Head Shaking

Dave · March 2, 2006 at 6:17 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Okay, I know that a lot of people consider Pat Gillick to be baseball royalty, but man, this is incomprehendable.

From today’s times.

Imagine if Gillick hadn’t acceded to Ken Griffey Jr.’s trade request after the 1999 season and made the epic deal that sent the franchise icon to Cincinnati. Imagine, instead, if Gillick had dealt the Mariners’ other superstar, Alex Rodriguez, who later walked away from Seattle after the 2000 season to sign a $252 million contract with Texas.

Gillick dropped that provocative bombshell earlier this week on Dave Mahler’s KJR radio show, and he elaborated on Wednesday.

“I possibly traded the wrong guy,” he said. “If I had to do it over again, I should maybe have traded Alex.”

“Even though he was only one year away from free agency, I probably could have gotten more for Alex than we could for Griffey,” Gillick said.

“So I think if I had to do it over, I probably would have told Kenny, ‘Yeah, we’ll respect the fact you want to be traded, but we’re going to keep you.’ We probably should have moved the other guy.”

Looking back in retrospect, Gillick wishes he would have traded Rodriguez and kept Griffey. Despite the fact that trading Griffey was the single best move he made as the GM of the Mariners. Do you have any idea how bad we’d have been with Junior limping around center field in Safeco the past few seasons, pulling in $15+ million per season?

I mean, holy crap. I have no idea how you retroactively look at the Griffey deal from the M’s perspective and say “yea, I wish we could undo that one.”


83 Responses to “Head Shaking”

  1. DavidE on March 2nd, 2006 12:49 pm

    #49, I think Dave, in post #40, shed the appropriate light on my question. If you had read further down in my post, you would see that I asked that very question, can you get good players to round out your roster for $80M. In Dave’s post, he showed that, by golly, yes you can. Thanks for playing. 🙂

  2. Steve Nelson on March 2nd, 2006 1:00 pm


    I think Hicks painted himself into a corner and created a situation where he had to vastly over pay the likes of Chan-Ho Park to meet the inflated expectations he created in the fans. He would have been better served to hire a good GM and lived with losing for a couple or more years while signing stop gap FAs on short contracts.

    Actually, Hicks had a good GM in Doug Melvin. Melvin had he franchise doing quite nicely until Hicks made the corporate decision to become a big market team.

    Hicks didn’t paint himself into a corner with Park – rather, Park was part of Hick’s plan.

    Hicks is a cable guy, and he had two grand purposes with the Rangers. First, he wanted to control some of the programming. Second, and most significantly, Hicks believed the Rangers had significant unlocked financial potential. When Hicks considered the size of the Rangers market and the value of the Rangers franchise, he concluded the Rangers were undervalued for the size of their market. He saw an opportunity to make a huge gain if he could bring the value of the franchise into alignment with the size of the market. The concept is similar to what Moreno is trying to do (and apparrently succeeding in doing) with the Angels.

    To do that, Hicks decided to make a big push into the upper tier of teams. His idea was to enhance the image and branding of the Rangers, to make the team a bigger part of the fabric of life in central and west Texas. Hicks also felt he needed a marquee player with a good image to be the face of that effort. A-Rod fit the bill perfectly, and that was why Hicks made a blow-everyone-else-away offer. He continued the free agent splurge, leading to the contracts cited above – to advance the team up the ramp he had in mind.

    His plan failed for several reasons – but the money spent on Alex was not the reason. If Hicks was in a croner, it was a corner of his own making, and it wasn’t created by a bad contract given to A-Rod, It was by bad contracts he gave to a bunch of other guys – where he spent like a pennant contender but didn’t get pennant players for his money.

  3. Mock on March 2nd, 2006 1:09 pm

    Well, unless I’m mistaken (or someone already mentioned this, I unfortunately don’t currently have time to read all the posts) Griffey did have one more very good year after going to the Reds. So instead of having Cameron that first year we would have had another good year of Griffey, plus whatever Gillick got for A-Rod, which he intimates would actually have been much more than Cameron, Tomko, et al. In theory, the reason he didn’t trade Alex is because he thought he had a chance at resigning him, which in hindsight didn’t work. So I guess I understand where Gillick is going with the whole thing.

  4. Mock on March 2nd, 2006 1:11 pm

    Wait, I misread that. Rodriguez was one year from being an FA, not Griffey. I dunno how I missed/forgot that. Ignore my last post entirely.

  5. Evan on March 2nd, 2006 1:37 pm

    #35 – I was responding to the question as to why other teams weren’t interested in the contract. I asserted that many of them simply couldn’t affford it given the construction of their teams. The trade would have had to come up right when they had a much of FA leaving, or when their ownership group jacked up their payroll.

    Again, I agree that Texas wasted the rest of the money (basically everything they spent on players who weren’t A-Rod). I’m just saying that if you’re a team with a firm payroll limit, and A-Rod comes on the market, you’re not necessarily going to be able to sing him, even if you’re valuing him propoerly and think he’s worth more than anyone else is willing to pay, simply because you don’t have the money.

  6. Karen on March 2nd, 2006 1:44 pm

    Mat said: March 2nd, 2006 at 12:43 pm (first, a short quote from what I typed in #43) So, what you’re saying is that those other guys should be paid more? That seems like just as reasonable conclusion to me as the conclusion A-Rod should be paid less.

    Mat, let me apologize first for what I’m about to say. I really HATE it when someone says, “So, what you’re saying…”, especially the conclusion you came to. No, that’s what YOU’RE saying I’m saying. Not me, you.

    No, ANOTHER INTERPRETATION of what I’ve already said would be, “the range of salaries COULD have been compressed a bit without certain Superstars losing out on perceived worth; Ramirez signed for the above 2 months before ARod’s Big Deal, Jeter avoided arbitration with a large contract 1 month before the Big Deal…so he knew there were 2 obvious benchmarks for 2 franchise players with 2 other very wealthy organizations. How hard would it have been for ARod to “humbly” accept a contract bigger than theirs, just a LITTLE bigger? …especially earlier in the 2000 offseason, not waiting until Valentine’s Day to get signed?”

    Those contracts were out there, offered by the Mariners as well as the Mets (so the reports said). Only Scott Boras knows how many other teams sent out feelers, and were rebuffed. They aren’t saying, either (probably because the offers were close to Ramirez or Jeter money, which is the crux of the point I’m making).

    Others have approached the question from the POV of the Rangers (Hicks, really) making the blow-everyone-away offer…but yeah, when did that happen? Not until Boras and ARod danced around nearly the entire 2000 offseason waiting…for…BIGGER…offers… (until GMs of the other offering teams, including the M’s, were about to SCREAM with frustration).

  7. eric on March 2nd, 2006 1:50 pm


    You and I are basically saying the same thing in a different way. We aren’t in disagreement at all. What I probably should have said was “Hire a good GM and let him build the team” You are right the bad signings were on Hicks not Melvin.

  8. Dave on March 2nd, 2006 1:53 pm


    Not that I totally disagree with you, but Manny and Jeter aren’t in A-Rod’s class as a player. They’re both good players, all-stars even, but they aren’t historically unique players who are the best of all time at their position before they turn 30. They also weren’t free agents at 25, so they were signing contracts for less premium years than what Alex was signing up for.

    In other words, he may have been an arrogant prick for demanding to be paid like the greatest free agent in the history of sports, but in the end, he was the greatest free agent in the history of sports.

  9. eponymous coward on March 2nd, 2006 1:55 pm

    If you can’t spend $80 million on 24 players and assemble a good group of talent, you should be fired.

    Hmmm, what’s the Mariner payroll for 2004-2005 without their highest paid player?

    I don’t think Bill Bavasi wants an answer to that question.

    I’m really mean, though- I also think if you can’t consistently win 90 games with a roster that includes a HOF CF, SS, LH SP, and DH (the first 3 of those being first ballot, slam dunk HOF players producing at MVP levels on your team), as well as All-Stars at C, 1B, RF and LH SP at various times, you should be fired- because finding .500 talent to go along with three superstars and a couple of supporting All-Stars isn’t rocket science (as Pat Gillick proved later).

  10. Typical Idiot Fan on March 2nd, 2006 2:15 pm

    Wow. Cameron sucked, Griffey would have remained healthy… did Japan conquer the US in this crazy alternate earth?

    You went unnecessarily rabid there, DMZ. The original post didn’t say anything about Cameron sucking, just said that it wasn’t Gillick’s best move (IE, F-ROD believes Gillick made better moves, he’s wrong but it wasn’t a derragatory insult against Cameron). I happen to agree with the other part of F-Rod’s statements.

    Since we’re talking about hindsight and we’re talking about “what ifs”, the notion that the same results of Griffey’s years since not being in Seattle would happen if he was in Seattle are ridiculous. The world is linear, baseball is linear, and so each event directly influences the sequence of events that follow. Because Griffey was traded, he went to Cincinatti, which inevitably led to him getting hurt.

    Could Griffey have been hurt if he stayed here? Yes. But it is not assured. Hindsight does allow us to create high probabilities, especially considering Griffey’s overall reoccuring leg problems, but even high probabilities have a chance of being wrong.

    But we cannot say for certain what would have happened if any past event had changed. Even if you can take a sure fire result change, such as the results of the Seahawks / Redskins game this last season (If Josh Brown makes the kick, there is no possibility the results are different then a Seahawks victory, as there was no time left on the clock, the game would have been over, period), you can’t predict what that change of event would have had on the remainder of the Seahawks’ season. Would they have gotten over confident and lost more games? Would they have never lost and rode momentum and this time won the Super bowl?

    The point is, trying to determine the future of an alternate possibility reality using the facts of the present in our possibility reality is a very irresponsible thing to do. That’s all.

  11. Typical Idiot Fan on March 2nd, 2006 2:17 pm

    The point is, trying to determine the future of an alternate possibility reality using the facts of the present in our possibility reality is a very irresponsible thing to do. That’s all.

    And to further point: Gillick is doing it and it’s wrong, so anybody else here doing it is also wrong. That’s all I’m trying to say. Just listen to the wisdom of the Beattles and let it be, man.

  12. Karen on March 2nd, 2006 2:55 pm

    (this is delivered to Dave entirely tongue in cheek, so bear with me 😉 )

    Hey, Dave, the Greatest Free Agent In The History of Sports went 0-for-3 with 2 groundouts, with either Jeter or Damon on base ahead of him each time, in the Yanks’ 6-3 loss to the Phillies in today’s 1st ST exhibition game…

  13. Zero Gravitas on March 2nd, 2006 3:38 pm

    re: 62- Here’s another amusing and Gillick-related anecdote from today’s PHI-NYY tilt:

    R Franklin 2 5 2 2 0 1 0

    Right where he left off. Many happy returns, Pat!

  14. Adam S on March 2nd, 2006 4:42 pm

    In other words, he may have been an arrogant prick for demanding to be paid like the greatest free agent in the history of sports, but in the end, he was the greatest free agent in the history of sports.

    I’d give that honor to Shaquille O’Neal, unless he was traded from the Magic and my memory is faulty.

    Again perhaps a faulty memory, but I think it was Boras who demanded to be paid such a huge contract. My beef with A-Rod was the way he said it wasn’t about the money when clearly it was.

  15. optigan on March 2nd, 2006 4:50 pm

    Incomprehensible, please, Dave. Not incomprehendable.

  16. DMZ on March 2nd, 2006 5:36 pm

    w/r/t “clearly about the money”… unless you were in Alex’s head at the time, you don’t know that. Texas made a massive PR effort to convince him of the franchise’s sunny future as well as the best offer.

  17. Karen on March 2nd, 2006 5:42 pm

    Picture it: massive PR efforts head to head…what with that famous 50 page prospectus by Boras/Rodriguez, and Tom Hicks et al wooing them with the “sunny future” (=$$$$$$$)…

  18. F-Rod on March 2nd, 2006 6:02 pm

    How in the world was the griffey trade Gillicks best move? Trade a certain hall of famer for a 1 good fielder and 2 failed prospects….I rate it as one of his worst moves… Here are some better moves…Arthur Rhodes signing…Mrk McLemore signing….Ichiro signing….and Kaz signing…..
    The only worse moves that he made were his non-trades during the pennant drives…especailly not getting a big stick in 2001

  19. Edgar For Pres on March 2nd, 2006 6:36 pm

    Does anybody actually know what we offered Arod? I’ve always heard of this “joke offer” but then I’ve heard he got offered nearly what he got from Texas. Does anybody know the real story with a real number?

  20. Roger on March 2nd, 2006 6:36 pm

    F-Rod, Griffey was walking a few months later. Getting anything for him was pretty good, especially when KG hamstrung the process by specifying the team he was willing to go to.

  21. eponymous coward on March 2nd, 2006 6:47 pm

    How in the world was the griffey trade Gillicks best move? Trade a certain hall of famer for a 1 good fielder and 2 failed prospects….I rate it as one of his worst moves

    Except you forget that the money saved in salary arguably brought in guys like Mac/Sele/Kaz/Rhodes/Olerud as free agents, Cameron was actually a good hitter, and Griffey’s health went south after that point.

    In fact, you can argue that Cameron has contributed more to his teams the last 6 years than Griffey has- simply because of the massive amount of time Griffey’s spent on the DL. You can’t contribute on the DL.

  22. Mat on March 2nd, 2006 7:03 pm


    Okay, let me apologize first. My response to your comment was a bit snide, that’s my bad. Let me give it another try: You made the point that Rodriguez isn’t worth $7-9M more than Jeter, Ramirez, etc. I would argue that while that may be true, you haven’t said anything yet about whether or not Jeter, Ramirez, etc. are being paid what they are worth. If those guys are being underpaid, then Rodriguez’ true worth might be around $24-25M/year, even if he isn’t worth $7-9M more than those guys.

    At the end of the day, I just think it’s unfair to try to characterize Alex Rodriguez as being too greedy, when he’s been worth about $2M/win, a value that a lot of players with big contracts won’t reach. So, no, I don’t think he deserves negative press for having an agent willing to go the extra mile to get him as much money as he can get.

  23. DMZ on March 2nd, 2006 7:39 pm

    How it was Gillick’s best move:

    Gillick, joining the franchise, has Griffey demand a trade. Some bad stuff happens pretty quickly, but it’s pretty clear that Griffey now had to be traded, and traded to only one team. Griffey insists that he will refuse any trade in which that other team gives up too much talent: he wants his new team to be competitive.

    And yet for that last chunk of Griffey’s contract — after which he was absolutely at that point going to leave for Cincy — Gillick got a stud center fielder who was a huge part of the team’s success for years and some other parts.

    If he’d only received Cameron, it would have worked out.

  24. Karen on March 2nd, 2006 8:10 pm

    Mat…and Dave, too, for that matter…one last word on Sir ARod.

    When ARod can start out a season without tripping over his shoelaces and booting 2-3 grounders in a row (his first season as a Ranger) or end a season without slapping the ball out of a pitcher’s hand then claiming he was safe when he reached the base (2004, when the Yanks choked to the Red Sox in the ALCS), I’ll admit to respect for his accomplishments.

    For such a fine athlete, he has a knack for playing like the coach/manager is his father (expecting to get a pass for poor sportsmanship or lackadaisical fielding).

  25. Bruce on March 2nd, 2006 8:31 pm

    #69: Art Thiel, in “Out of Left Field” (p. 203):

    [T]he Mariners offered three years for $54 million, with a two-year option for a total of 92 million.

  26. msb on March 2nd, 2006 8:34 pm

    Gillick says it was 5 years guaranteed, totaling $95M

  27. Edgar For Pres on March 2nd, 2006 8:52 pm

    So how does ARod call an offer like that a joke?

  28. F-Rod on March 2nd, 2006 9:12 pm

    How is getting an average hitting good fielding cf for Griffey a better deal than Ichiro…Ichiro was clearly his best move and to suggest anything else is ridiculous

  29. DMZ on March 2nd, 2006 9:57 pm

    You’re missing the point.

    Further, if you’ve read “Out of Left Field” you’ll know that Gillick’s role in signing Ichiro was not so great as you seem to think.

  30. Mat on March 2nd, 2006 9:57 pm

    “When ARod can start out a season without tripping over his shoelaces and booting 2-3 grounders in a row (his first season as a Ranger) or end a season without slapping the ball out of a pitcher’s hand then claiming he was safe when he reached the base (2004, when the Yanks choked to the Red Sox in the ALCS), I’ll admit to respect for his accomplishments.”

    Alex Rodriguez has 6,000+ at-bats of hitting a translated .306/.389/.596 and average to above-average defense at premium defensive positions. Four plays that happen to stick out in your mind are but pebbles in the raging floodwaters of evidence that tell us that Alex Rodriguez is an exceptionally valuable player.

  31. darrylzero on March 3rd, 2006 8:57 am

    #80, true, and I know the record of even judging something like playoff choking or whatever is pretty mixed. But I couldn’t stop laughing at how horrible he was against the Angels. I’m definitely not sure how well he handles playoff pressure, though I freely admit I could be proved wrong at some point in the near future.

    I defended A-Rod when he left for Texas and I waxed nostalgic when he said if he’d stuck around, we definitely would have won the WS in 01 (though I don’t know about that rotation, not really built for the playoffs, if there is such a thing). But something happened. It could be run-of-the-mill Yankee-hate, but I don’t think so. He has a knack for making people hate him. There’s the publicity stunts. I didn’t mind “his best karate,” though I thought it a little unbefitting of a player of his stature, whatever.

    But he lost me forever in that postgame interview during that 2004 series when he said “I told (ump name here), I told him I didn’t want to see any more conferences, all those calls seem to go against the Yankees.” It was just so smug, refusing to take any responsibility for the loss, blaming the umps for getting together and getting the call that. That and the the fact that every baseball player seems to hate him…I’m unconvinced it’s jealousy.

    Gillick’s comment is silly, and who knows, if he’d never become a Yankee, we might never have realized what a schmuck he is. But even so, somethin’ ain’t right with that one, and I’m glad it’s Yankee fans and not Seattle fans that have to deal with all of the hate he pulls in with that smarmy tractor beam of his.

  32. msb on March 3rd, 2006 11:29 am

    well, and it continues the Gillick trend of expressing Griffey’s feelings about things, without actually having really talked to Griffey….

  33. That Bootleg Guy on March 3rd, 2006 12:12 pm

    #80…I think A-Rod handles the playoff pressure OK. His career playoff numbers look alright to me: BA: .305 OBP: .393 SLG: .534 (118ABs)

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