Ryan Garko out, Mike Sweeney in as Mariners make moves
Ryan Garko was placed on waivers to make room for Mike Sweeney on the Mariners' opening-day roster, a move that shed light on how Mariners executives make player decisions.
Seattle Times staff reporter
PEORIA, Ariz. — The final off day for the Mariners here Tuesday was spent with the team's top executives clearing roster room for Mike Sweeney and finalizing evaluations of others.
Among those evaluations: it was time to put Ryan Garko on waivers to free up space for Sweeney, who makes the team not only for his hot bat but the intangibles he brings off the field as well. That decision sheds light on how the Mariners decide who makes the opening-day roster.
The Mariners also got good news from Jack Hannahan, with word that he doesn't have a sports hernia and won't need surgery. That means he'll go on the 15-day disabled list instead of the 60-day version, which could have freed up an extra roster spot.
In a recent interview, as the team embarked on its final decision-making, general manager Jack Zduriencik cautioned that a lot more that goes into final evaluation of a player than meets the eye. After statistics are put up and players show what they can do defensively, Zduriencik said it's time for a more subjective evaluation that often separates good teams from bad.
"No matter whether you're a sabermetrics guy, or a traditional scout, it always gets down to evaluation," Zduriencik said. "And the evaluation part of it is not sitting here and telling you whether Matt Tuiaososopo can play four or five positions on the baseball field. That's part of it. But the other part of evaluation is what's inside of his heart and head.
"I mean, when you bring people in to work with you, that's an important aspect."
The Mariners have had a number of key decisions to make these final weeks of spring, with Sweeney being near the top of the list.
Sweeney has had an outstanding spring statistically and will make the team, a prospect even he viewed as almost impossible at the outset of spring training. Sources said the Mariners placed Garko on waivers Tuesday, having been largely unimpressed by his glovework since the start of spring training.
The team had initially hoped Garko, earning just $550,000, could be a first-base platoon partner for Casey Kotchman, but instead wound up considering him and Sweeney to be vying for the same right-handed designated hitter's job. Sweeney's reputation as a player of tremendous character may have been the tipping point.
Doug Fister is to be named as one of the five pitchers in the rotation, probably by Wednesday, even though his Cactus League numbers have been far from impressive. But the team's coaching staff has been impressed since September by Fister's demeanor and approach to pitching.
Rob Johnson will join Adam Moore in a two-man catching tandem despite so-so batting numbers last year and ongoing recovery from surgery on both hips. The team has always like Johnson's presence behind the plate and his ability to take charge of the pitching staff.
Both Jose Lopez and Chone Figgins appeared to accept their switches to third and second base, respectively, which helped convince the organization the move should be permanent.
Tuiasosopo will make the team as a backup infielder, largely because he's already on the 40-man roster and has minor-league options left.
Injured infielder Hannahan said Tuesday from Philadelphia, where he saw a sports-hernia specialist and received cortisone shots for his injured groin, that he "should be ready to get back on the field fairly soon."
By starting Tuiasosopo as the backup infielder, the club can option him to Class AAA Tacoma once Hannahan is ready to return. Josh Wilson is out of minor-league options, and the Mariners could lose him on waivers — as happened once last year — if they tried to send him to AAA when Hannahan is healthy.
Losing Josh Wilson would leave the Mariners without shortstop insurance if regular Jack Wilson was injured for more than a day or two.
Tuiasosopo's offensive struggles the past week, with a job on the line, will be weighed in any evaluation. But the front office has already had two springs and one regular season to gauge his intangibles. The M's like his mental makeup and won't let a recent downturn in stats affect their decision.
"The evaluation process goes way beyond looking at a player on the field," said Zduriencik, who declined to tip his hand about any upcoming decisions. "When you hire staff members, you're evaluating that person and how he's going to be as a coach. And how he's going to be as a scout. Is this person going to be a good front-office guy?
"There are all of those things. It always gets into judgment, and really, to some degree, evaluation. Different aspects of evaluation, but that's really what it comes down to."
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read his daily blog at www.seattletimes.com/Mariners
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.