On bringing back Griffey

DMZ · November 2, 2009 at 11:51 am · Filed Under Mariners 

I understand the good feelings. Heck, we partook. And no one’s going to deny the team certainly seemed happier, though we can argue how to divvy up the credit.

But are the few clutch hits really so awesome that people overlook what actually happened last year? In 2010, Griffey will be forty. He’s fought nagging injuries for years, to the point he can’t defend in the field and still worse for AL-job-finding purposes, he can’t hit well enough to be a DH.

He hit .214/.324/.411 last year, and it’s not as if even stricter platooning would help. He only faced lefties 87 times (and had great luck against them, defying a long decline into hopelessness).

We heard a lot about how his lack of power was due to his knee, and pointed out it looked a lot more like standard decline from aging. Here’s his career SLG line on Fangraphs:

There’s no coming back from that.

And here’s the problem, right — last year the M’s had a lot of rope to work with, and roster spots they could burn on positive public relations moves like the Griffey return. They were trying to dig themselves out of a huge hole and made some big high-risk moves (like the Putz trade) that were hard to explain to the fans buying a couple tickets a year and getting their analysis from the broadcast crew. Griffey came cheap, took an incentive-based contract, and offered them a great story to sell.

Next year they’re in an even tougher position. They need to figure out what they’re doing with Felix, and at the same time they’re trying to improve a team with not much money and not much roster space. They can’t afford to spend a couple million on a DH who can’t hit, because it’s going to take money away from improving elsewhere and it’s going to force them to get even more from even less because if their DH isn’t contributing, someone else will need to.

That’s not clear enough. Every American League team can get better than Griffey’s production by picking the right minor league free agent or rehab project and paying them $350,000-$1m (or just using the DH to rest an over-stuffed lineup of outfielders). If the M’s pay that, they’re only treading water. If they pay more, they’re sinking.

This may well end up being a great test of how much exactly the M’s value Griffey’s clubhouse presence. Last year they kept two non-hitter designated hitters for their hugging and pie-throwing abilities, and Dave and I argued a lot about whether it was worth tearing my hair out worrying about every marginal run (Dave arguing for calmness). And it’s possible during the season they didn’t want to tamper with what was working by tossing popular Sweeney in favor of anyone who could hit, and I sympathize, a little.

But this off-season they’re going to need to look at this with an eye towards wins and their budget. The 2010 Mariners need to improve their offense, and they need better hitting from their designated hitters. Griffey doesn’t offer that. And as much as Seattle loves him, well, we love Edgar too, but we wouldn’t bring him back to DH next year.

Comments

85 Responses to “On bringing back Griffey”

  1. joealb1 on November 2nd, 2009 12:00 pm

    NO ROSTER SPOT FOR JR! Hire him as a “special assignment” coach. Let him meet the team when they are on an east coast swing and tickle Ichiro! I can see the clubhouse chemistry now….

  2. BobbyAyalaFan4Life on November 2nd, 2009 12:00 pm

    I don’t know…I’ll bet Edgar can still hit pretty darn well…can we get him a pinch runner? lol
    No, as much as I hate to admit it, it’s definitely true. I wouldn’t mind them keeping him on in a coaching/special assistant type role as a non-player, but anyone who pays him more than the range you included above is basically throwing money away. In order to win, and win now, we need to put the honeymoon behind us.

  3. timandren on November 2nd, 2009 12:03 pm

    Derek, your chart is awesomely large and eating up the right column on Mac OS Safari.

  4. kinbote on November 2nd, 2009 12:07 pm

    Yes, but he deserves to come back ;)

  5. joser on November 2nd, 2009 12:32 pm

    I wonder how likely it is Wakamatsu would be willing to go with a 6-man bullpen / 11 man pitching squad? That frees up a roster spot that allows Griffey to be your “26th man.” Of course, you still have to play him occasionally, and pay him regularly, so all the objections vs freely available talent still apply.

    Does the CBA allow for contracts where the incentives are per-tickle? (And dependent on the performance of everyone else on the team? Eg for every point of BA above .350 that Ichiro hits, Griffey gets another $1000?)

  6. Liam on November 2nd, 2009 12:37 pm

    Griffey’s performance was compromised last season due to a knee injury he hid for most of the year. Griffey had his left knee drained three times, according to Goldberg, and it was finally repaired surgically three days after the season.

    This quote is from a January 2009 article, but and you could run it again in January 2010.

  7. eponymous coward on November 2nd, 2009 12:38 pm

    Or, to put this another way:

    Griffey: .214/.324/.411
    Richie Sexson, 2007-2008: .211/.306/.392 (in a ballpark that punishes righties far more than lefties)

    Nobody’s campaigning to bring Richie Sexson back. If you’re on the Bring Back Griffey bandwagon, you’re pretty much ignoring his performance- at which point, sure, bring Edgar, Bone and Wilson back, too.

  8. Mariner Fan in CO Exile on November 2nd, 2009 12:45 pm

    Derek,

    Why are you so mean and hate little puppies and small children?

    I joke, of course, but thought I’d boil down the arguments against what you have written to what they really are – emotionalism.

    I can’t think of a sound reason, from the viewpoint of winning, for bringing Griffey back on anything like what we gave him in 2009.

    I actually think there are only two viable options:

    1. If he wants to play full-time, you let him go and thank him for the wonderful memories (no sarcasm there, I truly mean that the memories were great).

    2. If he’s thinking about securing his future, and there is a corresponding need in the organization, the team could look to offer him a bench-plus role, let him act as an extra player coach, and add to it the promise that he’d be welcomed into the fold in a Nolan Ryan-lite role if/when he’s ready.

    I think, even if he’s interested in playing everyday and is likely to try to go somewhere else, you give him a standing offer along the lines of #2 (perhaps minus the guaranteed bench role), in the event it doesn’t work out elsewhere.

  9. currcoug on November 2nd, 2009 12:49 pm

    In all fairness to Junior, where would the M’s have been without his bat at Safeco? (13 HR’s, .548 SLG, .930 OPS). Moreover, in contrast to what most predicted, Junior hit significantly better against lefties, than righties in 2009. Of course, Junior absolutely sucked on the road.

    Conversely, Sweeney sucked at Safeco, but was solid on the road (.519 SLG, .840 OPS). Maybe Wak should have made Junior the exclusive DH at Safeco, and Sweeney the exclusive DH away? Just kidding.

    It is probable that Armstrong and Ichiro will strongly lobby for Junior to return.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?n1=griffke02&year=2009&t=b

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?n1=sweenmi01&year=2009&t=b

  10. gsquared on November 2nd, 2009 12:50 pm

    I feel like the Griffey decision this offseason (assuming he doesn’t retire) will be a watershed for this franchise. Are they finally willing, at all levels of management, to make decisions that emphasize on-field performance over sentimental/intangible/”fan-friendly” factors? This is a major test.

  11. eponymous coward on November 2nd, 2009 12:54 pm

    But Griffey isn’t any good for the M’s in a bench-plus role (in terms of making any on-the0field contribution). He has no position on the field because his defense is terrible, and last I checked, the M’s play a) in the AL, which uses pinch hitters less, and b) for a manager who doesn’t use pinch hitters (one of the lowest totals in the AL).

    Basically, you’re giving Wakamatsu a pie-throwing machine that can tickle Ichiro on his bench, eating up a roster spot if you resign Griffey. I mean, sure, if you want to completely throw performance and roster flexibility out the window because Griffey’s awesome in the clubhouse, sure, but don’t make any illusions that this is anything other than giving Griffey a roster spot because he’s Ken Griffey Jr.- not because he deserves it by being one of the 25 best players in the M’s organization.

  12. Mariner Fan in CO Exile on November 2nd, 2009 12:54 pm

    And just so everyone knows, I do realize the value of a quality bench player. I also realize that tying up such a spot with Griffey is probably not a great decision. It is however, not the end of the world, nor will it make the difference between contention and not. It may help with PR, as well as get Griffey where he actually should be right now – helping other players get better. Who knows, if he’s good at it, maybe we find a gem for the organization?

    If the team is determined to do something with Griffey, I offer #2 as something I probably wouldn’t get pissed about.

  13. wsm on November 2nd, 2009 1:06 pm

    Doesn’t the inclusion of Sweeney on this year’s team indicate that the club is perfectly willing to carry a no-glove bench player? Why can’t Griffey have that job in 2010? Having Griffey around to pinch hit for the Jack Wilsons we’ll be running out there isn’t a terrible idea. And there are worse fallback plans for the inevitable injuries our new 1B/DH combo will have.

    I’d argue for a bench of Johnson/Hannahan/Hall/Griffey next year. Langerhans is a great defensive outfielder, but that’s hardly a need with Saunders/Gutierrez/Ichiro. Bill Hall can hold his own out there too.

  14. DMZ on November 2nd, 2009 1:08 pm

    What’s #2?

    The problem with thinking that bringing him back isn’t the difference between contention and not is that there’s going to come a point where we say “no, 3B was the difference, if only we’d had an extra $2m to sign Beltre in free… ohhhhhhh”

  15. DMZ on November 2nd, 2009 1:10 pm

    Sweeney was there not to be a no-glove bench guy but to caddy for Griffey at DH, pie people after games, and pick up some 1B time for Branyan if necessary (which obviously… yeah). That they were willing to do that doesn’t make it the best thing to do.

  16. ChrisK on November 2nd, 2009 1:11 pm

    IMO the only negative about the 2009 season is that is fueled the belief (among casual fans & media) that clubhouse chemistry was the reason this team “overachieved”. And if Griffey/Sweeney are dropped (which they should be) and the team wins 80-85 games next year, they’ll blame it on the lack of ticklefests and pie-in-the-face chemistry-ness from 2009.

  17. Dave on November 2nd, 2009 1:19 pm

    Doesn’t the inclusion of Sweeney on this year’s team indicate that the club is perfectly willing to carry a no-glove bench player?

    No, because Sweeney had a job – DH against RHPs. Being a platoon player is not the same thing as being a bench player.

    You can’t make Griffey a platoon player as a LH hitter, because then he’s just playing the same amount that he did last year. So your options are regular or pinch-hitter. That’s it.

    And neither of those are a good use of a roster spot.

  18. Mariner Fan in CO Exile on November 2nd, 2009 2:34 pm

    What’s #2?

    I suggested:

    “2. If he’s thinking about securing his future, and there is a corresponding need in the organization, the team could look to offer him a bench-plus role, let him act as an extra player coach, and add to it the promise that he’d be welcomed into the fold in a Nolan Ryan-lite role if/when he’s ready.”

    I actually think Griffey will either retire or seek a full-time gig. So, even though I could live with (not be excited about) the decision to offer him something like what I have suggested, I don’t think he’ll take it, in the end.

    The problem with thinking that bringing him back isn’t the difference between contention and not is that there’s going to come a point where we say “no, 3B was the difference, if only we’d had an extra $2m to sign Beltre in free… ohhhhhhh”

    I am not assuming that the calculation that would lead Griffey to taking a bench role (in what I agree would not be the best use of a roster spot), would carry over to the other decisions the team would make, if they went this route. And I don’t think they should do it for $2mill. $1mill sounds about right. If he says it is too little money, even factoring in the promise of his future role, then I guess those involved agree to walk away from each other.

    “And neither of those are a good use of a roster spot.”

    No, but the former is clearly worse. Look, I want Griffey to retire. That said, I don’t think any of us will look at the roster and objectively conclude holding a bench spot for Griffey will affect the season much one way or the other. Could they use the spot in a better way? Yes. I just won’t cry much if the team decided to do it.

  19. Nate on November 2nd, 2009 2:47 pm

    Yes, but he deserves to come back

    Dammit! When I laugh out loud at work, people wonder and ask about it.

  20. Mike Snow on November 2nd, 2009 2:54 pm

    I’d be fine with paying Griffey up to $1 million to occupy a spot… on the DL.

  21. TranquilPsychosis on November 2nd, 2009 3:01 pm

    Dammit! When I laugh out loud at work, people wonder and ask about it.

    Just tell them that you forgot to take your medication. Then ask them if Elvis had come by asking for you yet. They’ll probably quit asking.

  22. ivan on November 2nd, 2009 3:04 pm

    Derek:

    Suppose they trade Silva for Bradley and bring Griffey back to be Bradley’s nanny? Bradley, being a switch-hitter, replaces both Griffey AND Sweeney. Is it worth a roster spot to keep Griffey around to keep Bradley (we hope) from turning into a werewolf?

    I’m not so quick to say no. Bradley, when he’s good, is very, very good.

  23. diderot on November 2nd, 2009 3:10 pm

    Having Griffey around to pinch hit for the Jack Wilsons we’ll be running out there isn’t a terrible idea.

    Yes it is.

    In all fairness to Junior, where would the M’s have been without his bat at Safeco?

    Exactly where we wound up…or maybe a little better.

    If he’s thinking about securing his future

    With all the deferred money he has coming? Really…a pass the hat night for Griffey? If so, Brian Goldberg is the next Bernie Madoff.

    nor will it make the difference between contention and not.

    How do you know that?

    get Griffey where he actually should be right now – helping other players get better.

    Now we’re getting somewhere. I say we offer him the hitting coach job at High Desert. Let’s see how fast he jumps at that.

    I feel like the Griffey decision this offseason (assuming he doesn’t retire) will be a watershed for this franchise.

    I think this is 100% true. Because if Z is the baseball man we suspect he is, he knows Griffey both hurts his chances of winning and wastes payroll. So that could well put him nose-to-nose with Armstrong, who I think can be relied on to continue in his role as Griffey’s top fanboy. This should be a showdown moment for Z–he’s the general manager–and if he doesn’t fight, or loses, it says troubling things about the future.

  24. Paul B on November 2nd, 2009 3:11 pm

    Langerhans is a great defensive outfielder, but that’s hardly a need with Saunders/Gutierrez/Ichiro. Bill Hall can hold his own out there too.

    I hope Hall was just injured, and he’ll recover next year. If he plays in spring training like he did for the M’s this year, he’ll probably get cut.

  25. Mariner Fan in CO Exile on November 2nd, 2009 3:27 pm

    With all the deferred money he has coming? Really…a pass the hat night for Griffey? If so, Brian Goldberg is the next Bernie Madoff.

    I don’t mean secure his future in a purely monetary sense. Griffey might be interested in managing or a front office role eventually. If so, the Mariners opening the door to that would have some value. If not, then there’s little attraction to him for $1mill and a spot on the bench, you are right.

    How do you know that?

    I’d like to see you make the case that a low cost contract for a bench role player has ever been the single cause of a team missing contention. It may have happened, but I can bet I’ll find 10 other reasons that seem more likely contributors for any example you cite to me. The effect of Griffey on the bench will be marginal, and, not surprisingly, something you could undo with minimal loss in the middle of the season.

  26. currcoug on November 2nd, 2009 3:41 pm

    Zduriencik correctly stated that Junior’s bat would play well in Safeco.

    Like it or not, it won’t be easy finding a more productive DH for the M’s, in regards to hitting at Safeco. It is likely to cost the M’s a lot more money too.

  27. gsquared on November 2nd, 2009 3:50 pm

    Like it or not, it won’t be easy finding a more productive DH for the M’s, in regards to hitting at Safeco.

    Matsui, Johnson, Branyan, Delgado, Thome, all free agents. Not hard.

  28. TranquilPsychosis on November 2nd, 2009 4:15 pm

    Zduriencik correctly stated that Junior’s bat would play well in Safeco.

    Of course his bat would play well in Safeco. It was designed for his bat.

    Like it or not, it won’t be easy finding a more productive DH for the M’s, in regards to hitting at Safeco. It is likely to cost the M’s a lot more money too.

    It won’t be easy to find a left handed hitter that can surpass .214/.324/.411? And it will cost the team a bunch more cash? I think Branyan did exactly what you are saying can’t be done. For less than half Griffey’s money actually.

  29. gsquared on November 2nd, 2009 5:19 pm

    So that could well put him nose-to-nose with Armstrong, who I think can be relied on to continue in his role as Griffey’s top fanboy.

    My nightmare is Griffey wants a regular spot next year and is somehow offered one with another team (Royals?) for cheap. Griffey says that therefore if the M’s won’t give him the regular spot he wants they will have to pay more to re-sign him. Armstrong, desperate to keep Griffey on the team, acquiesces and lets Brian Goldberg take him to the cleaners. We end up spending another $2-3M for Griffey to sit on the bench next year.

    It’s a nightmare scenario, and, I hope, completely far-fetched and irrational.

  30. Mike Snow on November 2nd, 2009 5:27 pm

    I’m pretty sure Zduriencik is smarter than to pay a guy more money to get him to play less.

  31. gsquared on November 2nd, 2009 5:37 pm

    I’m pretty sure Zduriencik is smarter than to pay a guy more money to get him to play less.

    Agree completely; I’m just wondering to what lengths someone like Armstrong might go to keep Griffey on the team and whether that could possibly override Zduriencik’s ability to make a baseball decision in this case, and, if so, what that might lead to. Note that I’m not saying “ZOMG ARMSTRONG IZ THE SHADOW GM” but rather that when it comes to Griffey, Armstrong may have more, shall we say, input. And that might lead to a disheartening conclusion if we assume the circumstances of my previous post.

  32. Mike Snow on November 2nd, 2009 5:53 pm

    Right, I understand that, with all the qualifications you’re including. And I expect Armstrong will again give more input, but even last time they were pretty clear that it was ultimately up to Zduriencik as a baseball decision. So I expect things should operate that way again, and if I were to question whatever decision gets made, I’ll focus on Jack, not Chuck.

  33. gsquared on November 2nd, 2009 6:21 pm

    and if I were to question whatever decision gets made, I’ll focus on Jack, not Chuck.

    Agreed. Whatever happens behind the scenes, the roster decisions are ultimately on Zduriencik. “Armstrong wouldn’t let me do it” really isn’t a good excuse; as the GM it is part of his job to sell his vision of the team to upper management. And as long as he can do that, he will put that roster spot to better use. I called the earlier post a “nightmare scenario” not because I think it will happen, but because I think it might conceivably happen. More than anyone, I hope it’s nothing but irrational anxiety.

  34. eponymous coward on November 2nd, 2009 7:33 pm

    Like it or not, it won’t be easy finding a more productive DH for the M’s, in regards to hitting at Safeco.

    I could have sworn the Mariners played 81 games on the road this year, and Junior was terrible in them.

    While it’s lovely that Griffey hit well at home, the composite picture is of a bad player. In fact, Griffey has contributed 5.2 WAR to his teams the last EIGHT years, with most of that coming in 2003 (1.5 WAR) and 2005 (3.6).

    Think about that for a minute- Ken Griffey has had two years in the past eight where he’s made an appreciable on-the-field contribution to his team.

  35. refusetolose on November 2nd, 2009 8:41 pm

    look guys–i understand griffey didn’t offer much in the way of a batting average, or he didnt play every day. i get that.

    i know some of you say to get off the magic carpet ride. but im 20 years old, and i was 6 in the 1995 season, and for those of us who grew up watching him rock the kingdome…you can’t let the guy who defined your childhood go.

    and if we don’t beat the yankees in 1995, because of Junior, there is no 2000 playoff run, and no 116 wins in 2001, because this team was going to be moved to tampa bay…because it had no winning seasons.

  36. gsquared on November 2nd, 2009 8:51 pm

    and if we don’t beat the yankees in 1995, because of Junior,

    No, his name was Edgar.

    you can’t let the guy who defined your childhood go.

    Well, then it’s a good thing Griffey didn’t define Zduriencik’s childhood.

  37. refusetolose on November 2nd, 2009 8:59 pm

    well if you want to play that card we can…Edgar had the double, and the grandslam in game 4..i love edgar and know he had a huge part it in.

    i believe jay had a grand slam too, without looking it up.

    and junior had 5 homers in that 5 game series. still an MLB record.

    –and if the teams wants just someone younger and cheaper who could put up the same numbers, then i guess we could look for Charles Gipson again on the free agent market, he’s still around im sure.

  38. rightwingrick on November 2nd, 2009 9:14 pm

    As I noted elsewhere, there’s a case to be made that we ALREADY have a better offense, just by playing our rookies.

    Carp is a natural hitter with good plate patience, more consistently a threat to get on base and move guys over and in that Branyan (without the power, of course).

    Adam Moore has hit at every level, with a very good on-base percentage, and at worst is probably a wash compared to Johjima…and at best, a slight upgrade in a rookie year.

    Tuiasasopo is no Beltre defensively, but he may be a better (more consistent) hitter and able to get on base, move guys over, and move guys in better than Beltre. He almost made the team last year with a great spring.

    Michael Saunders has hit consistently better over time as he’s moved up, and is tearing up winter ball at the moment (with numbers a bit better than his minor league numbers, which have been good to begin with).

    Add to that Jack Wilson, who is a clear offensive and defensive upgrade from Betancourt, and Lopez, who is just entering his prime, and….well, we may already have a better offense!

    So if Griffey comes back with a better knee and 20 pounds lighter and hits .260 with 20 homers, we can all be happy!

    OK, so I’m an optimist.

  39. littlesongs on November 3rd, 2009 4:46 am

    I absolutely love Ken, so I hope this is taken in the spirit of fun.

    The $10,000 Griffey solution:

    10,000 Mariners fans sign a holiday card and donate a dollar toward a nice Christmas present for Junior.

    Each participant is entered into a raffle. The winning fan personally delivers this dandy gift to Junior’s cave with a big bow on it.

    The other 9,999 Mariners fans serenade Junior with carols, wish him season’s greetings and say farewell via Skype on the lucky contestant’s new laptop.

    After pacing inside his own dugout all winter, he has a catharsis and begs to be a bench coach coming out of spring training.

    He goes on to be the first man inducted into Cooperstown twice. First as a player and decades later as a manager.

  40. msb on November 3rd, 2009 8:39 am

    He goes on to be the first man inducted into Cooperstown twice. First as a player and decades later as a manager.

    He does have all that year-end experience in filling out & carrying out line-up cards …

  41. currcoug on November 3rd, 2009 11:39 am

    Tranquil,

    I was talking about Junior’s hitting at Safeco Field, not overall. And no, it isn’t going to be a cake walk replacing his production at Safeco (13 HR’s, .548 SLG, .930 OPS).

    I am a fan of Branyan, and would like him to return as well, but at 1B.

    My guess is that the M’s will also factor in the positive effect Junior obviously had on Ichiro.

    I can only imagine the handwringing that will occur, if the M’s sign Junior AND Washburn.

    http://seattle.mariners.mlb.co…sp&c_id=sea

  42. gsquared on November 3rd, 2009 12:10 pm

    My guess is that the M’s will also factor in the positive effect Junior obviously had on Ichiro.

    It’s obvious that Junior made Ichiro smile more often. It’s not obvious (in fact, not knowable) what effect that had on Ichiro’s performance. I’d argue that Ichiro’s sky-high BABIP this year had more to do with his better numbers than anything (or anyone) else.

    I was talking about Junior’s hitting at Safeco Field, not overall. And no, it isn’t going to be a cake walk replacing his production at Safeco (13 HR’s, .548 SLG, .930 OPS).

    Matsui, Delgado, or Thome (all LH hitters like Griffey) could do that or close to it at Safeco next year without requiring a platoon. That last part is huge.

  43. currcoug on November 3rd, 2009 12:41 pm

    I would love to see Matsui in Seattle, but he has stated that he might go back to Japan, if the Yankees don’t want him. Like Junior, Matsui also has knee issues. I am guessing, but it is probable that Matsui would want significantly more money than Junior.

    No thanks on Thome.

    I agree that Delgado would be a nice addition, but his health may be a bigger issue than Matsui. Again, he would probably want significantly more money than Junior.

    In regards to Junior’s effect on Ichiro, it is fair to say it goes well beyond just making him smile.

    [long link, use the link button]

  44. currcoug on November 3rd, 2009 1:01 pm

    I tried to use the link button, but to no avail.

    The article was from the Tacoma News Tribune, June 16, 2009 (Larry LaRue).

  45. eponymous coward on November 3rd, 2009 1:24 pm

    As I noted elsewhere, there’s a case to be made that we ALREADY have a better offense, just by playing our rookies.

    No, you don’t have a case. The odds that EVERY rookie will outperform their AAA projections (which aren’t as good as you think they are) resemble betting the mortgage money on a number at the roulette table.

    Griffey’s a bad player whose performance on the field is completely replaceable. He’s been a bad player for 8 years (again, he’s averaged less than 1 WAR since 2002, and ~0 WAR 6 of the last 8 years). Once you reconcile yourself to the fact that Griffey has done nothing that is really worthy of the HOF since his 2000 season, and that the guy who played in Seattle is LONG gone, it becomes pretty easy to put him in perspective.

    I was talking about Junior’s hitting at Safeco Field, not overall. And no, it isn’t going to be a cake walk replacing his production at Safeco (13 HR’s, .548 SLG, .930 OPS).

    So? I wasn’t aware that home wins count more in the standings than road wins, and he was overall terrible. This is the same kind of BS where if you cherry-pick certain pitchers’ starts all of a sudden they’re worth the stupid contract you extend to them.

    He’s basically a waste of a roster spot. If the argument is that Ken Griffey Jr. is owed a roster spot in perpetuity, regardless of his on-the-field performance, because he used to be a HOF CF and he’s an awesome teammate, then great. But realize there’s NO performance argument to be made here. He’s not a good player any more, and hasn’t been for a while.

  46. currcoug on November 3rd, 2009 2:43 pm

    I merely pointed out that Junior’s numbers at home were very good, and arguably the best on the team. I also stated he was “horrible” on the road. I do think, however, that winning home games is more imporant for many reasons, not the least of which is attendance, and establishing a home field advantage.

    One can make a argument that Junior was a joke on the road (I said horrible), and that he was not a good player overall (I agree). However, he was a very good hitter at Safeco, and the numbers bear that out. It is probable that the Mariners are having the same discussion.

  47. eponymous coward on November 3rd, 2009 3:12 pm

    I do think, however, that winning home games is more imporant for many reasons, not the least of which is attendance, and establishing a home field advantage.

    Again, the AL doesn’t award playoff spots based just on the home games you win. The road games count.

    Basically, resigning Griffey is an exercise in special pleading (blah blah hit well at home blah blah ice cream pies blah blah teammate blah blah attendance blah blah tickle Ichiro blah blah 1995). That’s great. Just don’t pretend it’s anything other than things that have very little to do with how he performed on the field in 2009, or for that matter, the last 8 years, because his on the field performance does not justify a return. He’s getting it because of his name- there are probably 500 minor leaguers who would be positive clubhouse influences and good teammates who could contribute the ~0 WAR Griffey could, but they weren’t Hall of Fame CF’ers in the 1990′s.

  48. Mike Snow on November 3rd, 2009 4:16 pm

    Actually, Dave’s offseason plan is about the best argument you can make for re-signing Griffey. Specifically, the parts about bringing back Branyan at first base and signing Nick Johnson to DH. With two injury-prone guys in those spots, you’re going to want to have a little more backup prepared than just Mike Carp on the shuttle from Tacoma. Why, the possibilities would almost be enough to make you regret cutting loose Bryan LaHair.

  49. currcoug on November 3rd, 2009 5:55 pm

    It is highly unlikely Ichiro would agree with you, in regards to the specious “500 minor leaguers” statement:

    “Ken has always been my favorite superstar, and from the time I started following his career I thought about what a relationship with him would be like,” Ichiro said. “I wasn’t going to pursue it – that wouldn’t have been respectful. “He’s the one who’s always doing something to me. He knows how to mess with me. It is my greatest honor to play with him.” There is a pause as Ichiro looks at his translator, Antony Suzuki, and then Ichiro continues. “Ken has opened the doors for me, allowed me to be me this year,” he said.

    http://www.thenewstribune.com/topstory/story/780073

  50. eponymous coward on November 3rd, 2009 7:18 pm

    How exactly does that rebut the point of Griffey’s reasons for being on the roster in 2010 having to do with hero-worship and factors that have to do with him being Ken Griffey Jr., as opposed to his on-field performance as a baseball player?

  51. currcoug on November 3rd, 2009 8:08 pm

    Two points:

    1) It is highly probable (I would say obvious) that Junior’s presence directly to the resurgence of Ichiro. It is possible that if Junior doesn’t return, Ichiro will return to his shell, with adverse consequences as a player, to the clubhouse, and the franchise;

    2) It is beyond dispute that as a baseball player, Junior’s on-field performance (hitting) was very good at Safeco Field, and very important to the Mariners. While I don’t think the surgery will solve Junior’s knee problems (or lack of production on the road) it is a possibility.

  52. Mike Snow on November 3rd, 2009 8:27 pm

    Let’s suppose that Ichiro didn’t perform as well in 2008 as he should because he had retreated into his shell, and that all the credit for getting him out of his shell should go to Griffey. Even if we agree on all that, it does not follow that Griffey’s departure would cause Ichiro to return to his shell.

    How many years has Ichiro been with the Mariners? How many of those years has he been “in his shell”? How many not? Which of those years was Griffey on the team?

    In the “shell” years, was Ichiro’s performance affected? What is your best analysis of what caused him to go into his shell? Would Griffey’s departure be likely to recreate those circumstances?

  53. gsquared on November 3rd, 2009 9:02 pm

    Couldn’t it also be said that the departure of, um, certain players also helped Ichiro come out of his “shell?” And how about the fact that the team was playing its best baseball since 2003? Everything’s more fun when you’re winning more.

    There is no reason at all to give Griffey automatic credit for all the sunshine in the clubhouse this year. How good might the clubhouse have been if the team had a real DH, better roster flexibility and was winning more games as a result? We don’t know.

  54. gsquared on November 3rd, 2009 9:04 pm

    To clarify: yes, I know that the 07 team won more games, but by WAR this year’s team played better baseball.

  55. Goody on November 3rd, 2009 10:04 pm

    There is way too much attitude over the 24th or 25th man on the roster. This team broke camp with Tui last season even though everyone knew that he had no role on that team. If they bring back Griffey it is not the end of successsful baseball in Seattle. He is Charles Gipson with no speed and a little pop. This should not be a consuming issue.

  56. DMZ on November 3rd, 2009 11:16 pm

    It’s the off-season. Let people talk about this stuff and be happy people care.

  57. Goody on November 3rd, 2009 11:20 pm

    It is the offseason and we (unfortunately) have nothing better to do but…….If JR. comes back there are good things to be said about it. There is no chance of having both Sweeney and JR. on the team next year but there is room for one of them. I vote for Griffey.

  58. gsquared on November 4th, 2009 12:10 am

    He is Charles Gipson with no speed and a little pop. This should not be a consuming issue.

    Again, this decision is an issue because of what it says about the franchise. DMZ’s post illustrates how simple and cheap it would be to get better production out of that roster spot. Based on that, there’s simply no baseball reason I can see for bringing him back at his current level of performance.

    Simply put: a Griffey resigning would be as good an indicator as any that despite the “new day, new way” sloganeering the M’s, in making roster decisions, continue to place a premium on off-field factors (marketing, nostalgia, clubhouse woo!, etc.). The Griffey decision will go a long way in illuminating what the franchise philosophy is at this critical point. That should be a consuming issue.

  59. eponymous coward on November 4th, 2009 12:51 am

    It is highly probable (I would say obvious) that Junior’s presence directly to the resurgence of Ichiro. It is possible that if Junior doesn’t return, Ichiro will return to his shell, with adverse consequences as a player, to the clubhouse, and the franchise;

    In other words, you’re arguing we need to keep Griffey on the roster until either Ichiro’s contract expires or we trade Ichiro, or he’ll start pouting?

    This is really a dumb argument.

    It is beyond dispute that as a baseball player, Junior’s on-field performance (hitting) was very good at Safeco Field, and very important to the Mariners. While I don’t think the surgery will solve Junior’s knee problems (or lack of production on the road) it is a possibility.

    And he sucked on the road, which is also important for the Mariners, since they play 81 games there during the regular season. His overall performance was clearly unacceptable, and cherry-picking the home games is a case of letting performance issues be blinded by things like attendance and hero-worship (OMG GRIFFEY SQUEEE).

    Also, we’ve been hearing various refrains of “Junior will be SO MUCH better when he comes back from his injuries” since 2000. He hasn’t been, really- his HOF resume consists of 1989-2000. The rest of the time he’s been a barely above-replacement player, and much of the time he’s been a replacement-level player. At this point in his career, he’s getting playing time and roster spots on his name, not his current talent… and he’s 40 and couldn’t stay healthy as a not-quite full time DH, which makes the idea of him being a fallback option for “injury risks” kind of comical.

  60. currcoug on November 4th, 2009 9:58 am

    It is revealing that you can’t admit that Junior was a very important player (hitting) for the Mariners at Safeco Field. I stated from the beginning that Junior “absolutely sucked” on the road. I also agreed that he was not good overall, so you are repeatedly beating a dead horse on those points.

    Replacement level players don’t put up .548 SLG and .930 OPS at Safeco. That comment is as specious as the “500 minor leaguer” clubhouse statement.

    In regards to Ichiro, his comments about Junior could not be clearer, and speak for themselves.

    Again, I agree that the surgery is not likely to cure Junior’s chronic knee problems.

  61. Mike Snow on November 4th, 2009 10:15 am

    If we’re going to complain about beating dead horses, can we just stop going on about Griffey’s home/road splits entirely? We’re talking about roughly 200-250 plate appearances in either case. While the gap is wide enough to indicate that there is some real difference, the sample sizes are not large enough to reliably indicate much. Between regression and natural aging, this isn’t enough of a case that Griffey is still a good player when he’s at Safeco, any more than he’s completely washed up away from it. Basically, he’s a fragile replacement-level player either way, even if Safeco is somewhat better suited to his remaining skills.

  62. Wag on November 4th, 2009 10:28 am

    Bring him back for one more year. Tell him he will have the same situation as last year. He generates revenue and is good for the team and the city, not to mention baseball. We more than likely will not be a championship team next year so bringing him back and giving him one more year to help keep the team building towards the future and developing the young guys is worth it.

  63. currcoug on November 4th, 2009 10:35 am

    I am willing to bet Junior could put up those numbers at Safeco again. Conversely, I doubt he could be that bad again on the road.

  64. Dave on November 4th, 2009 11:09 am

    Replacement level players don’t put up .548 SLG and .930 OPS at Safeco.

    Sure they do. Remember Willie Bloomquist posting an 1.102 OPS in his major league debut? What, you mean that was a small sample?

    Oh…

    You’re taking something that is not predictive and making a predictive argument off of it. That’s why no one agrees with you. We’re not ignoring facts – we just understand better than you how they work.

  65. currcoug on November 4th, 2009 11:59 am

    Using WFB in the same breath as Junior to make a point? Priceless.

    Small sample size? We also have the stats from 1999, when Junior hit 14 HR’s, with an SLG of .616, and an OPS of .998 (151 AB’s) at Safeco Field. Moreover, Zduriencik correctly stated (predicted) that Junior’s bat would play well at Safeco Field. He would probably make the same statement (prediction) again, if they actually bring Junior back (highly unlikely).

    When the conversation began, I didn’t make predictions. I pointed out facts: 1) Junior had arguably the best numbers at Safeco Field for any Mariner in 2009; and 2) Junior “absolutely sucked” on the road. Subsequently, I agreed that Junior was a bad player “overall”.

    Unfortunately, it appears that many of you can’t admit to fact #1.

  66. Dave on November 4th, 2009 12:10 pm

    Again, let me restate the problem – you don’t understand the predictive nature of statistics. You believe that because something happened, we should expect it to happen again. That’s the only problem here. You don’t get why that isn’t true.

    Until you come to grips with this fact, arguing with you is useless.

  67. currcoug on November 4th, 2009 12:27 pm

    In all seriousness, what does the “predictive nature of statisitics” have to do with you and others refusing to admit that Junior had a solid season at Safeco Field? Did he or didn’t he in your mind?

    Or perhaps you could explain why Junior isn’t likely to put up solid numbers again at Safeco Field (provided he comes back)?

  68. Dave on November 4th, 2009 12:34 pm

    No one’s refusing to admit anything. You’re setting up a ridiculous strawman and making a fool of yourself in the process.

    If you’re actually interested in projecting Junior’s performance in 2010, you need to understand basic concepts like how regression to the mean works based on varying sample sizes. Why don’t you start by reading this?

  69. Mike Snow on November 4th, 2009 12:38 pm

    Using WFB in the same breath as Junior to make a point? Priceless.

    It made more sense than treating 1999 numbers as even remotely relevant to how Griffey might perform in 2010.

  70. eponymous coward on November 4th, 2009 12:42 pm

    In all seriousness, what does the “predictive nature of statisitics” have to do with you and others refusing to admit that Junior had a solid season at Safeco Field?

    This is what you aren’t getting- we’re not refusing to admit he had a good year at Safeco in 2009, we’re saying it’s irrelevant for determining his overall value. The overall picture is of a player who hit .214/.324/.411, who’s in year 8 of the decline phase of his career (where he’s consistently lost power and ability to hit for average), and who’s going to be 40 if he plays in 2010, and thus we shouldn’t care if he managed to hit well at Safeco for his year 39 season.

    FWIW, try and find someone with Griffey’s home/road splits over an entire career. Hint: you won’t find them. Either that means Ken Griffey Junior, at the age of 39, has developed a skill to hit in his home parks that no other MLB hitter has had, or his home/road splits are exaggerated by random chance. I (and most every one else) pick the second option; you pick the first, apparently.

  71. gsquared on November 4th, 2009 12:59 pm

    1) Junior had arguably the best numbers at Safeco Field for any Mariner in 2009

    Unfair comparison. Junior was a platoon LH hitter; so not only are we talking SSS, we’re also talking about a sample in which Griffey only played when his chances of success were maximized. You just can’t do a straight comparison of his Safeco rate stats to those of other M’s.

  72. currcoug on November 4th, 2009 1:19 pm

    Dave, where did I ever make a prediction about Junior in 2010? As a matter of fact, I went out of my way not to do so (until my comment about betting, which is not a prediction).

    And it is still a fact that not one of you can actually say it: Yes, Junior arguably put up the best numbers at Safeco this season for the Mariners.

    At least Ep admits he thinks the splits are a fluke.

    Could part of the answer be as simple as a combination of Safeco favoring lefties, and Junior being more motivated at home?

  73. joser on November 4th, 2009 2:14 pm

    “Motivated”?

  74. eponymous coward on November 4th, 2009 2:28 pm

    I’ll phrase it this way: I think; given a) Griffey’s career arc, b) his age and c) his overall results in 2009, that his overall 2009 performance is more representative of his true skillset than his 2009 Safeco stats plucked OUT of his overall performance.

    In general, we should prefer larger sample sizes, and Safeco’s R/L splits just aren’t that extreme- there’s very little reason to think that Griffey is going to be able to consistently OPS .900 at home while he posts OPSs under .600 on the road. Even players who hit in Coors Field before they started chilling the baseballs don’t have that sort of exaggerated split in their stats, and hitters who are BETTER LHB than Griffey than he is at this point in his career (Raul Ibañez, Ichiro) don’t show these kinds of splits and ability to take advantage of Safeco. Thus I think the argument that his home stats are closer to his true skillset than his road stats is very, very dubious, and unsupported by any evidence other than wishful thinking.

    As for being motivated- so Ichiro’s lazy, which is why he doesn’t OPS .930 at Safeco? This is just silly- if hitting a baseball was all about motivation and skills were irrelevant, nobody would ever have to retire, since 40 year olds are just as motivated as 20 year olds. The argument that Griffey somehow has a unique ability nobody else in baseball has to hit at Safeco while sucking on the road because of motivation doesn’t make sense- aside from the observation that he apparently wasn’t motivated to hit very well for Chicago in 2008 during a pennant race and playoffs, so apparently his motivation only shows up at home games in Seattle.

  75. Dave on November 4th, 2009 2:50 pm

    Stop it with the “admitting” strawman. It’s stupid and making you look like an idiot.

    The splits don’t matter. They. Don’t. Matter.

    You have a lot of learning to do. We’ll help if you want, but if you’re just going to be obnoxious and argue from ignorance, go away.

  76. currcoug on November 5th, 2009 10:43 am

    Ep,

    An excellent analysis, and well-thought out. Thank you for taking the time to do it. I agree about Junior’s deteriorating skills, but the flip side is probably true too: i.e., Junior probably wasn’t as bad as his 2009 road numbers indicate. In any event, I doubt we are going to find out whether Junior can put up another plus .900 OPS in 2010 at Safeco, don’t you?

    One final thought on Ichiro. With the exception of 2001, 2002 and 2004, Ichiro’s home/away splits significanly tilt toward Safeco Field. We will see about Branyan, but his 2009 stats reveal the same thing.

    Dave,

    Your approach is sophomoric, insulting, and unnecessary, but I’ve said that before. You have a lot to learn about people, and yourself. No doubt, I will now be excoriated by all.

  77. Wag on November 5th, 2009 11:07 am

    This is the only site in the world where apparently the only thing that matters is all these stupid stato-grams. OPS and basic HR, RBI, AVG. are the most important stats. Griffey actually did pretty descent. And it would be easy to argue that he will do better if given another year at Safeco. He didn’t even get 400 AB’s. If he were to get 500 he might hit 30HR’s and 100 RBI’s. Thats not a far fetched comment. Griffey has been up and down every year for the past 8 years. Overall, the fans of Seattle want Griffey back for one more year. There’s not a stat out there that could convince me he wasn’t a great part of our team’s success in 2009 and our progress FORWARD.

  78. Dave on November 5th, 2009 11:29 am

    Perhaps you two should go start a blog of your own, where you can pile your ignorance on top of each other. As it is, you’re not really adding anything here.

  79. gsquared on November 5th, 2009 11:33 am

    Wag, buddy, there’s only one response to that.

  80. Graham on November 5th, 2009 11:38 am

    There’s not a stat out there that could convince me he wasn’t a great part of our team’s success in 2009 and our progress FORWARD.

    This is because you are stupid.

    It can’t even be explained by ignorance any more. You are an idiot. Please go away.

  81. Mike Snow on November 5th, 2009 11:44 am

    Griffey actually did pretty descent.

    That is, probably inadvertently, the most accurate thing you’ve managed to say about this.

  82. TranquilPsychosis on November 5th, 2009 12:23 pm

    OPS and basic HR, RBI, AVG. are the most important stats.

    If you actually belive that, then this probably isn’t the site for you.

  83. TranquilPsychosis on November 5th, 2009 12:24 pm

    That is, probably inadvertently, the most accurate thing you’ve managed to say about this.

    Sad, but true

  84. eponymous coward on November 5th, 2009 1:46 pm

    Aaaaaand, right on cue:

    He could be moody at any given time on any given day, but he was an absolute joy to be around the entire ’09 season and it rubbed off on everyone.

    That reason alone seems to make it worthwhile bringing him back for at least one more season.

    Like I said: apparently, he is owed a roster spot in perpetuity.

  85. gsquared on November 5th, 2009 2:00 pm

    “At least” one more season? ARRRRGGGGHHHHHHhhhh….

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