The undeniable case against Jon Garland

Todd Drew, 1967-2009
Salary cap for the poor, beg some owners

Since the off-season began, I’ve heard Yanks fans mention Jon Garland as a possible solution in the rotation. Those comments have heated up a bit over the past few weeks as it has become increasingly unlikely that the team signs Andy Pettitte to fill the fifth starter void. The argument usually goes something like: “He’s a guy who can eat innings and give you league average pitching.” If we were sure this is what Garland would bring, I could see signing him. Unfortunately, the way his stats have trended make it look unlikely.

Garland made a name for himself in 2005, posting a 3.50 ERA in 221 innings, en route to a World Series title with the White Sox. However, since that season he’s not been nearly as good. Not even close. In fact, even that season his FIP was 4.24, which is not bad, but shows that his results might have been part of the randomness that baseball players experience from year to year. For more on randomness, read books by this guy. His 75.4 LOB% might have something to do with that low ERA as well.

Let’s take a look at Garland’s peripherals. We’ll start at the basics, with his strikeouts and walks.

Year K/9 BB/9
2005 4.68 1.91
2006 4.77 1.75
2007 4.23 2.46
2008 4.12 2.70

In 2008 he walked nearly one more batter per nine innings than he did two years prior. If that was a one-year jump, it wouldn’t scare me as much. Yet his 2007 figure, 2.46, sets off a red flag. Combine this with his incrementally declining K rate, and you have one messy situation.

Moving down to his other peripherals, it paints a strange picture. His line drive rate has been pretty consistent throughout his career, right in the 22 percent range, but he saw an enormous spike in groundballs last year — 49.9 percent, which was over 10 percent higher than his 2007 campaign. This means he was giving up fewer fly balls, generally a good thing, but not when your HR/FB ratio jumps up by nearly five percent (7.1 percent in 07, 11.9 percent in 08).

No, Jon Garland probably wouldn’t be a poor choice to fill the fifth starter role. A 4.50 ERA/FIP, which is what the three projection systems (Bill James, CHONE, Marcel) have him at in 2009, is fine from the five hole, especially if it’s over 200 innings. However, the price will not match the output, and that gap becomes wider if Garland continues his downward trend. Unless he’s available for one year and around $5 million, the Yanks would do best to pass on him.

(Plus, as tommiesmithjohncarlos says: “Jon Garland is the exact opposite of Katie Holmes topless.”)

Todd Drew, 1967-2009
Salary cap for the poor, beg some owners
  • Mike R.

    “Jon Garland is the exact opposite of Katie Holmes topless.”

    What does that mean? He used to be a thin and unattractive and then Tom Cruise saved him?

    • Jamal G.

      Jon Garland is the exact opposite of Katie Holmes topless. = There is nothing to look at and he is quite useless.

      • FL Yank

        Switch Katie Holmes with Kate Beckinsale and you’ll be onto something.

        • Mike Pop

          Exactly, Beckinsale has go it going on.

        • JeffG

          Veronica Zemanova – being the oposite of her topless would really suck.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      “Jon Garland is the exact opposite of Katie Holmes topless.”
      What does that mean?

      Goldstein: Sorry, kids. We ain’t goin’ nowhere. We’re watching ‘The Gift’. Supposedly Katie Holmes shows her t!$%es in this movie.
      Harold: Is that all you Jews ever think about? Juggs?
      Rosenberg: Katie Holmes is a nice, respectable, wholesome girl… and I’m gonna see her boobs.

      (later in the movie…)

      Kumar: How were Katie Holmes’ t!%s?
      Goldstein: You know the Holocaust?
      Kumar: Yeah?
      Goldstein: Picture the opposite of that!

      Kumar: Nice!


      Holocaust: Bad
      The opposite of the Holocaust: Good
      The opposite of the Holocaust = Katie Holmes topless
      Katie Holmes topless = Good
      Jon Garland: Bad
      The opposite of Katie Holmes topless = Bad
      Jon Garland = The opposite of Katie Holmes topless

      Jon Garland = The Holocaust.

      It’s all the simple additive property, people. 7th grade math.


  • DP

    Amen. The more I think about it, the more I think the Yankees are just gonna wait it out and see who (one of) the last veteran league-average guy(s) is (are). At that point, given the contracts already signed, and the fact that spring training will be knocking (and said player will be jobless) the Yanks probably be able to do the deal on their terms. It’s not as if there’s some crazy bidding war on Wolf, Garland, Pettitte, et al, so why not just have patience and wait?

    • DP

      P.S. I do believe they’ll sign someone.

      • Mike Pop

        Pettitte is coming back.

        • DP

          Agreed. Who knows? Maybe he signs with that team offering him 3/36 haha.

  • Peter Lacock

    I don’t know what he’d cost but we really should get someone like Garland that is dependable. He’s only 29. He might pitch for 15 more years. Some of those seasons will be better than others. Maybe 09 will be a good one for him. He’s due to reverse the trend.
    Andy will probably sign any minute.

    • Ben K.

      I take it you didn’t read any of this post. Nice work though.

    • Ryan

      Wow did you read the post?

      • Peter Lacock

        Yes I did read the post and I don’t completely agree. Did you read my comments? I also didn’t agree about Moose last year. Do you have the ability to learn and retain knowledge? 29 is a young pitcher just hitting his prime. Speculating that he could be a better #5 starter than Hughes, IPK, Igawa, Jason Johnson, Mitre, Coke, Chase Wright, Aceves, or Giese is not unreasonable. If you think it is you’re too immature to have any credibility. I’d rather see Andy return and I have always and still do, expect him to do just that, but it hasn’t happened yet. I might also prefer Sheets but Garland is not the ticking time bomb of injury that Sheets is. I would rather take a chance on a guy like Garland that you can be pretty certain is at least going to go out there and do his job every 5th day and might perform pretty well if he has command rather than take a chance on someone that is a big risk to even get on the mound. I sure as hell don’t want to have to depend on Freddy Garcia and I sure as hell don’t want to depend on any of the current #5 candidates becoming the 2 or 3 in the event AJ, Joba and Wang (not to mention Hughes, IPK and even Mitre) continue to have durability issues. The one thing no one can deny about Garland is that he is durable and speculating that that durability and continuing to learn his craft will translate into a long career is also not unreasonable. You know most guys that have long careers do so without the benefit of a big fastball and by blowing people away. Just like some people actually think a bum like Adam Dunn is good because he hits homers some think Garland sucks because he puts the ball in play and doesn’t K many. Chicks love the longball. The game is no only about HR’s and K’s. Fact is we are looking for someone to eat innings and Garland is one of the best, if not the best, FA available to do just that. That’s why we need him or someone like him. Do you have the ability to comprehend the written word? It would be nice if it was someone really good like another CC or Andy in his prime but those guys aren’t available.

  • Mike A.

    As usual, KLaw put it best when he ranked Garland the 36th best FA:

    Garland should have “AVOID” tattooed on his forehead, as everything about his stuff and performance is pointing downward. He has never had an out pitch, and his stuff was more ordinary than usual this year.

    He was sitting 88-92 with a mostly straight fastball, a fringy slider in the low-80s and a hard changeup that keeps lefties from destroying him, although they still hit him hard. In 2008, his strikeout rate dropped, his walk rate increased, his home run rate increased and, of course, his ERA spiked, even though the defense behind him was better than the one he left with the White Sox. He brings one thing to the table in his durability, as he has gone seven straight seasons with at least 190 innings pitched. But Barry Zito’s best attribute when he went to San Francisco was his durability too.

  • DreDog

    Is there another player out there that will eat more innings than Pettitte and cost less than $12 million?

    • steve (different one)


      but there may be a pitcher who will eat 80% as many innings but only cost $6-8M.

      • MattG

        I would say Looper is a fair gamble, and a valuable reliever if he loses his job.

  • Ivan

    So with all this writing and stats and evidence and talk and debate and etc, the conclusion with Garland was……….HE SUCK.

  • Mike A.

    Wait, Joe. I just realized something that changes EVERYTHING. Garland has … a GritBeard.


    • inman

      excellent point- that’s worth an extra 3 mil/yr and 4-5 wins

      • Manimal

        but the yankees have anti-grit rules.

  • Chuck

    I’ve always supported the idea of Garland. I don’t much care now since we have CC and AJ now. But this thread is weird. How can you appeal to stats and randomness… The guy wins however bad or ugly or how hard he sucks. Thats a stat too. He would be fine for 5-7 million for a year. If they sign someone I would say Garland is a respectable option.
    dont mean for this comment to sound dick. But yeah regardless of all the evidence Garland wins and costs less than Pettitte.

    • Should be working

      Yea forget the stats. They dont matter at all. Even tho his “skills” are in decline, as long as he gets 7 runs a game for support who cares how he pitches. Sign em up for the multi year double figure aav he wants. Who cares if we keep Hughes in the minors for another couple of years cause Garland is blocking his spot. Screw em.

    • steve (different one)

      Garland is 106-89 in 255 career starts.

      that’s the equivalent of going 13-11 per season.

      if we REALLY want to talk about “wins”, we can do that. either way, it’s still not all that impressive.

      i don’t really see the “evidence” that he “wins”.

      he’s a mediocre pitcher who is getting worse.


      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Pitchers who “win”:

        Sidney Ponson
        Darrell Rasner

      • Chuck

        his era has consistently been around the 4 to 4.90 range. I am not trying to say this guy is great. But if the yankees do wish to sign someone. Id say there is a case for him over pettitte. I would rather they didnt sign him because I liked seeing the aceves guy pitch at the end and I am still hopeful for hughes.

  • dan
  • The Third Yip-Yip

    If we add Wolf, our rotation will have a hell of a lotta strikeouts, Wang being the only guy who can’t do it close to once an inning. That would be exciting.

  • Manimal

    I think he’s thrown around 200 IP for the past like 5 years, sign him as an innings eater then trade him around the deadline if Hughes proves MLB ready.

  • Artist formerly known as ‘The’ Steve

    While Garland may not be the answer, we still could use a reliable innings eater out of that 5th spot. You can’t count on AJ Burnett staying healthy, Wang has had shoulder problems twice in his career, Joba’s health history is somewhere between spotty and incomplete and our 6th man Hughes has a health history that has become a punch line. That’s a LOT of question marks in a pitching rotation.

    That’s also why Sheets isn’t really a fit here, unless you’re going with high upside quantity over durability. If you do, you just better hope that the pitchers all spread out their DL stints. If they don’t, you get caught with your pants down again like we did in 2008.

    Andy’s really the perfect fit.

    • Mister Delaware

      Exactly what he said. 100%. Garland is obviously a lesser pitcher than Sheets and Wolf and some others but he’s safe. We need safe otherwise we risk being a late season injury away from debating whether to push Joba and Hughes too hard or hand over a key game to a AAAA arm. On a team with 900 run potential, 200 IPs, an ERA in the high 4s and protection for the young arms is worth an overpay 1 year deal to me.

  • kate

    I dont know why you all have bad things to say about him ??? He beat the Yankees every time he played them last year! And he kicked their but the year before when he was with the White Sox !!! He is way better than any of the losers you have!!!! i can not wait to see CC Fall on his big but next year !!! The Yankees are a joke all they do is buy everyone and the Red Sox still beat them!! Jon Garland is to good for the Yankees !!! I hope you do not go after him so he can contiune to kick their buts!!

    • UWS



    • JeffG

      Kate besides being a total slut you should really find something better to do with your time than spouting out absolute garbage. Smarten up.

    • Should be working

      You know there are other ways to end sentences than exclamation marks, regardless of poor they were.

      • Should be working


    • steve (different one)

      a Jon Garland groupie. who knew?

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      That’s gotta be tongue-in-cheek.

      HAS TO BE.

  • D.B.H.O.F. p.k.a The Last Don

    A one year deal at this point for a low dollar figure would be worthwhile. If we are looking for a #5 he is it. If we are looking for a backup #1 to 3 if somebody gets hurt he is not the fellow.

    I would give him and Ben Sheets low ball one year deals with nice incentives and see if either bites.

    • Should be working

      Why would he decline a multiyear deal only to accept a one year deal?

  • MattG

    Garland on a one year deal is a bad idea. Garland on a multi year deal is lunacy.

  • bill73083

    There are a lot of indicators that show Garland is declining. But there are also some indicators that show he hasn’t really changed all that much. I’m not saying the Yanks should definitely sign him, but for the right price he may not be a bad option.

    First of all, some people mentioned that his stuff is declining. But his pitch speeds have actually increased between 2007 and 2008. His fastball increased from 89.3 to 90.5. His slider, curveball, and change-up all increased by 2 mph between 07 and 08.

    His k/9 and bb/9 have worsened from year to year. However, if you look at the percentages of actual bb’s and k’s thrown, the change is not that drastic. From, here are his percentages for the last 3 years (2006-2008) for base on balls (bb%), strikes looking (clstr%), and strikes swinging (swstr%):

    bb%: 34.7, 36.2, 36.2
    clstr%: 14.9, 16.7, 16.0
    swstr%: 5.9, 5.9, 6.6

    Those numbers have stayed basically the same.

    The jump in HR/FB% from 7.1 to 11.9 is probably due more to luck than anything else. His FB% dropped last year and GB% increased. Those will probably settle somewhere near his career averages next year. So HRs will most likely stay the same.

    Basically you have a 29 year old pitcher who hasn’t thrown less than 190 innings since 2001 and is projected to be about league average next year. I’m not saying the Yankees HAVE to sign this guy, especially if he’s looking for $12-$14 million per year, or a long multi-year contract. But if he’s willing to take $8-$10 million for a 1 or 2 year contract, the Yankees should definitely consider him.

    • MattG

      The jump in HR/FB% from 7.1 to 11.9 is probably due more to luck than anything else. His FB% dropped last year and GB% increased.

      That to me indicates he probably changed his pitching pattern or mechanics to get more sink, but hasn’t quite mastered it yet.

      It is hard to consolidate the above rates with the declining K rate and increasing BB rate. It feels like it may be intentional. With Utley behind me, I might want to get ground balls earlier in the count, too. Not so much Cano/Jeter.

      • steve (different one)


  • MrPappageorgio

    In 1996 Chuck Norris shaved off his mullet, and it’s currently at large. Cash should try to find it and sign it as the 4th starter. Give it whatever it wants.

    • Should be working

      You dont find said mullet. It finds you.

    • GG

      bet that mullets good for 230IP

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Unfortunately, Chuck Norris’s disembodied mullet already has a job. It’s the permanent guest host of the new hit Fox News show Hannity.

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  • kate

    Jon Garland is the best . I wish he would come back to Chicago !!! We all miss him in Chicago. The Yankees would be so lucky to get him. I think if they did get him they would win the World Seris, You know he won the White Sox a World Series in 2005 he had 18 wins the most on the team. Kenny Williams is so stupid for trading him, he was their best pitcher.

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