At first glance, the Yankees signing of Freddy (The Chief) Garcia looks like another blind stab at simply accumulating arms in the hopes of somehow stumbling upon a No. 5 starter, assuming the current projected rotation -- CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett and Ivan Nova -- remains the same, meaning Andy Pettitte remains at home in Deer Park, Tx.
And at first glance, the 35-year-old Garcia -- he will be 36 on June 10 -- doesn't seem to have much to offer. Before rallying from shoulder surgery to go 12-6 with a 4.64 ERA for the Chicago White Sox, Garcia had gone 5-10 with a 5.02 ERA over his previous three seasons, and was cut by the Mets in 2009 after getting bombed in Triple A.
Even though Garcia pitched well against the Yankees twice last year -- he went seven nnings in beating them in Chicago in August -- privately, one team official told me, "You watch the guy pitch and you don't know how he gets anyone out. He doesn't seem to have anything.''
Still, as in the case of Bartolo Colon, signed to a relatively inexpensive incentive-laden minor-league deal last week, the Yankees seem willing to take the chance that Garcia can baffle their opponents they way he baffled them last year.
The source of their hopes could lie in Garcia's numbers against the Yankees two main AL East rivals. Against the Boston Red Sox, Garcia is 8-2 lifteime with a 4.40 ERA; Against the Tampa Bay Rays, he has been even better: 8-2 with a 3.56.
Taken a bit further, Garcia's career numbers are also good against the Yankees most likely playoff opponents. He is 7-5 with a 4.29 vs. the Texas Rangers, 10-7 with a 4.04 vs. the Minnesota Twins and a lopsided 15-3 with a 2.42 ERA vs. the Los Angeles Angels.
Clearly, risking a million bucks on a guy who has been capable of doing that was a gamble the Yankees thought worth taking.