Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Garko Going West, Marte Moving Up

As most fans know by now Ryan Garko was shipped to the Giants yesterday in return for left handed minor league pitcher Scott Barnes.

Right now I like this deal for the Indians. Garko, who admittedly had been heating up recently, never really seemed to cement his place in the starting nine with his defense or his offense. His numbers were generally only noteworthy against left-handed pitching, thus making him only valuable at certain times, and certainly more valuable to a National League team.

Barnes has the pedigree of a future major league ballplayer. Coming in to this season he was ranked as the Giants ninth-best prospect despite only playing one year in Class A.

A product of St. John's University, Barnes was an eighth round pick in the 2008 draft and spent parts of last season in the minors with San Fransisco's Rookie, Low A and A affiliates.

This year at High A San Jose he has compiled a California League leading 12 wins, and his ERA, 2.85, is good enough for second. His WHIP has remained relatively low, at 1.13 and he is average 9.09 K/9 and only 2. 66 BB/9.

At 6-foot-4 and 185 pounds he has intimidating size on the mound. However it isn't his velocity that will help him excel through the minors, rather his command.

On the San Jose Giants Web site there is an article detailing Barnes stuff in which San Fransisco Giants VP of Baseball Operation Bobby Evans dotes upon the young lefty.

He doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but he’s a strike-thrower. You need to be able to command your stuff and Scott has done that. It’s impressive," said Evans.

Baseball America reports his fastball as a mid-eighties pitch which he "changes speeds like a major league veteran." Anytime those words are used to describe a prospect it is certainly exciting, but the same article also mentions that his change-up may be his best pitch.

Obviously Barnes is a couple years away from making an impact in the big league rotation, but this trade will have an immediate impact on the big club with Garko gone.

MLB.com beat writer Anthony Castrovince noted on his
blog that Andy Marte will be taking the bus from Columbus to Cleveland and begin seeing time at first base.

This move will please many fans who noted that upon returning to AAA this season he has hit .327 with 18 home runs and only 50 strike outs in 300 plate appearances. The team has been hesitant to recall Marte after his poor performances in Cleveland over the past two seasons, including the entire 2008 season which he spent on the bench.

The move will be risky, because should Marte struggle at the big league level again the team will have to expose him to waivers in order to demote him and bring up another player (say, Matt LaPorta). However, the Indians may be priming him for an August waiver deal, as his value is arguably the highest it's ever been while he has been with the club.

Regardless of how Marte does, this deal does eventually free a 25-man roster spot for prized prospect Matt LaPorta. With Garko out of the way, LaPorta will be able to share time with Victor Martinez at first.

This deal makes 2010 look increasingly good for the young position players. The lineup could potentially look something like this:
Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
Grady Sizemore, CF
Victor Martinez, C
Shin-Soo Choo, RF
Matt LaPorta, 1B
Jhonny Peralta, 3B
Travis Hafner, DH
Michael Brantley, LF
Luis Valbuena, 2B

Of course, in this perfect lineup Grady is not our lead-off hitter and Michael Brantley is starting. This may or may not happen, a lot of what happens depends on who is managing by this time next year. Regardless, I would have to say that these past couple deals made by the team have made a lot of sense and have made the future look better for the Indians.

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