The Texas Rangers have claimed Ryan Garko off of waivers from the Seattle Mariners. Not only does the move essentially eliminate the need for a Mike Lowell deal (and save the Rangers some money in the process), but it also prevents the Yankees from possibly making a key upgrade to their 2010 roster.
The Yankees enter the 2010 season without many holes. One area where they are a little weak, however, is right handed hitting off the bench. As currently constituted, the Yankees will depend on Marcus Thames to fill that role, but his spring performance has been less than inspiring. Even more relevant (and concerning) is Thames sub par OBP against lefties (and righties for that matter). While he does hit for power against southpaws, his career OBP is .329. In other words, expect to see Thames make more than his share of outs.
While fretting over Thames may seem like typical Yankee paranoia, the reality is this team is lefty laden and likely to need its fair share of right handed pinch hitters, especially with Gardner and Granderson being candidates to be lifted against a tough lefty late in the game. Furthermore, the Yankees new DH, Nick Johnson, is not only prolific in getting on base, but he also has a propensity for getting injured. Thames as a full-time DH would be a significant hole in the lineup.
With those two concerns in mind, Garko and his .900+ OPS against lefties seemed to be an ideal fit. With that option now eliminated, it’s up to Brian Cashman to keep an eye out for any similar players who may have been given their walking papers before the start of the season. Going into 2010 with Thames as the first righty off the bench isn’t a disaster, but if they can, the Yankees should seek to do better.
Thames versus lefties: .256/ .329/ .516/ .845
Garko versus lefties: .313/ .392/ .495/ .887
Granderson versus lefties: .210/ .270/ .344/ .614
Gardner versus lefties: .241/ .310/ .316/ .627