Jaime Garcia and Jason Bay: Best and Worst of 2010

The Fantasy Fix recently invited me and several other female baseball writers to participate in the first annual “Ladies of Twitter Baseball Roundtable”. Our topic was to pick who we thought were the biggest surprise and bust of 2010, and to provide detailed reasoning. My choices were Jaime Garcia for biggest surprise and Jason Bay for biggest bust.

Biggest Surprise 2010: P Jaime Garcia, St. Louis Cardinals

Jaime Garcia was drafted 680th overall in the 22nd round of the 2005 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. After making appearances in 10 games in 2008, he underwent Tommy John surgery. He came back in 2009 to pitch 37 2/3 innings in the minors.

No one expected Garcia to make the Cardinals’ 40-man roster. Manager, Tony La Russa, and pitching coach, Dave Duncan, both told Garcia numerous times in spring training that a return to Triple-A Memphis would be more beneficial to his development.

Instead, Garcia was so impressive with a 3.00 ERA and a 4.0 K/BB ratio in 24 IP that he earned the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation.

This season, he has astounded everyone with his prowess on the mound. He is now the No. 3 pitcher on staff after aces Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. Of his 25 starts, 17 are quality starts. His ERA of 2.33 is the sixth best in the NL and his GB% of 55.2% ranks third in the NL.

After Garcia got off to a hot start with a 1.04 ERA in April and 1.53 ERA in May, many worried that he had hit a rookie wall. His 4.50 ERA in June was highlighted by a 2.0 IP outing against the Kansas City Royals where he gave up five earned runs, the most allowed by Garcia this year.

However, he has bounced back in the last two months and hasn’t given up an earned run in his last three starts. He even pitched his first ever complete game shutout on August 22 against the San Francisco Giants in 89 pitches.

Garcia has been a highly reliable arm in the wake of injuries to starters Brad Penny and Kyle Lohse. The lift he has given the Cardinals cannot be understated or overlooked, especially after coming back from Tommy John surgery.

Biggest Bust 2010: LF Jason Bay, New York Mets

Jason Bay was a highly coveted free agent after the 2009 season. He was a three-time All-Star who had just hit .267 with 36 home runs and 119 RBIs. With the exception of a .745 OPS in 2007, Bay had an OPS of near .900 or better every season from 2003-09.

As a result, the New York Mets rewarded him with one of the worst contracts in Major League Baseball – a four-year, $66 million deal that could top $80 million with a vesting option in the fifth year.

Bay will turn 32 in less than a month. His age, history of injuries (shoulder surgery in 2003 and arthroscopic knee surgery in 2006), and subpar defense (lifetime UZR/150 of -7.8 in left field) should have deterred the Mets from offering such a lopsided contract. The Boston Red Sox’s best offer in retaining Bay was a four-year deal between $60 million and $65 million; they refused to include a fifth year.

Thus, with his monstrous contract and even higher expectations for on-field performance, Bay is the biggest bust of 2010. He has not played since suffering a concussion in July nor do the Mets expect him to come back before season’s end.

Not only was his fielding below average (-3.9 UZR/150), he struggled with swinging the bat. Bay was batting .259 with six home runs, 47 RBIs, and an OPS of .749. He’ll most likely miss 40% of the season. The Mets clearly didn’t pay Bay an average of $16.5 million a year for him to play bad defense, hit an offensive wall, and then sit out with an injury.

To read more of the “Ladies of Twitter Baseball Roundtable,” check out TheFantasyFix.com!

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