Ah, another late-March surprise. From Pro Ball NW:
- Mike Sweeney has made the team in favor of Ryan Garko, as expected. Unexpectedly, the Seattle Mariners look like they’re opting to place Garko on waivers, rather than optioning him to AAA.
The logic, as presented by Dave Cameron on Twitter, might be to let some other team claim Garko and his ~$500K contract to give the Mariners some more financial flexibility to go out and sign, say, Jarrod Washburn, who is apparently balking at Seattle’s low offers after turning down a $5M offer from the Minnesota Twins earlier this offseason.
The move to put Garko on waivers could be to help Garko out, since he was basically guaranteed a job upon signing but was beat out by a guy who was offered a coaching position before signing.
Don Wakamatsu has said that he wants Casey Kotchman as his everyday first baseman, and it looks like GM Jack Zduriencik has granted him his wish.
I probably don't like Garko as much as Jon does. But the projections for him are really consistent, right around a .340 wOBA (which is pretty good). Sweeney's projections are all over the place, but average around .320-.325. That's obviously not a great difference, but ...
Well, I'm just not as optimistic about the Mariners as I'm supposed to be. I don't think they're going to win 90 games. I think 85 is a more reasonable guess, which means they'll have some competition for the division title and every dozen or two runs might be important. Like Jon, I was sort of hoping for a Garko/Kotchman platoon at first base. Or a Garko/Griffey platoon at DH. A Garko something.
According to Geoff Baker's primer, the M's are dumping Garko because:
1. they believe (rightly) that he's a lousy first baseman,
2. which means they're better off with Kotchman playing first base every day, and
3. with Jack Hannahan healthy (enough) they don't have the roster space for both Garko and Sweeney.
Left unexplained is why the M's are so wild about Sweeney. Do they think Sweeney's a better fielder than Garko? I doubt it. Do they think Sweeney's a better hitter than Garko? I doubt it. Do they think Sweeney's a better chemistry guy than Garko? Bingo.
I won't argue that chemistry doesn't matter. I will argue that there's room for only so many chemistry-based decisions, and that the M's are either right at or just over the reasonable limit.