In a move that would have seemed unthinkable a few weeks ago, the Mariners waived first baseman Ryan Garko and added designated hitter extraordinaire Mike Sweeney to the 40-man roster on Tuesday afternoon.
Sweeney is expected to break camp on the team’s 25-man Opening Day roster and, for the second consecutive year, will fill a role for the major league club. In addition to a decent 2009 season (.289 AVG/8 HR/34 RBI), a proven track record (he’s a five time all-star), and the intangibles of a clubhouse leader, Sweeney has had a remarkable spring for a player who was signed as a favor just days before Spring Training began.
To put his spring into perspective, Sweeney leads the ballclub in five major offensive categories: batting average (.517), on-base percentage (.533), slugging percentage (.931), on-base plus slugging percentage (1.464), and total bases (27). He is among the top three hitters in four other categories: doubles (4), triples (1), home runs (2), and RBI (7).
Sabermetricians blew their load all over the place on Monday when the Mariners announced they had signed Ryan Garko.
The bulky, right-handed hitter will likely serve as part of a platoon at first base with the left-handed hitting Casey Kotchman.
Blessed with a career .887 OPS (on-base-plus-slugging percentage) against left-handed pitching, Garko is exactly the southpaw killer the team has spent the offseason looking for.
Having struck out — or, in some cases, declined to step up to the plate — on bigger names like Vladimir Guerrero, Jason Bay, Matt Holliday, et al, the M’s courted an affordable right-handed power bat that could play the corner outfield or infield positions.
All jokes about Nerdball aside (sabermetrics, to the uninitiated), the team did a great job in landing Garko.