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An Official End of the Freddy Garcia Experiment

When the Mets signed Freddy Garcia to a non-guaranteed deal worth multiple millions this offseason (he could have earned as much as $9 million if he'd hit all the incentives in the conditional deal), it seemed like a steal. Who knew that the most important part of the agreement would be that it was non-guaranteed?

Yesterday, the Mets released Garcia while he was still in the minor leagues, though he was barely hanging on there. In two starts for AAA Buffalo, Garcia was 0-2 with an 8.18 ERA. And remember, those numbers were put up by minor leaguers.

Clearly, Garcia isn't ready to pitch in the big leagues now, and he may not be anytime soon. His three-game stint with Detroit in 2008, which served as his official return from shoulder surgery, gave Mets GM Omar Minaya enough hope for Garcia's future that he was willing to offer a significant deal. Now, with the former Cy Young contender back out in free agency, the Mets are left with an injured Tim Redding and inexperienced Jon Niese to come in and replace Livan Hernandez if his future outings don't improve.

That's not what Mets fans would have expected in the preseason, where a fight to win the fifth roster spot gave the illusion of starting depth. Instead, that competition devolved into a simple struggle for survival, with only Hernandez proving he could have a shot at producing quality outings ... and then only doing so when facing a mix of major league threats and career minor leaguers.

Those struggles highlight how the low-risk, high-reward pitching philosophy adopted by the Red Sox and others in recent years can go horribly wrong as easily as it can go right (one could also claim that Boston's own Brad Penny is well on his way to proving the same point, but that's a different issue). While some relatively cheap additions have made big contributions, others have gone the way of Garcia, failing to produce at first, then failing to contribute at all.

All of that is just an anecdotal way of proving that sometimes you get what you pay for, even if the incentives can lull a fan base into thinking you're paying for a bigger ticket item.

By Cameron Smith  |  April 29, 2009; 11:51 AM ET
Categories:  Mets  
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