Why Freddy?

The Garcia deal always seemed a bit strange to me. Even putting aside the fact that I don’t anticipate Garcia being as good in 2012 as he was in 2011, the team moved awfully quickly to get a deal in place. We first heard that the Yankees and Garcia had an agreement over the Thanksgiving holiday, before the Winter Meetings even took place. Even if you wanted Garcia back, why the rush? It hardly seems likely that such speed was of the utmost necessity given the state of the market and, if you anticipated the possibility of other additions to the starting rotation, it wouldn’t have been hard to see Sweaty Freddy getting crowded out. The signing of Hiroki Kuroda alone would have required the removal of one of Garcia, Burnett, or Hughes from the rotation.

The decision to hastily give Garcia $4 million reminds me very much of another of Brian Cashman’s more recent ill-fated decisions. On December 18, 2009, the Yankees agreed to terms with free agent Nick Johnson to be the team’s DH for a one year cost of $5.5 million. Though I didn’t hate the move at the time, it did seem a bit odd that the Yankees were jumping the DH market so hard and so quickly, especially for Johnson, of all people. Nick the Stick had hit .291/.426/.405 in 574 plate appearances between Washington and Florida in 2009, butof course he an extensive injury history, and had managed to get only 147 plate appearances in 2008. He certainly didn’t seem like the kind of free agent you leap at the chance to throw $5 million at so soon, and the decision looked even worse on January 26, 2010, when the Twins signed Jim Thome for just $1.5 million. Thome went on to hit .283/.412/.627 in 340 plate appearances in 2010 while Johnson struggled to a .167/.388/.308 slashline before hitting the disabled list for good with a wrist injury after just 98 plate appearances.

Now, I’m certainly not saying that Garcia will wind up being as bad a signing as Johnson proved to be, or even that there were better options that could have been had at a lower price later, but it is worth asking what it is about Freddy that made the front office so impatient to get a deal done.

About Brien Jackson

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

14 thoughts on “Why Freddy?

  1. the speed of the move is questionable even if the Yankees don't get Pineda and Kuroda. You have to wonder if they thought the Red Sox were gonna try to get their paws on him.

    • Even so, wouldn't that be a GOOD thing? Let them have him, at this point in his career hes a soft tossing crafty vet who tends to get destroyed by good, patient lineups. You know, similar to the one the Yankees have.

  2. Perhaps Cashman was afraid some other team would offer him 2 year deal instead of one? Plus, I also don't think Seattle and Yankees were talking about Montero back then. And the news from last year kept saying Kuroda won't pitch here and there. And then there was Oswalt with bad back. So maybe Cashman thought it was impossible to get any one of those pitchers and didn't want to lose Freddy

    On the other hand, if Cashman didn't offer Freddy arbitration, then the move would somewhat make sense since losing him would give us a draft pick. Only Cashman knows why he made this move

  3. It is easy to say "Why in the world??" now but back then it was more than just a security blanket. Who knew that Pineda was available at the time? If trade wasn't a viable option without being butchered royally and if Kuroda signed with someone else, then we'd be stuck taking on a bunch of risks, and who knows what might happen this year? You can never have enough pitching, and if they got a now-redundant 5 million insurance policy, so be it. I'd much prefer worrying about who the Yankees try to move than the state of the shaky rotation as it was before the Pineda/Kuroda friday the 13th.

  4. When Pineda goes down halfway through spring training with an elbow injury and Kuroda eats some bad Fugu the answer to "Why Freddy?" will become apparent.

  5. "More specifically, they’ll have to attempt to find a way to fill out a roster with three starting pitchers fighting for one remaining roster spot, a task that will be made even harder by the fact that none of A.J. Burnett, Freddy Garcia, and Phil Hughes are obviously good candidates to pitch out of the bullpen instead of the rotation."

    Unfortunately the guy I think a majority of us would like to see win the 5th spot does have some history of pitching out of the bullpen, and he did it very very well. Wonder if that hurts or helps his chances or winning? Rumor has it that it takes Garcia a long time to warm up, not a good quality in a bullpen guy. Still that doesn't mean he cant do it if asked, and I would most like to see him in the long relief role out of the three.

    We can all think that a move to the pen would be good for Burnett, his stuff playing up in short bursts and him being very effective with his 2 pitch arsenal, but Burnett in the pen is not good for the Yankees. I know I am going to get a lot of thumbs down for saying this but if the Yankees aren't able to trade Burnett by the start of opening day, then the best move for the Yankees would be to use Hughes remaining option to send him to AAA to get consistent work as a starter and develop that elusive 3rd pitch, and use Burnett as the 5th starter while trying like anything to still try and trade him.

    Allow me to explain. If he is moved to the pen, that's a guarantee that he will be with the team for this and next year. His only value right now is that since joining the Yankees he has thrown 207, 186, and 190 innings. They would lose their only selling point. The Yankees will still have to eat a significant portion of his contract to move him, and I think they should. He takes up a roster spot that can be better served with bringing a prospect up, or another reliever, or pursuing a free agent next year, anything really. But to move him in the pen is to keep him. Its a move that might be whats best for Burnett, but not the Yankees overall.

  6. The Freddy signing seems like reasonable insurance to me if you assume they were a little over-optimistic about their ability to move Burnett. Figuring they could move A.J. might have been the real mistake; they probably couldn't wait to move Burnett first before signing Freddy, which would have been the safe way to do it, because if it took a while Freddy likely wouldn't have still been available.

  7. I don't really have a problem with it. He is cheap, pitched well last year, and was fine with the idea of being a long man. Echoing what the above posters said, he could have signed elsewhere and Cashman didn't want to risk it. Think about it this way… if we don't resign Freddy, don't sign Kurado or trade for Pineda… this is our rotation:
    Noesi or one of the other AAA'ers

    Personally, our current pitching staff has the most potential of any that I remember in years. We should absolutely try to offload Burnett but there is nothing wrong with having both Hughes and Garcia. Slot Garcia as long man, give 5th spot to Hughes and keep him on a leash. If he has to go back on the DL for a dislocated fastball then we at least have Garcia instead of having to play musical chairs with the AAA'ers. Or in some weird world where Hughes is barely replacement level as a starter and something happens to any of the big pen guys, move him back to the pen where he seems much more comfortable.

  8. Cashman has made moves in the past just to lend weight to some of the things he says to the press. For example, we signed Swisher in the 08-08 offseason primarily to be the Yankees first baseman, and in hindsight, it looks like Cashman's main motivation was to convince the world we had no interest in Mark Teixeira. Then Cash stole him, to the surprise of the baseball world (I remember Buster Olney writing in that "Buster Olney's sure of this" tone of pen, only the day before the Tex signing, that the Yanks had absolutely no interest!). This year, what Cash wanted the market to know has been that sticking to a budget is the most important thing. What's a credible way to demonstrate it? The Garcia signing. Now of course, it may be true that lowering payroll really is the goal. In that case, not knowing what could come down the pike, Garcia made sense. To Cashman, it's all a card game. Whether he had the deck he claimed or was bluffing, Garcia made sense. IMO.

    • IIRC, didn't they already have Xavier Nady to play right field when they signed Swish to play first? Swisher wound up a man without a position after Tex was signed, until Nady got hurt. In hindsight, Cashman looked like a genius, especially when Swish played to a 3.3 WAR in 2009.

      • Well even then, Swisher was a better player than Nady, he was signed to a below market rate deal for 3 years, and the Yankees acquired him at basically no cost. Nady or no Nady that was a good deal move on the merits.

  9. Easy to second guess this one. I thought Garcia pitched very well in the role which he was given. You could make an argument that he could have won 15 or 16 games, as he ran into a couple of games where he got zero run support (two games against the Mets immediately come to mind). At the time, it made sense. Now, it makes a little less sense. But, as we've all seen, these situations have a way of working themselves out.

    • I don't think it made much sense at the time either, at least not in the sense of being so quick to commit to Garcia.