So, What Did I Miss?
I take a road trip to Atlanta for a couple of days, take in a Braves-Tigers game, and get reminded in person that Carlos Guillen and Rafael Soriano are both still awesome, and I apparently missed quite a bit in Mariner-land.
1. The Richie Sexson Annual Second Half Tear looks to be just about underway. .300/.364/.900 in his last 7 games, including 4 home runs. This is why the team didn’t bench him. He’s a ridiculously streaky hitter, but when he’s running hot, he’s the most effective power hitter the offense has, and they can’t win without him driving the ball.
2. After the Friday night debacle, Hargrove responded with more line-up changes. Last time he shook things up, he did well, moving Lopez to #2 and dropping Vidro to #8. This time? Not so much. Vidro brings his pathetic little .721 OPS back to the #3 hole. Becuase clearly, this team needs more Turbo.
Hargrove may be noticing that Guillen is having problems with RHPs, however, as he got Broussard into the line-up on Sunday in RF. Apparently, Guillen and Ibanez are both too hurt to play. Hello Adam Jones! No? Arghh. I don’t love Broussard in the outfield, but RF at Safeco is the easiest spot to play, and Guillen doesn’t have much range with his bad ankles either, so the offensive upgrade against right-handers is probably worth the experiment. He really needs to be in the line-up more often, as the team just can’t afford to keep a .295/.349/.487 left-handed hitter against RHPs on the bench.
4. Also, from the box score, it looks like Hargrove made two terrific moves yesterday – the suicide squeeze is my favorite play in baseball, and should be used far more often than it is. Kudos to Grover for calling it in the perfect scenario, with Betancourt on 3rd and Bloomquist at the plate in a tie game. Also, for handing the ball to J.J. Putz to get the final out in the 8th inning. Sherrill’s good enough to get tough righties out, but since he’s set on playing the L/R matchup game with his bullpen, going to Putz instead of Morrow could have been a game-saving decision.
5. And, finally, the big one – Ken Griffey Jr gave an interview on Fox Sports Northwest where he said he wants to retire as a Mariner, and that Seattle will always be home. You have no idea how happy I am that I wasn’t around the blog for this, because I’d have been pounding my head against a wall trying to keep the trade-creating-posters at bay.
So, what does his statement mean? Well, obviously, he had a good time in his return to Safeco, and the numerous standing ovations meant a lot to him. There’s no doubt he’s going into the hall of fame as a Mariner, and the idea of playing his last game with the team that he broke into the majors with holds significant appeal to both him and a large portion of the fan base. And we know that the M’s organization absolutely loves stuff like this, so the executives will push hard for a Griffey return when it becomes possible.
But as far as making a move right now? Let’s look at this from a realistic perspective. The M’s currently have a better player than Ken Griffey Jr biding his time in Tacoma waiting for a spot in the line-up to open up. They have a quality left-handed hitter sitting on the bench, unable to get as much playing time as he deserves. And they have another outfielder in Tacoma who continues to take a significant step forward in development and, because he’s out of options, he has to be on the team next year or be in another organization.
We already can’t find room for Ben Broussard and Adam Jones right now (again, this is why the Vidro trade was so ridiculously awful), and next year, you have to add Wladmir Balentien to the mix. Between the three outfield spots and designated hitter, you’ve got four line-up spots for Ichiro, Ibanez, Guillen, Vidro, Broussard, and Jones. Toss Balentien into that mix next year, likely replacing Guillen, and you’ve still got six guys for four spots. And that’s not including Jeff Clement, who is making a huge push to make sure he’s not forgotten about as a source of LH power.
Yes, Junior is better than Broussard and Vidro. And he’s a better fit for this team than Guillen, as the team needs a LH bat in the line-up more than a right-handed bat. But the marginal improvement of trading for Griffey isn’t as large as you’d think, looking at his numbers. He’d be another guy blocking Adam Jones, who really needs to be in the Mariners line-up right now, and would make a larger difference in improving the team than Junior would. He’d be another guy blocking Wladimir Balentien next year, giving the organization yet another high salaried player at a position where they had a low salaried option, taking more money away from the budget and preventing the club from improving at other positions.
For the huge portion of the fanbase that loves Griffey, I hope he does retire a Mariner. It just makes more sense for that to happen in 2009 and not 2007.