October 6 – Happy Birthday Freddie Garcia
Many Yankee fans, including myself, did not think it was a good thing to be depending upon Freddie Garcia to hold down the number four spot in the Yankee’s starting rotation coming out of the Team’s 2011 spring training season. He proved us wrong. Freddie did just fine in that slot winning 12 games and posting a strong 3.69 ERA in his 25 regular season starts. The fourth starter on the glorified 2011 Philadelphia rotation was Roy Oswalt. He went 9-10 with the same ERA as Freddie.
After a 17-8 debut season with the Mariners in 1999 as a 22-year-old, Freddie evolved into one of the AL’s top pitchers. He won a total of 116 games over his first nine big league seasons. Forty of those wins came after the Mariners traded the big right hander to the White Sox before the 2004 All Star break. The Caracas, Venezuela native helped Chicago get to and win the 2005 World Series by going a perfect 3-0 in that postseason, which included the Series-clinching Game 4 victory against Houston. Windy City baseball fans were enraged when after “the Chief” put together a 17-9 record the following year, he was traded to the Phillies for Gavin Floyd and Gio Gonzalez. Unbelievably, it turned out that the White Sox got the better end of that deal.
That 2007 season was Garcia’s option year and disaster struck when he injured his throwing shoulder. He was probably worried that the injury would dampen his value as a free agent so he attempted to hide it from Philadelphia management and pitch his way through it. That proved to be a poor decision on his part as he went just 1-5 with the Phillies before finally going on the DL. As he feared, the injured arm ruined his chances for signing a “big” contract and he ended up accepting one-year Minor League deals first from the Tigers in 2008, the Mets in 2009, back with the White Sox in 2010 and then with the Yankees this season.
Will he get a chance to pitch for the Yankees next year? I’d say that depends on what the Yankees decide to do with their young starting pitching prospects this spring. As big a contribution as Garcia and Bartolo Colon made to the Yankee’s successful 2011 regular season success, having pitchers who can get you wins in the postseason is always the priority. Still, Garcia made me a believer this past season in his ability to pitch effectively at the big league level.