07/27/09 11:58 PM ET
Giants acquire Garko from Indians
Club ships Class A left-hander Barnes to Cleveland
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
In obtaining Garko for Minor League left-hander Scott Barnes, the Giants obtained a right-handed-hitting first baseman whose .826 OPS (on-base-plus-slugging percentage) through 79 games this season exceeds that of any Giants player except Pablo Sandoval."I think you've seen what our struggles have been, including on the road," Sabean said in the wake of the Giants' three-city trip in which they scored 23 runs while finishing 3-7. "There's a lot to be said for experience and there's a lot to be said for somebody who can drive in a run who's done it before. These games are going to get harder. He can only help." But Sabean obviously believes San Francisco needs more to improve its lineup and strengthen its postseason bid. The Giants, who trailed National League Wild Card leader Colorado by two games entering Monday, ranked next-to-last in the NL in scoring, homers and OPS as the day began. So Sabean is eyeing at least one more deal for a hitter.
"There are a couple of things we're trying to bring to a head," he said, reiterating that "six to eight" players remain on the Giants' shopping list.
Pittsburgh's Freddy Sanchez, Toronto's Marco Scutaro and Washington's Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham are among the accomplished hitters said to be available.Sabean suggested that another trade could be near fruition.
"We have one particular [Minor League] player who we're willing to trade that at least two teams are trying to make a decision on," he said.Sabean didn't name the three to five prospects whom he said the Giants refuse to part with, though those players have become familiar by reputation: catcher Buster Posey at Triple-A Fresno; left-hander Madison Bumgarner and right-hander Tim Alderson at Double-A Connecticut; and first baseman Angel Villalona at Class A San Jose. Sabean indicated that Garko's arrival won't completely rob Travis Ishikawa, the Giants' primary first baseman and an excellent defender, of playing time. But, Sabean added, "The intent is to give Ryan as many at-bats as we can." Garko will become eligible for salary arbitration for the first time after this season, ensuring that the Giants can retain him beyond this year if they wish. His salary is an economical $446,000, though it will soar this offseason due to arbitration. Garko, 28, owns a .283 lifetime batting average with 53 home runs and 235 RBIs in 408 games for the Indians, who selected him in the third round out of Stanford University in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft. He achieved his single-season bests for homers (21) and RBIs (90) in 2007 and last year, respectively. "It's bittersweet," Garko said of the trade. "The Indians are the only team I ever played for. It's going to be hard to go, but I'm going to an organization in the Giants that is right in the middle of things, too. So it's mixed emotions." This season, Garko hit .285 with 11 homers and 39 RBIs in 79 games for the Indians, who seek a refurbishment of their roster as they endure a fourth-place campaign in the American League Central. He should feel comfortable at the plate as he joins the Giants, having batted .349 with five home runs and 11 RBIs in his past 23 games. He'll likely bat fifth or sixth, Sabean said. Garko's also hitting .333 this year against left-handed pitching -- another asset, said Sabean, since the Giants are scheduled to face several lefties in the near future. This phase begins Wednesday when they confront Pittsburgh's Zach Duke. Garko could join the Giants as early as Tuesday, Sabean said. A corresponding player move will be announced at that time. The Giants just finished scrambling their roster Monday, recalling Jesus Guzman and Eugenio Velez from Triple-A Fresno while optioning John Bowker and Matt Downs to that club. Barnes, 21, was 12-3 with a 2.85 ERA in 18 starts for Class A San Jose, having struck out 99 batters in 98 innings. Baseball America ranked Barnes as the organization's ninth-best prospect entering this season.
"The pitcher we gave up is probably going to pitch in the big leagues," Sabean said.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.