Sep
08

The Freddy Garcia Appreciation Thread

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The regular season is slowly winding down, and the Yankees are just any combination of 12 wins or Rays losses away from clinching a postseason berth. With 20 games to go, they’re sitting in a pretty great spot, and it’s time to start paying homage to those that helped get them here.

(AP Photo/David Goldman)

It seems kinda silly to praise Freddy Garcia just three days after his worst outing of the season, but that’s exactly what we’re going to do. The big right-hander has been steady and effective for the Yankees since the first day of the season, with a total of maybe three blips on the radar. Of course it wasn’t supposed to happen this way, Garcia wasn’t even Plan B.

Everyone knew the Yankees were going to go hard after Cliff Lee this past winter, and by the time he agreed to return the Phillies, the free agent starter crop had dried up. All that was left was a collection of cast-offs, has-beens, never-wases, and Freddy Garcia. The Yankees waited, and waited, and waited some more until Garcia accepted their offer of a minor league contract on the final day of January. The team wasn’t thrilled about how their rotation was shaping up, and I’m sure Freddy wasn’t thrilled about getting a non-guaranteed contract.

Spring Training came and went, and Garcia was named the fifth starter to open the season. The Yankees did all they could to avoid him for the first few weeks of the season, as a series of rain outs and off days allowed them to skip his turn a number of times. After a one-inning garbage time relief appearance in Fenway Park, Freddy made his first start of the season on April 16th, the 13th game of the season and the third time through the rotation. He came out and held the Orioles to two hits over six scoreless innings, but the Yankees again skipped his turn thanks to some schedule shenanigans. Eight days later, Garcia held another team to just two hits in six scoreless innings, this time the Rangers.

The Yankees didn’t skip the one they call Sweaty Freddy anymore after that. He limited the Blue Jays to three runs in five innings next time out, and then ran off a stretch in which he completed at least six innings in five of his next six starts. His ERA dropped to 3.34 during that time, then came that ugly four-run, 1.2 IP disaster against the Red Sox. Garcia’s ERA skyrocketed to 3.86, but he rebounded with another stretch in which he completed at least six innings in seven of nine starts. Only once during that time did he allowed more than three runs, only thrice more than two runs. The month of August started with a 3.22 ERA, and three starts later it sits at 3.50.

Garcia’s season is now 22 starts (and one relief appearance) old, well beyond the point of being a pleasant surprise. We’re not quite in “lightning in a bottle” territory since he did pitch last year, so I guess this qualifies as a minor miracle. Freddy’s strikeout rate (5.91 K/9) is almost a full whiff better than what he did last year (5.10), and his unintentional walk rate remained the same (2.34 uIBB/9 this year vs. 2.29 last year). His 0.82 HR/9 is half-a-homer better than last season (1.32), and his FIP (3.84) is nearly a full run better than last year as well (4.77). At 2.2 fWAR, he’s been nearly a full win more valuable than last year in 26 fewer innings.

The Yankees settled for Garcia eight months ago, when he was probably their Plan D or E, but they couldn’t be any happier with how he’s performed for them. Aside from a little cut on his index finger (and injury that didn’t really require a DL stint), Freddy has been completely healthy and taken the ball every time he’s been asked to. He’s done more than just keep the Yankees in the game, he’s taken the ball deep into games to give the bullpen a bit of a break, and frankly he’s been about as reliable as preseason question marks could be. Freddy has been steady, no doubt about it.

Categories : Players
  • Paul Proteus

    Hail to the Chief. Freddy along with Nova and Colon have held the pitching staff together this season. Colon should win comeback player of the year. Nova ROY. Freddy won’t be eligibile for an award but he deserves just as much recognition. Good article.

    • Craig

      You forgot Robertson as the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year

      • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

        …and CC for Cy:)

        • Paul Proteus

          After he took that perfect game deep into the game vs the Mariners CC had a few bad games which took him out of the Cy Young. Verlander has since dominated and his team has extended its lead for the division so he is a lock to win the Cy Young now.

  • BigDavey88

    If there’s room in the rotation, I wouldn’t mind seeing him come back next season. I actually enjoy his starts too; it’s cool to watch a guy with slop get people out for the most part.

    • FIPster Doofus

      Same. I’m a big fan at this point and would take him back for another year. He put up 18 quality starts last season despite an ugly ERA, and has kept the Yankees in games throughout this year. With their offense, that’s enough out of a back-end starter. Though, to Freddy’s credit, he has definitely been more of a mid-rotation guy this season.

      • Cris Pengiuci

        Agree, wouldn’t mind seeing him back next year, but I’m sure it would take a fair amount of money on a guaranteed contract. Could he command $8 mil? Is he worth that? If he can pitch like this year, probably, but who knows if he can do that.

        • Ted Nelson

          It’s definitely nice to have options… Yankees can go for the big free agents this off-season, one year stop-gaps, or internal options only (counting on Warren, Phelps, and/or Noesi to hold down a spot).

    • TwainsYankee

      I hope he comes back too but I would not be surprised if he tests the waters.

    • http://yankeeanalysts.com Matt Imbrogno

      I think you’ve got to do what Jamal suggested and give them the Joker scenario: Offer Colon and Garcia a matching deal with a relatively low base salary and a bunch of innings incentives. Whoever takes it first gets it, the other is allowed to walk.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

        That’s exactly how the Yankees ended up with Chris Hammond a few years ago. They offered him, Mike Stanton, and Mark Guthrie the exact same contract, and the first one to take it got the job.

        • http://yankeeanalysts.com Matt Imbrogno

          Fair enough.

        • FIPster Doofus

          And Hammond was the best of the three that season (2003).

          • I Voted 4 Kodos

            He actually had a pretty good season. I loved watching him drop that changeup in on people. That thing was nasty.

        • BigDavey88

          Wow. Chris Hammond. Completely forgot about that guy.

      • Ted Nelson

        If you literally think they have the exact same value I guess it doesn’t matter which one signs… but as a general rule you’ll end up getting the least attractive option more often than not as the more attractive guy(s) field offers from other teams and the least attractive guy jumps on your offer.

  • MannyGeee

    Dont ever change Sweaty Freddy…

    he has done his best Jamie Moyer impression this season and I would invite him back as a plan B if the stars line up as such in 2012…

  • Jorge

    All hail not-so-Fast Freddy. The man knows what he’s doing on the mound, and knows what his stuff can/can’t do. If you squint long enough, he begins to look like a latter day Miguel Mussina.

    I’d sign up for one more year.

  • YankeesJunkie

    Freddy has done quite a nice job this season and if the choice were to sign him as a stop gap for a Hamels or sign Darvish or Wilson I would sign Garcia. However, considering that he is 35 there is a good chance that a team will over pay and give 2 years guaranteed which would be great for him and bad for the Yankees.

    • Ted Nelson

      I’m not saying waiting is the wrong thing to do, but trying to sign Hamels and signing Hamels aren’t the same thing.

      Freddy walking wouldn’t be all bad for the Yankees if he’s a Type B.

      • YankeesJunkie

        That is true. However, I should re state my point that signing Garcia as a stop gap and waiting for an FA better than Wilson or Darvish as I don’t think that highly of them.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHg5SJYRHA0 Gonzo

    Looks like he is a lock for a type B free agent. I’d be happy with having him as a plan D again next year with pick if he walks.

    Of course, that’s if they offer him arb.

    • Dan

      Why wouldn’t they offer him arbitration? I would think it would be pretty much a certainty especially if he will qualify as a Type B. His salary wouldn’t be that high if he accepts so its not a high risk and as we saw this year, having the rotation depth can be very useful.

      • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHg5SJYRHA0 Gonzo

        With the Yankees and arbitration, I don’t assume anything.

        • steve (different one)

          The reality is a little more nuanced than this. When the yankees haven’t offered arb, it’s because the player was coming off an enormous salary and acceptance would be a salary well above their market price. Abreu, Pudge, Wood, Berkman, Damon, Matsui all fit this description.

          When the player had a reasonable salary, they offered arb. Vizcaino, Gordon, etc.

          Garcia is a near-lock to be offered arb.

  • Bronx Byte

    With few exceptions, you know what you’ll get from Freddy when he takes the hill. He’s made a career of confusing hitters with several off speed pitches. A true professional pitcher. Much the same with Colon. They both have ice in their veins.

  • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

    He’s a lock for arbitration.
    Going into Spring Training the rotation will probably look like this:
    Sabathia
    Nova
    Hughes
    Burnett
    #5: Garcia, maybe Colon but wouldn’t count on it, in house options like Phelps, Warren, or Noesi, Big Time FA like C.J Wilson or Yu Darvish.

    But you never know, Garcia could end up like a Shawn Chacon and fizzle out big time next year.

  • goterpsgo

    Freddy = the anti-AJ. Slop for stuff, gets the job done.