Griffey’s Return, What It Means

Dave · November 11, 2009 at 9:14 am · Filed Under Mariners 

It’s official – Junior is coming back for another victory lap, signing a one year deal to fill an unspecified, reduced role on the 2010 team. The casual fan will be thrilled. We are a bit less so. But, the should he return arguments are now moot. He’s on the team next year, so let’s look at the implications of what this actually means in terms of the roster.

If we assume that the M’s are going to carry 12 pitchers again, that leaves them with a four man bench. One of those spots is reserved for the back-up catcher, and now Junior occupies another. That means the final two bench spots have to serve as the reserves for the other eight spots on the field. The in-house candidates for those spots are currently Jack Hannahan, Bill Hall, Matt Tuiasosopo, and Ryan Langerhans.

One of those players just lost their jobs. There isn’t room for all of them in Seattle anymore. If we say that Tui is the likely starter at third base (and I’d say that’s probably the most likely scenario, given the current roster), then Hannahan makes the team as the default reserve infielder. He’s the only one of the four who can play shortstop, so he’s got a more secure role here than the rest.

After that, it would come down to Hall versus Langerhans. Langerhans is the better player, but Hall is probably going to win out. The M’s are on the hook for $1.3 million of his 2010 salary, while Langerhans can be non-tendered without a cost. Hall also offers a RH platoon option for Saunders, plus the ability to play 2B/3B if need be. While Langerhans is a better outfielder, he doesn’t offer the same positional flexibility that Hall does, and with a roster spot now being reserved for a part-time pinch hitter, that becomes a deal-breaker.

So, unless the M’s decide to go with 11 pitchers next year, this probably ends the Ryan Langerhans era in Seattle. The M’s have essentially traded in about half a win worth of value (the difference between Langerhans/Griffey in on-field value as a reserve) for the expectation of better team chemistry.

We wouldn’t have made this move. That should be obvious by now. It won’t destroy the franchise, but it’s an inefficient use of resources, and exposes the team to some real problems if Gutierrez gets hurt. The M’s just became a little less likely to win in 2010.

Comments

155 Responses to “Griffey’s Return, What It Means”

  1. terry on November 11th, 2009 9:22 am

    This is mostly about marketing though isn’t it?

    Given the recent attendance figure s for mlb (some teams were down >15%), teams might be expected to do a little scrambling at the margins in an effort to squeak the turnstiles…

  2. lailaihei on November 11th, 2009 9:27 am

    If we lose by half a game I’m gonna be PISSED.

  3. n8tron3030 on November 11th, 2009 9:37 am

    I’m not a frequent poster (but I am a frequent reader and a numbers guy), so I apologize if I’m way off here, but wouldn’t 12 pitchers leave a 5 man bench? I assume you subtracted 25 minus 12 minus 9, but one of those 9 is a pitcher already included in the 12, right? Feel free to delete this if I’m missing something totally obvious and stupid. :)

  4. Dave on November 11th, 2009 9:42 am

    The starting nine: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, LF, CF, RF, DH

    The reserves: Backup C, Backup IF, Backup OF, Jr.

    That’s 13 players.

  5. chad_myers on November 11th, 2009 9:46 am

    Geez Dave, you might as well have just said Bah Humbug!

  6. fiftyone on November 11th, 2009 9:47 am

    Drayer on 710: “Felix really, really, really looks up to Ken.”
    Undoubtedly, whether it should or not, that aspect figures into the decision.

  7. Nick on November 11th, 2009 9:47 am

    Doesn’t everyone know you don’t MARRY the stripper? OK, you took her out once, we all get the attraction. Just don’t take her out again.

  8. DMZ on November 11th, 2009 9:49 am

    Undoubtedly, whether it should or not, that aspect figures into the decision.

    Ladies and Gentlemen, Jack Zduriencik, dropping a little knowledge for us. Or are you a different front-office exec?

  9. terry on November 11th, 2009 9:50 am

    I’m not a frequent poster (but I am a frequent reader and a numbers guy), so I apologize if I’m way off here, but wouldn’t 12 pitchers leave a 5 man bench?

    The senior circuit has had a sibling for some time now…. :-P

  10. Wag on November 11th, 2009 9:59 am

    I couldn’t be any more excited about the Mariners decision to keep griffey. Just from a marketing stand point. Contrary to what everyone else on this site seems to think, several Mariners have praised Griffey for his poisitive effects on the Mariners and the city of Seattle. I’m sure everyone on this site will quote what I am saying and make jokes about his countless tickles and hugs, which is fair enough he will do that too. If he hits .214, 19HR, and 57RBI with his great influence on the clubhouse I would say thats a great season and worth the money.

  11. jvol14 on November 11th, 2009 10:03 am

    Griffey while splitting time last year with Sweeney would have to have been considered our primary DH in 2009. The numbers Dave mentioned on the roster breakdown indicate that this will not be the case in 2010. I hope that is true but have the M’s come out and publically stated that he will not be getting the majority of our DH at bats this year? Hoping we don’t see him get over 200 AB’s next year.

  12. DMZ on November 11th, 2009 10:06 am

    What is with this “everyone on this site” thing? There are tons of people making this exact same argument here. Do they not count?

  13. universalguru on November 11th, 2009 10:06 am

    I don’t mind him on the team either but he better no have that many RBIs with a .214 BA because that means we’re throwing him way too many at-bats.

  14. NBarnes on November 11th, 2009 10:07 am

    Wag; there’s a name for players who can’t field and can’t hit and can’t pitch but all the other players love them. We call them ‘coaches’.

  15. fiftyone on November 11th, 2009 10:07 am

    Ladies and Gentlemen, Jack Zduriencik

    Mock me, fine, but the point stands that Z and Wakamatsu value clubhouse chemistry to some extent. And this move is transparently about chemistry, as it essentially sacrifices the .5 WAR another dude would bring to the table. Or is that also presupposition on my part?

  16. Dennisss on November 11th, 2009 10:09 am

    It’s not hard to see why the M’s did this from the Marketing/chemistry standpoints, and it won’t kill them on the field. What would be sweet is for Junior to really take that victory lap, announce that this is it, get the big sendoff, and retire as a Mariner. And then this subject won’t come up anymore.

  17. Chris_From_Bothell on November 11th, 2009 10:10 am

    If we assume that the M’s are going to carry 12 pitchers again

    Do they absolutely need to?

    5 starters + 1 closer + 2 setup men + 3 long relievers = 11.

    I could see a need for 12 if the assumption is that the back end of the rotation will be shaky enough that there’s a need for 6th starters, more long relief, more pitchers selected based on matchups. Or if the assumption is that most of these guys won’t have the endurance to be in their roles fulltime all year.

    But otherwise, why not 11, and then bring up as needed from Tacoma when the inevitable injuries come up?

  18. Wells on November 11th, 2009 10:12 am

    What this means is that at the end of the day a MLB team is a business and they’ve made the cost/benefit analysis and think that Griffey dollars outweigh negative Griffey impacts on expected win values. Alas!

  19. Bwilliam on November 11th, 2009 10:12 am

    This is just terrible. This is the kind of signing that makes me wonder if a Seattle team will ever win a championship again.

  20. Hoss1983 on November 11th, 2009 10:14 am

    Who do you have penciled in for DH? If it is Griffey, then don’t you have 4 bench spots?

  21. Mariner Fan in CO Exile on November 11th, 2009 10:35 am

    I am just not getting that upset about this. I realize there is a cost when you call up and send down players between AAA and the bigs, but the bench and the bullpen need not be static in make-up. Can’t we minimize some of this with some creativity?

    I agree that Griffey on the team is no improvement, and a reduction to flexibility, but I argue it can be mitigated somewhat throughout the year, and I expect injuries will change the bench make-up at points anyway.

    As I mentioned in a comment on another post, if Griffey was going to stay (and I wanted him to retire), this is probably the least problematic option, assuming he’s not really going to play most days. I view chemistry as largely a by-product of winning or losing, so that aspect of this discussion doesn’t interest me. That said, if this is the worst move the front office makes, I think I’ll be pretty happy this offseason. In the end, my desire to analyze this situation in a rational manner (Griffey is a waste of a roster spot) yields to the fact that Griffey is clearly one of those players this franchise is willing to give wider lattitude to, and to honor in some way even if it doesn’t make perfect sense. In that way, he’s not the first or last of his kind in the game, and its simply a reality I am ok with provided the downside to the role is not too severe. I just don’t think there is any reason to expect the rationale used here to carry over to other moves.

  22. sherdogg21 on November 11th, 2009 10:41 am

    You can be a numbers nerd and a fan at the same time, otherwise it might as well be robot baseball. I know resigning Griffey isnt the smartest on the field each day baseball move, but Im a lot happier as a fan to see him come to bat than some magic DH we werent going to sign. 1 out of 25 roster spots for a player I actually give a crap about isnt too much.

  23. TranquilPsychosis on November 11th, 2009 10:47 am

    Hoss, Griffey is not going to be the regular DH. They will probably get one via FA, though he may come in a trade.

  24. n8tron3030 on November 11th, 2009 10:49 am

    “Who do you have penciled in for DH? If it is Griffey, then don’t you have 4 bench spots?”

    This is what is throwing me off I think, because I’m still not seeing how you are getting only two bench spots unless you are penciling in someone permanently at DH.

    I was thinking of the DH as an extra bench spot because there is some flexibility with rotating players through that spot. So I see it as 5 bench/DH positions available, Jr is filling one of them so there are 4 left for backup C plus 3 others.

  25. ivan on November 11th, 2009 10:58 am

    Where is it carved in granite that they carry 12 pitchers? May we please have some rationale behind that assumption?

  26. fivespot on November 11th, 2009 11:00 am

    Hoss, at best Griffey is a half-a-DH. He shouldn’t be allowed to face a lefty, not ever. Now, if Jack goes out and finds us a whole DH, we’ve got a problem, as Jr. is now relegated to the part-time-left-handed pinch hitter role. Not a very good ude of a roster spot.

  27. trentonkyle on November 11th, 2009 11:01 am

    Ladies and Gentlemen, Jack Zduriencik, dropping a little knowledge for us. Or are you a different front-office exec?

    Man, that’s a real dick thing to say. Way to go DMZ!

  28. TranquilPsychosis on November 11th, 2009 11:03 am

    I was thinking of the DH as an extra bench spot because there is some flexibility with rotating players through that spot. So I see it as 5 bench/DH positions available, Jr is filling one of them so there are 4 left for backup C plus 3 others.

    Isn’t that what Dave said when he replied to your initial question?

    â– Dave on November 11th, 2009 9:42 am
    The starting nine: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, LF, CF, RF, DH

    The reserves: Backup C, Backup IF, Backup OF, Jr.

    That’s 13 players.

  29. jordan on November 11th, 2009 11:03 am

    Nobody needs to get worked up over this.

    I am not a fan of the move, but really, it doesn’t mean much. Its just a left handed pinch hitter. He is not going to have a huge impact on the team, and most likely won’t have a chance to either.

  30. DMZ on November 11th, 2009 11:04 am

    Really? I can’t make a crack like that when someone asserts they know absolutely what someone’s motivation is without it being a “dick thing to say”?

    Okay.

  31. n8tron3030 on November 11th, 2009 11:06 am

    Yeah it is, but I guessing I’m missing the part about who the DH is and why it’s not considered a 5th potential bench position. I suppose they are assuming they are going to sign another Griffey-type player who can only hit (or should I say “bat”) and not play defense.

  32. trentonkyle on November 11th, 2009 11:08 am

    Yes, it is a “dick thing to say.” What’s point of being an asshole? You disagree with someone, just say so. Why resort to sarcasm and put-downs? How in any way does that help the conversation?

  33. cmbates on November 11th, 2009 11:14 am

    Instead of trying to dissect this to death, I’m going to look at the big picture. The reason MLB exists is to entertain the general public (blogs like this exist for the number crunching baseball fiends like us). And despite what Griffey’s batting average is, I just know that I get goose bumps every time he puts one over fence. That’s why I tune into the game every night, and that’s why I spend money on tickets. No offense to Langerhans, but watching him hit 40 points higher doesn’t make me want to go buy a ticket. So yes, the roster may have an extra hole in it. And if the Mariners lose the division by a half game, I’m not going to blame the signing of Griffey, because if the M’s are only a half game out of first place, then that’s what… 92…93 wins? The point is that big picture wise and entertainment wise, this signing was a no-brainer and I’m excited to watch Griffey make his proper farewell tour.

  34. joser on November 11th, 2009 11:15 am

    If it prevents people from pretending they know things they don’t (and can’t), then it helps the conversation a great deal. I’d rather discuss what’s actually happening, rather than what people imagine is happening (in the clubhouse, or in the heads of management). It was a little harsh, sure, but it’s Derek’s site, so I leave it to him to decide when he wants to use a carrot and when he feels a need to use the stick.

  35. Graham on November 11th, 2009 11:17 am

    DMZ can chose which conversations are on his blog, and therefore might not want to help every putative conversation which imposes itself upon USSM.

  36. heychuck on November 11th, 2009 11:19 am

    With all due respect to Dave and frequent posters here, this is nothing to get worked up about.

    I saw my first Mariners game in 1982, and I have been a big fan since. I love numbers, I am an Engineer by trade, but if the game was only about numbers, I wouldn’t watch anymore.

    Don’t have a cow, we are talking about a bench spot here.

    Chemistry has never been quantified. Sure, teams have won without “Chemistry”. But those were extremly talented teams that perhaps, didn’t need the Chemistry. No matter how you cut it the Mariners will not be an extremly talented team next year. Maybe they need the Chemistry that Griffey might bring?

  37. timandren on November 11th, 2009 11:21 am

    People need to take things with a grain of salt. It’s nearly impossible to understand another person’s intentions all of the time especially when they’re joking or using sarcasm. We’ve all responded incorrectly to the nature of a comment or e-mail before. This is no different.

    Should DMZ start putting little smilies in every time he comments?

  38. timandren on November 11th, 2009 11:23 am

    That last part was a joke by the way. I forgot to put my tag.

  39. NiceThrowLupus on November 11th, 2009 11:25 am

    2008 Safeco attendance 2,672,409
    2009 Safeco attendance 2,329,702

    2008 FSN TV ratings – 4.2 rating
    2009 FSN TV ratings – 5.2 rating

    So they got a 25% increase on their TV ratings, but their total attendance went down, even with “The Griffey factor”. And I really think TV ratings increased because the team was competitive, not just because Griffey was around. I wish people would knock it off with the whole Griffey = increase in ticket sales deal. Maybe he helped sell some tickets in a down economy and the fall off would have been worse, but he wasn’t the automatic ticket sales generator people were originally thinking.

  40. cmbates on November 11th, 2009 11:33 am

    I think the increased tv ratings are more applicable here. The economy had to big of an impact on attendance to be able to correlate it to having Griffey back in a Mariners uniform.

  41. Liam on November 11th, 2009 11:41 am

    2008 Safeco attendance 2,672,409
    2009 Safeco attendance 2,329,702

    2008 FSN TV ratings – 4.2 rating
    2009 FSN TV ratings – 5.2 rating

    You’ve got the wrong years for the attendance.

    2007 – 2,672,485
    2008 – 2,329,702
    2009 – 2,195,284

  42. ddingler on November 11th, 2009 11:42 am

    WIN ONE FOR THE GRIFFER!!!! Caps Lock makes my argument more effective…or is it affective, whatever! The fact remains WIN ONE FOR THE GRIFFER!!
    GO M’S!!!

  43. maqman on November 11th, 2009 11:44 am

    Without Junior you would be watching the Ms play in the dome or another city. That said I wish he had retired. However he’s not a totally spent force, his OBP in 2009 was higher than Beltre or Lopez, he takes a lot of walks. His wOBA in 2009 was .323. Bill James projects both of those numbers to slightly increase in 2010. Given how badly he hits outside of his Safe House they might consider sending home to the family when they take a road trip. Sentimentality is a positive thing, even in baseball. What else accounts for our passion for this collection of strangers?

  44. Nate on November 11th, 2009 11:47 am

    What else accounts for our passion for this collection of strangers?

    wins.

  45. Hassleberry on November 11th, 2009 11:47 am

    I have a question, (assuming we resign Branyan) won’t Branyan mostly play DH because of his back?

  46. Chris_From_Bothell on November 11th, 2009 11:49 am

    Still don’t see why the Ms need to carry 12 pitchers, so I still don’t see Griffey as a threat to Langerhans being on the roster.

    And trentonkyle: are you new here? It’s their blog, they can say what they like, how they like. I’m surprised this whole thread hasn’t been heavily moderated thus far…

  47. ChrisK on November 11th, 2009 11:51 am

    Unfortunately this move will continue to dumb down the intelligence of the casual Mariners fan by validating the importance of chemistry & sentimentality over actual performance. To me it undoes a lot of the good work done by this site and others (and by extension the local writers) to help elevate the baseball IQ of this town. Alas, the myth of intangibles and veteran-nicity will continue to grow (cue the nonstop chemistry stories starting Day 1 in Peoria).

  48. Pine Tar on November 11th, 2009 11:51 am

    Yeah, that’s why we need DH who can also play first.

  49. josh_h on November 11th, 2009 11:57 am

    One problem with Junior assuming the role of “part time lefty DH” is that it would have been preferrable to sign a powerful lefty as our full time DH to take advantage of the ballpark.

    Now, either the team still signs a big lefty bat for the full time DH, and our backup DH is also LH, or… not.

    Separate note: Junior’s splits last year:
    vs. RHP: 387 PA, .718 OPS
    vs. LHP: 87 PA, .804 OPS

    (Yes, of course small sample size – but interesting)

  50. CCW on November 11th, 2009 11:57 am

    I got your back, TK. I think DMZ’s remark was a little snide and, frankly, wrong. It’s pretty obvious Griffey’s role in the clubhouse played a part in this decision, and I don’t have to be an insider to say that with confidence.

  51. gsquared on November 11th, 2009 11:59 am

    His wOBA in 2009 was .323. Bill James projects both of those numbers to slightly increase in 2010.

    An almost-always overoptimistic projection system says Griffey’s stats will improve next year? Yaaaay.

  52. n8tron3030 on November 11th, 2009 11:59 am

    ChrisK, I just think most fans would say you’re overreacting — as sherdogg said, it’s just one bench position. It’s not like we’re signing him to be our starting CF. Imagine if you were a Braves fan and they signed him…

  53. r-gordon-7 on November 11th, 2009 12:00 pm

    maqman wrote: “What else accounts for our passion for this collection of strangers?”

    Nate replied: “wins.”

    No, Nate, there’s more to it than that. If “wins” is really all there is to it – or even what drives it most – how to explain the passion of Cubs & Mets fans?

  54. gsquared on November 11th, 2009 12:00 pm

    Whoops, meant to blockquote the first paragraph there.

  55. AquaFrog on November 11th, 2009 12:02 pm

    [off-topic]

  56. The Ancient Mariner on November 11th, 2009 12:03 pm

    I think DMZ’s remark was quite snide and, frankly, perfectly right. If you can’t take the heat, don’t make assertions you can’t back up.

    As for the substance of the post, I don’t have a lot of faith that this will lead to the team carrying only 11 pitchers, but it should — and if it does, that could be a real benefit. (I also wouldn’t be all that surprised if the M’s do cut ties with Bill Hall — sure, they owe him money, but the FO seems to understand the concept of “sunk cost” — but that’s another matter.)

  57. eternal on November 11th, 2009 12:05 pm

    But sarcasm is more fun. I say keep up the sarcasm and everybody just relax a bit. Geez

  58. 6-4-3 on November 11th, 2009 12:10 pm

    Someone commented on the Seattle Times that:
    “You could have replaced Griffey with Joe Mauer this past season and the Mariners would have been no better”

    Uh huh. Post first then smoke crack.

  59. Pete Livengood on November 11th, 2009 12:12 pm

    Lupus, I am not really a fan of this signing (though I am a Griffey fan and not that worked up about the M’s seemingly making an emotional and business decision over a purely rational baseball move), but IMO the premise of your argument is faulty. You can’t know how far attendance might have fallen in the absence of Griffey, in a poor economy. Also, attendance figures tend to be tied to, but lag performance by a year or so. I would expect that attendance will go up next year, as a reaction to the team’s better performance last year. Griffey being here won’t hurt that, and quite possibly (probably?) will help it.

  60. CCW on November 11th, 2009 12:15 pm

    [Niehaus]

  61. atcrb on November 11th, 2009 12:16 pm

    [off-topic]

  62. The Hamms Bear on November 11th, 2009 12:17 pm

    “While 2009 was an awesome experience for me, my ultimate goal is for the Mariners to get to and win the World Series. To that end, I look forward to contributing in any role that Don sees fit on the field, and any manner I possibly can off the field.”

    I wonder if Griffey will eventually transition to base coach or some other position in the organization.

  63. CCW on November 11th, 2009 12:24 pm

    One of those players just lost their jobs

    One of those players just lost HIS JOB.

  64. Liam on November 11th, 2009 12:27 pm

    Larry Stone says that his salary is expected to be similar to last years. How do we end up paying $3 million for a guy that has no leverage?

  65. Utis on November 11th, 2009 12:29 pm

    I guess this means the M’s won’t be signing Matsui.

    If the M’s use the other half of the DH spot to “rest” regulars then there is still one bench spot left.

    I was reading a book about the greatest moments in baseball history with my kid. One of them was the unlikely Kirk Gibson WS homer against the A’s. Here is hoping Jr has a few more good swings left and is healthy for his farewell season.

  66. gsquared on November 11th, 2009 12:30 pm

    Larry Stone says that his salary is expected to be similar to last years. How do we end up paying $3 million for a guy that has no leverage?

    Good question. Maybe the incentive structure is more team-friendly? I don’t know. You’re right; it’s weird that there is no appreciable salary decrease when there was no competition for his “services.”

  67. currcoug on November 11th, 2009 12:32 pm

    Cool. We get to find out whether Junior’s 2009 Safeco stats were a fluke, after all.

  68. Dave on November 11th, 2009 12:33 pm

    Where is it carved in granite that they carry 12 pitchers? May we please have some rationale behind that assumption?

    They carried 12 pitchers for 95 percent of 2009. The last time the team didn’t carry 12 pitchers continually was about 6 or 7 years ago.

    Nobody needs to get worked up over this.

    Nobody is getting worked up over this. Do you see any outrage in the post? No, because it isn’t there. It’s just a rational breakdown of what Griffey’s return does to the roster.

    The only people freaking out in this thread are the fanboys who feel like anything short of Griffey praise is an assault on their belief system. Those people can shove off.

  69. Taylor H on November 11th, 2009 12:41 pm

    I guess this means the M’s won’t be signing Matsui.

    Is that a joke?

  70. CCW on November 11th, 2009 12:41 pm

    I think it’s worth considering how grand it would be if the M’s did make the playoffs next year and Griffey was on the team.

    Maybe the potential reward of carrying Griffey outweighs the risk that keeping him will cost the M’s an important win or two.

  71. DMZ on November 11th, 2009 12:42 pm

    Does having Griffey on the post-season roster spot the team a win? I’m not seeing what the potential specific reward is there.

  72. dsmiley on November 11th, 2009 12:42 pm

    And despite what Griffey’s batting average is, I just know that I get goose bumps every time he puts one over fence. That’s why I tune into the game every night, and that’s why I spend money on tickets.

    I tune in because I want to see them win a World Series.

    I love and respect Griffey. I’m 25 years old and adored him as a kid. But I love the Mariners and want to see them succeed. I view success as making the playoffs and winning a World Series. I enjoy seeing Griffey hit home runs because he’s a Mariner, not just because he’s Griffey. Bring me someone who hits more home runs and I’ll love him too. Bring me a team who wins a championship and I’ll adore them.

    If you love the Mariners then you can appreciate that the team is bigger than any one man.

  73. eponymous coward on November 11th, 2009 12:46 pm

    Well, if Griffey will be on the bench all year reprising what Dave Hansen did for the 2004/2005 Mariners, that’s suboptimal (since Wakamatsu doesn’t use PHs and the M’s don’t play in the NL and thus can’t use a PH as well as an NL team can), but really, if the M’s want to give Junior a roster spot for as long as he wants one, let’s see him break Julio Franco’s record and play when he’s 50, I guess.

    If somehow he becomes the fulltime DH though, (injury, thinking that pie-throwing and tickling equates to an ability to hit, whatever), uh-oh.

  74. CCW on November 11th, 2009 12:49 pm

    Does having Griffey on the post-season roster spot the team a win? I’m not seeing what the potential specific reward is there.

    I said nothing about “specific” reward. It’s a psychic reward. As a fan, to me, it would be exciting and awesome to see Griffey get another shot at the World Series, moreso than if he weren’t on the team.

  75. DMZ on November 11th, 2009 12:51 pm

    Ah. I get it.

  76. eponymous coward on November 11th, 2009 12:56 pm

    As a fan, to me, it would be exciting and awesome to see Griffey get another shot at the World Series, moreso than if he weren’t on the team.

    Well, if Junior’s playing DH, at least he won’t fall down trying to make a defensive play in the World Series.

  77. saltydawg05 on November 11th, 2009 1:00 pm

    I just don’t see the big deal. Yes I believe there are better ways to spend the roster spot, but it’s half a win of expectancy. And if I’m looking at the numbers right Bill Hall was worth half a run less than replacement, (granted injury was involved) so I don’t think he should make the roster just because he is ok defensively in a few spots and totally worthless with the bat. Although this signing makes the M’s really inflexible if somebody has to sit out a few days injured.

  78. Dave on November 11th, 2009 1:03 pm

    I just don’t see the big deal.

    That’s why no one is freaking out about it.

    Although this signing makes the M’s really inflexible if somebody has to sit out a few days injured.

    Yep. Regardless of what the Griffey fanboys want to think, there’s a cost to this, and that cost is not automatically negated just because Ichiro likes having him around.

  79. JakeSuds on November 11th, 2009 1:08 pm

    We should sign Bucky Jacobsen to platoon with Griffey!

  80. Pine Tar on November 11th, 2009 1:20 pm

    Well, it is interesting to consider what Griffey signing means for the roster if we also end up signing Branyan. It seems like we would have to sign a right handed DH who can also play first. Thoughts?

  81. Hassleberry on November 11th, 2009 1:27 pm

    [off-topic]

  82. wsm on November 11th, 2009 1:29 pm

    [off-topic]

  83. Chris_From_Bothell on November 11th, 2009 1:33 pm

    They carried 12 pitchers for 95 percent of 2009. The last time the team didn’t carry 12 pitchers continually was about 6 or 7 years ago.

    But based on the likely composition of the 2010 roster, would they need to again? Is the bullpen going to look almost exactly like it did in 2009 but just minus Batista and plus Silva?

    I’d hope they find cheap relievers with enough endurance, versatility and talent to carry 11 pitchers instead. Especially if they manage to upgrade starting pitching, and thus move one of the #4 / #5 type of starters to long relief and spot starts instead.

  84. eponymous coward on November 11th, 2009 1:59 pm

    I’d hope they find cheap relievers with enough endurance, versatility and talent to carry 11 pitchers instead. Especially if they manage to upgrade starting pitching, and thus move one of the #4 / #5 type of starters to long relief and spot starts instead.

    In general, MLB teams have gone towards 12 man staffs and shallower benches. It’s part of the “let’s have a lefty to pitch to lefties, even if he sucks” part of the Book that managers follow. The sad part is that pinch-hitting and platooning are more effective than using some mediocre LHP with an 87 MPH fastball.

  85. Chris_From_Bothell on November 11th, 2009 2:03 pm

    It’s part of the “let’s have a lefty to pitch to lefties, even if he sucks” part of the Book that managers follow. The sad part is that pinch-hitting and platooning are more effective than using some mediocre LHP with an 87 MPH fastball.

    From your lips to Wakamatsu’s ears. Or actually, from your typing fingers to Wakamatsu’s eyes. Whichever.

    Better use of the bench and bullpen in general would go a long ways to offsetting any concern about a roster spot that Griffey is eating up (to circle back to the original topic…).

  86. SeasonTix on November 11th, 2009 2:08 pm

    FYI … I heard Griffey’s agent interviewed on KJR today and he said Griffey is fine with whatever role the M’s give him.

    “If he’s the 25th player on the team, he’ll be the best 25th player in the league.”

    So Griffey is coming into this expecting to play a relatively minor role on the team without complaining, which I think is a good thing.

  87. stevie_j13 on November 11th, 2009 2:23 pm

    Dave is right that, as currently constructed, signing Griffey means that one guy with a better projected WAR just lost his job. However, I think that person is most likely Saunders. With the M’s shifting into win-now mode, the prospect of starting three virtual rookies next year does not jive with trying to catch LAA and Texas.
    Saunders is the most likely to lose out for a few reasons. First, the M’s have a ready-made platoon in left with Hall and Langerhans, whereas the veteran options behind Tui and Moore are not nearly as good. Second, he did not hit at all when he came up last year, despite having a more extended look than Tui or Moore. Third, the M’s are much deeper in the OF both at the big league level and in the minors (Ackley, Halman, etc.). Saunders is also a valuable commodity that other teams may covet. I would be surprised if Saunders was the starting LF next year, and even a little surprised if he remained a Mariner.

  88. Jeff Nye on November 11th, 2009 2:23 pm

    Someone let me know when this team isn’t stuck in the 90s anymore.

  89. Akimbo on November 11th, 2009 2:25 pm

    Griffey puts asses in seats. Does increased revenue leads to wins?

  90. amnizu on November 11th, 2009 2:32 pm

    Maybe Griffey is just trying to be around until 2012 when his son will be draft eligible and we can repeat the whole Griffey and Griffey in the same outfield extravaganza.

  91. Alex on November 11th, 2009 2:49 pm

    If the worst thing this Mariner’s organization is doing is bringing back Griffey, than the current Mariner’s organization is pretty darn awesome.

    Having Griffey costs little (A couple million, and the bench spot). It provides a variety of benefits (Backup DH, pinch hitter, small revenue gain for the team from ticket sales, unquantifiable clubhouse morale boost).

    Griffey will probably provide only about .25 to .5 WAR, but thats pretty close to what the worst bench player would provide, and the revenue/other benefits make up for a lot of that.

    Its just not a big deal one way or the other.

  92. DaveValleDrinkNight on November 11th, 2009 2:55 pm

    Honestly, I think some of the other players probably made this happen. If Ichiro or Felix put in the word to bring back Griff, the Team had to to keep them happy.

    I want a happy (and under contract for 5 years), Felix. If bringing back Griff helps make that happen then so be it.

  93. TumwaterMike on November 11th, 2009 2:57 pm

    I know I’m in the minority who think Griffey coming back is a good thing. What’s important at this time, in my opinion, is that we give Griffey what is due him because of what he’s meant to this franchise in the past. That is a good send off in what is proably his final season.

    I do agree that we should go with a 11 man pitching staff, but in order to do that, who ever are our #2 , #3 and #4 pitchers after Felix need to consistently go 7 innings. If they can do that then we can survive 5 innings by the #5 pitcher and still have a short bullpen. Wak, Adair and Wett shouldn’t be accepting any less from the starters.

  94. nickwest1976 on November 11th, 2009 3:05 pm

    I am as big of a Junior fan as anyone but I thought we just gave him a great send off this past year? Why do we owe him another year of giving him a send off?

    I am totally fine if this is a chemistry move and the team genuinely feels that Griffey has helped the clubhouse. I also think that if this keeps Ichiro and Felix happy that too is good. If Griffey is truly the last bench player, I don’t see much harm in this move.

    But if this is just for another glorified send-off, that to me is the wrong reason. If anything Griffey owed the fans of Seattle after the way he left the team in 1999 and I am glad he kept his word and came back.

    But I want this team to win and win now. If JackZ and Wak truly think that Griffey helps team chemistry enough to help the team have a better shot to win, then I trust their judgment and am all for this move.

  95. Alex on November 11th, 2009 3:06 pm

    Griffey puts asses in seats. Does increased revenue leads to wins?

    Increased revenue leads to increased payroll, leads to more WAR worth of free agents, which leads to wins.

    The Yankees win because they have the most revenue, allowing them to spend the most.

    More revenue for the team is good.

  96. Gabe on November 11th, 2009 3:07 pm

    Maybe he’ll be in the lineup at DH for Opening Day, then come down with a mysterious injury that puts him on the 60 day DL. Saunders will get re-called and things will go on as if Griffey wasn’t even taking up a roster spot. And we’ll have nothing more than a designated tickler until rosters expand in September, and Junior can then take a victory lap.

  97. Liam on November 11th, 2009 3:23 pm

    Griffey already had a victory lap last year. Some might say he had it in 2007 with the Reds.

  98. heyoka on November 11th, 2009 3:40 pm

    To me this signing is the equivalent of giving Ted William’s frozen head a contract. A baseball legend takes up a roster spot and boosts morale.

  99. eponymous coward on November 11th, 2009 4:08 pm

    Griffey puts asses in seats.

    Mariner attendance, as cited above:

    2008 – 2,329,702
    2009 – 2,195,284

    I suppose you could argue that the dropoff from 2008 to 2009 would be more severe, and that the Mariners went from 20th in MLB to 18th, but there isn’t much evidence that Griffey is getting a lot of fans to turn out.

    I tend to think attendance won’t really die off, but I am skeptical we’ll see much of a pickup, given that a) the Mariners were never really in a pennant race last year thanks to their mini-collapse in May (at best they were vaguely, kinda sorta in it), so there’s not really a lot of incipient excitement for 2010, and the FA market/trades/other roster moves are likely to not be particularly splashy for the casual fan you need to expand attendance, and b) the economy isn’t doing so great. I think that until we actually see some pennant races and playoff games, or the Mariners just come up snake eyes and tank 2010 and end up doing a Cleveland-style blow-up/rebuild, 2.1-2.4 million is the new normal for Mariner attendance. Basically, you need excitement to boost past that. You’re only going to get that from good teams and playoff games. Griffey is fairly irrelevant to that.

    Griffey will probably provide only about .25 to .5 WAR

    Griffey has provided a grand total of .3 WAR for his teams… since 2006. Adding .25-.5 WAR to the Seattle Mariners as a bench player would actually represent somewhat of a rebound for him, given his part performance and the fact that (presumably) his playing time will be very diminished.

    He really is a very bad player, who has no reason to be on a MLB roster other than he’s Ken Griffey Junior, inducer of nostalgia, awesome teammate, and pie-thrower. Dave’s right when he points out that Ryan Langerhans (lifetime OPS: .711) is a considerably better player than Ken Griffey Jr (1.3 WAR since 2006- a full win better than Griffey).

  100. Breadbaker on November 11th, 2009 4:08 pm

    If the Drayer quote is meaningful and the result is a longterm deal with Felix, then it’s the best news ever.

    I admire Shannon Drayer, but I somehow doubt that Felix will make his plans for 2012 based on how the franchise treats Ken Griffey, Jr. in 2010. But I would love to be wrong.

    The frank likelihood is that Junior won’t be on the active roster for 162 games unless all of the regulars are healthy all year, because if someone is dinged up enough to be taken out of the lineup for a week but not go on the DL, Junior being on the bench without a position will really put the team at risk. I expect that his hammie or his knee will suddenly be found to have “flared up”, and Zduriencik will find the next Ryan Langerhans to take his place.

  101. heychuck on November 11th, 2009 4:22 pm

    [this is not a board]

  102. fiftyone on November 11th, 2009 4:31 pm

    But I would love to be wrong.

    I hear you. Clearly Felix won’t leave $25 million on the table because he likes Jr.’s brand of tickling. But if signing Felix is Zduriencik’s endgame here, then this bit of cajoling can’t hurt.
    And then there’s always Armstrong, who may or may not be lurking in the shadows of this deal. I won’t pretend to know his mind as well as I know Jack’s. :)

  103. Grizz on November 11th, 2009 4:37 pm

    Eh. Griffey will spend 2/3 of the year on the DL standing on the top step cheering the team on, and the other 1/3 as the Sunday DH during homestands and occasional pinch hitter for Jack Wilson or the catcher.

  104. SonOfZavaras on November 11th, 2009 5:04 pm

    Sigh.

    This is not what I would have done, though I’m as much an admirer of Junior as anybody.

    But, perhaps this move has implications elsewhere- Ichiro and Felix will be thrilled. Hell, the whole team will be.

    One thing I was certain of heading into this off-season was that the offense would HAVE to improve if we wanted to make any serious noise in 2010.

    This move not only does not accomplish that, it logically makes it harder now.

    To my mind, there’s now literally no way you can start three rookies in the lineup (Saunders in LF, Moore at C, Tuiasasopo at 3B or 2B), not when your bench player’s 40 and hitting in the .210s and your shortstop (Jack Wilson) would consider those .210s about what HE’S capable of.

    Of those three rookies, I think Saunders and Tuiasasopo have the best chance to stick and to be improvements.

    It’s quite possible that Tui at 3B will give us more offense than what we got last year from Beltre, mired in a half-season’s worth of funk.

    Saunders stands a chance to be the homegrown LF we’ve been notorious historically for rarely producing.

    But this game’s about wins, and it’s just not logical to expect both of those guys to produce at 2.5-3 WAR levels (which I think they’d about need to do for us to tread water).

    So Branyan’s expected to be reined back in, cross your fingers on that move. How likely is it that he produces something remotely akin to 2009?

    It also has the feeling out there that you have no market for Jose Lopez….so he and his matador defense are back again. Yay.

    I guess that leaves catcher and maybe first base as places to seek offensive upgrades. Man, I hope Nick Johnson is on their radar.

    Bottom line, this winter’s off to a dubious start- mostly the herding of last year’s suspects so far.

    But, I’m willing to bet Zduriencik has other plans here, and if we’re patient, we’ll see it form.

    Can’t wait.

  105. Alex on November 11th, 2009 5:24 pm

    It also has the feeling out there that you have no market for Jose Lopez….so he and his matador defense are back again. Yay.

    Lopez is basically league average at 2B on defense. His last three years are +1.4, -5.8, +1.2. That averages to about 1 run below average. Indistinguishable from +0.

    He is basically 2 to 2.5 WAR. He is league average. He isnt a problem, and his defense isnt a problem.

    The arguments for trading him are primarily that he is worse in Safeco than he would be somewhere else, so his value is greater to others than to us, so therefore we can trade him to someoen for whom he would be more valuable, and get something in return which is more valuable to us than Lopez is. If that happens its fine, if not, he is still league average. He isnt Betancourt.

  106. hejuk on November 11th, 2009 5:34 pm

    It should be remembered that Armstrong is actually pretty good at the business side of baseball – at building and maintaining the club’s popularity – and for all the guesses we can make about the impact of Griffey on revenue, he’s made more informed and experienced ones based on this one year of data. He merits some measure of the trust we give Zduriencik, just in a different sphere.

    The argument for this move making the team better in 2010 is that Griffey brings in enough extra revenue that can be spent on players to buy back the lost WAR in the free agent market; the argument that this makes the team better long term is that it creates or sustains fan interest and goodwill beyond what the lost WAR would have, and that it contributes to Felix re-signing. The first argument may be a bit tenuous, but the second one isn’t self-evidently absurd. This site focuses on baseball decisions and avoids the business side of things by treating payroll as an independent variable. But that clearly won’t work in this case, and for all the excellent baseball metrics employed here, we don’t have anything comparable to measure the fluctuations of revenue. Because of that, we may be able to make an educated guess that this makes the team worse in 2010, but our guesses about any future beyond that quickly become much less educated, and less educated to the point of being useless. And there, I’m willing to trust Armstrong to continue to do the things necessary to keep us a larger payroll team in a smaller media market.

  107. tmac9311 on November 11th, 2009 6:39 pm

    I’m really curious on how exactly this is going to work, When you bring in Griffey you don’t bring him in to sit on the bench 162 games, that makes no sense what so ever. This leads me to believe we may go 14-11; as Griffey has to get in his games for the fans. I’d imagine Saunders plays around 7 innings a game, gets pinch hit for with Griffey, then defensive subbed for Langerhauns/Hall. I really am not fond of that strategy, but it’s the only real thing I can seem happening that gets an Griffey to fan ratio, and also gives us the best chance to compete. This team is going nowhere with Jr as full time DH, and paying him millions of dollars and having Griffey days to never play is illogical too. This really seems like a bad situation all the way around.

  108. MKT on November 11th, 2009 6:50 pm

    do agree that we should go with a 11 man pitching staff, but in order to do that, who ever are our #2 , #3 and #4 pitchers after Felix need to consistently go 7 innings.

    That’s virtually an impossible target to reach. How many pitching staffs have pitchers who can consistently go 7 innings? That’s about 240 innings in a season. In 2009, the number of major league pitchers who pitched 240 innings was … one. Verlander at 240.0 There were five pitchers who pitched 230.0 or more.

  109. Breadbaker on November 11th, 2009 6:58 pm

    I don’t see how Griffey adds much to attendance unless he (a) is playing every day, which would be a competitive disaster; or (b) has announced his firm retirement plans at some point. Is anyone really going to pay to see him on the bench, with maybe a pinch hit late in a game?

    tmac, your Saunders idea makes little sense. They’re both left handed hitters, and Griffey can’t run or field, so you need a pinch runner if he gets on base as well as a defensive replacement.

  110. DMZ on November 11th, 2009 6:59 pm

    This site focuses on baseball decisions and avoids the business side of things by treating payroll as an independent variable.

    We do? I’m pretty sure we don’t, given the amount of time we spend on business-side topics.

  111. eponymous coward on November 11th, 2009 7:32 pm

    It should be remembered that Armstrong is actually pretty good at the business side of baseball – at building and maintaining the club’s popularity – and for all the guesses we can make about the impact of Griffey on revenue, he’s made more informed and experienced ones based on this one year of data. He merits some measure of the trust we give Zduriencik, just in a different sphere.

    Er, what? The M’s are now firmly in the bottom half of MLB in attendance. Also, the Mariners have a HUGE area where they draw from, and the greater Seattle metropolitan area is something like 13th in the US in terms of population, so they really aren’t a “small-market” team. Further, the M’s are WAY off their 2001-2003 peaks in attendance (which corresponds pretty well to when they didn’t suck and make terrible baseball decisions). If anything, the argument can be made Armstrong had a very valuable asset at that time, and through mismanagement on the baseball side of things, diminished its value with respect to other comparable teams (say, the Cardinals or Twins).

    The bottom line is it doesn’t matter how good you are at making your team “fan-friendly”, or beancounting, if the on the field product sucks. I simply don’t think there’s reasonable evidence that Griffey is a particular draw as a washed-up DH/PH. The fans that need to come back to the park aren’t the die-hard fans who remember games from 1995- they’re casual fans, and they want to see winning baseball and playoff games.

  112. Paul B on November 11th, 2009 7:35 pm

    Actually, payroll is an independent variable. Or at least, it can be.

    For example, when the dependent variable of interest is wins, payroll would certainly be one of the independent variables that would need to be considered.

    And there, I’m willing to trust Armstrong to continue to do the things necessary to keep us a larger payroll team in a smaller media market.

    I guess it depends on what you mean by “smaller”. Since there are no other MLB teams in the Northwestern US or western Canada, I think the M’s media market certainly is not one of the smallest.

  113. MKT on November 11th, 2009 7:38 pm

    This site focuses on baseball decisions and avoids the business side of things by treating payroll as an independent variable.

    We do? I’m pretty sure we don’t, given the amount of time we spend on business-side topics.

    It’s true that there’s plenty of discussion of business-side topics, but equally true that the vast majority of the discussion here treats payroll as an independent variable. There is constant mention of the Mariners’ “budget” and even the economic term “budget constraint” (see e.g. this post a week ago.

    The standard economic theory of the firm however says that firms do not set budgets nor face budget constraints. Instead, they *choose* how much to spend … generally by finding out what their profit-maximizing amount of output is, and purchasing inputs in a way which minimizes the cost of producing that output. So their total expenditure is the *result* of their business decisions, not the starting point for decision-making.

    In practical decision-making terms, the Mariners might very well give Jack Z a “budget” and tell him to work with it, but if they’re smart they’ve worked out an optimal budget amount using a procedure similar or equivalent to the one above.

    What we don’t see much discussion of here (with the exception of threads such as this one) is that “budget”-setting process. Should the M’s spend $90M? $100M? And what can they do to make those expenditures more worthwhile, in terms of increased revenue to the team? I.e. what can they do to either make more fans show up, or make the fans react more strongly to the (hoped for) increase in wins and playoff contention?

    Signing Griffey could indeed be a part of this: lose some wins (or a fraction of a win), gain some fans and marketing, maybe the net payoff is positive.

    However, these sorts of budget-setting discussions (i.e. treating budget as a dependent rather than an independent variable) are necessarily speculative rather than concrete, because we don’t have the detailed data, we only have some blunt data such as attendance. So it may be just as well that we don’t discuss budget-setting very much, and take the budget as given.

  114. ClaytonMiles on November 11th, 2009 7:59 pm

    Larry LaRue just said he was “gonna get in trouble with this sabermaetric crap” on 710 for saying chemistry was the biggest difference between 08 and 09.
    I personally think it is the FO. Plus Franklin Gutierrez.
    Regarding Griffey’s return, I wonder how that impacts pending roster decisions? Especially SP.
    If this helps meet the team’s off season goals, I am cool with it.

  115. djtizzo on November 11th, 2009 8:13 pm

    Could sombody explain to me why bringing Jr. back could effect bringing in Matsui if thats what JZ wanted to do? I heard this rumor on another web site, but didnt understand it.

  116. mkale on November 11th, 2009 8:20 pm

    Half a win is what, $2 million? Maybe they figure he’ll bring more than that with increased attendance, etc and this will allow them to spend a small amount more elsewhere and get that half-win back with another player.

  117. diderot on November 11th, 2009 8:32 pm

    If you took Griffey’s slash line from last year and put Richie Sexson’s name in front of it, please raise your hand if you would like this signing.

    Right, so, that takes care of the baseball argument.

    This is about merchandising (I’m OK with that consideration) and nostalgia (that’s what last year was for), and most of all (judging from fan reaction) the elusive ‘chemistry’.

    What I don’t understand is on what basis chemistry can be projected from one season to the next. If it’s because of the personalities involved, then it shouldn’t matter whether the team is 15 games under .500 or 15 games over. The relationships between the players/coaches/manager/owners, etc., would still be the same, right?

    So if it’s the middle of next June and we’re 10 games under and there doesn’t seem to be as much tickling or pie tossing, could we then put this stupid chemistry argument to bed?

  118. hejuk on November 11th, 2009 8:47 pm

    “We do? I’m pretty sure we don’t, given the amount of time we spend on business-side topics.”

    I’m using “business-side” to refer to the things Armstrong et al do behind the curtain. I hope that was clear in the post. What the GM does is on the business side relative to the activities of the players and manager, of course, but that’s just not how I was using the term. And this blog doesn’t get into the business side, in my sense. (As an aside: the more charitable you are in reading comments, the less pedantic the commentators need to be in drawing these distinctions.)

    Regarding Armstrong’s prowess, my understanding is that since he was brought back in 1993, he has taken the Mariners from the wings of the Pacific Northwest sports scene to center stage. If I had to guess, I’d say Seattle has been a baseball town for the last 10-15 years (measured by something like this test: if you could choose one professional sports team to win a championship, which would it be?), and while part of that is due to winning, the Sonics and Seahawks won during periods of that time too (indeed, the Mariners are the only team not to make the championship round since ’93), and it was Armstrong who leveraged the winning teams into an enduring baseball culture in the city (and, as people have said, beyond).

  119. CougJustin on November 11th, 2009 8:59 pm

    I don’t think Jack brought him back for tickle fights. Jack has made some great moves to advance the club and I don’t think he would make this one if he didn’t think something was brought to the table. In Jack I trust.

  120. Ralph_Malph on November 11th, 2009 9:10 pm

    Could sombody explain to me why bringing Jr. back could effect bringing in Matsui if thats what JZ wanted to do? I heard this rumor on another web site, but didnt understand it.

    How many left-handed DH’s would you like to have on the team?

  121. DMZ on November 11th, 2009 9:10 pm

    And this blog doesn’t get into the business side, in my sense. (As an aside: the more charitable you are in reading comments, the less pedantic the commentators need to be in drawing these distinctions.)

    Uh huh! You’re wrong though, we’ve gotten into the business side in some depth repeatedly. Thanks for the advice, though.

  122. You Gotta Luv These Guys on November 11th, 2009 9:12 pm

    I sorta follow your “half a win” argument… but i’m sure you could make other convincing stat-based arguments that show the mariners gain a half a win, too. also, we don’t know HOW the m’s plan to use him, and what plan they have to get the rest of the wins… and all teams now have very advanced and comprehensive statistical analysis and i’m sure they’ve already done the math on how many wins griffey is worth.

    the fact is, griffey would be a valuable addition to many a contending teams down the stretch as a cheap veteran bat. so it is really too early to make a convincing “half win” argument…

    but my main argument with this article, and your treatment of griffey in general…

    i’m not convinced that your general stance against age and experience in baseball is statistically based. I think your arguments against griffey are psychologically based. MLB–like most employers–hates older players and does everything they can to turn the fans against them and get them out of there. if they are still good as they age then you have major Bonds/Manny type scandals. the steroids scandal should really be called the “age” scandal in mlb because that was the real issue.

    moneyball, the stat bible, actually took issue with the age bias in baseball and was pro aging stars past their prime. that was the whole point of obp.

    the yankees beat the angels this year with freddy guzman on the roster. and if griffey had been on the roster instead, they would have won a lot sooner. i haven’t taken the time to run the stat-argument, but i’m sure it wouldn’t take long to statistically support this assertion.

    it seems to me like you guys take the mlb image of the baseball hero too seriously, and as such, can’t psychologically watch your hero age. the rest of us can, and we actually like it. it deepens our respect and appreciation for what a special player he is and was, and of the complexity and beauty of the sport.

  123. DMZ on November 11th, 2009 9:13 pm

    So it may be just as well that we don’t discuss budget-setting very much, and take the budget as given.

    We used to do this all the time. I spent a lot of words on this. It turns out that (as Dave once pointed out to me) that for the purposes of anyone on the outside, you pretty much just have to accept that when the team says they’ll spend x, they’ll spend up to x, and work from there. Our analysis of revenue streams and telling them what to spend doesn’t change the team’s handling in practice of their payroll.

  124. DMZ on November 11th, 2009 9:17 pm

    w/r/t “treatment of Griffey”

    This is so absurd. Seriously, I’ve spent all day refuting things we didn’t say and views of the site for things we don’t advocate and this just takes the cake. For years, years, we’ve argued in favor of a vast array of value picks of players at the ends of their career, post-35, because they are — at least in part for the reasons you’ve cited — often undervalued quantites.

    In fact, not a week ago Dave argued the M’s might be well-served gambling on RANDY FREAKING JOHNSON.

    And w/r/t the psychological argument: you don’t know us, or who our heroes are, and clearly you weren’t around for our appreciation of Edgar.

  125. CCW on November 11th, 2009 9:34 pm

    It turns out that (as Dave once pointed out to me) that for the purposes of anyone on the outside, you pretty much just have to accept that when the team says they’ll spend x, they’ll spend up to x, and work from there. Our analysis of revenue streams and telling them what to spend doesn’t change the team’s handling in practice of their payroll.

    I understand your point, but don’t you find it frustrating? It’s one of the things that bugs me the most about the Mariners, who really do seem to begin the off-season with some sort of bright line “budget”. It’s as if they need to spend $X, regardless whether it might make more sense in the market to spend $X+5 or $X-5. I know… nothing we can do about it. But I do think it’s what smart teams will do in the future – get the GM and ownership on board together with an overall strategy that doesn’t involve arbitrary and inefficient bright-line budgets.

  126. CCW on November 11th, 2009 9:37 pm

    And yeah, that argument that MLB discriminates against older players is just insane. What team other than the M’s would sign Griffey? Why am I even bothering giving it second thought?

  127. DMZ on November 11th, 2009 10:01 pm

    Oh, the bright-line budget totally bugs me. I used to rant about this all the time, in particular for a while I was arguing they needed to budget for wins, not dollars, and work back from that, which requires them to understand spending, where the team is, and look at things kind of upside-down. Do you remember how steamed I was about the “we’ll spend more during the season if attendance is good” lies? Oh, I practically had to be put on blood pressure meds over that, I was so angry.

    But Dave was right: that’s how they view things and energy spent there is just not really worth it.

  128. bumkus on November 11th, 2009 10:27 pm

    I cannot fathom why everyone here is so hot on Langerhans. The guy has never consistently hit major league pitching, and he is pretty damn easy to replace. At least Griffey was good at some point in the near past – Langerhans has never been good.

  129. eponymous coward on November 11th, 2009 10:27 pm

    Regarding Armstrong’s prowess, my understanding is that since he was brought back in 1993, he has taken the Mariners from the wings of the Pacific Northwest sports scene to center stage. If I had to guess, I’d say Seattle has been a baseball town for the last 10-15 years (measured by something like this test: if you could choose one professional sports team to win a championship, which would it be?), and while part of that is due to winning, the Sonics and Seahawks won during periods of that time too (indeed, the Mariners are the only team not to make the championship round since ‘93), and it was Armstrong who leveraged the winning teams into an enduring baseball culture in the city (and, as people have said, beyond).

    The Sonics were horribly mismanaged after Barry Ackerley sold the team, and the Seahawks were similarly mismanaged under Ken Behring. I’ll also point out that we can easily lay the blame for the Bavasi era at the feet of Lincoln and Amrstrong.

    This isn’t to say that I think they’re awful- more that I am unconvinced that they’ve earned “trust” and that we can assume they have sound business reasons for resigning him beyond “hey, it’s Junior, we will give him a spot on the team if he’s 90 and in a wheelchair”.

    I simply think there Griffey isn’t an attendance draw or revenue generator, especially if he is used as a 100 PA pinch-hitter/deep reserve, which is the only reasonable way to use him at this point in his career without seriously damaging the team’s prospects of victory. The fans whose nostalgia would motivate them to go to the ballpark already DO go to the ballpark.

  130. Dave on November 11th, 2009 10:29 pm

    We’re now biased against Griffey, old players, team chemistry, lazy beat writers who should retire… who else am I missing? Oh, yeah, Jose Lopez, right? I think I’m biased against him, too, if I remember correctly.

  131. Dave on November 11th, 2009 10:31 pm

    I cannot fathom why everyone here is so hot on Langerhans.

    Because we understand how to value talent. Stick around and learn how – you’ll enjoy the game more.

  132. djtizzo on November 11th, 2009 10:42 pm

    Could sombody explain to me why bringing Jr. back could effect bringing in Matsui if thats what JZ wanted to do? I heard this rumor on another web site, but didnt understand it.

    How many left-handed DH’s would you like to have on the team?

    Not trying to make an argument, but wouldn’t that logic then make every AL team want a switch hitting DH…..it would free up money and a roster spot!

  133. PADJ on November 11th, 2009 11:21 pm

    Seems to me this decision by Z and the FO has got to be heavily influenced by marketing and warm fuzzy feelings for the fan base.

    I cannot see throwing a couple million with incentives for more at a player with that kind of stat line from last year, if the name “GRIFFEY” wasn’t attached to it.

    Okay…19 HR’s was a little pop, but his knees are liable to pop as well. If this was anyone else I don’t think they’d have offered.

  134. scott19 on November 12th, 2009 12:09 am

    We should sign Bucky Jacobsen to platoon with Griffey!

    Nah, the Buckster’s too busy doing Banner Bank ads these days to be lured out of retirement. :)

  135. Paul B on November 12th, 2009 7:05 am

    You Gotta Luv These Guys says:

    the fact is, griffey would be a valuable addition to many a contending teams down the stretch as a cheap veteran bat. so it is really too early to make a convincing “half win” argument…

    This is the kind of thing that bugs me about the Griffey apologists. Griffey is among the worst DH’s in the AL. Why would a contending team want that as a PH instead of, say, picking up someone who was actually a good hitter?

    The M’s were tied for 11th in the AL in wOBA from DH last year, at .327.

    Oh, you are saying, that is because Sweeney was bad and he sucked up a lot of the at bats and made a lot of outs. No, Sweeney’s wOBA was .331. Griffey’s was .324.

    Yes, that is right. Sweeney was a better hitter last year than Griffey was. The Tigers and the Royals were the only teams last year in the AL who were unable to have a total year at DH better than Griffey. And the Tigers didn’t have a DH, and the Royals, well, they were the Royals.

  136. Paul B on November 12th, 2009 7:24 am

    Not trying to make an argument, but wouldn’t that logic then make every AL team want a switch hitting DH…..it would free up money and a roster spot!

    Either that, or a DH who is such a good hitter that he is valuable even when at a platoon disadvantage.

  137. msb on November 12th, 2009 7:46 am

    This site focuses on baseball decisions and avoids the business side of things by treating payroll as an independent variable.

    um, isn’t the author of this post currently studying economics?

    Larry LaRue just said he was “gonna get in trouble with this sabermaetric crap”

    actually, he said “crowd”, not “crap”. He may not be as attuned to numbers as other local writers, but he isn’t completely dismissive.

  138. bumkus on November 12th, 2009 7:59 am

    Because we understand how to value talent. Stick around and learn how – you’ll enjoy the game more.

    Langerhans hasn’t been valuable at the plate at all, save for his two GWHR – insert blind squirrel quote. His plate numbers were equivalent or worse than Griffey’s. He is fungible, replacement value talent. Maybe you should re-evaluate your viewpoint on him.

  139. Adam B. on November 12th, 2009 8:29 am

    I think the bottom line depends on whether or not Langerhans is willing to accept a minor-league assignment.

    It’s not like teams were beating down the Nationals doors last year when we picked him up ala carte, and given his still undervalued assets, I wonder if he’d be able to do better then a minor-league contract?

    If not, then this hoopla boils down to the Mariners blowing ~$3M on a PR move, which if payroll isn’t being artificially constrained, is basically crying over spilt milk.

    Also, for all the people who don’t understand why Langerhans is valuable, perhaps you don’t know as much about baseball talent as you think you do?

  140. msb on November 12th, 2009 8:37 am

    I think that should be the new site motto:

    “We’re biased against Griffey, old players, team chemistry, lazy beat writers who should retire… and Jose Lopez!”

  141. Jeff Nye on November 12th, 2009 8:49 am

    He is fungible, replacement value talent.

    It’s nice to finally see someone willing to admit this about Griffey.

  142. Paul B on November 12th, 2009 9:23 am

    Langerhans hasn’t been valuable at the plate at all, save for his two GWHR – insert blind squirrel quote. His plate numbers were equivalent or worse than Griffey’s. He is fungible, replacement value talent. Maybe you should re-evaluate your viewpoint on him.

    Langerhans is a .5 to 2 WAR player.

    Griffey is a 0.2 WAR player.

    Maybe I’m slow, but I’m having a hard time grasping your point that Griffey is better than Langerhans.

  143. eponymous coward on November 12th, 2009 9:29 am

    It’s nice to finally see someone willing to admit this about Griffey.

    I see what you did there…

  144. TranquilPsychosis on November 12th, 2009 9:33 am

    Either that, or a DH who is such a good hitter that he is valuable even when at a platoon disadvantage.

    Yeah, I miss Edgar too.

    I think that should be the new site motto:

    “We’re biased against Griffey, old players, team chemistry, lazy beat writers who should retire… and Jose Lopez!”

    Add on “But we love Doyle”

  145. Ralph_Malph on November 12th, 2009 11:32 am

    Not trying to make an argument, but wouldn’t that logic then make every AL team want a switch hitting DH…..it would free up money and a roster spot!

    Absolutely. Find us a good one, please.

  146. J-Dog on November 12th, 2009 4:38 pm

    They carried 12 pitchers for 95 percent of 2009. The last time the team didn’t carry 12 pitchers continually was about 6 or 7 years ago.

    Question – should teams carry an 11 man or 12 man pitching staff. According to my calculations, teams should pitch about 1,458 innings per year (9 x 162 – Last year, M’s pitcher pitched 1,452.7 innings). If an average reliever spot (more than 1 person can fill a single spot, but not at the same time) pitches 65 innings per year, relievers on an 11 man staff will pitch 390 innings per year while relievers on a 12 man staff pitch 455 innings per year.

    Thus, starters on an 11 man staff must pitch 1,068 innings, or appoximately 6.6 innings per game.

    Starters on a 12 man staff must pitch 1,003 innings, or approximately 6.2 innings per game.

    Last year’s Mariners starters averaged the following innings per game.

    Felix: 7.02
    Washburn: 6.65
    RRS: 6.42
    Bedard: 5.53
    Snell: 5.36
    Fister: 5.55
    All others also had significant relief appearances that substantially reduce innings/game.

    Conclusion: Only Felix and Jarrod Washburn pitched deep enough into games that would allow the Mariners to field an 11 man pitching staff. As Washburn is no longer with the club, it will likely be impossible for the Mariners to field an 11 man pitching staff (without a great deal of creativity in sending pitchers back and forth between Tacoma and Seattle). Thus, Griffey will almost certainly cost one of Saunders, Hall, Langerhans, or Hallahan their job.

  147. turin07 on November 12th, 2009 5:05 pm

    I said to my buddy at the last game, if Junior comes back the front office is throwing in the towel for ’10. Plenty of organizations do this by not signing a player or allowing a prospect to stay down or making/not making a trade. It is realistic in many cases, but are the M’s a sure miss for the playoffs in ’10. If so the Junior signing is not a HORRIBLE idea. Like the stupid hydro cartoons and bobbleheads, it puts money in the bank. The real question though is ‘What does this tell us, if anything, about the organization’s expectation regarding the signing of Felix.

  148. jakeludington on November 12th, 2009 5:58 pm

    Forget what Griffey playing for the Mariners in 2010 means, it’s almost a lock that he’ll also play in 2011. He’s 30 away from passing Willie Mays, which means if he plays like he did this year, he would need 12 to move into 4th place all time. If he gets close there’s no way he’s not coming back for that.

  149. scott19 on November 12th, 2009 6:11 pm

    Not trying to make an argument, but wouldn’t that logic then make every AL team want a switch hitting DH…..it would free up money and a roster spot!

    Absolutely. Find us a good one, please.

    Well, maybe Mark Teixeira when he’s an early-forty-something and toward the end of his career…but unfortunately, that might take a while.

  150. TranquilPsychosis on November 12th, 2009 9:57 pm

    Conclusion: Only Felix and Jarrod Washburn pitched deep enough into games that would allow the Mariners to field an 11 man pitching staff.

    Exactly. And the bus only succeded here at safeco (with his new center fielder) for a short time. I know, I know, “he was a dominant pitcher until they traded him”. But he got a combination of great defense a lots of good luck. Now he wants to come back. Does anyone wonder why?

    Forget what Griffey playing for the Mariners in 2010 means, it’s almost a lock that he’ll also play in 2011. He’s 30 away from passing Willie Mays, which means if he plays like he did this year, he would need 12 to move into 4th place all time. If he gets close there’s no way he’s not coming back for that.

    And if he doesn’t get it in ’11, what then? Do they sign him in ’12? Honestly, as surprising as this signing may or may not have been, signing him to another year would be a Bavasiesque move. And, thankfully, “the paycheck” has moved on to other teams that need destruction.

    Well, maybe Mark Teixeira when he’s an early-forty-something and toward the end of his career…but unfortunately, that might take a while.

    I would love to see teixeira on this team. I would also love to see my lotto numbers come up. I think the odds of either coming to pass might just be evenly comparable.

  151. nwivoryhunter on November 12th, 2009 10:29 pm

    Trade lopez and lowe for Inge and Jackson!

  152. TranquilPsychosis on November 12th, 2009 11:16 pm

    Trade lopez and lowe for Inge and Jackson!

    Inge is not exactly someone you want to be hitting in Safeco unless he happens to be on the visiting team.

  153. gsquared on November 13th, 2009 12:14 am

    I said to my buddy at the last game, if Junior comes back the front office is throwing in the towel for ‘10.

    As much as I don’t like this move, I have to disagree that this is what it means. If we assume for the moment that Langerhans will lose his job, that means that the roster spot is occupied by Griffey’s likely 0.0 WAR as opposed to Langerhans’ 0.5 WAR (using Dave’s projection).

    Yes, we’re paying $2-3M more for a 0.5 drop in WAR. It’s a bad baseball move. But I just don’t think it’s enough to conclude that they are giving up on next season.

  154. littlesongs on November 13th, 2009 5:52 am

    Dave, I appreciate the sober reality that you have shared with us. I hope that this is the only purely emotional, psychological or chemistry related signing we will see this off-season.

    Is there a difference between Ken Griffey in 2010 and Jay Buhner in 2001? Jay did not start a game, had 45 at bats, spent most of the season on the disabled list and served as an extra coach.

    Unable to serve as the designated hitter, the only thing Junior and Bone have/had to offer the team were intangibles. Jay was on a team with Edgar, but the 2010 DH has yet to emerge.

    Neither Ken nor Jay can/could play left field, so it is/was a platoon. Instead of Charles Gipson, Al Martin and Mark McLemore, at the moment it is Michael Saunders, Ryan Langerhans and Bill Hall.

    Bone was little more than a gimpy cheerleader and bench coach through 2001. Junior might be fine with that being his role next year, but they still need to get left field and DH sorted out.

    I loved Jay and I love Junior too. I just hate to see a fellow playing hurt when he does not have to play anymore. At a point, a guy should save those knees for his grandchildren.

  155. Paul B on November 13th, 2009 11:28 am

    it’s almost a lock that he’ll also play in 2011. He’s 30 away from passing Willie Mays, which means if he plays like he did this year, he would need 12 to move into 4th place all time. If he gets close there’s no way he’s not coming back for that

    .

    Yes, but would Griffey agree to play in KC?

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