Freddy Garcia could surprise us

Unlike Rapada and Eppley before him, Freddy Garcia looked like a professional pitcher the moment he stepped on the mound. Suddenly, the game had possibilities. It was those thoughts that led to another thought: Perhaps having to fill one of the gaps in the rotation with Freddy Garcia is not a bad thing. Maybe it is a good thing. Could that be possible?

Garcia has been the butt of so many Yankee jokes this season that such a thought seems inconceivable. This is the same guy that threw five wild pitches in one game. This is the same guy who might have had the worst April as a Yankee pitcher since Chien-Ming Wang‘s disastrous 2009 version.  Garcia’s ERA at the end of April was 12.51. His game scores in his four starts in April were 42, 36, 21 and 22. In 14.2 innings of work, Garcia gave up 31 base runners. You cannot get much worse than that.

But June has been an entirely different story. Freddy Garcia has made five relief appearances in June. Granted, they were relief appearances. But still. Those outings covered eight innings. In those eight innings, he has allowed only four hits and no walks while striking out eight. He has allowed only one run in those innings.

And you have to give the guy a lot of credit. He is a fourteen year veteran who has won sixty percent of his career decisions. But he took his demotion to the bullpen without pouting and without mouthing off. He has apparently worked on his stuff and when called upon, has made it work. There is a lot to be said about a player who handles a bad situation like that.

And that leads us to the situation the Yankees are in now. There were all kinds of calls for Freddy Garcia to be DFA’d. Perhaps that thought left these lips once or twice too. But then a funny thing happened. Appearances by Freddy Garcia started to become good things…comforting things. And that culminated in yesterday’s outing when his appearance brought comfort and gave the Yankees a chance to win a game. He followed two wing-and-a-prayer pitchers to give a big league performance.

Who knows what will happen when Garcia starts Monday in Tampa against the rival Bay Rays. Perhaps these warm, fuzzy feelings will go up in smoke. But Freddy Garcia could surprise us too. He could provide the kind of insurance policy that looks brilliant once it is needed. For this observer, the miracle is that his outing will be anticipated and not dreaded.

William Tasker grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey but has lived in New England since 1975 and in the far reaches of northern Maine since 1990. Tasker is the author of nine (non-baseball related) books and, besides writing here for three years, has written for his own site at www.passion4baseball.blogspot.com since 2003.

13 thoughts on “Freddy Garcia could surprise us

  1. roadrider

    I agree he could surprise us and leave everyone saying Andy who? Wait – was that a flying pig I just saw?

  2. David

    William — I agree. When they were specifically mentioning that on the broadcast yesterday ("He was sent to the bullpen, kept his mouth shut and was stretching out his arm to be able to get back up to 90ish mph on the fastball") it got me in the same mindset as you.

    Sometimes the answer is a "professional pitcher" — rather than overburdening a young guy — for a couple of starts. And Garcia's definitely "paid his dues" this year.

    • roadrider

      Well this is a fallacy that the older player (full disclosure, I'm an old guy – by baseball standards) is always a better choice. What exactly do you mean by a "professional pitcher"? Every pitcher employed by the Yankees organization is a "professional pitcher". How are the young guys ever going to learn and how is the organization going to find out if they've got what it takes unless they've given a chance in situations like this? Freddie Garcia passed his sell-by date a while ago. I'm not buying into him based on a couple of relief appearances against weak-hitting teams. I don't know if Phelps, Warren or Mitchell can do the job but with the team in first place by 5 games now is the time to find out. Those guys might have a future with the team – Garcia does not and will not irrespective of how he performs on Monday. If you think now is not the time for the AAA guys when will it be? When they're 40?

      • David

        Well, I was more making a joke with "professional pitcher" versus the "professional hitter" meme which drives people crazy. But the overarching point I was trying to make is that a veteran who has put in his dues (in this season, not necessarily overall for a career) may be less-likely to be bothered by extra-pressure (e.g. "We're in first place, these two guys went down; you need to live up to that. Go!") because they wouldn't view it as "pressure" — merely "normal."

        And who knows; it may not be a factor for some of the young guys. But my preference (except for myself, oddly) is always to ease-in rather than trial-by-fire it. YMMV, of course.

        • roadrider

          There is always going to be pressure in pitching for the Yankees. If that's the yardstick then new guys would never get a chance.

          I submit that with the team 5 games up and most people recognizing that the opportunity is coming because of injuries the pressure would actually be less in this situation than it normally would.

          I must admit I'm confused about your pre-occupation with "paying dues"? What does that mean? Garcia is being paid at a rate of $5M/season and has pitched a handful of mostly ineffective innings. He's been buried in the bullpen as a consequence of his own poor performance. How does that equate with "paying his dues" more than the guys in AAA have been doing by laboring out of the limelight in the minors? Haven't they "paid their dues" enough to rate a shot?

          • David

            In this case, let's say you have two options — assuming you have a $5mm pitcher on the roster you can't get rid of (for the moment) but who has a known track record:

            1) He's been relegated to the bullpen, been a consummate professional, done everything asked of him and generally been a team player, or
            2) He's been relegated to the bullpen, grumbled, complained, not looked liked he gave a damn when he came out.

            In the former case, which is what I refer to when I say "paying his dues" (and please note the quotes in the original, indicating it's as much, or more, a meme thing similar to "professional pitcher") — as a GM and/or manager I'd probably be more inclined to entrust righting a potentially-floundering ship to the veteran; whereas in the latter case I'd almost certainly not want to do the same with a malcontent. If I'm paying $5mm, I'd want to get my money's worth if I thought it wasn't throwing good money after bad.

  3. the hawk is howling

    Professional pitcher means he takes the ball every 5 days or whenever he's given the opporunity to start and pitches with some conviction and gives a shit. There are a ton of pitchers in baseball that don't take that approach.

    • roadrider

      None of that means shit if he can't get guys out. And how do you know that Phelps, Warren or Mitchell aren't as professional as Garcia in that respect?

  4. jay_robertson

    Professional Pitcher – someone who has been there, done that – as opposed to someone who draws a paycheck. Even tho the guy breathing and taking is also, by at least one definition, a professional.

    Freddy will cover a spot; after the last dismal pass thru the rotation – the one where everyone forgot how to pitch – I'm willing to bet that Freddy is better than that.

    Will – I thought good, when they put Garcia in – none of the other retreads seemed interested in getting outs. My only negative thought was "Dang – now he doesn't get to start Friday." While its not good that Andy is hurt, I'm glad Freddy will get to start after all.

    Only thing better would be if we still had AJ.

    • roadrider

      someone who has been there, done that – as opposed to someone who draws a paycheck.

      This is a complete non-sequitur. Don't all pitchers on professional teams draw paychecks? Isn't Garcia drawing a rather fat one for limited and mostly ineffective production this year?

      Freddy will cover a spot; after the last dismal pass thru the rotation – the one where everyone forgot how to pitch

      What does anyone else's performance in that stretch have to do with Garcia's? These events are completely independent of each other.

      I'm not buying into Garcia because he had a couple of good relief outings against weak-hitting teams. Yes, he's "been there and done that". Unfortunately, the available evidence indicates that there's not much reason to think he can do it any more or any better than the AAA guys.

      • jay_robertson

        "What does anyone else's performance in that stretch have to do with Garcia's? These events are completely independent of each other. "

        Really?

        If he can pitch better than any of the other pitchers on the roster drawing even fatter paychecks, that would seem to make him a viable option. I know – rotation spots are set in stone the day pitchers are born – right? I always liked the idea of letting the best man pitch. On a day when CC and Andy are watching, not playing, Freddy is in the mix.

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