Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Griffey in 2008?

As I mentioned in my previous post -- I'd really honestly prefer the M's sign Barry Bonds over trading for Griffey. Recognizing that they likely wouldn't do that, my second choice would be to sign Kenny Lofton, who's defense would help the Mariners and whose bat probably wouldn't be that much different than Griffey's (sacrificing some power for fewer outs and a bit more speed).

Here's some perspective. Griffey's MLB career started in 1989 -- here's a list of things that were going on back then:
  • The Berlin Wall was still intact. I know, I was there in 1989 -- it came down only 6 months after I wrote on it (and after Griffey had been in the league for one season).
  • The Exxon Valdez oil spill happened
  • It was still the 80s.
  • Paula Abdul's "Forever Your Girl" was a #1 single. Madonna's "Like a Prayer" was, too. Deborah Gibson was known as Debbie, and topping the charts. New Kids on the Block, Milli Vanilli -- need I say more?
  • Rain Man was the Best Picture
  • Wrestlemania V: Hulk Hogan defeats Randy "Macho Man" Savage
  • Sega Genesis & Nintendo GameBoy released
  • Pete Rose's lifetime ban begins, the Skydome in Toronto opens
  • The Simpsons and Seinfeld debut on TV
  • Joe Jonas, Sanjaya Malakar, Michele Wie, Jordan Sparks, and Lil Mama were born
  • Ted Bundy, Ayatolla Khomeni, Salvador Dali, Lucille Ball, Bart Giamatti, Ferdinand Marcos, Graham Chapman, Bette Davis, Joe Collins, Irving Berlin, and Mel Blanc (aka Bugs Bunny/Daffy Duck/Porky Pig/Barney Rubble, etc...) all died.
But let's dig a little deeper.

As most of us are probably aware, Griffey has 10-5 rights -- he's been in the league for 10 years and has been with the same team for 5 years. This allows him the right to veto a trade and/or a waiver claim, even without having a no-trade clause in his contract.

The important question becomes, then, would Griffey consent to a trade to the Mariners -- and if so -- why?

During his heyday, Griffey was definitely a leader in the clubhouse. He and Jay Buhner were particularly close, and both of them helped drive Lou Piniella insane. Remember this commercial? Of course, Junior was a LOT younger then, and most of those teammates have retired, except RJ and a few others. But John McLaren was around then, and he was beloved by Junior.

Yeah, Junior probably has a sense of nostalgia and would like to finish his career where it began. I believe his words -- and it wouldn't surprise me at all if he wanted to stick around longer than the 1-day contract that's been discussed in the media.

The thing is -- Griffey probably wants a ring more than he wants nostalgia. I'm not sure if he's got the energy or the desire to carry this woeful team on his shoulders to dig them out of the deep hole they've found themselves in. It's a ridiculously deep hole that sacrificing outfield defense won't help. While I don't necessarily assent to the validity of defense stats and measurements, I'm comfortable enough with their reliability when looking at a team's rating/valuation, even if I'm not 100% sold on the cost/benefit to the win/loss record. I am not at all surprised that the recent analysis shows the M's as having the worst defense, in terms of plays below average. While Wlad Balentien has been helping tremendously, he caught the sucktitis virus going around the team tonight. Moving him out to move Griffey in would definitely not help this.

I mention defense because if Griffey does consent to be traded back to Seattle, it won't be as the DH. At FanFest this year, Jay Buhner -- arguably one of Griffey's best friends to this day -- mentioned that while Griffey would probably be best suited as a DH (saying his days as a great OF'er are long behind him), Griffey isn't quite ready to give up his spot on the field. And even if they move Raul from LF to DH (or 1B), the upgrade probably isn't very significant. I can't imagine Griffey being too anxious to be platooned and/or moved around the field. Even if it's probably best for all parties involved. Except, of course, the M's current DH -- Jeff Clement (who really should displace Kenji Johjima at the catcher's position).

And I really don't want to get into my fears of what Bavasi would give up to get Griffey back.

While the nostalgic part of me would like to see Griffey come back and put some energy into this woeful team, I also recognize that the older you get, the less motivated you get to "go all messiah". While the 1990s Griffey could definitely help the M's right now, the Griffey of today would just be another symptom of the problem.

The M's are too focused on the past. They're content to completely ignore defense. The M's value experience and reputation much more than they value talent. Trading for Griffey at the cost of someone like Adam Moore or Juan Ramirez, and the development of either Wlad or Jeff would be a terrible decision.

That's completely why I expect it to happen...

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