Today the Phillies claimed right-handed minor league reliever, Anderson Garcia off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles and added him to their 40-man roster. The hard-throwing 25-year old will compete for one of the many available spots available in the bullpen this spring training despite not yet playing in a major league game. Last season, Garcia posted a 4-6 record with a 3.84 ERA in 42 appearances for five teams in the Mets’ and Orioles’ farm systems.
The move comes as talk about trading Jon Lieber for a reliever seems to be dying down. Perhaps the Phils will keep Lieber on staff and let the six starts duke it out in spring training along with the relievers. I am a strong proponent of keeping Lieber, if for no other reason than to have a legitimate backup starting pitcher. Last year, the Phils were killed by ineffective spot starter and did not solidify their rotation until late in the season (too late in the season, that is). This is not to say, though, that the Phillies are not still interested in bolstering their bullpen. Talk of bringing Tomo Ohka to Philadelphia has surfaced, but if you listen to Marcus Hayes, "The Phillies have no interest in any of the available, healthy free-agent relievers as setup men, including Rick White, who pitched for them last season."
Regardless, there is no question that the Phils need more help in the bullpen department – just look at Baseball Prospectus’ Pen Support index. This statistic calculates the number of additional runs charged to the starting pitcher that his bullpen allowed to score after he left the game, compared to an average bullpen. The Phillies as a team had a 1.9 Pen Support index which means the ERA of the starters look worse that what they really are due to poor bullpen performance. So the question du jour is: can Anderson Garcia bring that number down significantly? In my opinion, the answer is no, but with some more bullpen help he can certainly provide a little relief.