Reading tea leaves for Griffey’s role

DMZ · March 17, 2009 at 8:00 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Sooooo I’m not sure what to make of Jim Street’s latest. It reads like he’s going to be playing as much left field as he wants and can, but also like the M’s are just getting him time out there now while trying to establish why he won’t be a regular:

“The biggest thing is how much Junior wants to play left field,” Wakamatsu said. “I know how effective he can play there, but his health will dictate it as much as anything. We have talked to him about doing whatever we can to get as much production out of him while keeping him healthy all year.

“We don’t want that [left] knee flaring up on him, forcing him to play hurt the way he did last year. I think he’s all for that.”

There’s a lot of commentary, which we’ll discard, and then this indirect quote

Wakamatsu said that several factors would be taken into account when determining how much playing time Griffey gets in the field and how much time he spends in the DH role.

Endy Chavez — currently playing for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic — probably would get the majority of starts in left field against right-handed pitchers. Griffey would handle the DH duties in most of those games.

Of course, being the pessimist I am, because pessimism is tomorrow’s status reports delivered early, I immediately jumped to wondering how much “most” and “majority” is.

Still, I have faith — the team’s been making smart moves all off-season. Until we see Griffey out there three days a week I’m going to assume they’re just seeing what they’ve got and how much of liability he’d be if he did play.


38 Responses to “Reading tea leaves for Griffey’s role”

  1. bakomariner on March 17th, 2009 8:37 am

    I hope he gets a few starts out there in the next week or so, and while he stays healthy, they see he has no range to play everyday…

    Please, please, please…

  2. JI on March 17th, 2009 8:43 am

    Considering we don’t really have another DH, and that Zduriencik was pimping the 3 CF OF on the radio with Dave, I remain cautiously optimistic.

    Let me add that while I love Ken Griffey Jr., this is why I think it was a terrible idea to sign him.

  3. ndevale on March 17th, 2009 8:43 am

    I still hear no hint of upgrading the roster in LF, and I suppose this late in the spring it is increasingly unlikely. It does seem however that several clubs have surpluses, all of which have been mentioned at one time or another here (Washington, Baltimore, Yankees). Any thoughts?

  4. Tek Jansen on March 17th, 2009 8:43 am

    I believe that Wakamatsu will come up with great excuses to play Griffey at DH.

    For instance,

    Opening series at Minnesota: “We didn’t want him out there on the artificial turf.”

    Opening series at Safeco: “It was windy and cold, and we felt that he (Griffey) and the club would be best served by not having him run the outfield in those conditions.”

    What other excuses could Wakamastu use to keep Griffey at DH?

  5. DMZ on March 17th, 2009 8:47 am

    Why would we want to upgrade left field? They’ve got Chavez.

  6. Tek Jansen on March 17th, 2009 8:51 am

    Maybe ndevale meant a RH compliment to Chavez, one better than Balentien? I would not mind a better hitter and/or fielder than Balentien. It seems a little late in spring training for that to happen.

  7. Dave on March 17th, 2009 8:51 am

    I think Tek has basically hit the nail on the head. My guess is it shakes out like this.

    First week, he doesn’t get any LF starts – four games on turf and then three games in Oakland’s vast outfield: “Well, you know, we didn’t want Junior’s knee to take a beating on the fake stuff in Minnesota, and Chavez has made a few nice plays out there for us. So, for now, we’re just taking it day to day.”

    Second week, he gets one or maybe two LF starts while at home: “He did okay out there. We took him out late because Endy’s just such a great defender, and we want to be protective of Junior’s knee. He’s adapted well to DH’ing, which just shows what kind of pro he really is.”

    Third week, he doesn’t get any LF starts at all: “We don’t want to push it early in the year, so we’re just being cautious. Plus, did you see that catch Endy had last night?”

    May: “You know, we don’t want to mess with what’s broken. Chavez has been great for us out in left field, we want to get Wladdy some playing time, and Griffey’s doing well at DH. We’re just going to stay the course.”

    July: “Yea, I think we all though Ken would have played the outfield more, but we’re happy with where the club is and he’s content with his role here.”

    September: “You know, I think we’re basically settled on Jr as a DH at this point. He’s done a great job, been a total vet, and we’ve got some kids we want to look at out there in left, so I don’t see him playing the field too much more this year.”

  8. bakomariner on March 17th, 2009 8:52 am

    Most people think Chavez can’t hit…I think he and Gutierrez will hit better than most expect…

    The OF should be fine…unless Griff is out there regularly…

  9. sass on March 17th, 2009 9:05 am


    May it be so.

  10. msb on March 17th, 2009 9:07 am

    could we ask Corey to write up the same piece, just to see it with a StreetFilter?

  11. ChrisK on March 17th, 2009 9:20 am

    I hope Tek is right. They’re probably just using this “he’ll play LF as much as he wants” mantra as a way to sell more tickets on the left side of the stadium.

  12. joser on March 17th, 2009 9:30 am

    So which month does Griffey start giving petulant interviews where he complains about not playing in the field enough and how his contract dollars depend on attendance and fans are only going to come out to see him if he’s running around in the field?

    And how much later, after he does get more chances to run around and bang into walls, does he end up on the DL?

    I predict they start him in the field at least one game of each home series, though it might be for just six-eight innings. That’s 25 starts or so (~175 innings), and it means the average 16-game-plan purchaser sees him chug around on the grass four or five times.

    Then again, he did spend a little bit of time one day taking balls at first base. He said he was “just messing around” but you never know — it would make the season ticket holders who sit behind the 1st base dugout happy, right?

  13. Tek Jansen on March 17th, 2009 9:41 am

    I am pretty certain that no one will go to Safeco to see Griffey in the OF. There are fans who will go nuts when he steps to the plate, but I can’t imagine a Griffey fanatic saying “Well, he’s only going to DH, so I’ll stay home.”

    However, unless the M’s are in the playoff race until the last day of the season, I do suspect that he will start one game in CF during the final series, assuming that he is not on the DL.

  14. mkd on March 17th, 2009 10:23 am

    I figure they’ll put him out there a bit more often than we’d like to see early in the season (but less often the the average fan would like to see). Then an injury of some kind will sideline for awhile and that’ll be the end of it. By mid-May the OF will kick ass and the FO will have all the cover it needs to keep Griffey in his hole.

  15. PhinneyFan on March 17th, 2009 10:51 am

    his health will dictate it as much as anything.

    Hearing this completely illogical point over and over is driving me crazy. If he’s healthy and they put him in left field, there’s a good chance he’ll be unhealthy real soon.

    If health concerns dictate his position, the M’s will play him at DH. I’m going to keep (naively?) assuming this until I see otherwise.

  16. eponymous coward on March 17th, 2009 10:54 am

    Wait a minute…

    Endy Chavez — currently playing for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic — probably would get the majority of starts in left field against right-handed pitchers. Griffey would handle the DH duties in most of those games.

    So they’d start Griffey in LF against a LHP? Or does that mean they’d start Wlad or a hypothetical RHB?

    Also: trading Wlad would be fine, I suppose, so he can go develop into Juan Encarnacion with a bit more power and walks and less speed and defense in a park where he’d have a fighting chance to DO this. (Insert obligatory grumbling about how Safeco should be fixed not to screw RHB so badly here.)

  17. bakomariner on March 17th, 2009 10:59 am

    After reading the whole article, I have more faith he will spend less time in the OF…the whole tone of the piece suggests that he will play some, but may not be the regular guy…

    The best line in the piece, although not a direct quote from management, is, “But the Mariners didn’t bring back Junior for his defense.”

    Even though it’s Street’s opinion, and we all know how great a writer he is, I think that it probably relects the same from Wak and Z…

  18. Mariner Fan in CO Exile on March 17th, 2009 11:27 am

    I am pretty certain that no one will go to Safeco to see Griffey in the OF.

    While I agree with your underlying sentiment 100%, and I think that playing him in LF any more than is absolutely necessary is a mistake, there would be something nostalgic about seeing his back turned to you in the OF seats, and warming up before the inning begins. There are few things I miss about the Kingdome, but I remember seeing Griffey in the field quite vividly, and they are great memories.

    Don’t get me wrong, I want him as far away from the OF as possible (with the exception of tagging 2nd base on a homerun trot, I suppose), but I do think some people would enjoy seeing him out there again just for the memories.

    It’s just more evidence that mostly bad baseball decisions result from purely emotional attachments to the past.

  19. JI on March 17th, 2009 11:34 am

    I hope Tek and Dave are right.

  20. SeasonTix on March 17th, 2009 12:46 pm

    It’s obvious to anybody who has listened to Griffey talk this Spring that he wants to, and expect to, play most of the games in LF.

    It’s also obvious that Wak and Jack Z do NOT want him to play most of the games in LF.

    So Wak is going to have to do a hell of a good sales job on Griffey to convince him that playing in LF a lot is not in the team’s best interest.

    Unfortunately, I think Jr will be a VERY tough sell and I hope he doesn’t start throwing his well-known temper tantrums.

    The good news is that Wak has been universally praised for his ability to relate to and communicate with his players, so maybe he can get through to Griffey and convince him that he should end his career as “Edgar Jr.” rather than “The Kid.”

  21. Steve T on March 17th, 2009 12:57 pm

    I think there’ll be a big kerfuffle in the press about this by mid-May at the latest. Griffey thinks he’s a great centerfielder, who will play left or right as a conciliatory gesture to the team. If they DH him, he’s going to be pissed — and he’s going to have a lot of support in this town.

    I just hope that support doesn’t come from Wakamatsu. I am seriously afraid that Griffey’s going to get 1000 innings in left this season, barring injury.

  22. bakomariner on March 17th, 2009 1:03 pm

    They need to arrange a sit-down between Griff and Gar ASAP…

  23. Ralph_Malph on March 17th, 2009 1:09 pm

    I have to hope they talked to Griffey about this before he was signed. If they didn’t talk about it, you can’t fault Griffey (as much) if he is expecting to play LF regularly.

    Certainly there’s room to debate whether it was a good idea to sign him. But to sign him without clarifying what role he was signed to fill would be inexcusable. If they had that conversation before he signed, he’ll be in no position to whine about DH’ing.

    I’m not making any assumptions about whether that is the case at this point. But the way things went down the last week with Atlanta, I wonder if he would have signed with Seattle if they’d said: “by the way, we’re planning to use you as a platoon DH and very rare LF fill-in.”

  24. SeasonTix on March 17th, 2009 1:23 pm


    I orgiginally thought they had convinced Griffey that he would primarily be used as a DH when he met with Jack Z and Wak in Peoria before making his decision. That was the indication I got from listening to comments that Jack and Wak made about that meeting.

    But when Griffey actually showed up at ST he told a completely different story. He said he was there to play LF and did NOT come to Seattle to “hit and sit.”

    Don’t forget, Atlanta WANTED him to play LF!

    So I get the feeling that Griffey heard what he wanted to hear. When they told him, “you can play Left Field IF you are healthy enough” Griffey thought that meant “you are our primary left fielder.”

    I get a bad feeling about this every time I hear Griffey talk because he has shown NO willingness to DH on a semi-regular basis.

  25. ppl on March 17th, 2009 2:34 pm

    Junior says he wants to the little things that help a team win, and I am sure he does. But that means little if he is unwilling to do a big thing to help the team win. He should concentrate on being DH, he has not yet played a season without playing on the field, so we don’t know how good he can be if he concentrates on hitting only. He knows that this is a fan base that knows how good he once was and that he took pride in it. He also played with Edgar before and after he had to make the move to full-time DH, and he knows how popular Edgar was here. He may be able to have a great season if he stays healthy and concentrates on hitting only. But if the M’s are on pace for 90+ loses by the end of May, who cares, trade Chavez, his stock will never be higher then when contending teams could use his excellence on their bench.

  26. joser on March 17th, 2009 3:47 pm

    I don’t know that appealing to “what’s best for the team” is the right way to approach it, because I’m sure Griffey is convinced he can make a positive contribution in the field and therefore that would be what’s best. I suspect the right way to approach it (and some of the quotes we’ve been hearing suggest it is the approach Wakamatsu and the others are taking) is to leverage Griffey’s health concerns, which by now must haunt him a bit even at the best of times. It’s an appeal to his selfishness, really: the best way to heal that knee is by “sitting and hitting”; the more you DH, the more likely you are to be healthy and able to play through to the end of the season and pull in those fans; if you take it easy early on, you’ll be able to take the field late in the season “when it matters.”

  27. Bretticus on March 17th, 2009 3:51 pm

    Steve T–

    Griffey doesn’t think he’s a great center fielder anymore. I don’t know where it was written, but I remember when he was traded to the White Sox, he almost vetoed it because they told him he’d have to play center.

  28. diderot on March 17th, 2009 3:55 pm

    [wishing injuries on people is frowned upon]

  29. Tuomas on March 17th, 2009 4:55 pm

    That’s a bit harsh, innit? Even if it’s sarcastic.

  30. MissingEdgar on March 17th, 2009 5:08 pm

    [wishing injuries on people is frowned upon]

    This is one of the most disgusting posts I’ve ever read here. I’m amazed that it survived the moderation queue.

  31. pygmalion on March 17th, 2009 6:08 pm

    Although there are mods, you have to work your way onto the moderation queue. Moderation is mostly post facto here.

  32. Mike Snow on March 17th, 2009 6:26 pm

    Your first comment is an audition of sorts, and after you’re past that it takes more obnoxious behavior coming to our attention. We have neither the time nor the inclination to screen everything in advance.

  33. praetor on March 17th, 2009 7:23 pm

    sorry, I know it is unrelated, but [deleted, unrelated]

  34. MI5 on March 17th, 2009 8:03 pm

    There have got to be some nights where Gutierrez gets a night off against righties, right? Endy swings into CF and Junior gets to play the field. Franklin isn’t playing all 162 games.

  35. ThundaPC on March 17th, 2009 8:04 pm

    I can’t forsee Griffey spending too much time in the OF strictly because of his health as mentioned already on here. If there’s one thing we know about Wakamatsu and staff is that they’re very cautious.

    Well, make that cautious and flexible. I think Wak mentioned this somewhere before but Giffey being able to play in the OF gives them flexibility in emergency situations when they need one in the pinch.

    That’s another reason why I don’t expect Griffey to be out on the field too much. They would prefer to save that option as a backup plan if possible and not use him over Chavez. I’m pretty sure this organization prefers to maximize Griffey’s offense potential which won’t happen if he’s fielding his way to the DL.

  36. musicman on March 17th, 2009 10:44 pm

    I for one do not see any need to worry about any of the quotes we’re seeing. Management is doing a great job of guiding Jr. into the role they want him in, while helping him save face.

    If Dave needs ANOTHER gig, he could start offering his services with the crystal ball, because he has it exactly right. We know Jr.’s a proud man, and no one in there right mind is going to sit him down and say, “you suck in the field, so we’re gonna DH you all year.”

    Management will start off by talking about keeping him healthy, and gradually move to “look what great leadership/ performance/ etc. he’s able to give the team at DH.”

  37. after4ever on March 17th, 2009 11:55 pm

    I would want to cuff Wakamatsu one if he weren’t saying nice things about Griffey’s prospects as a left fielder–during spring training.

    “The job is open” comments during spring training to me are like campaign promises–not lies at heart when spoken, but soooo often broken by circumstance when the time comes.

    I mean, how hard would Griffey–or anyone–work if his manager were saying “we’ll be lucky to get a couple hundred ABs out of him as a platooned DH”?

  38. slescotts on March 18th, 2009 1:27 pm

    Does this mean they are looking for ways to bring up guys that are playing well this spring and possibly get them in more often?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.