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.


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

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

    Trade lopez and lowe for Inge and Jackson!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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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