Matt Garza's Temper: How Much Is Too Much?

By Randy Holt

Heading into his second season with the Chicago Cubs, most know what you are getting with a guy like Matt Garza, at least as far as his personality goes.

He’s a guy who wears his emotion on his sleeve. He’s very intense. He’s constantly moving around the dugout, and is always among the first out to congratulate or pick a teammate back up after he’s down. When someone isn’t paying attention in the dugout, Garza makes sure to fix that straight away.

There’s nothing wrong with having a guy like that on your ballclub, especially on a team that has expectations, from the outside at least, as these Cubs do. But on Saturday, we saw Garza boil over.

With the Cubs clinging to a 1-0 lead, Garza surrendered a two-run home run to Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche. Between innings, Garza was seen going off in the dugout, pacing and yelling. He wasn’t yelling at anyone in particular, but was mad at himself for allowing the big hit from LaRoche.

The Cubs would pick him back up, and help him to leave with a 4-2 lead after six innings, until the bullpen went on to blow it again. But the tirade in the dugout somehow drew comparisons to Carlos Zambrano.

Obviously, there’s a reason, or multiple, that Big Z is not a member of these Cubs anymore. His numerous dugout tirades involved scraps with teammates, as well as abuse of water coolers and other clubhouse equipment. He was/is a nutcase, and his behavior was detrimental to the team.

His emotion got in the way of his pitching, and affected the rest of the team in a negative way. It’s part of the reason that Theo Epstein cited for trading Zambrano, in that he wouldn’t be able to regain the trust of his teammates.

That’s what makes the comparisons between Garza’s “temper” and Zambrano’s temper so absurd. We  have yet to hear of any issue that anyone in Chicago has had with Garza or his intensity. With Zambrano, it was no secret.

Whatever Garza is doing right now, as far as his intensity goes, is not anywhere near too much. His screaming in the dugout wasn’t the result of anything having to do with his teammates, but simply the competitor in him being upset with himself. I see no problem with that.

Until it becomes an issue that causes issues with the team, there’s no reason to criticize Garza’s personality or behavior. Sure, it might affect his pitching once in a while, but has yet to cause a real issue with his teammates, management, or fans on the North Side. That fact, by itself, shows that his intensity isn’t any sort of burden on the Cubs, but a welcome element in the clubhouse.

On Saturday, Garza blew up. None of his teammates were involved, and he went right back out and pitched well for the remainder of his outing. He’s not Zambrano and he’s not an issue.

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