Tuesday, August 18, 2009

San Francisco's Ryan Garko has been a Trade Deadline bust so far

From Bleacher Report

When San Francisco Giants GM Brian Sabean traded minor league pitcher Scott Barnes for Cleveland Indians first baseman Ryan Garko on July 27, a lot of Giants fans were hopeful about what Sabean pulled off before the deadline.

After all, there was a lot to like about what Garko did in his tenure in Cleveland.

In 2007, Garko hit 21 home runs and drove in 61 RBI. In 2008, he drove in 90 RBI while maintaining a .273 batting average and a .346 OBP.

Furthermore, Garko has proved to be a a big-time playoff player. In the NLDS in 2007, Garko hit .364 with a .500 OBP and a home run and three RBI in the Indians' three-game sweep of the New York Yankees.

With the Giants hovering in the basement in terms of runs scored and slugging percentage in the Major Leagues, there was reason to believe for Giants fans that Garko could spark an anemic Giants offense in the last couple months of the season as they jockeyed for a playoff spot.

Unfortunately, unlike Freddy Sanchez, who has been a steady contributor to the Giants after being acquired before the Trade Deadline, Garko's production has been meager in his tenure in the Bay Area.

In 17 games and 60 at-bats, Garko is batting .200 with a .300 OBP, and a .245 slugging percentage.

The most startling statistic of all though?

He has zero home runs and only four RBI as a Giant.

Garko has shown no power at the plate, something the Giants didn't expect after he belted 11 home runs and 43 RBI for the Indians in the first half.

Then again, maybe this disappointment was something Giants fans should have seen coming.

Since 2007, Garko has gone through a steady decline as a hitter. After hitting 21 home runs in his first full year with the Indians, Garko's home run numbers declined to 14 in 2008.

And while he had hit 11 home runs this year, his slugging percentage had also steadily declined since 2007, an indicator that maybe his 2007 was an aberration instead of a sign of things to come.

After having a .483 slugging percentage in 2007, it dipped to .404 in 2008. Furthermore, while it improved to .464 with the Indians to begin the season, it has dipped to .425 since coming to the Giants, and seems like it could be around that area for the remainder of the year, or perhaps could drop even further.

Amazingly, Garko has been not much better than first base incumbent Travis Ishikawa at the plate, as hard as that is to swallow for Giants fans.

While Ishikawa's strikeout numbers are much higher than Garko's (Ishikawa has struck out 68 times the year in comparison to Garko's 41), Ishikawa has proved he can hit in San Francisco.

At AT&T Park this season, Ishikawa has hit six home runs and has a .349 batting average, .406 OBP and a .550 slugging percentage, not to mention a .956 OPS.

As for Garko, at AT&T this year, he has a .133 batting average, .235 OBP, .133 slugging percentage (ouch!) and a .369 OPS.

Maybe Garko simply was a product of Jacobs Field in Cleveland, which is widely known as a hitters park.

In his career at Jacobs Field, Garko hit 30 home runs and had a .285 batting average, .360 OBP and a .471 slugging percentage.

He hasn't hit more than four home runs in any other ballpark in his career.

The worst part of this is that the Giants had to give up a promising minor-league pitcher for Garko's anemic production.

Left-hander Barnes was 12-3 this year with 2.85 ERA and 99 strikeouts in 98 innings in Single-A this year.

Granted, it was only Single-A, but considering he was a Top-Five pitcher in the Giants minor league system, Barnes might have had a strong future in this Giants organization.

Garko may be able to turn it around in his tenure in San Francisco. There is still plenty of baseball to be played.

However, at this moment, he doesn't seem to be any more than a platoon player who should be splitting at-bats with Ishikawa.

Ishikawa should bat against right-handed pitchers and Garko should bat against left-handed ones.

He can still excel in that role and maybe change his doubters' opinions during these last couple of months of the season.

That being said, that kind of role certainly wasn't what Giants fans expected for when we gave up the promising Barnes for him back in July.

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