Garko Waived

Dave · March 30, 2010 at 3:15 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Jon Morosi reports that the M’s have placed Ryan Garko on waivers, finalizing the speculation over the last week that Mike Sweeney took his roster spot. Garko had an option left, so that the M’s put him on waivers tells you just how little they want to keep him around. He didn’t impress anyone in Peoria, and this is the M’s just letting him go.

I’m not a fan of making roster choices based on March, but I already ranted about this last week, so I’ll leave it at that.

Update: It turns out we were all wrong assuming the M’s could just option Garko to Tacoma. I’ve been told that there’s a rule that requires any player to pass through waivers before he can be optioned after the 3 year anniversary of his major league debut. Since Garko debuted on September 18, 2005, he fits the criteria. Even though he has an option left, the M’s were still required to put him on waivers before they could send him down.


77 Responses to “Garko Waived”

  1. Liam on March 30th, 2010 3:22 pm

    With Garko definitely out of the picture, who should be first in line to take Sweeney’s spot should he go on the DL or get cut? (After the season begins)

  2. Dave on March 30th, 2010 3:27 pm

    Depends on when that happens and when everyone else gets healthy. If Hannahan comes back in May, maybe he takes Sweeney’s roster spot. Or maybe they go with Langerhans and use Tui just on the infield if Hannahan is still hurt.

  3. Flowin on March 30th, 2010 3:32 pm

    Hey Dave,

    There are rumors about the M’s acquiring another SP. Obviously we know the prevailing opinion about Washburn, but what about another #4 or #5 pitcher, just to hold the back end of the rotation up until Lee (and Bedard maybe) get back. Maybe a Chad Gaudin or a Seth McClung, or a Brian Tallet.

    I mean, do we really want Ian Snell as our #3 pitcher to open the season?

  4. Dave on March 30th, 2010 3:33 pm

    Gaudin signed with the A’s. If the M’s make a move, we’ll do a post about it.

  5. horatiosanzserif on March 30th, 2010 3:34 pm

    Smells like Washburn money.

  6. Mekias on March 30th, 2010 4:07 pm

    I’m stunned. What the hell? Now we don’t even have much of a backup plan if/when Sweeney starts to suck. I thought they had a plan coming into Spring Training but now it looks like they’re just winging it. The only sure way to get a spot on this team is to throw an ice cream pie into someone’s face.

    I’m just irritated right now I guess. I don’t understand what Wak is doing. Maybe Garko didn’t have the proper “belief system”.

  7. HititHere on March 30th, 2010 4:17 pm

    I’m assuming Seattle waived Garko instead of sending him to the minors, because they want to give him a chance to sign with another team. A 29 year old who has had success in the big leagues doesn’t want to play in the minors…I think the M’s are just trying to be classy and give him an opportunity to play elsewhere.

    Every Seattle blog in the area is reporting that “Garko failed to impress with his glove.” I’d imagine the FO feels confident enough in Kotchman to have him play nearly every day, and is confident enough they can pick up replacement level Garkos if necessary.

  8. spankystout on March 30th, 2010 4:21 pm

    Don’t fret over this move. Kotchman is not an offensive wizard, but his L vs. L splits over the past three years are encouraging. Also thanks to your sister site fangraphs I found that Casey has a career contact% exactly 1 point below Ichiro! I found this to be dumbfounding and encouraging. Love the site(s) dave!

  9. Mekias on March 30th, 2010 4:21 pm

    It’s more likely that Garko got a guarantee from the Mariners when they signed him that he’d either be on the club or released to find another job.

  10. djw on March 30th, 2010 4:26 pm

    Now we don’t even have much of a backup plan if/when Sweeney starts to suck

    Most projection systems have Carp as at least Sweeney’s equal in 2010.

  11. Paul B on March 30th, 2010 4:29 pm

    Something to keep in mind. A GM can put together a great roster in the winter, but it is all moot if it does not fit the manager’s style.

  12. Liam on March 30th, 2010 4:54 pm

    Don Wakamatsu and Rick Adair went with Jack Zduriencik to the Winter Meetings, so I would assume that they have an ongoing dialog on any roster moves.

  13. rsrobinson on March 30th, 2010 5:23 pm

    Once they decided to make Kotchman the everyday first baseman instead of platooning him Garko became expendable. I don’t have a problem with keeping Sweeney over Garko based on their spring performances. Teams have been making roster decisions based on March performances since forever, at least on the margins of the roster. I just don’t see where what Garko projected as a backup was significantly more than Sweeney so why not go with the guy who had the better spring and, yes, offers more to the team with his clubhouse presence? I think its a defensible roster move on purely baseball terms with the tickles and hugs as a minor bonus.

  14. Wilder83 on March 30th, 2010 5:29 pm

    This is the inevitable outcome of roster depth. And it’s a good thing. Yeah, Garko drew the short end of the stick, but his skills are easily replaceable. If Sweeney is lost to injury, Bradley slides into full-time DH/LF and the team can go with a Langerhans, Carp, or a 12th man on the pitching staff addition.

    Good luck, Garko. I hope you find another job.

  15. joser on March 30th, 2010 6:31 pm

    Yeah, I have trouble getting particularly worked up about this given that Hannahan is hurt (had they taken Sweeney over a healthy Hannahan, I’d feel differently). Sweeney’s hot spring shouldn’t really make a difference, but I can see Wak having a hard time cutting him in the face of it (“Why did we invite him to Spring Training if a performance like this isn’t enough to get him on the team?”). I agree that waiving Garko is probably about giving him a shot at catching on somewhere else; given that Garko hasn’t impressed and Kotchman has (to the extent that they no longer intend to platoon him), and the on-going presence of Carp at Tacoma, saying goodbye to Garko really doesn’t hurt the team. Ultimately neither he nor Sweeney were likely to get enough playing time to make much difference to the win total anyway.

    What would make a difference would be a DH that could ISO his weight (at least). But with Griffey on the roster (whose ISO and weight have been heading in opposite directions for years) you’re committed to a platoon DH at best, and/or a handicapped bench. And this is really where Sweeney hurts you — not because he’s going to fall back to earth (though he will) and especially not because he’ll spend some time on the DL (which frees a roster spot, at least temporarily) but because his inability to play anywhere on the field limits your flexibility to make strategic substitutions or just give guys a rest. On a team that looks to have to carry 12 pitchers after all (at least for the first month or two) and with a bench already clotted by one guy without a glove, the last thing you really need is another bat-only player.

  16. Jeff Nye on March 30th, 2010 6:35 pm

    I just sort of feel like this is the old “death by a thousand cuts” situation. None of these little things make much difference in isolation, but in aggregate they could cost the team wins.

  17. SeasonTix on March 30th, 2010 7:02 pm

    I know this may sound crazy … but what if Sweeney continues to hit? Is everybody assuming he is certain to stop hitting and/or get hurt?
    What if he actually stays healthy, continues to hit the crap out of the ball and becomes the regular DH with Griffey on the bench? Not saying that will happen, just wonder how that would change your outlook on Sweeney making the team.

  18. akampfer on March 30th, 2010 7:07 pm

    I watched both Sweeney and Garko in Arizona a couple of weeks ago and Sweeney made his case why he should stay with the Mariners. Maybe he can’t field anymore, but if he can go out and get his hits, who cares, he’ll DH anyway. I think it’s a no brainer.

  19. rsrobinson on March 30th, 2010 7:22 pm

    I think the big problem is that the DH position needed a big upgrade and really didn’t get one unless Bradley gets a lot of ABs at DH and has a bounce back year. A Griffey/Sweeney platoon is essentially the same as last year.

    Garco wasn’t the answer either at DH so the real issue isn’t Sweeney over Garko, it’s that the M’s don’t have a better option at DH.

  20. Pete on March 30th, 2010 7:22 pm


    I understand (and agree with) the sentiment that we shouldn’t make decisions based on March, especially hitting. But here’s my question:

    Isn’t five weeks enough time for the coaching staff and front office to look at Garko at 1B and decide they don’t want him anywhere near a glove? Is Garko going to be a different glove in April or June than he is in March?

    And if it’s ok to make that determination in March, rendering him useless in the field and thus a DH… doesn’t he lose much of his value to this particular roster?

    How much better will he be at fielding 1B next month than he is now?

  21. Dave on March 30th, 2010 7:27 pm

    You shouldn’t make decisions about anyone’s fielding prowess in a month. Any month. Jack Wilson made a bunch of errors right after the M’s acquired him. It happens.

    And folks, please remember that the last time Mike Sweeney had a good offensive season was 2005. If you’ve convinced yourself that this month is real and the last four years were a fluke, you’re taking crazy pills.

  22. Pete on March 30th, 2010 7:38 pm

    Errors aside (I don’t really care about them), can’t we see a statue and call it a statue? Isn’t that a naked eye kind of thing? Jack Wilson has great range and impeccable hands.

    Not saying Garko is as bad as a statue. I’m not qualified. Just curious why, in certain situations (not all), a coaching staff can’t look at five weeks of plodding-looking defense and call an apple an apple.

    We can look at Jeter for five weeks and say he has bad range for a shortstop. Any five-week stretch would tell us the same thing at this point. Garko has had other significant periods of demonstrably sub-par defense.

    Whatever, sorry. This whole discussion is really worth having. Ignore me.

  23. mfan on March 30th, 2010 7:45 pm

    I would agree that spring performance, or any month for that matter, is worthless (i.e. errors, hits, avg, slg, era, FIP etc.) However, it seems like that is quite a bit different from watching a guy every day. Watching him during drills, during games, during warmups etc. I don’t know how much weight should be put on what a guy does throughout spring training, if any, but it seems like the guys who were there watching every day would have some amount of information, unlike fans such as myself who check box scores and catch the occasional TV game during the spring. If they had never seen a player before, it seems like a one spring would be enough to get a decent handle on the player’s abilities. Maybe not, but it seems that way to me. On the other hand, in this case I suppose they should have known all of the things they “learned” during the spring before they signed him (Garko).

  24. Pete on March 30th, 2010 7:53 pm


    Exactly, one month isn’t enough statistical data to determine anything at all. But maybe that’s where scouting comes in. If someone, over five weeks of drills and practices and games is demonstrably bad at something, it seems to me that does say something significant.

    That’s all I’m saying, nothing more.

  25. rsrobinson on March 30th, 2010 8:00 pm

    You shouldn’t make decisions about anyone’s fielding prowess in a month. Any month. Jack Wilson made a bunch of errors right after the M’s acquired him. It happens.

    They’re not evaluating Garko based on the number of errors he committed but in seeing him every day in games and drills. One month is plenty of time for experienced talent evaluators to get a good idea of a player’s defensive prowess regardless of the number of errors they do or don’t commit.

  26. GarForever on March 30th, 2010 8:34 pm

    Joser –

    Couldn’t agree more, and likewise with Jeff. My one concern, given the observation about people slowly figuring out that Kotchman can’t catch up to heat in the strike zone (a problem exacerbated when he faces LH pitching), is that he will be a real liability without a reliable platoon partner. Yes, Sweeney could be the RH platoon 1B, but at a pretty steep run-prevention premium. Maybe Garko wouldn’t have been significantly better in the field than Sweeney, but I can’t help but feeling that, whereas Garko’s best days may be behind him, Sweeney’s certainly are. It seems to me that the M’s have left themselves a real quandary at 1B whenever they face LH pitching: either they can go with the guy who may not hit LH pitching, or they can go with the guy who might hit that pitching but cost them defensively.

    Either way, it seems like a problem…

  27. Kazinski on March 30th, 2010 9:03 pm

    I think what most people are missing about this decision is that both Sweeney and Junior reported to camp this year in the best shape of their lives. I also hear that they have both been working on hitting a new pitch, Sweeney has been working on hitting the cutter, and Junior has been working on the change up. So I think all of this gives us plenty of reason to be optimistic. Not to mention that the chemistry is sure to be even better than last year having had more time to gel.

    I factored this all into my prediction that the Rangers are going to take the AL west with 88 wins, with the M’s taking 2nd with 84.

  28. CCW on March 30th, 2010 9:19 pm

    I have a tough time being particularly bothered by this. I liked the idea of Garko (crushes lefties, backup catcher, young enough to still improve), but I think the reality of Garko (bad glove, small sample size issues with his platoon split, older than people realize, never going to be a catcher) make him just incrementally better than Sweeney, if at all.

  29. nickwest1976 on March 30th, 2010 9:20 pm

    I can’t believe the M’s are really going to go with Sweeney and Griffey again as the DH combo. It was a pretty horrible combo last year and I am actually very disappointed that this is what we are left with this year.

    What about a guy like Jermaine Dye for DH? I know some think he is done but surely he might have more left in his bat than Sweeney? Heck, Thome would have been a better option with some pop.

    Why can’t this team find a decent DH? Vidro and now Sweeney/Griffey for a second year in a row? This is getting depressing.

  30. CCW on March 30th, 2010 9:31 pm

    Why can’t this team find a decent DH?

    Griffey. Once they committed to another year of Griffey, all other DH type players were out of the picture unless basically free like Sweeney or Garko. Like that decision or not, it has played a big part in roster construction since it was made.

  31. Jeff Nye on March 30th, 2010 9:37 pm

    There isn’t something magical about scouting that makes it immune to sample size issues.

  32. Steve Nelson on March 30th, 2010 10:18 pm

    I think what most people are missing about this decision is that both Sweeney and Junior reported to camp this year in the best shape of their lives.

    How can Griffey be in the best shape of his life, when he has he not been doing road trips during spring training to save his knees from the stress of riding in a bus for a one or two hours?

    That doesn’t sound like a player “in the best shape of his life”. That’s more like a player whose joints are falling apart and who is trying to make the latest patch job last as long as possible.

  33. Jeff Nye on March 30th, 2010 10:21 pm

    I have a feeling Kazinski was being sarcastic.

    At least I hope so.

  34. spankystout on March 30th, 2010 10:37 pm

    Although the Jr./Sweeney/Bradley DH trio is far from ideal, it doesn’t have Vidro penciled in daily (thank god).. Plus Jr. had a BABIP of .220 last year. So hopefully we see some slight progression towards the mean. He also led the team in walks. Junior isn’t our savior anymore, but he still has SOME production left in him. Sweeney is about an average batter who should look at a few more pitches. Once again it could be much, much worse with NO upside.

  35. spankystout on March 30th, 2010 10:44 pm

    I might be overly optimistic but I am still decompressing from the Bavasi regime. It was like watching a blind person paint.

  36. Breadbaker on March 30th, 2010 11:01 pm

    There isn’t something magical about scouting that makes it immune to sample size issues.

    I’m not quite sure what you mean. Sample size, by definition, is something that is used in a statistical analysis. Scouting, equally by definition, is based on observation of technique, preparation, attitude and other things that (a) don’t show up in small sample sizes; and (b) include observations of things that aren’t seen by the general public. At least as Zduriencik has explained it, he operates using both. If they saw things during spring training that indicated that Garko wasn’t going to be a good fit on the team, whether they saw them on the field in games, on practice fields, in stretching exercises or at some Peoria bar, those are all part of the cosmos of information they use to make roster decisions. Ultimately, their “sample size” can only be based on the time between acquiring Garko and having to make roster decisions. But I don’t think there’s a statistical rule on whether someone can take direction, works hard or stole the star player’s girl friend.

  37. NF on March 30th, 2010 11:22 pm

    Scouting isn’t immune to a sample size argument. Say a scout sees a player once, they bat 0-4 with an error, and the players mechanics are off because they rolled their ankle the day before. The scout will probably come away with a bad impression of that player even though they could be an excellent player. More than one impression is needed to form a solid opinion. Any scout would likely tell you they’ll get a more complete idea of a player from watching him 10 times than watching him once.

    When the Mariners signed Garko, they based their decision on 5+ years of scouting evidence on Garko. They knew who he was and what he could do with his glove and they decided they could live with it. Saying that Garko can’t cut it defensively is weighing 5 weeks of evidence over 5+ years of scouting and numbers.

  38. Jeff Nye on March 30th, 2010 11:32 pm

    NF pretty much summed it up.

  39. mfan on March 30th, 2010 11:49 pm

    There isn’t something magical about scouting that makes it immune to sample size issues.

    I don’t think that’s what anyone is saying. Obviously, as a player is seen more often, a greater degree of certainty will be attached to his scouting report. The team is making decisions in the draft every year based on less access to the player than what is afforded during spring training (my assumption, and it has got to be close if it’s not correct). I’m not saying there isn’t still some uncertainty when evaluating a player based on what he does during the spring. It just seems like there’s more information to be gleaned during spring training through scouting than the zero that is gained through actual game performance.

    Edit: I posted mine while the previous two were being written. I acknowledged the point that they should have known about Garko before signing him in my previous post. I don’t want to make it seem like I’m advocating too strongly. I just think there might be some amount of information that can be learned during spring training.

  40. Liam on March 30th, 2010 11:53 pm

    This wasn’t even five weeks of evidence on a MLB schedule. When Geoff Baker hinted that Mike Sweeney had made the team on the 26th, Ryan Garko played first base in eight Spring training games.

  41. Jeff Nye on March 31st, 2010 12:00 am

    It’s important to remember that spring training is perhaps the worst small sample to use when trying to evaluate a baseball player, for a variety of reasons.

    -They’re quite often competing against non-major-league talent
    -Everybody’s out of shape to one extent or another except Ichiro
    -There’s a lot of instructional stuff going on, so there are a lot of times where players might not be trying for the best possible outcome from a game success standpoint.

    It’s just a bad time to evaluate anyone.

  42. mfan on March 31st, 2010 12:06 am

    I acknowledge the points that have been made against using spring training to evaluate players. They’re all valid. On the other hand, it is the most recent small sample, which would argue for greater weight. I would feel more comfortable using a scouting report from this spring than one from a five-week period during the regular season five years ago. I don’t know how much value it has, but it seems like it has to be non-zero.

  43. TrojanMariner1 on March 31st, 2010 12:12 am

    It’s not like this is the coaching staff’s first time looking at Sweeney. While I understand the skepticism, a Sweeney that performs like he did the second half of last year does help this team. That includes a much better sample than this past month, and probably has just as much to do with him getting the call.
    I’m not 100% sold either, but I don’t think that point should be dismissed.
    [use the link button]
    2nd half OPS: 0.872
    Garko over the same period? 0.720
    Bradley (since everyone’s freaking out about him losing valuable AB)? 0.792
    I’m just saying it’s not a horrible unthinkable decision.

  44. PackBob on March 31st, 2010 2:22 am

    I don’t think the sample size is large enough to be able to statistically determine what sample size is needed by talent evaluators to make appropriate judgments of talent.

    I doubt this was a case of we can see what the stats and scouting reports are on Garko and he’s our man. Probably more a case of, hey, this guy might work, let’s bring him in and see what we think.

    In Baker’s column, he quotes Zduriencik as saying: “But the other part of evaluation is what’s inside of his heart and head.”

    “I mean, when you bring people in to work with you, that’s an important aspect.”

    The arguments here imply that the deciding factor was Sweeney’s hot spring and/or Garko’s fielding. Zduriencik’s comments make it appear more that these are just aspects of the total package of evaluation, and the final decision was that Sweeney’s total package was thought a better fit than Garko’s.

    For all we know, Garko won the statistical battle, even with the fielding and Sweeney’s hot bat. Maybe it was a wash and Garko was dropped because it might gain a half million for a mid-season addition.

    As Zduriencik likes to say, I’m sure they did their “due diligence” in assessing the statistical side of things, are fully aware that it’s spring training, and based their decision on the sum total of factors, many of which we will never be party to.

  45. LongTimeFan on March 31st, 2010 6:21 am

    I don’t understand why we are arguing about sample sizes in Spring Training as if roster decisions are not one of the key reasons that Spring Training is held every year.

    Obviously, the five weeks or so of Spring Training are enough time to make meaningful observations about the players on the roster bubble and therefore decide who fills out the final roster spots or else there would be no reason to invite some of these guys to Spring Training and the Mariners are just wasting some of the players’ time.

    You’re not going to take this Spring’s results and decide that a lineup staple like Ichiro is washed up and therefore should be optioned to triple A (he does have options left), but Spring Training does offer an adequate sample size to decide the bench and some of the fringe positions.

    With Garko, the Mariners looked at his numbers from the past few years and decided that he was maybe someone that could help fill out the roster and wanted a better look at him, but they had to offer him a contract (albeit a pretty small one) in order to bring him to Spring Training. They then took a look, and for reasons that we will never completely understand they decided to cut him loose.

    I for one am willing to trust Wak and Z on this one even though I understand and share the frustration that our lineup, rotation, and bullpen still have some holes in them even if they might not be quite as glaring as they were say 3 years ago.

  46. heyoka on March 31st, 2010 6:56 am

    Maybe good hitters are just a bad fit for this team.

  47. Adam S on March 31st, 2010 7:54 am

    You’re not going to take this Spring’s results and decide that a lineup staple like Ichiro is washed up …, but Spring Training does offer an adequate sample size to decide the bench and some of the fringe positions.

    Huh? You acknowledge that four or five weeks isn’t a significant sample size for Ichiro (I agree) but that same period is significant for a fringe player. You lost me.

  48. GripS on March 31st, 2010 8:52 am

    Sweeney is a career 300 hitter. I’ll take it.

  49. Typical Idiot Fan on March 31st, 2010 9:04 am


    Well, that makes more sense, I guess.

    So… does this mean they clear him from the 40 man but can then still call him up this year and option him down? What’s the point of the option if you have to waive him?

  50. Ralph_Malph on March 31st, 2010 9:07 am

    And folks, please remember that the last time Mike Sweeney had a good offensive season was 2005. If you’ve convinced yourself that this month is real and the last four years were a fluke, you’re taking crazy pills.

    But what about his second half numbers last year (311/372/500)? Sure, one good spring means next to nothing, but surely a good spring combined with a good second half might mean just a little bit — particularly since he was hurt since at least 2005. He doesn’t have to duplicate those second half numbers to be a reasonably good right-handed DH.

  51. Dave on March 31st, 2010 9:08 am

    If he clears waivers, they then have a choice. They can option him (he’d stay on the 40 man) or they can outright him, which would remove him from the 40 man.

    Players who have been outrighted before have the right to refuse and become a free agent. This doesn’t apply to Garko, since he has not yet been outrighted, but that would be the scenario where a team would choose to option a player rather than outright him.

    In this case, the M’s will almost certainly outright Garko to Tacoma if he clears. Or they may just release him. We’ll see.

    One other note – the waivers that players with an option have to go on are not normal waivers. They’re revocable, so theoretically, the M’s could pull Garko back if some team claims him. That won’t happen, but it does make it less likely that he gets claimed. Teams are more wary of claiming someone they might not end up with.

  52. e poc on March 31st, 2010 9:13 am

    USSMariner is really the radical fringe of sabermetrics. Obviously, knowing what we, anonymous internet users, know, the decision to roster Sweeney instead of Garko is stupid. But I literally cannot believe that anyone is arguing that, in general, four to five weeks of daily scouting is not enough time to learn new information and make informed decisions about players. As someone has already pointed out, every team in baseball makes multi-million dollar decisions every year on less scouting than that (amateur draft), and some of you refuse to admit that a 500K decision based on a month of scouting might possibly be a good one, or that there might be things that talent evaluators could learn in a month that would justify Garko’s expulsion? That is extremely radical, and not in a good way.

    Of course, we don’t know that they made this decision based on some revelation of spring scouting, and as I hinted earlier, with the information available to you and me, we’re fully justified in criticizing the move, but I think the best response to “maybe the scouts saw something” is “maybe so, but from where I’m sitting this looks mighty stupid,” not “you can’t discern anything valuable from a full month of scouting.”

  53. nemo on March 31st, 2010 9:18 am

    I think the biggest problem with taking a no-glove guy like Sweeney is that we already have a platoon DH. We have Griffey and Bradley. Frankly, I would take Bradley over Sweeney. I loved Ryan Garko for the month he was a Mariner, but I’m willing to admit he might not be the best option for this team. I love Sweeney too, but I definitely know he is not the best option.

    Running Griffey as the DH against righties with Milton Bradley playing left field, and Bradley DH’ing against lefties with Eric Byrnes in the field seems a far better choice than having Sweeney DH against lefties. With Bradley/Byrnes, we get better fielding and better hitting.

    I’m not really sure who should get this roster spot, but I don’t think it should be Sweeney.

  54. riversurge24 on March 31st, 2010 9:27 am

    I get the sense that this is more about Kotchman’s ability to be an everyday first baseman as much as it is anything else.

    Obviously the club feels that Kotchman’s defensive ability is strong enough to warrant him playing every day at first base regardless of who the opposing pitcher is.

    That being said it comes down to whether they feel Garko’s bat is better than Sweeney’s which apparently they like Sweeney more.

    Just my opinion but I get the sense that this whole thing has more to do with Kotchman.

  55. Liam on March 31st, 2010 9:29 am

    But what about his second half numbers last year (311/372/500)?

    It is a small sample size. From August to now is about 130 at-bats. This is close to a month’s worth for an everyday player. If a player’s three year history says he is a good player, you wouldn’t judge him too harshly if he had a bad month. Conversely, one good month for Mike Sweeney doesn’t erase the last few years of evidence that says he a replacement level bat.

  56. Typical Idiot Fan on March 31st, 2010 9:34 am

    USSMariner is really the radical fringe of sabermetrics

    “Radical fringe”? Seriously?

  57. Shanfan on March 31st, 2010 9:35 am

    We signed Garko at the end of January for $550,000 when the common wisdom had him worth more than that. Now Garko had free will in this but I look at it as 29 other teams had a chance to sign him way before that and didn’t. Jack could’ve saved his money and opened up his spot on the roster by selling him or trading him for a non-roster nobody but apparently 29 other teams said, “No thanks.” It’s not just the M’s that have evaluated Garko and found him perhaps wanting in some aspect of the game.

  58. Evan on March 31st, 2010 9:47 am

    USSMariner is really the radical fringe of sabermetrics

    If that’s true, that just means the rest of the world is even more wrong than I’d thought.

  59. just_me on March 31st, 2010 9:51 am

    In reply to: ?Paul B on March 30th, 2010 4:29 pm
    “Something to keep in mind. A GM can put together a great roster in the winter, but it is all moot if it does not fit the manager’s style.”
    Wak has input, but the team is ran by Jack Z .
    And for the people who are hung up on “chemistry” and “belief system”…what would you rather do; spend a day enjoying your hobby with your (wife/children/best friend) or spending it at the dentist getting a root canal?
    If you want to whine about everything, go to the Cubs board, you’ll fit right in.

  60. eponymous coward on March 31st, 2010 10:25 am

    Sweeney is a career 300 hitter. I’ll take it.

    In that case, let’s sign Edgar. He’s a better hitter.

    For that matter, Ted Williams and Babe Ruth would be even BETTER hitters.

    Oh, what’s that, you mean there might be some more information that’s relevant to how good a hitter someone is today than their career batting average? Well, whod’a thunk that?

  61. HititHere on March 31st, 2010 10:31 am

    Let me play Devil’s Advocate here. I know we’re talking small sample sizes, but bear with me.

    After being traded to SF last season, he hit .235 with 2 HRs in 115 ABs. Both those HRs came in the same game. This year, Garko hit .220 in the spring with 1 HR.

    Maybe we can say the guy just had problems adjusting to his new environment. This is not unusual among MLB players. But in sum, we’re looking at a 29 year old who had an atrocious second half last year, had an atrocious spring training offensively, and totally sucked with his glove (when defense was a huge part of why he even GOT an audition with the club).

    Yes, he DID hit 21 HRs over 541 PAs in 2007. But his OPS was 90ish points lower in ’08 and ’09, and he was a .6 and 1.0 WAR player in those years. He was -.4 WAR with SF.

    Why are we so enamored with Garko again? Sabremetrically, are we assuming he’s going to revert to 2007 form because he’s “only” 29? Projections aren’t always right. I can easily see how the FO could have seen his spring training, had visions of Carl Everett, and gone with hot-hitting Hugs instead. This is Ryan Garko we’re talking about, not David Ortiz. Garko has touched +1 WAR just once in his career, he doesn’t get much benefit of the doubt here.

  62. eponymous coward on March 31st, 2010 10:34 am

    Obviously the club feels that Kotchman’s defensive ability is strong enough to warrant him playing every day at first base regardless of who the opposing pitcher is.

    I’m not fully convinced Kotchman is that much better than Mike Carp- the defense is good for half a win, but the record so far on his offense makes him into a younger version of Eric Hinske (or, alternately, an older version of Mike Carp with a better glove and maybe a bit less bat). You basically have to do the “maybe he blows up like Carlos Pena and Carlos Guillen did at 27″ handwave to make him go into the 2.5ish WAR realm.

  63. Mekias on March 31st, 2010 10:48 am

    Garko would have been great if he was used in a judicious manner (i.e. versus left-handed pitchers). Even with his slumps the past two years, he’s always destroyed lefties. Of course to take advantage of Garko’s abilities, Wak would have had to play him mostly against lefties. If Wak wasn’t going to do that, I guess Sweeney is just as useless as Garko would have been.

  64. J-Dog on March 31st, 2010 10:51 am

    Disclaimer: This post is my attempt to justify the Garko/Sweeney decision.

    It looks to me like Garko became expendable once the Mariners decided to start Kotchman at 1B every day.

    1) Garko’s strength was the ability to hit left handed pitching. I suspect that the M’s suspected that Garko was poor defensive 1B when the M’s signed Garko. The evidence that the M’s saw during Spring Training confirmed their prior suspicion. Thus, Garko looks like a DH only type player that mashes LHP.

    2) Byrnes’s strenght is the ability to hit left handed pitching and the ability to play good defense in the OF. Hopefully, Byrnes will play every day against LHP. Thus, Bradley will need to DH against LHP. The M’s did not have a use for LHP mashing DH only type (ie., Garko), because Bradley will play that role.

    3) I understand that Sweeney has not shown a platoon disadvantage when hitting against RHP. Thus, the M’s may be planning to have Sweeney and Griffey DH against RHP, while having Bradley DH against LHP. I agree that this looks like having one too many players that only DH against RHP. However, it is probably better than having Griffey and Garko DH only against RHP.

    Final thought: would it be better to have an additional LF or utility infielder? I would have thought yes. But on the margin, I doubt that the additional LF (Langerhans) or the additional utility infielder (Josh Wilson, Woodward, or trade) would have been a substantial improvement over Sweeney.

  65. e poc on March 31st, 2010 11:08 am

    Coincidentally, Tango just posted about the benefits of scouting in situations where the sample of data is inadequately small, and he quotes Jack Z to set up his point.

  66. Jeff Nye on March 31st, 2010 11:32 am

    Instead of the “radical fringe”, can we call ourselves the “lunatic fringe”? It sounds so much cooler.

  67. spankystout on March 31st, 2010 11:37 am

    If a player is gameday-healthy, five weeks of drills, ABs, and games should give anyone an idea of how someone can perform. Especially with the intimacy that spring training has over the regular season. But it can’t be wholly relied on, and mistakes can/will happen.

  68. msb on March 31st, 2010 12:51 pm

    Hand up over here for “lunatic fringe”

  69. Paul B on March 31st, 2010 1:25 pm

    Sweeney is a career 300 hitter. I’ll take it.

    Don’t use BA to evaluate hitters. And, players age.

    Running Griffey as the DH against righties with Milton Bradley playing left field, and Bradley DH’ing against lefties with Eric Byrnes in the field seems a far better choice than having Sweeney DH against lefties

    Yes, this isn’t just a Sweeney versus Garko thing. Having Sweeney on the team means that Bradley will not be platooning at DH. It means, at least until Bradley or Griffey or Sweeney get hurt, Bradley will be playing in LF every day and won’t be getting any partial rest days at DH.

  70. Paul B on March 31st, 2010 1:31 pm

    And for the people who are hung up on “chemistry” and “belief system”…what would you rather do; spend a day enjoying your hobby with your (wife/children/best friend) or spending it at the dentist getting a root canal?
    If you want to whine about everything, go to the Cubs board, you’ll fit right in



    What are you trying to say?

  71. fiftyone on March 31st, 2010 2:03 pm

    can we call ourselves the “lunatic fringe”?

    If you like the best of both worlds, consider the “lunical fringe.” Sounds mysterious and all-statsy-like.
    For my money, Sweeney fits at DH better than Junior, but that argument would fly much better in, oh, any other city, anywhere.
    Haven’t had a chance to watch games the past few days. Is Sweeney at least taking the field and logging some innings at 1B?

  72. MrZDevotee on March 31st, 2010 2:35 pm

    +1 for “Lunatic Fringe”… First concert I ever went to: Red Rider and Pat Benatar at Hec Ed Pavillion (wow, that sounds not so cool anymore *laugh*)

    Another Devil’s Advocate point of view– the difference between a guy like Ichiro and a guy like Garko is that Ichiro WASN’T competing for a job, or roster spot. In those instances (competing for a spot) you tend to think the player is accountable for the performance he puts up.

    You would first look at that small set of data, see what sort of results they provide, and if they seem to be out of the norm, THEN use other data to make baseball decisions.

    No matter how adverse you are to using small data sets, when it comes to defining a 25 man roster with more than 25 players, you have to use SOME sort of criteria, and sometimes you have to decide between two equally qualified people and set one free (to half of the fans’- or more even- disappointment).

    It’s been standard practice the past two years to use even less data with pitchers (as they take the field for fewer innings) and decide which of our younger guys make the opening day roster, or fill the 3-5 rotation spots. Is it ideal– no, of course not. But you still make those decisions, and I don’t think anyone would argue that a guy who pitches 12 innings giving up 2 runs while striking out 10 (making up numbers) seems like a better choice than a guy who pitches 18 innings, giving up 12 runs, walking 5, with 1 strikeout.

    Yes, in year’s past, spring didn’t mean anything to the Mariner’s, but I think Z is different about spring. He wants competition at every position (that’s why he signed more folks for roster spots than were available, rather than just fill the empty holes with minor leaguers, like years past). And if you set a precedent of promoting competition, but not having it actually matter in the end– you’ve just shot yourself in the foot for the future. Why should players show up in shape, or take it seriously. A winning team uses spring training to fine tune, and if promoting competition at every position helps in that regards– small set, or not, the team benefits.

    Or am I way off? (Still learning here… Novice hardcore baseball fan.)

  73. Typical Idiot Fan on March 31st, 2010 2:36 pm

    Hand up over here for “lunatic fringe”

    If we’re really the “lunatic fringe”, your hand would be up… holding a rubber chicken dressed in a pink tutu.

  74. MrZDevotee on March 31st, 2010 2:40 pm

    Wouldn’t our hand be way off to the side, barely visible?

  75. eponymous coward on March 31st, 2010 3:00 pm

    For my money, Sweeney fits at DH better than Junior

    This is kind of like saying surgery with a butter knife is better than surgery with a chainsaw. The reality is they are both pretty horrible options as DHs, in that they don’t actually “hit” enough to deserve starting jobs any more.

    Essentially, the Mariners have decided to hand 1/9th of the offense over to two players who you’d project as ~0 WAR players (and have performed at that level for an extended period of time, and did so in 2009), in the name of clubhouse chemistry, loyalty (in Griffey’s case, organizational loyalty, in Sweeney’s case, Wakamatsu clearly likes him, and specifically requested him to be signed in 2009), and intangibles.

    C’est la guerre. Let’s hope we won’t be ruing this come September.

  76. msb on March 31st, 2010 3:37 pm

    If we’re really the “lunatic fringe”, your hand would be up… holding a rubber chicken dressed in a pink tutu.

    Or I would be dressed in a pink tutu …

  77. auldguy on April 1st, 2010 1:25 pm

    Whatever kind of a year Garko has this year, it will be for the Rangers, (at least for now.) Claimed and signed by them this afternoon.

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