finally hired some people who know what the hell they’re doing and will hopefully fix the mess that they’ve made. But until the Rickettses fire Crane Kenney…out of a cannon…into a wall made of razor blades…covered in hantavirus…they have no idea how to run a front office.

With Tom Ricketts giving Theo Epstein a five-year window to succeed after identifying him as Hendry’s replacement, the Cubs no longer seem to have the fear of failure that was behind the Garza trade.

Wait, why? That sentence means absolutely nothing. The Cubs hired the best baseball executive on the market and probably HAD to give him five years to convince him to leave Boston. How does that even remotely connect to their “fear of failure”? If anything, paying a lot of money to get the best executive in baseball makes me think they’re MORE afraid of being unsuccessful. But I guess that’s probably because I think about words before I type them.

It gave the Cubs one starting pitcher who is better than any of their holdovers but, like the Edwin Jackson trade that cost the White Sox a long-term starter in Daniel Hudson, it always begged a question: What was the point?

To improve the team with a pitcher still in his prime for a price cheaper than the bloated contracts of Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano.

Also, I feel like a professional journalist should understand what the phrase “begging the question” actually means. Because Phil used it completely incorrectly.

Hendry said he wouldn’t have done it if he didn’t have Garza under control for three years, but multiple players are more valuable than one arm for a rebuilding team.

Ah, we’re back to Phil’s brilliant plus-one system of evaluating trades. To sum it up, if you traded Jeff Samardzija and Darwin Barney for Justin Verlander, you lost the trade because you gave up TWO Major League players for only ONE. Idiot.

That’s why Epstein and his staff are having a hard time figuring out what to do with Garza, who is two years away from free agency.

They’re not trying to figure out what to do with Garza. If they get a good offer for Garza, they’re going to trade him. If they don’t, they’re going to keep him and watch him continue to be the best pitcher on the team.

The Cubs don’t seem to know whether they want to sign the 28-year-old to a five-year deal that would cost them at least $75 million, trade him when someone makes an offer they deem strong enough or let the situation percolate until the answer becomes clear. It’s fair to say the Rays haven’t missed Garza.

Especially not in the playoffs, when two of their starters combined for a total of 9 innings and a 10.00 ERA.

Friedman, who has morphed from an unknown…

Unknown only by people who don’t do their research and- Oh, never mind.

…into one of the game’s most respected thinkers in seven years, knows he made a great trade when he dealt Garza to create room in the rotation for Rookie of the Year Jeremy Hellickson…

I don’t want to speak for this mysterious Friedman character, but I’m pretty sure he would have rather moved Wade Davis or Jeff Niemann out of the rotation and kept Garza.

…just as he knows he made a good deal when he sent Delmon Young, the first overall pick in the 2003 draft, to Minnesota for Garza after the ’07 season.

Since Phil Rogers can’t be bothered to do his job properly, please don’t misread that to say that the Twins traded Garza straight up for Delmon Young. The Twins gave up Eduardo Morlan and Jason Bartlett for Brendan Harris, Jason Pridie, and Young. Still an overall win for the Rays, but Young did drive in 112 runs for the Twins in 2010. What I’m saying is Phil Rogers is incompetent.

For everything the Rays got in the five seasons they had Young and Garza…

Please note that the Rays had Garza for exactly two seasons, in 2006 and 2007. At no point in the existence of MLB baseball in Tampa Bay did the Rays have Delmon Young and Matt Garza. I understand what that sentence is SUPPOSED to say. I’m just saying that sentence doesn’t say that at all.

…including Garza’s ALCS Game 7 victory over the Red Sox to send Tampa Bay to the World Series in 2008, they never paid more than $3.7 million a year to either of them (that was Young’s signing bonus). The Cubs will pay Garza $9.5 million this year, and more in 2013 if they keep him.

The Cubs will pay Ryan Dempster $14M this year to wear fish ties and put Icy Hot in Starlin Castro’s jock. Direct your pointless outrage toward his useless ass.

Fuld, who was considered a minor part in the deal, got 308 at-bats and made the catch of the year for the Rays.


Chirinos, who was traded on the heels of a breakout 2010 season…

Huh. I always thought a “breakout season” meant a player’s stats unexpectedly showed incredible improvement. Not that a player steadily improved in the minor leagues at a incredibly consistent pace. My mistake.

…is battling Jose Lobaton for the backup catcher’s job behind Jose Molina. Guyer, who hit .312 with 14 homers in Triple A, is battling for a bench job.

“Sure wish we had him 5 years ago.”
“We did.”
“Ten years, then.”

But it was Lee and Archer who were the headliners in the trade, and their stock has increased.


Lee, 21, won a batting title in the Florida State League and is ranked as the Rays’ No. 2 prospect by Baseball America. Both he and Archer, who is penciled into the rotation for Triple-A Durham, could force their way into the picture later this season.

“Penciled into the rotation,” “force their way into the picture,” “shitty, hacky sports cliches.”

Handling any of these five guys should be relatively easy. The Cubs, however, will have to double down on Garza or cash out in a big way if they’re going to make this trade work for them.

There you go, Theo Epstein. Phil Rogers has ruined another 1,000 words of English just to point out what you’ve been trying to do all offseason. FIX HENDRY’S MISTAKES, THEO!