Views from the first workout at Disney

As this first day of workouts conclude, one can only wonder whether Tom
Glavine and Ken Griffey Jr. will actually step on the field with the
Braves before Rafael Soriano. 

Citing an upper respiratory
infection, Soriano decided not to participate in the first workout for
Braves pitchers and catchers on Sunday.  Maybe it’s time to remind him
he’s in the final year of his contract and this is one of those years
when he’s supposed to pitch. 

OK enough about Soriano and back
to the future Hall of Famers who could soon be joining the Braves.  It
still appears Glavine could reach an agreement within the next few days
and  a source close to Griffey said the veteran outfielder could reach
a decision as early as Monday.

While some of the Braves player
have made an assumption that Griffey will opt to join them, members of
both parties have said it’s too early to make this assumption.

With
this being said, in their search to add an outfielder the Braves have
clearly moved Griffey to the top of their wish list.  The ability to
get him for $1-2 million is much more appealing than the prospect of
waiting to see if the Yankees will deal Nick Swisher with the agreement
to assume a portion of his remaining contract.

About a week
ago, Swisher seemed to be at the top of the wish list. But that was
before Griffey called the Braves and campaigned for the opportunity to
play for Atlanta. 

Suddenly the prospect of paying $22.05
million over the course of the next three years didn’t seem as
appealing to the Braves.  With the uncertainty of this current economy,
that’s just not a price you want to pay for a guy who has combined to
hit .241 with a .792 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage)
over the past two seasons. 

Even while essentially playing
with one healthy leg this past season, Griffey’s combined statistics
over the past two seasons include a .263 batting average and an .825
OPS. Against right-handed pitchers during this span, he hit .286 with
an .893 OPS.

If Griffey is truly comfortable with being part
of a left field platoon with Matt Diaz, he seems to be the best fit
from both a financial and production standpoint.

By Monday, we might receive confirmation that he feels the Braves are indeed the best fit for him.

- Mark Bowman

16 Comments

I hope Griffey is serious about wanting to join the Braves and this is not his agent’s idea to get more money from the Mariners. The fact that this is rumors is so widespread, leads me to think it was started because Griffey wasn’t getting the offer he wanted from Seattle and needed a second team that was believable enough a destination to scare the Mariners into giving him more money. My heart wants to believe Griffey is a Brave by Wednesday, but my mind thinks we are being used to get more money from Seattle.

That is a possibility, but not really in character for Griffey. I don’t think the welcome was as warm as he thought it would be from the Mariners themselves. Not to mention that Seattle is a wasteland right now, devoid of sports or business success. He may just want to be a Brave. He wouldn’t be the first one.

I’ll take Raphael at his word about the upper respiratory infection but, I’m sure a lot of fans eyes are rolling.

Congrats (I think) on the new bog. I mean blog.

rother – I hope you are right. It just seems fishy. I mean don’t you think if Griffey wanted to be a Brave, he or his agent would have contacted Frank Wren in Dec or Jan and not less than a week before full squad workouts begin. Plus, why would he negotiate with the Mariners for more than a week, if the Braves were truly his #1 choice. Something is just not right about all these Griffey rumors.

It’s quite possible he thought doing the Mariner thing was the right way to go, then the Mariners positioned themselves in a way that didn’t really make him feel welcome. The corner locker in a room that doesn’t want to win or have you there is a miserable place to spend your season. He is getting very positive feedback from the team and the community in Atlanta, and that may be pushing him this way. There is no Chipper or Bobby Cox in Seattle. Only misfits and malcontents. Ichiro is not a compelling veteran to play with.

Thankfully all agents are not Scott Boras or that idiot representing Furcal. Griffey doesn’t strike me as the mercenary type anyway. Let’s hope for the best. At this point he would probably pay the $2 million to stay out of a bad situation like Seattle seems to be. Time will tell…

A Griffey/Diaz platoon in left field is very appealing to me. Both are returning from injury and both have something to prove. They could realistically combine to he 25-30 homeruns and hit .280 +

Griffey is consistently good against RHPs and Diaz eats lefty pitching for lunch.

My only hesitation is protection for Chipper. With Tex hitting behind him, Chipper got plenty of pitches to see. McCann is a great number 5 hitter and Frenchy does not pose any threat whatsoever. Chipper would never see a strike. I was hoping to have someone lurking on the on deck circle to make pitchers think twice about walking Chipper. Griffey doesn’t really do that anymore to opposing pitchers. I’m not saying Chipper needs protection to have a productive year… but offensively we’re not exactly going to be reeking havoc on the NL East. If the league pitches around Chipper… who will be there to pick up the rbi’s?

So soon we forget that Francoeur led the majors in 2 out RBI for two years until that tailspin last year. It doesn’t matter that they are “scared” of the next hitter, they will be careful with Chipper anyway. It matters if the next hitter can keep the inning going and knock in the ducks. Better that they aren’t scared, then there will be more people on base. I’m not sure if statistics back up the “protect the guy in the batting order” argument or not. It may have more of a psychological effect on the hitter making him less patient than anything else. That would be an interesting study. A big stud that would actually have an effect is not available for 3 times what the Braves have to offer moneywise. There probably aren’t 10 of those guys in the league anyway.

You’re right. Franceour was an RBI machine his first two years. He was also batting 6th and 7th in the lineup. Pitchers caught on to the many holes in his swing and adjusted. He became one of / if not the easiest out in the league. I’m pulling for Frenchy to have an amazing year. There is a lot of pressure on him right now. Financially, this is a make or break year for him. With another sub .240 year his career could be near its end. If he has a breakout year he will get paid. There is a ton of pressure on him. Batting him clean up, where you want someone to carry your team offensively, would add an INCREDIBLE amount of pressure on him. It’s a bad idea. You have to keep in down in the lineup to regain his swing and confidence. There are expectations that come with batting cleanup… and Frenchy is nowhere near carrying that burden. I am a firm believer that a number 3 hitter is better when a cleanup hitter like Tex or Manny are lurking on deck. It would be an interesting study. I’d love to see Chippers numbers with the crimedog or the big cat protecting him… vs when Chipper was batting cleanup himself.

While many Braves players are in favor of adding Griffey, the views in the clubhouse certainly aren’t unanimous. Some of the guys don’t believe “The Kid” is the best fit and other guys believe it’s time to let some of the kids — Jordan Schafer, Josh Anderson, Gregor Blanco, Brandon Jones — prove what they can do on the field. I’ll expand on this in my next post. Until then, keep this debate alive.

Thanks for that insight into the clubhouse Mr. Bowman! That is very interesting. Here’s my opinion (for what it’s worth)… The Braves’ obvious mentality this off-season was to put the necessary pieces in place to get back to the post-season. Money was spent of free agents, and we pursued most available opportunities. So obviously, we want to win now. Am I right in assuming that? So the question is: Would giving our younger players in the minors an opportunity to prove themselves help us win now? Or would platooning a couple of proven veterans help us now? I’m not really sure what the answer is… but I know this is definitely not a year for simply rebuilding. I do know one thing… I know Mr. Wren is thinking that Griffey could replace a few more butts in the seats that he lost a couple of months ago when he let the face of the franchise go without even as much of a phone call. The loss of Smotlzie is still fresh in a lot of minds…

Francoeur is not your average guy mentally. He had a terrible time last year and swung himself into the dirt the whole season. That was his first taste of adversity ever. However, when he gets his confidence back, which batting Griffey 4th would do for now, he has a hero quality that is one in a million. That cannot be coached. I live in Gwinnett County where he grew up. Some guys are studs, some are legends. Francoeur is the guy they make the movie about. I hope he gets the confidence back, because he is special. Playing in your home town is way more pressure than batting 4th. He has the makeup to lead this team into battle when it is his time. Chipper already knows this if you listen to what he has said. It wasn’t McCann he was talking about.

Blanco is your standard triple A plus player. Pretty good in AAA, but not a real Major Leaguer. Anderson does more and is way more aggressive on the bases. Blanco one steal attempt per 11 times on first base, Anderson like 1 per 3.5. Brandon Jones is a lazy player and doesn’t even deserve the chance yet. I watched him in outfield drills last season pregame, and they were on him constantly for dogging it. He may not have the heart it takes to be a starter. There is such a danger in assuming the young guys will be better than the current guys. The Braves real problems began when they bogged down the minors with the Pete Orrs, Bryan Penas and Corky Millers. Nice guys but not going to ever be a factor in the Bigs. Prado is really the only one who has proven to be different. Remember the Francoeur, McCann, wave came from AA that year, nuff said. There is a fraternity of guys that play together in the minors and they all want their buddies to get their chance. Some just aren’t good enough to make the last jump and stick. Hence the divided clubhouse.

Good point Rother. When you take the fraternal loyalties into consideration, of course players want to see guys like Anderson / Blanco / Schaffer be given a shot. I know Mr. Bowman will probably not reveal his major league sources, which is completely understandable, but my money would be on the younger guys. They’re all buddies. I bet Chipper’s opinion… which is the only one that matters… is “bring Griffey to Atlanta!” Having Griffey in the clubhouse, along with Chipper, can only help. Talk about veteran leadership! I believe Blanco, Anderson, Prado, and possibly Schaffer will be very valuable coming off the bench. That’s how they get their experience. That’s how they earn their spots.

Chipper, Lowe, Hudson, Glavine, Pendleton, Cox, Francoeur, McCann, Ross….not a no for Griffey on that list I would guess. Any other voices that you think matter in that clubhouse right now?

How can anybody consider replacing major league talent with the AAA team, when that core hasn’t won at any level in the minors? The Chipper, Javy, Klesko, etc. Greenville team came up together, but they won 100 games together in AA. This current bunch is a pick one here, maybe one there bunch. The real gems are still a little deeper in the organization.

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