Now What?

Dave · May 10, 2010 at 11:09 am · Filed Under Mariners 

After a disastrous home stand, the Mariners now head to Baltimore to try to get healthy off one of the league’s worst teams. However, this road trip won’t be interesting for the games themselves, but instead, how the team handles the inevitable roster decisions that should come at week’s end.

The weekend saw the Mariners get some much needed production from Ryan Langerhans (reached base nine times in 17 trips to the plate) and Michael Saunders (single, double, home run, and a walk in two starts), who split time in left field due to Milton Bradley’s absence from the team. While Bradley isn’t going to travel with the team to Baltimore, the initial “five to seven day” time frame given by the team suggests that there’s a good chance he’ll join the Mariners on Friday in Tampa, at which point, the M’s will have to make a move to get him back on the roster.

The easy decision would be to just send Saunders back to Tacoma, give Bradley the LF job back, and soldier onward with the Griffey/Sweeney platoon at DH. But, the Mariners are not stupid, and they know just as well as we do that it isn’t working, and that they can’t continue to just punt offense from an offense-only position. And so, I don’t think that’s what they’re going to do.

This team needs a spark, needs some life, and needs to keep Milton Bradley’s bat in the line-up (they are 10-10 when he starts, 2-9 when he doesn’t). Saunders hit for more power in a weekend than either Griffey or Sweeney did in a month, and he can actually play the field. The organization thought he was ready to help them last summer, and despite a tough start in Tacoma, he’s clearly a better player than either of the current DHs on the roster right now. And this team needs better players than they have as they try to dig themselves out of the hole they dug the last two weeks.

So, unless he just looks abysmal in the Baltimore series, I don’t think Saunders goes back to Tacoma. My guess is that one of the two DHs lose their spot, and according to Larry LaRue, it’s going to be Junior (side note – can you imagine what would be getting written right now if Bradley, and not Griffey, was the one sleeping in the clubhouse during a game? Just saying).

The Mariners can’t continue like they have been, and the performance of Saunders and Langerhans have forced the team to admit that they have options. They can’t continue with Griffey and Sweeney, and I don’t think they will. When Milton comes back, I’m guessing we see a new line-up, and honestly, it’s long overdue.


125 Responses to “Now What?”

  1. Hud67 on May 10th, 2010 5:27 pm

    I am surprised with how many people are willing to overlook everything in order to keep Griffey around. This is not a man who stayed in a Mariner uniform his entire career. He left(I know…he saved baseball in Seattle). The Mariners let him come back for a year. Most teams let their old star come back for one day. On a different topic, why has the third base coach not been fired?

  2. littlesongs on May 10th, 2010 5:31 pm

    I hope the media takes the lead from Shannon Drayer and is honest about his sleep habits. Junior has always slept in the clubhouse and treating it like a revelation is lazy journalism. Mariners fans have known for years that Ken Griffey can sleep through anything:

    On the afternoon of July 19, 1994, four tiles fell from the Kingdome roof down into the stands behind home plate. More specifically, at about 4:35, three hours before the scheduled game that night against the Baltimore Orioles, a 32-by-48 fiberglass tile dropped 180 feet as some of the Mariners players were stretching on the field. The three other tiles fell later in the day.

    Coach Sam Perlozzo said: “I was walking from our dugout to the Orioles to talk to Chris Sabo when our players starting screaming that the roof was falling in. I thought they were kidding.” Ken Griffey Jr. said he was asleep at the time: “I’ve always told you guys I could sleep anywhere and through anything. I was in the clubhouse asleep and never heard a thing.”

    1995 Mariners

    I am a lifelong M’s fan and a nostalgic guy, but I hate to see someone playing in constant pain. Even if he was batting for average, it would still be mighty hard to watch him out there this year. I hope he enjoys one last outpouring of affection, retires gracefully and we can all manage to find lodging in the greater Cooperstown area in about five years.

  3. ima-zeliever on May 10th, 2010 5:35 pm

    Griffey napping all the time sheds light on that “awful” interview he gave Shannon before the game yesterday. It was hard to listen too and he sounded like he was only half-way coherent. Maybe they wake him up for interviews…

    Come to think of it, I like the strategy of letting him sleep instead of taking AB away from a better hitter.

  4. Steve T on May 10th, 2010 6:00 pm

    I hope he enjoys one last outpouring of affection

    He did — LAST YEAR.

  5. ima-zeliever on May 10th, 2010 6:20 pm

    I don’t think that Griffey is going to allow things to end on a soar note. 60 Day DL trip and an end of the year return/farewell, is much more likely than things getting ugly where we cut him.

    It would be a shocker if he didn’t exit gracefully…

  6. Liam on May 10th, 2010 6:24 pm

    I would also like to applaud the semi-courage of the two younger players who were at least were willing to speak out anonymously.

    From the subsequent articles about Griffey sleeping in the past and with Larry saying that neither had an ax to grind they probably didn’t think it would blow up like it has.

  7. littlesongs on May 10th, 2010 6:28 pm

    He did — LAST YEAR.

    Perhaps I should clarify my post. Although it would be out of character for him, I think that Junior would be at least given a chance to tip his cap and give a goodbye speech going into the next homestand. I am not advocating for him to stay, but I am sure there is a camp that would love to see him replace Mike Brumley.

    To further clarify, I was not implying that Larry LaRue was lazy. He assumed correctly that the fanbase who loved Griffey in his prime knew that Junior often napped at the ballpark. I think it was a bitter pill to swallow as a journalist for Larry to break this story. Few reporters would have been as fair handed when presented with that kind of information.

    My only concern was that the national media would break out the tar and feathers without doing any research. Ken Griffey has a left a legacy that goes far beyond catnaps and he deserves a better sendoff at the end of his road.

  8. Islets of Ryan Langerhans on May 10th, 2010 6:30 pm

    I hope the media takes the lead from Shannon Drayer and is honest about his sleep habits.

    You can get away with stuff when you are in your 20s and hitting double-digit HRs/year that you can’t get away with when you are 40 and near the Mendoza line.

  9. djw on May 10th, 2010 6:40 pm

    I am curious as to whether anyone else was bothered by LaRue essentially calling Wak a liar, and/or insinuating that he was covering for Junior. I just can’t see Wak doing that.

    Really? I can’t see why you’d be surprised. This team made a decision to place a nostalgic marketing campaign over fielding a winning roster, and that decision was made at a level well above Wakamatsu’s pay grade. He’s a second year manager, and hasn’t given any appearance of stirring the pot or agressively challenging upper management. Why would he start now? (And, yes, PR is a part of a manager’s job, much more so than being 100% truthful with the local media).

  10. Utis on May 10th, 2010 6:52 pm

    Just read Baker’s predictable reaction. This is what happens when team’s seasons go badly. The writers still need to find stories that will generate interest (and web hits). LaRue did that today. Baker did the same in 08 with his Ichiro clubhouse stories.

  11. Islets of Ryan Langerhans on May 10th, 2010 7:48 pm

    The Baker story is indeed predictable.

    So question – LaRue obviously has excellent connections to the clubhouse and wouldn’t necessarily want to jeopardize that by running this story.

    So was he fed and encouraged to run the piece by Ms management as a sign to Griffey to shape up or retire?

  12. Paul L on May 10th, 2010 7:59 pm

    This is what I’ve been starting to think as well. Apparently everyone – players, other reporters, mgmt, and of course LaRue himself – knows that Jr sleeps in the clubhouse, and no one has felt it important enough to talk about until now?

    Seems like either LaRue is trying to use this as a reason to turn sentiment against Jr because HE’S fed up, or more likely this is being floated with mgmt’s blessing to prepare the fan base for Jr’s exit.

    For something that no one seems very upset about, it sure is getting a lot of pub.

  13. Adam S on May 10th, 2010 8:05 pm

    Seems to me like there’s a big difference between napping before the game, perhaps closing your eyes for 15-20 minutes between at bats as a DH to refresh, and leaving the dugout in the 5th and being SOUND ASLEEP three innings later when you might be needed to pinch hit (or pitch or go in for defense).

    While Dreyer tries to blow this off, a player not being available because he’s asleep is a story to me. I may be naive, but I think the whole thing is innocent. Wak didn’t want to say Jr was asleep or he didn’t want to say once he found out he was asleep he figured Johnson might as well hit for himself. And a player mentioned off-the-cuff that “Griffey was asleep when I went back to the clubhouse in the 7th” without thinking it might become a story.

  14. zmic11 on May 10th, 2010 8:15 pm

    question for everyone: before this story broke, who would you have rather seen gone? Griffey or Sweeney?

    Its hard to make a case for either staying on the team, but I think we’d all be happy to just see one of them gone, which is probably what will happen – at least at first.

    Personally, I’d much rather have Sweeney gone first, as I don’t think he brings anything more to the table than Griffey, and it wouldn’t take the organization turning their backs on a legend. In either case, our best lineup will probably be with saunders in left and bradley at dh, so if we hang on to either of them in a diminished role, why wouldn’t it be griffey?

    If Griffey goes, I hope Sweeney is right behind him.

  15. Swungonandbelted on May 10th, 2010 8:29 pm

    I am curious as to whether anyone else was bothered by LaRue essentially calling Wak a liar, and/or insinuating that he was covering for Junior. I just can’t see Wak doing that.

    Bothered? No. I would actually have been surprised if he hadn’t “covered” for him. Having watched Wak, he doesn’t seem like the kind of person that has a need to air out players to the media, but instead prefers to deal with them privately. I think he’s handled it properly and professionally.

  16. Jeff Nye on May 10th, 2010 8:50 pm

    Not that it’s in any way casting aspersions on Larry LaRue, who is awesome, but:

    I really don’t see any way this story wasn’t either fed to him, or the Mariners at least gave him the go-ahead to run the story.

    They’re preparing the way for Griffey’s exit; I don’t get the Drayer story in that context, but maybe she’s just trying to stick up for Griffey in the face of what otherwise has been a pretty negative reaction.

  17. Rick Banjo on May 10th, 2010 9:13 pm

    I have little to add to the conversation except to mention how much I loathe Geoff Baker, what he writes, and the way he writes it.

  18. draketw206 on May 10th, 2010 9:56 pm

    do u want ortiz on this team

  19. the tourist on May 10th, 2010 9:58 pm

    With regard to seeing a different lineup once Milton returns, I wholeheartedly agree. Part of me says I’d like to see Figgins 9th to take the pressure off. Another part (that loves Michael Saunders, I might add) would like to see Saunders 2nd. Oh, and wherever Milton is, he should be the DH.

  20. Paul L on May 10th, 2010 10:27 pm

    I don’t understand what Baker was actually trying to say.

    I thought he was implying that the manager/FO was partly to blame, but then he went out in the weeds and…well, I still don’t know wtf he was talking about.

  21. Utis on May 10th, 2010 10:28 pm

    Wak didn’t want to say Jr was asleep or he didn’t want to say once he found out he was asleep he figured Johnson might as well hit for himself.

    Doesn’t a manager usually let a player know in advance that he might be pinch hitting? Now, Wakamatsu does not pinch hit as often as I would like. In this case, he may have simply looked for Griffey too late. On this team, barring factors such as injuries, Griffey and Sweeney should have more pinch hitting opportunities than they have been given. Looking at game logs, it looks like Griffey has pinch hit three times all season while Sweeney has pinch hit four times.

  22. Islets of Ryan Langerhans on May 10th, 2010 10:34 pm

    Doesn’t a manager usually let a player know in advance that he might be pinch hitting? Now, Wakamatsu does not pinch hit as often as I would like. In this case, he may have simply looked for Griffey too late.

    Perhaps, but being in the dugout is going to make it less likely to be called to PH. Griffey should be there, with a “I’m ready to go anytime!” attitude.

  23. JMHawkins on May 10th, 2010 10:40 pm

    I really don’t see any way this story wasn’t either fed to him, or the Mariners at least gave him the go-ahead to run the story.

    NapGate seems to be getting all the publicity, but the real news in LaRue’s post was that the M’s are on the verge of releasing Griffey if he doesn’t retire. LaRue doesn’t say where he came by that bit of info – certainly wasn’t from a couple of “younger players” on the roster. The way the article is worded, it could simply be his speculation that they have to do something soon. Or it could be some skid greasing. Considering Zduriencik’s rather uncomfortable comments last week, I think it’s grease.

    I wonder if Junior is being stubbord with the M’s?
    Refusing to gracefully take a PH role and show up for his bobblehead nights? Wwho’s he going to pinch hit for, Steve asks? Bradley, Guit, or Wilson in the seventh inning of a blowout.

  24. illdonk on May 10th, 2010 11:16 pm

    To quote Shannon Drayer: “It is something he has done for years and for years when needed someone just woke him up.”

    She hits the nail on the head: the real story is that Junior’s isn’t needed anymore, or at least he can no longer be what the team needs. So why not just let him sleep?

  25. pinball1973 on May 10th, 2010 11:47 pm

    My absurd adoration of Ichiro plays into this.

    What the hell!

    What do you think Ichiro would do after seeing his abilities tail off to the point even the most loving fan (me) was upset to see him on the field as a regular, or even as a pinch-hitter*?
    He’s politely and humorously announce his retirement after talking and, with that oddly perfect sincerity I’ve seen in person, thanking the organization, his manager and coaches, and his teammates. And he’d find something else interesting to do.
    Ken Griffey is a good man by every account and was a great, great, great player (and Mike Sweeney is by all accounts another very fine man and was a great, great hitter) but there are other things they should do with their lives now.

    *I’d estimate the latter might happen on his 110th birthday – having actually died and been cremated in Dec. 2073)

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