Is there a more fun baseball player to write about than aging, sorta washed-up Freddy Garcia? It's entertaining to watch him retire major league hitters with a liberal use of slow breaking-stuff, he's hilariously covered in sweat by the 2nd inning most nights, gives great quotes (ex: "I was throwing a lot of bull$#%*" after a 7 inning, 2 ER start on May 28th vs. Tampa), and no one was more fired up when a double play bailed him out of 3-baserunner inning than Freddy. Who could a better pitcher to liveblog the games of?
Well...perhaps Freddy Garcia in his prime; blowing guys away with a plus fastball, logging over 200 innings, making the All-Star team, and winning postseason starts might make better writing fodder but...eh...that's just being picky.
Stat line: 28
starts, 157 IP, 12-6, 4.64 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 171 H, 23 HR, 89 K (5.10
K/9), 45 BB (2.58 BB/9), .295 BABIP, 4.77 FIP, 1.3 fWAR, 2.1 bWAR
What did we expect?: With a fledgling fanblog already leaking at every corner with sentiment, I decided I had to take an unforgiving hardline on something most of the South Side looks upon fondly. I chose the Sox bringing back Freddy Garcia, a World Series hero transformed into an unrecognizable junkballer by arm injuries, as my target.
"With all the pedigree that Freddy Garcia came into the
league with, it's hard to imagine him being completely washed up by age
33. However, watching him start last year and this spring and
witnessing his inability to crack 90, the fact that he's drenched in
sweat by the second inning, and the look on Ozzie's face that says "If
you weren't married to my cousin, you'd be coming out of the bullpen"
all combine to beg the question; "What's wrong with Daniel Hudson?"
Apparently everything about Garcia grew on me over the course of the year...and apparently I was buying that he was actually 33 still. The general takeaway is that I predicted something similar to Bartolo Colon's 2009: some hints of past greatness, but enough struggling that he'd be out of the rotation before the end of the year, and not even due to injury.
The result: Here are some fundamental items about Sorta Washed-Up Freddy Garcia:
-He's got good breaking stuff, but no power, so his strikeout numbers are pedestrian
-He has solid control, but definitely not great due to his lack of velocity. Freddy flat-out admitted (because he's hilarious like that) that he can't afford to throw over the middle of the plate
-When he does leave the ball over the plate, it leaves the park....so that's not good
-Above 6 innings a start is risky, and above 7 is very blatantly asking to lose
Because of all those conditions, Freddy pretty much can never be any good from any advanced statistical perspective. But statistics are raw and unbiased, and Freddy Garcia's 2010 needs to be put in plenty of context.
"I'll tell you somebody who deserves to be an All-Star....that's Freddy Garcia."
Whoooa! That's too much context. Hawk is obviously referring to the controversial proposal to put a slot for "Best washed-up vet exceeding expectations by being serviceable in the 5th starter role" on the All-Star team.
Freddy's role wasn't to be a objectively great rotation member, or even to be an innings-eater, he was supposed to go out every 5th game--or less--and keep the Sox somewhat competitive. For the most part I would say he achieved that.
The breakdown of his 28 was this:
Quality Starts: 18
Just Generally Bad: 4
Stillborn Stat-Ruining Blowouts: 4
Clearly Injured: 2
This a pretty ideal distribution, under the logic that losing 5-4 is no better than losing 12-4. In alignment with the White Sox hot streak, Garcia recorded 13 quality starts out of 16. In turn, he had three of those crappy starts in August as the team faded, gave one last decent effort against the Yankees at home, wasted two starts proving that his back really was too hurt to pitch through, and came back during the irrelevant end-of-season surge.
As a 5th starter, a placeholder while Hudson became ready at that, Freddy served pretty fantastically by giving 18 good nights, and threw some of his best ball right after Peavy went down, almost seeming like a 4th starter at times. Of course he got lucky, no one goes 12-6 with a 4.64 ERA without getting lucky. But projections, FIP, and long-term viability wasn't the point, just bungling through 6 innings somehow, someway when called upon.
Love him or leave him?: Well, you wouldn't want to bring Garcia back to start unless you're in a pinch. He can't overwhelm anyone, wore down near the end of the season, and hasn't logged 200 innings since '06.
But the White Sox are in a pinch. They are trying to decide what to do until Peavy returns. Garcia was dirt cheap last season, and is definitely preferable to Tony Pena. It's unlikely he'd take too kindly to long relief after a bounceback season and should probably fire his agent if he gets paid $1 million again.
Still, another year of Freddy' Soft-Tossing Farewell Tour in the right role? Sure, why not...better than Jeff Marquez.
JJ at White Sox Examiner has developed a projection for Edwin Jackson in 2011. He doesn't predict a 30-1 record with 20 K/9, so let's hope he's wrong.
Jim at Sox Machine has notes on the Hall of Fame vote and White Sox prospects. Good notes.