Just two years removed from being the Indians' starting 1B, Ryan Garko has signed with the...wait for it...Samsung Lions of the Korean Baseball Organization for $300K. Garko spent 5 years as a member of the Tribe, posting a cumulative .805 OPS with his best season coming in 2007, when he swatted a career high 21 HR and posted an OPS of .842, which was the 22nd highest OPS in the AL, just above those posted by Robby Cano and Paul Konerko.
In the year-and-a-half since Garko left the Indians, he has come to the plate 165 times in MLB, posting a line of .202 BA / .284 OBP / .248 SLG / .532 OPS as a member of the Giants and Rangers. Garko's struggles since leaving the Tribe weren't unique to MLB as he posted only a .705 OPS in AAA Oklahoma City as a 29-year-old as a Ranger farmhand.
The player acquired from the Giants, 22-year-old LHP Scott Barnes, is coming off of an Arizona Fall League stint that saw him strike out 28 hitters while he walked only 7 in 24 1/3 innings of work for the Peoria Javelinas en route to posting a 3.65 ERA under the desert sun.
While Garko heads off to Korea in an attempt to prolong his playing career, he will be remembered on the North Coast for double-fisting tall boys of Budweiser in the AL Central clinching celebration and for his ill-advised trip to LF, which caused a fissure between CP Lee (who couldn't figure out why Garko was in the OF) and The Atomic Wedgie (who was responsible for Garko being in the OF) in the contentious 2009 season.
All told, he was a useful player if his usefulness was limited as an Indian. Once that usefulness ran out and he was ready to see his salary rise due to arbitration, he found his way out of Cleveland...and now out of MLB.
Once upon a time, he was “Garko-my-God-did-you-see-how-far-he-hit-that” and now he is simply “Garko-my-God-did-you-see-where-he-had-to-go-to-get-guaranteed-money”.
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