Sunday, December 30, 2012

Yankee disaster of the year: Freddy Garcia

It's hard to imagine the perfect Yankee backfire - the Drabekian trade that reeks on every Higgs boson plane from the moment it transpires. Usually, it takes time to realize we gave away Tyler Clippard for Jessica Alba, or that Steve Trout has a third hip growing from his butt. It's rare to immediately smell the rotted flesh of a bad Yankee deal.

And if we're looking at backfires last season - well, most trustees of the Yankiverse prison yard would target the trade of Jesus Montero for Venus de Milo Pineda as Brian Cashman's biggest "oops" since he got frisky in that hotel lobby with Miss Bipolar 1987. But I dunno. I'm partial to last winter's quick signing of Freddy Garcia.  (Technically, this might have occurred in calendar 2011, but you know what I mean.)

The Freddy move came as the Steinbeer heirs began laying the groundwork for Fiscal Austerity in 2013. The Yankees signed Freddy to a one-year, $3 million contract, rewarding him for 2011 and because - aw, hell - you know: Pitching, pitching, pitching.

From then on, every winter move was balanced - at least partially - on the notion that Freddy Garcia, at age 35, would repeat as reliable lugnut in the Yankee pitching machine. Why did we think this? And are we doing it again?

Just before spring training of 2011,  we had claimed Freddy and Bartolo Colon off the scrap heap. We rung decent years out of both. Rather than move on, we resigned Freddy and let Bartolo go to Oakland, where he pitched well until his pee burned a hole in the beakers.  So we had Freddy, the classic example of that guy you're paying too much to not pitch.

Well, without Freddy, the Yankees could never have enjoyed that great 15-9 comeback at Fenway. He gave up five runs in 1.2 innings. By the end of April, his ERA was near 13.00. He didn't start again until July. From then on, he was a 5-inning, 3-run bomb whose outing depended on how well the bullpen staunched inherited runs. By season's end, Freddy statistically gave up more than one earned run every two innings. Ouch.

By February, Freddy's signing forced us to push AJ Burnett out the door. When Kuroda, Pineda and Pettitte arrived, we had to move somebody. Yes, yes, yes... I know there are hard AJ Burnett critics who read this site - but we traded a guy at the absolutely low point of his value. We got nothing for Burnett, who became Pittsburgh's ace. And why? Because we had Freddy.

Well, you might say we didn't have much choice this winter when Mariano, Andy, Ichiro and Kuroda came on the market. But age-wise, they're well beyond Freddy territory. 

And as much as it hurt to watch Russell Martin, Raul Ibanez and Nick Swisher go, at least we haven't lashed ourselves to another Freddy. The Steins want a $189 million payroll. It starts by cutting the Freddys.


SanJoseKid said...

The irony is that the quintessential small market team won the American League West. The Athletics' front office takes calculated yet daring risks on younger players. When they have gambled on established players(Grant Balfour, Josh Reddick - both snatched from AL East contenders!) their selections have been uncannily successful. Cashman prefers to take already proven commodities, such as Freddy Garcia. Brian is as conservative in player selection as he is radical in the selection of his girlfriends (though the results have been roughly the same). The Yankee approach is the business equivalent of buying high and selling low (i.e. AJ Burnout). Over the last several years we have had a good team in the Bronx but a mediocre-to-poor front office. Cannot blame the players. Baseball is in no way collectivized to the point where the ballplayers manage the team (hmmmm . . . intriguing application of socialism to organized baseball). Who is in control? Tweedledee and Tweedledum in Tampa. And I do not mean Lou and Tino.

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