I may be making a mountain out of a molehill here, but this particular transaction just drives me crazy. Garko is not going to make a huge difference in the standings. He's not an elite - or even very good - player. He was, however, a perfect fit for the Mets at this moment in time and instead signed for another team for absolutely dirt cheap.*
*Which reminds me, I need to get around to that "Biggest Man Crush Ever: Jack Zduriencik Edition" blog I have been meaning to write. I know it's been pointed out before what a great job he has been doing, but this is just getting ridiculous. But that is for another time.
Many people like to criticize Minaya in general: "Oh he fights the last war" or "He doesn't complement our stars properly" or what-have-you. I try not to do that. I try to be as specific as possible. This (apparent) lack of initiative regarding Garko is one of those things.
Just last week, we took an excruciatingly thorough look at Ryan Garko and how he would fit with the Mets, given our current situation. We concluded that he would have made for a great addition.
With one roster spot remaining and with competent backups already in place at every position, we had the flexibility to add a player like Garko. We didn't need a player with a ton of versatility - we could afford to carry a player with one or two discrete skills which would make us better in a position which we needed it. The easiest and cheapest place to upgrade would have been to add a legitimate right-handed bat to platoon with Daniel Murphy and provide right-handed power off the bench. That player was Ryan Garko.
Now he is gone - signed with the Mariners for the ridiculously low sum of only $550,000 (or up to around $1 million with incentives). The fantastic team over at Lookout Landing took a look at the signing tonight and came away with many of the same conclusions as we did:
On the surface, it's a nice upgrade. Kotchman comes in with a career .277/.334/.388 line against southpaws. Garko, meanwhile, checks in at .313/.392/.495. That's a huge boost in OBP and a huger boost in SLG, and with a name like "Garko", you know this guy can hit the crap out of the ball when he gets into one. He's a threat to go for extra bases whenever he steps in, and on a team like this, a lot of people have perceived that as a critical need.They are right, of course. The Garko signing wouldn't take a Mets team which might hover around .500 and make them a playoff threat. At best, you might be looking at a difference of a win or two over a long season - a clutch Garko pinch-hit or a big 3-for-4 against a tough lefty starter. But it's the process - or the non-process, perhaps - of the Mets here which really disturbs me. Sure, there may have been action behind the scenes, but for the Mets not to be in on Garko at half a million dollars really baffles me.
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Right there, you can see the appeal of a platoon. Even after regression, we're still talking about a guy who we can expect to post a wOBA about 50 points better against left-handed pitchers. 50 points of wOBA are a lot of points. It's equal to about 25-30 runs over a full season, and about ten runs over a full season against lefties.
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[After discussing regression of Garko's unusually high split and BABIP, and factoring in defense]. Does that make this a bad deal? No, not at all. Garko's cheap. He's going to cost this team half a million dollars, and as long as he's around, he's going to provide a decent platoon bat and a little power off the bench . . . Garko makes this team better by a handful of runs . . . While it's always nice to upgrade, particularly for a team in our current situation, this is probably one of those moves that's going to have a bigger impact on fan peception than it will on the actual team.
But don't worry guys -- we have Frank Catalanotto's intangibles and Josh Fogg's personality (who Roger pointed out has been compared to Vince Vaughn's character in Dodgeball). So it'll be the funnest 81 win season ever.