Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Should the Giants pick up Ryan Garko?

Today something unexpected occurred: the Seattle Mariners, who picked up Ryan Garko after he was non-tendered by the San Francisco Giants, have elected to put Garko on waivers after giving the first baseman a one-year contract worth $550,000.  This is truly bizarre.  It seems that Garko is a guy who just cannot find a home and continues to be mismanaged by clubs throughout the league.

As anyone who reads my blog knows, I am a fan of Garko and I think he should play on the team.  I wrote fairly extensively about how I believe the Giants should not have non-tendered Garko.  Now the question is: should the Giants pick up Garko now that his name is attached to a cheap price tag?

Let's first go back and, briefly, look at what happened with Garko.  The Giants acquired Garko through a trade with the Cleveland Indians.  The Indians received Giants' prospect Scott Barnes and the Giants received Garko.  The Giants, in the middle of trying to capitalize on a unexpectedly competitive season, needed bats to get into the playoffs.  Garko, they hoped, would be the key to that.  Garko showed up.  The Giants gave him 100 at-bats.  Garko did not perform as they had hoped in the very few opportunities, and Garko as relegated to the bench.  Apparently, Garko and Bruce Bochey had some sort of falling out.  One can only guess what that means.  Additionally, Brian Sabean noted that he could not imagine paying Garko $2-3 million, which Garko could have gotten through arbitration.  So, the Giants let Garko go.  The Giants wanted to get Nick Johnson to play 1B, but he went to the Yankees.  Then they went after Adam LaRoche.  But he went to the Diamondbacks.  Then they went after Aubrey Huff.

The Mariners signed Garko on the cheap, and today they have released him.  I must say I did not see this one coming.  But now that Garko is on the market again, should the Giants take a look at resigning him?

Let us look at what Garko has to offer.  Garko is a first baseman who offers an above-average bat, which is stellar on this Giants team.  Garko has a career .347 wOBA, .792 OPS, and has decent plate discipline with a .58 BB/K in 2009.  He is projected to offer about 1.0 WAR in 2010 (which, coincidentally is also what Aubrey Huff is projected to offer, yet we are paying him millions.  Good job Sabean.).  

Moreover, Garko is dirt cheap.  We would be picking up a player who has a proven bat, is young, and will not cost the Giants much at all.

So what is stopping the Giants from picking him up?  I see a couple reasons why the Giants will not go after Garko, even though I think it is in the team's best interests.  First, I am concerned about this falling out that allegedly occurred between Garko and Bochey.  What exactly happened?  Does Bochey refuse to work with Garko?  Does Garko refuse to work with Bochey?  Did Garko call Bochey's mother a dog?  What happened?  I do not have an answer to this, but apparently it was significant enough to be reported and was significant enough to keep Garko sitting on the bench for most of the 2009 season while with the Giants.

Second, I am concerned about roster-space.  The 25-man roster is looking pretty full right now for the Giants.  Here is what I envision the roster looking like come opening day:

Starting Pitchers: Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito, Jonathan Sanchez, Todd Wellemeyer
Relief Pitchers: Brian Wilson, Dan Runzler, Jeremy Affeldt, Sergio Romo, Guillermo Mota, Brandon Medders, Kevan Pucetas
Infielders: Aubrey Huff, Juan Uribe, Edgar Renteria, Pablo Sandoval, Travis Ishikawa
Outfielders: Aaron Rowand, John Bowker, Fred Lewis, Nate Schierholtz, Eugenio Velez
Catchers: Benjie Molina, Eli Whiteside

Freddy Sanchez will be on the DL for most of April.  Buster Posey, I hope, will be sent down to the minors until we are ready to give him a starting position.  You will notice that I dropped Andres Torres.  Torres is a scrub and I really think given the emergance of Nate Schierholtz and John Bowker he really has no place on the team.  Another questionmark is Fred Lewis.  Despite Lewis's strong performance the Giants seem hell-bent on misusing him.  Thus, we might see Lewis go also.

To make room for Ryan Garko someone will need to go.  It might Travis Ishikawa, but I believe he is out of minor-league options and the Giants would need to sneak him through waivers.  It has been reported that the Giants are trying to trade Fred Lewis.  I doubt they would get anyone solid enough to be on the 25-man roster, if they are not willing to play someone with Lewis's talents as is.  Thus, it seems that Ishikawa or Lewis would have to go and then Garko would have space on the roster.  Once Freddy Sanchez returns, both Ishikawa and either Lewis or Velez will need to go in order to make room on the roster.  Would the Giants do that?

Probably not.  The Giants love Eugenio Velez, probably for his versatility more than his offensive prowess.  While Ishikawa may not be as good as Garko, he also isn't Ryan Garko, which, again for some reason that escapes me, seems to matter to the Giants. 

To close, I would like to note that I think signing Ryan Garko would be a very good move for the Giants.  That said, I doubt it will happen.  Here's to hoping.

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