Analyzing the San Francisco Giants' Acquisition of Ryan Garko

Andy BenschSenior Writer IJuly 28, 2009

CLEVELAND - OCTOBER 15:   Ryan Garko #25 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates in the dugout after scoring on Kenny Lofton's #7 two-run home run in the second inning against the Boston Red Sox during Game Three of the American League Championship Series at Jacob's Field on October 15, 2007 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

After a dismal 3-7 road trip to begin the second-half of the season, Giants GM Brian Sabean had enough of his team's horrid offense and brought in a new bat. Before the Giants got their homestand under way against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday, the had acquired first-baseman Ryan Garko from the Cleveland Indians. In exchange, the Giants sent class A pitcher Scott Barnes to the Indians.

However, unless this trade is a precursor for more deals to come by the end of July, Giants fans shouldn't increase their expectations for this season. So far on the year, Garko is hitting .285/.362/.450 with 11 HR and 39 RBI in 78 games.

If the former Indian were to appear in the same amount of games this season as he did last year (141) then he is currently on pace for 19-20 HR and 70-75 RBI. Not exactly the production that is going to take anemic lineup to a playoff caliber lineup.

In fact, Garko has never hit more than 21 homers in his short career, and no more than 90 RBI in a single season. However, when he hit 21 taters back in 2007, he only had 61 RBI. Not only that, but the year he drove in 90 runs, he only hit 14 home runs.

Granted, the first baseman/outfielder is a career .283 hitter but his power numbers are no better than that of Giants catcher Bengie Molina.

In fact, Molina hit for a higher average, hit more home runs and drove in more runs than Garko last season. Therefore, what exactly does this move mean? Well, the Giants clearly get an offensive upgrade at first base over Travis Ishikawa but in no way is Garko a difference maker.

Just like when the Giants signed Aaron Rowand prior to the 2008 season, Ryan Garko will be expected to provide significant pop in the middle of the lineup but in reality the chances of him even continuing his solid season so far this year are extremely low.

Remember, Garko has spent his entire career in the American League. Therefore it begs the question "how is he going to adjust to facing National League pitchers?" Is he going to have any protection around him? The Indians have offensive threats like Grady Sizemore, Victor Martinez and Shin-Soo Choo hitting in their lineup which help take pressure of Garko.

However, as a member of the Giants, Garko is going to have expectations that he didn't have in Cleveland. San Francisco doesn't have a pure veteran hitter like Martinez to take pressure of a complimentary player. And that is exactly what Garko is, a "complimentary player" but the Giants don't have anybody for him to compliment.

The Giants' offense is so bad, they are in need of a major difference maker and Garko is clearly not that guy.

Perhaps if Garko's acquisition were teamed up with a potential trade for Pittsburgh's Freddy Sanchez, then maybe those two bats added to the lineup would be enough to get this team to the playoffs. However, even then, the Giants would struggle to score runs.

Regardless of whether or not another minor trade is made, the picture still remains the same: Brian Sabean makes a half-hearted attempt to improve his team.

Just as he has always done, Sabean trades for a mediocre bat instead of going out and getting a difference maker. In doing so, Sabean gives up a quality minor league pitcher in Scott Barnes who was 12-3 with a 2.83 ERA.

To be fair, in order to get something, you have to give something up and Garko is clearly more valuable at this point in time than a class-A pitcher. However, this move doesn't fix the Giants' needs.

According to Bruce Bochy, Garko isn't even going to hit cleanup. Despite the entire fan base pulling for a trade so that Bengie Molina can move lower in the order, Bochy has stated that Garko is a "five or six guy" in the lineup.

So wait. is he going to hit behind Molina? Wow, I'm sure he's going to drive in a lot of runs hitting behind the slowest runner in the league. Just ask Aaron Rowand, he figured out first-hand how hitting behind Molina screws with your RBI totals.

If Garko is suppose to be "the power bat" in this lineup, why would Bochy put him behind Molina? Molina is more of an RBI guy and the fifth spot is clearly best suited for him. Therefore Garko at cleanup makes the most sense.

But yet again, Bochy just doesn't get it.

However, GM Brian Sabean doesn't get it either. In his interview on CSN he stated that the Garko trade "compliments what were trying to do with Ishikawa."

I'm sorry, how does taking playing time away from Ishikawa compliment what you are "trying to do with him". Please, somebody explain that one to me. Can't Sabean just man up and say that Ishikawa wasn't getting it done so he went out and got someone who could?

The Garko trade doesn't "compliment" what the Giants were trying to do with Ishikawa. This move essentially ends any chance Ishikawa has at being an everyday first-baseman in the MLB.

In the end, this trade gives the Giants a boost in offensive production from the first-base position but it really doesn't do much for the overall offense. If this is all Brian Sabean can pull the trigger on, then the Giants clearly aren't doing whatever it takes to win this season.