Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
November 11, 2009
BASEBALL: It Was A Great Year Except For The Playing Baseball Part

I had assumed that Ken Griffey jr would retire after hitting .214 this season, to preserve some dignity, but apparently he not only wants to return in 2010, but has convinced the Mariners he's enough of an asset to give him a contract comparable to his 2009 salary of over $3 million Why?

Griffey returned to the Mariners in 2009 under rookie manager Don Wakamatsu and almost single-handedly transformed what had been a fractured, bickering clubhouse with his leadership, energy and constant pranks....

"He went beyond anything that I would have expected," Zduriencik said.

Griffey even turned formerly reclusive star Ichiro Suzuki into a smiling, joking teammate. He had neckties made for road trips bearing Wakamatsu's likeness. He also had the Mariners wearing ties bearing his own likeness and the words "World's Greatest Teammate" for one midseason flight out of Seattle.

"His influence, the presence he has -- there are players on this ballclub who are very excited to know they are going to be teammates again with Ken Griffey Jr.," Zduriencik said.

The Mariners even carried Griffey off the field on their shoulders immediately following October's season finale.

That's all to the good, and by and large Griffey's been one of the good guys in his career; yes, he's been prone to whining and self-centeredness at times, especially in mid-career, but some of that comes with being told from your teen years that you are going to be a superstar, and it being right. On the whole, he's a guy I've always liked and rooted for, and it's good to see he's grown into a real clubhouse leader in his later years.

But it might help the Mariners to replace Griffey with someone who can provide a little more than a nice personality.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:09 PM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)

I think it's pretty absurd to attribute the clubhouse turnaround to Griffey in year where the Mariners also got a new Manager, GM and several other veteran free agents. All of the coverage I've read/heard up here today has seemed to be stretching to justify this signing.

Posted by: Joel in Seattle at November 11, 2009 6:23 PM

I like Ken Griffey, I don't begrudge him wanting to extend the string if he can.

And I don't cry foul if his team feels the need to go elsewhere. It's baseball, wins and losses.

Posted by: DD at November 11, 2009 6:45 PM

Another example of the Mariners not really paying and playing to win. Griffey is pretty much toast as a hitter goes, he can't really play the field without dislocating something and he serves as a hood ornament for Mariner attendance. If the Yankees or Red Sox did this their fan base would kill them. In Seattle they love it. We're soft on sports out here in the West.

Posted by: jim at November 11, 2009 7:05 PM

Clubhouse influence notwithstanding, Griffey played just barely well enough to not embaress himself this year. 2010 has serious 1973 Willie Mays potential.

Posted by: Jerry at November 11, 2009 7:19 PM

Well, Willie Mays did bat .286 in the '73 Series -- that would be a good outcome for Griffey and the Ms in '10.

Posted by: chrisa798 at November 11, 2009 8:10 PM

It would be nice if somehow he was able to finish on a high note. Hey Crank do you know if anyone has ver done an analysis of what his numbers projected out to without injuries?

Posted by: dch at November 12, 2009 10:04 AM

I'd never pay him that much but I think he had a better year than the numbers indicate at first glance. He had a .359 secondary average, saw four pitches per appearance, walked 63 times, hit 19 homers and 19 doubles in 2/3rds of a season. Safeco killed his home numbers and his BAPiP was horrific. Which all means he might still have another solid year in him. But I imagine Safeco will hurt his numbers again (so Seattle really shouldn't have paid him 3 million) even if his BAPiP comes back to a normal level. (And of course he can't play defense.)

Posted by: per14 at November 12, 2009 10:29 AM

I remember back in the Stone Age, before free agency, there were players that demanded more money because they drew larger crowds. Probably a stretch to suggest this, but is Griffey still an attendance draw?

Posted by: feeblemind at November 12, 2009 1:32 PM

The money is really academic, for both Griffey and the team (in particular, he is probably worth that to the Ms as an ambassador for the team). It comes down to whether he's worth a roster spot, and whether he can live with being the kind of player he's going to be.

Posted by: Jerry at November 12, 2009 1:32 PM

Safeco did not hurt Griffey in 2009. He hit very well at home; it was on the road where he was helpless.

Posted by: Crank at November 12, 2009 1:44 PM

Yeah, I can't read. And it's hard for me to figure out why his road splits were so bad. Safeco isn't exactly a hitter's park is it? The team hitting splits are about even but the pitchers fared better at home. So, maybe if his road splits improve, he'll have a better year next year.

Posted by: per14 at November 12, 2009 7:52 PM

Maybe he is being kept around to be a player/coach and a coach in 2011. Company decision??

Posted by: John Gorman at November 19, 2009 7:57 PM
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