Mar
03

Who exactly is Steve Garrison?

By

It was a relatively minor move, a forgettable waiver claim last September. The Yankees, surely on the recommendation of then-special adviser and former Padres GM Kevin Towers, claimed left-hander Steve Garrison off waivers from San Diego, and he remains on the 40-man roster to this day. The team has cut six players off the 40-man since claiming Garrison (four pitchers), so clearly they like him at least a little. But what’s his story? He seems like the forgotten man around these parts.

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Garrison, who turned 24 a few days after being claimed, was originally a tenth round pick of the Brewers back in 2005. He’s a local kid that grew up just outside of Trenton and was drafted out of the prestigious Hun School of Princeton, and was the fourth best draft prospect in the state according to Baseball America. Garrison fell because of bonus concerns, but Milwaukee managed to buy him away from his commitment to North Carolina with a $160,000 bonus, which was fifth round money at the time.

The Brewers sent him to Low-A ball the year after being drafted, and Garrison performed pretty well (3.45 ERA, 3.78 FIP in 88.2 IP), prompting Baseball America to rank him the 27th best prospect in what was then the fifth best farm system in the game. He moved up to High-A the next season, pitching to a 3.44 ERA (3.36 FIP) in 104.2 IP before being traded to the Padres as part of a three-prospect package for Scott Linebrink. Three prospects for a reliever, imagine that.

Anyway, Garrison finished the year well in San Diego’s system (2.79 ERA, 2.99 FIP in 42 IP) and was ranked the sixth best prospect in the game’s twelfth best farm system by Baseball America. Bumped up to Double-A next year, the lefty was again solid (3.82 ERA, 3.74 FIP in 129.2 IP) but tumbled down the prospect lists and was considered the Padres’ 22nd best prospect, when they had the second to worst farm system in the game. Why the fall? Because Garrison had surgery to clean up the labrum and rotator cuff of his throwing shoulder after the season.

The surgery kept him out for most of 2009, and Garrison posted a 5.56 ERA (3.44 FIP) in 34 IP after coming back late in the season. San Diego liked him enough that they added him to their 40-man roster after the season to keep him from being exposed in the Rule 5 Draft. Garrison missed the majority of the 2010 season with another injury, this time a knee. It limited him to just 57 IP (5.37 ERA, 4.29 FIP), and San Diego designated him for assignment to free up a 40-man spot last September. That’s when the Yankees pounced.

Mr. Garrison throws the fastball and curveball, Mr. Hat the slider and changeup.

Garrison did not throw a pitch for the Yankees last year, but he did make an appearance in a Spring Training game earlier this week, allowing a pair of hits in two scoreless frames. The team apparently hasn’t told him if he will be a starter or reliever this season, but the two inning stint seems to indicate that they’re stretching him out, if for no other reason than to accumulate innings. Garrison has been a starter his entire career, save for a handful of relief appearances when he was coming back from the various injuries.

The equipment is certainly there for him to start. Garrison offers three pitches and was never a hard-thrower; his 88-90 mph fastball post-surgery matches his pre-surgery velocity. He also throws a big, over-the-top curveball and a changeup, both of which Baseball America described as plus at times when he last made their Prospect Handbook (before the 2009 season). He also throws a slider, but no word on its effectiveness. BA has also lauded his command (just 2.2 uIBB/9 in his career), polish, pickoff move, athleticism, and defense throughout the years. Garrison’s an interesting guy, but hardly a top prospect.

The Yankees currently have six left-handed pitchers on their 40-man roster: CC Sabathia and Pedro Feliciano (who are going nowhere), Robert Fish (a Rule 5 pick who is going back to the Angels soon), Damaso Marte (going to the disabled list and will never be heard from again), Boone Logan, and Garrison. Although they seem to be stretching him out to start, the team is likely looking at Garrison as a reliever long-term. In fact, Mark Newman told Chad Jennings that if “Kevin Towers likes a pitcher, especially a bullpen guy, you have to listen” when discussing Garrison not too long ago.

I’m guessing that the Yankees will have Garrison start back at Double-A because a) there’s no room in the Triple-A rotation, and b) he only has 135.2 IP at the level, most of which were split up by the injuries. I don’t think there’s room for him in that rotation either, but he’s a prime candidate for the “two innings every three days” relief program the Yankees employ, which will allow him to focus on refining his two best pitches to hasten the conversion to reliever. Remember, Logan’s track record of success is like, 20 innings long, which is why Feliciano was brought in. Perhaps Garrison could offer an alternative later this season, though with two options remaining, there’s no rush.

Categories : Pitching
  • http://www.twitter.com/vscafuto Vinny Scafuto

    Based on what we’ve seen from Logan so far this spring (yes I know it’s spring), I’d say having him take up a 40-man spot isn’t the worst thing in the world.

    • Tank the Frank

      Logan looked to have his velocity back in his last outing. He still doesn’t have a feel for his slider yet. I’ll worry about Logan in May if he still looks that way. But yeah, no harm in having another lefty with command of three pitches.

      • Jess

        It’s a shame some pitchers still use ST to actually build arm strength and get a feel for their pitches. Damn them to hell.

  • The Real JobaWockeeZ

    Please work out so we don’t use ManBan as a LOOGY if Boone loses it. Probably a big if but still.

    • Ted Nelson

      Is there any evidence that using young pitchers in relief after a call-up is a bad move?

      Phil Hughes, CJ Wilson, Brandon Morrow, Mark Buehrle, Andy Pettitte, Steve Carlton, Nolan Ryan, Josh Johnson, David Price, Liriano, Gio Gonzalez, Jeremy Guthrie, Shaun Marcum, Max Scherzer, Dallas Braden, Gavin Floyd, Joel Pineiro, Dan Haren, Greinke, Fausto Carmona, Edwin Jackson, Greg Maddux, Jack Morris, Jamie Moyer, Dennis Martinez, Pat Hentgen, Fernando Valenzuela, Al Leiter, Chuck Finley, Kevin Appier… all those guys made some relief appearances early in their careers. A bunch of those guys spent entire seasons primarily as relievers. It’s probably more common for successful starters to make some relief appearances early in their careers than not to. Especially guys who make the bigs as young as Banuelos might.

      If Banuelos dominates AA, gets promoted to AAA, and is nearing his innings limit once rosters expand… I’d love to see him in the Yankees pen.

      • Ted Nelson

        Fans act like the Yankees invented using young starters who aren’t ready in relief, which is just ridiculous. It goes back decades and several HOF or at least All-Star/Cy Young starters did it.

      • Hughesus Christo

        Phil Hughes would STILL be in the bullpen if David Robertson hadn’t dropped out of the sky.

        • Ted Nelson

          Seriously?

        • Sayid J.

          Probably not.

      • http://twitter.com/steveh_MandAura Steve H

        Putting him in the bullpen temporarily to help his development is probably not what he has an issue with. My guess, and I’m going out on a huge limb here, is that it’s more Joba related and he doesn’t want to see Banuelos dominate and there even be a fraction of a percentage that he gets stuck in the pen.

        • Ted Nelson

          Again, though, hundreds of pitchers have spent time in the pen and gone on to have decent or good or great careers as starters. And, on the other hand, plenty of closers come up as starters before getting “stuck in the pen.”

          Just because the Yankees made a certain decision with Joba does not mean they will make that decision with Banuelos. Hughes and Pettitte both started in the pen before moving to the rotation. Then again, it’s wholly possible that Banuelos fails as a starter and spends his career as a reliever… certainly between all 3 Bs the Yankees are unlikely to get 3 MLB starters. Joba and Mo both got some starts before ending up in the pen.

          I think it’s an irrational fear supported by an irrational belief that the Yankees know less about baseball, Joba’s stuff, Joba’s mindset, and Joba’s health than the common fan. And that the Yankees will not consider moving Joba back to the rotation if they feel his stuff has gone back to pre-incident levels (their stated reason for moving him to the pen) and they need a starter. Maybe the Yankees are just making a mistake, but I’m not going to blindly assume that they are. Especially since Joba was less than dominant in relief in 2010 (wasn’t much if any better than Coke and people here seem really sure that Coke will fail as a starter… hard to hold both the position that Coke is doomed and Joba should be starting…). I’m also not assuming that they’re right. It just bugs me when people are so dead set that the Yankees are wrong and they know more than the Yankees do.

          Chuck Finley was a reliever at 24. Jack Morris was a reliever at 23. Nolan Ryan was basically a swingman at 22 and 23. Al Lieter was a reliever at 27. CJ Wilson was a reliever till he was 29. Phil Coke till 28. All of those guys pitched for different organizations and all of those guys moved into the rotation without changing teams. I find it hard to believe that all of those org.s (besides Tigers since we don’t know Coke’s fate) were so much smarter than the Yankees that the Yankees will not move Joba back to the rotation if he does whatever it is they feel he hasn’t been doing. The guy is only 25 years old. While Soriano was taken to mean the Yankees lack faith in Joba, perhaps it means they want options should be dominate in 2011 and merit a shot at the rotation.

          • http://twitter.com/steveh_MandAura Steve H

            Got all that (actually not, I stopped reading).

            I think there was some sarcasm you missed in his first comment. I’m sure he doesn’t want to hear the media chime in if Baneulos dominates, even if Cashman makes a public statement every single day that Banuelos is a starter, there will be 22,450 articles if he dominates in the pen.

            • Ted Nelson

              A. As I said above, I think any sarcasm is based on a questionable belief that “The Real JobaWockeeZ” and other fans know more about how to use Joba than the NY Yankees braintrust. Over the years the Yankees have used several of their top pitching prospects as relievers early only to move them into the rotation. For whatever reason they decided Joba should stay in the pen at this time. Maybe they are wrong, but I’m not going to blindly assume they are.
              B. It’s the MSM… why bother getting upset about what they write? If they don’t bother to research the extensive history of good and great starters beginning their career in the pen or making a few relief appearances… that’s their problem.

          • radnom

            Forget it. Most of the people here are more interested in bashing the media than actually discussing baseball. You’re right – its a stupid fear. You’re especially dead on about this:


            I think it’s an irrational fear supported by an irrational belief that the Yankees know less about baseball, Joba’s stuff, Joba’s mindset, and Joba’s health than the common fan.

            Getting back to the actual topic, Soriano is the difference here. No way ManBan comes up at the end of the year in relief and gets a string of high leverage innings and achieves instant fame ala Joba. The bullpen is too good this year for that to happen. The Yankees needed Joba in 07.

          • Sweet Dick Willie

            Hughes and Pettitte both started in the pen

            Phil did not start in the pen. Every appearance he made in 2007 & 2008 was as a starter.

            He started 2009 in Scranton as a starter, was recalled as a starter, and was then relegated to the bullpen.

            • Ted Nelson

              I mis-worded it, but my point is that he spent time as a reliever early in his career. That a whole lot of pitchers have spent time in the pen and moved back into the rotation. Barring an injury, Banuelos is also going to start 2011 in the rotation at Trenton. That doesn’t mean he can’t or shouldn’t make a few relief appearances at some point in 2011 or 2012 on his way to a career as a starter, or even spend a full year or more as a reliever. It’s going to depend on circumstances and his performance. I think there’s more evidence that overworking young starters can lead to injury than that pitching out of the pen will hurt a young starter’s career.

          • The Big City of Dreams

            “Hughes and Pettitte both started in the pen before moving to the rotation.”

            Hughes came up as a starter

      • The Big City of Dreams

        “If Banuelos dominates AA, gets promoted to AAA, and is nearing his innings limit once rosters expand… I’d love to see him in the Yankees pen.”

        please God no. No more starter to reliever experiments. Would it kill this team to develop lights out relievers

        • Ted Nelson

          The Yankees are not somehow unique in pitching young starting prospects in relief. Your comment–“please God no. No more starter to reliever experiments”–reeks of ignorance.

          Steve Carlton, Nolan Ryan, Warren Spahn, Don Drysdale, Josh Johnson, David Price, Liriano, Pedro Martinez, Adam Wainwright, Phil Hughes, Curt Schilling, CJ Wilson, Brandon Morrow, Mark Buehrle, Andy Pettitte, David Wells, Gio Gonzalez, Jeremy Guthrie, Shaun Marcum, Max Scherzer, Dallas Braden, Gavin Floyd, Joel Pineiro, Dan Haren, Greinke, Fausto Carmona, Edwin Jackson, Greg Maddux, Jack Morris, Orel Hershiser, Doug Drabek, David Cone, Matt Morris, Jamie Moyer, Dennis Martinez, Pat Hentgen, Fernando Valenzuela, Al Leiter, Luis Tiant, Chuck Finley, Bob Welch, Kevin Appier, Jason Marquis, Chris Carpenter, Catfish Hunter, Vida Blue…

          There’s a list of some guys who made relief appearances early in their career, a bunch of them spent a year or a few years exclusively as relievers. All those “experiments” worked out to some extent, sometimes to a HOF extent. It’s probably more common for successful starters to have made some relief appearances early in their career than not to.

          “Would it kill this team to develop lights out relievers”

          Hasn’t killed them to develop Joba, Robertson, Coke, Melancon, etc. recently… However, a lot of relievers are failed starters. Mariano Rivera and Rafael Soriano both started more games than they relieved in their first MLB seasons (8 of 10 for Soriano, 10 or 19 for Mo). Mo hadn’t pitched in relief since the Sally league and Soriano was a starter throughout the minors before his debut. Joba and Coke were both starters.

          • The Big City of Dreams

            “The Yankees are not somehow unique in pitching young starting prospects in relief. Your comment–”please God no. No more starter to reliever experiments”–reeks of ignorance. ”

            True they aren’t unique they’re just not good at it. I don’t trust them when it comes to developing or evaluating starters. Can any Yankee fan sit here and say that the Yankees don’t make mistakes when it comes to pitching.

            “Hasn’t killed them to develop Joba, Robertson, Coke, Melancon, etc.”

            Coke and Melancon are on other teams and Joba’s a middle reliever they have no faith in. I like D-Rob he’s solid.

            True a lot of relievers are failed starters but why pigeon hole a guy into relieving if he hasn’t failed. Why suggest using a young arm as a reliever in a bullpen that is stacked to the ceiling.

            • Ted Nelson

              “True they aren’t unique they’re just not good at it.”

              Based on what? Have you really studied their minor league structure as it compares to other org’s?

              Are the Red Sox bad at it since they turned Papelbon and Bard into relievers?

              Should Mo, Soriano, and Billy Wagner have been converted back into starters?

              “Coke and Melancon are on other teams”

              They were used in trades for proven MLB players.

              “Joba’s a middle reliever they have no faith in.”

              Cashman supposedly had faith in him enough to have him be the #2 guy in the pen. Did you want him to not re-sign Mo and make Joba the closer, or what?

              “why pigeon hole a guy into relieving if he hasn’t failed.”

              Why were Mo, Soriano, Billy Wagner, Papelbon, Marmol, etc. all brought through the minors, stuck in the pen, and never brought out?

              “Why suggest using a young arm as a reliever in a bullpen that is stacked to the ceiling.”

              1. It’s easier to come up and relieve a few innings than start a bunch of games. Perhaps start a few and relieve a few as a lot of the guys on my lists did their debut seasons. If the rotation is a mess and he’s deemed the best option, by all means bring him up to start.
              2. He’s got an innings limit. By the time rosters expand the Yankees might be able to get 6 or 12 relief appearances out of him instead of 1 or 2 starts. Maybe even get him some post-season experience if things go really well.
              3. The bullpen is stacked going into the season, but that doesn’t mean injuries and regression won’t occur.

              • The Big City of Dreams

                Papelbon was a reliever in college the Red Sox were the ones that decided to try him as a starter.

                “They were used in trades for proven MLB players.”

                Yea and now they are on other teams. You brought up the point that the Yankees developed them but left out that they are no longer products of the Yankee system.

                “Cashman supposedly had faith in him enough to have him be the #2 guy in the pen. Did you want him to not re-sign Mo and make Joba the closer, or what?”

                Yea they had faith in Joba in the first half of the 2010 season but that disappeared as the season continued. Cashman didn’t have faith in Joba either. Cash tried to do a sign and trade for Balfour. If it happened than he would have been the #2 guy in the pen not Joba.

                “Why were Mo, Soriano, Billy Wagner, Papelbon, Marmol, etc. all brought through the minors, stuck in the pen, and never brought out? ”

                They dominated in the pen but at least they failed first. I’m hearing ppl suggest that Betances should come up and pitch the 8th this yr…SMH. Why sign Soriano if the 8th inning is going to be a revolving door.

                “1. It’s easier to come up and relieve a few innings than start a bunch of games. Perhaps start a few and relieve a few as a lot of the guys on my lists did their debut seasons. If the rotation is a mess and he’s deemed the best option, by all means bring him up to start.
                2. He’s got an innings limit. By the time rosters expand the Yankees might be able to get 6 or 12 relief appearances out of him instead of 1 or 2 starts. Maybe even get him some post-season experience if things go really well.
                3. The bullpen is stacked going into the season, but that doesn’t mean injuries and regression won’t occur.”

                All fair points that are logical and well thought out but I don’t want to see it happen especially with this ball club.

    • CS Yankee

      You’ll be cheering quite loud when he sits Ortiz down on three pitches to moved the Red Sox down to third place in late-September.

  • The Big City of Dreams

    Why do ppl feel the need to give the organization the benefit of the doubt especially when it comes to pitching? I understand they have information that we don’t but that doesn’t mean they can’t be wrong.

    • Ted Nelson

      Why do people assume they are wrong? You can not assume they are right and also not assume they are wrong. “The benefit of the doubt” does not imply you believe they are right, it implies you are not going to just assume they are wrong.

      Why do people act as if the Yankees are doing something unusual by pitching their young starters in relief when it’s been going on for decades across almost every organization?

      • The Big City of Dreams

        It’s not that they are doing something unusual it’s that fans don’t have faith in the organization handling their pitchers properly. If Man Ban came up and dominated in relief how long would it be until the Francesa’s of the world say he should be a reliever…he was born for the pen. How long before ppl within the organization think Man Ban is better suited for a relief role.

        • Ted Nelson

          A. I don’t buy into the media having any impact on the Yankees decisions. Cashman isn’t trading for Vazquez or making an aggressive offer to Pavano if he gives half a crap what the media has to say. I don’t think it almost ever has an impact on decisions for sports teams in general, but especially not a competent organization like the Yankees. Francesa can say what he pleases, IMO, and I don’t really give a crap what it is he’s saying. I have no problem with him, but I don’t even listen to him.

          B. I think it’s an irrational fear based on one example where they decided someone they had always called a starter was actually better off in relief under a certain set of circumstances. Phil Hughes went back into the rotation after relieving… does that mean they will always make relievers starters? No. Just like Joba being a reliever doesn’t mean they will always make starters relievers.

          My long lists of starters who relieved early in their careers was meant to show that this happens all the time and then the starter goes back. Do you really have that much more faith in all of those organizations across all of those years than the Yankees? Why? Some pitchers, though, end up spending their whole career in relief after coming through the minors as starters. Mo, Soriano, Papelbon, Marmol, Billy Wagner… are examples of this. So, some of the best starters pitched in relief and some of the best relievers came up as starters. The Joba thing is not as unique as Yankee fans make it out to be.

          C. It is not even conclusively proven that Joba should be starting right now or that they Yankees will not give him a chance to if he has a dominant year in relief and does/doesn’t do whatever he wasn’t/was doing that made them think he’s a reliever.

          D. I don’t see why you wouldn’t have faith in the Yankees. Obviously they’re not perfect, but they have been one of the best run organizations in the game for a couple of decades now.

          • The Big City of Dreams

            A. Does the media play a major role in the decisions that they make, No but does it play a role even if it’s a small, yes. I think it would be naive to think that the media especially in an intense city like NY does play a role even if it’s a small one.

            B.Understood but I think it’s a “fear” based on their track record when it comes to developing and evaluating pitchers. No it doesn’t mean that they will always make starters into relievers but fans don’t want to see them make a mistake again.
            What makes the Joba thing unique is how they handled him. Being transitioned from the pen to the rotation isn’t something new but the way the Yankees handled him was the weirdest thing any baseball fan had ever seen. Down the stretch in 2009 he went on long rest, normal rest, long rest, and then normal rest again. After they realized that wasn’t working they decided to go with 2-3 inning relief starts. Is that normal for a young pitcher in his first full yr of starting?

            C. You’re right it hasn’t been proven that he should be starting but he should at least get the chance to start. What is there to lose…nothing. If he stumbles he goes back to the pen but the Yankees are content with him pitching in middle relief. Hopefully his value rises and he gets put in a package for a starter in the middle of the season.

            D. Yes they are a well run organization but they need to improve how they develop and evaluate pitchers.

            C.