The Baltimore Orioles on Monday sent right-handed reliever Mike DeJean to the New York Mets for journeyman outfielder Karim Garcia, a move that confirms the team's signing of DeJean this winter as a failure and that creates a potential glut of left-handed-hitting outfielders on the Orioles' roster in the coming weeks.
In effect, the trade was one team's problem for another. DeJean, who was signed to a one-year, $1.5 million contract in December, suffered through an awful first half and departs with an 0-5 record and 6.13 ERA. Manager Lee Mazzilli tried sticking with DeJean, 33, in the key set-up role, but the team finally traded for veteran Jason Grimsley last month to fill the role.
"We felt it was time to do something with respect to Mike," Orioles Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Jim Beattie said. "It was a matter of his inconsistency. You can certainly see the stuff there. He still has quality pitches. He just hasn't been as consistent as we were hoping for when we got him."
Garcia, 28, hit .234 this season in 62 games for the Mets, who no longer needed him after acquiring Richard Hidalgo from the Houston Astros. He has played for seven organizations in his 10-year career, including the Cleveland Indians, New York Yankees and now the Orioles twice each. Garcia's previous stint with the Orioles came in 2000 and lasted only eight games.
Mazzilli, who was a coach with the Yankees when Garcia played there in 2002 and 2003, immediately pronounced Garcia his starting right fielder for the time being -- with regular Jay Gibbons and veteran B.J. Surhoff both on the disabled list -- although Garcia was in transit Monday evening and was not expected to arrive here in time to play against the Kansas City Royals.
"We're going to put him in the lineup and play him out there," Mazzilli said. "He's a team player who plays hard and knows the game, [and who] can hit the ball out of the ballpark. He's been though the playoffs and World Series. . . . He brings a lot to the table, and he's going to make us a better club."
Garcia has had two brushes with the law in the last nine months. Last October, he and Yankees teammate Jeff Nelson were accused of assaulting a member of the Boston Red Sox' grounds crew during Game 3 of the ALCS. A court date is set for October. Then, in March, he and Mets teammate Shane Spencer were accused of assaulting a pizza delivery man, although charges were not filed.
"Maz knew him," Beattie said, shrugging off a question about Garcia's character. "Maz endorsed the whole thing."
The acquisition of Garcia was combined with a major overhaul of Mazzilli's lineup -- with Brian Roberts bumped out of the leadoff spot and Rafael Palmeiro dropped to the sixth spot in the order, both for the first time this season -- as the Orioles attempt to jar themselves out of an offensive slump that saw them score only 10 runs in a split of a four-game series at Tampa Bay this weekend.
Mazzilli also threatened further changes if offensive production does not pick up. Although he did not specify anyone, it can be inferred he means second baseman Roberts and center fielder Luis Matos are in danger of being benched.
"I feel right now that [with] the guys who have been out there the whole first half, playing as hard as they can," Mazzilli said, "it got to a point where I feel I have to put the best team that's going to win for us now [on the field]. If it means sitting one of the guys in the outfield or the infield, that's what's going to happen."