Katie writes Oh, It’s THOSE Girls: Baseball Blog. She first caught my attention with her DIY recreation of this spring’s epic Devil Rays-Yankees brawl and she never let it go. She was also kind enough to help out on our Devil Rays draft special over on Big League Stew. Please allow Katie to fill you in on the reinvention of Matt Garza, American League Championship Series Most Valuable Player….
As a Twins fan, it has been an odd combination of “satisfying” and “aggravating” watching Matt Garza, effectively, grow up this season. Satisfying, because we’re finally seeing all of that potential we knew was there truly come to fruition. Aggravating, because it’s fruition-ing in Florida. At the beginning of the season, when Garza stirred it up in the media with talk of the pre-trade injury the Twins supposedly knew about, I declared that Garza needed to man up and stop being a punk. By golly, he gave it a good effort. By the end of the season, Garza admitted to the Minnesota media that he had let his emotions get the best of him during his time with the Twins, and that he had a hard time performing under the pressure of high-expectations. Not exactly a news flash to those of us in the frozen North, but it was a refreshingly candid, honest and mature side of Matt Garza we weren’t very familiar with.
I think it’s safe to say that the Matt Garza of the ’08 Devil Rays, is not the same player Matt Garza would have been with the ’08 Twins. In fact, I think most of Twins Territory is looking at Matt Garza and the Devil Rays with roughly the same facial expression as the dog-owner who hands their naughty Pit Bull over to Caesar Milan. They can’t believe it’s the same dog. Now, I don’t know if there’s one individual in the Devil Rays organization that can be credited as The Petulant Pitcher Whisperer, but if there is, I smell a new hit reality series.
Sure, there were some bumps along the road to Garza’s maturation. I’m thinking specifically of the Garza-Navarro fisticuffs incident, which I found particularly entertaining because a) I love fisticuffs, and b) I kept picturing how much funnier it would have been if Garza had ever gotten into it with Mr. Minnesota-Nice Joe Mauer, instead. You Devil Rays fans have all the fun. Still, the mere fact that Garza was able to keep from letting that incident derail the rest of his season is further evidence that he’s a new man, and a new pitcher.
It’s probably no surprise that Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett are my favorite Devil Rays. But, to me, Jason Bartlett is really still just a Twin who happens to play for the Devil Rays now. But Matt Garza√Ę‚ā¨¬¶.well√Ę‚ā¨¬¶.he’s a Devil Ray who happened to play for the Twins once. He fits in the Devil Rays organization like he never really fit in Minnesota. It’s been quite a lot of fun watching him develop into the stable, clutch, dominating pitcher we wanted him to be. Considering the number of high-pressure “big games” he’s pitched this season, and come through for his team, I wouldn’t have believed it was the same guy, unless I saw it for myself. No melt-downs, no self-sabotage fear-of-success nonsense√Ę‚ā¨¬¶just really great baseball.
I don’t think anyone would argue with the assertion that the Devil Rays definitely came out on top of the Twins with the Garza trade, but I don’t think anyone has benefited from that trade more than Matt Garza himself.