Is Griffey truly the best fit?

Many of the Braves have publicly endorsed the idea of signing Ken Griffey, Jr. to serve in a left field platoon with Matt Diaz.  But others have privately wondered whether “The Kid” would truly be their best fit. 

Because of his respect for Bobby Cox, Griffey likely won’t have any problem with temporarily ending those days of turning his hat around and wearing earrings while on the field. 

But these are just a couple of the Griffey-related minor issues that the Braves have to worry about while wondering whether signing the outfielder would create a negative clubhouse distraction.

As one of six Major Leaguers to reach the 600-homer plateau, Griffey is indeed one of the true legends of the game.  In fact the belief that he’s never used any illegal performance-enhancing substances lead me to consider him to be the greatest player of this generation. 

This obviously leads me to wonder if he truly could remain happy while serving in a platoon role over the course of an entire season.  But at 39 years-old, it might be time for him to realize his statistics prove that it’s time to make this concession.

Over the course of the past three seasons, Griffey has hit .284 with 53 homers and an .886 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) against right-handed pitchers.  In 444 fewer at-bats against left-handers during this span, he’s hit .216 with 22 homers and a .689 OPS. 

While Griffey undoubtedly seems to be the best left-handed option in a left field platoon, his presence would certainly complicate matters for the other younger left-handed-hitting  outfielders  — —  Josh Anderson, Gregor Blanco, Jordan Schafer, Brandon Jones —  who could also fill that role. 

Anderson is out of options and because of this he’ll be given every opportunity to win the starting job in center.  If he does win this job, Griffey would likely occasionally spell him in center.  The way the roster currently stands, this would also likely mean that Jones, Blanco and Schafer would all begin this season in the Minors. 

There’s no doubt that Jones, Blanco and Schafer could benefit from additional seasoning at the Minor League level.  But Schafer certainly has the potential to be Major League-ready early in the season and it would be a shame if Griffey’s presence blocks his path. 

But with this being said, when this time comes, the Braves will have options.

They could either attempt to pass Anderson through waivers.  Or if the decision to promote Schafer has something to do with Griffey’s performance, they could always decide to part ways with the legendary outfielder, who likely won’t come at a cost of more than $1.5 million.

Given the already-youthful makeup of their roster, I understand why some in the Braves clubhouse are wondering whether it would be best to give some of the young outfielders a chance to prove what they can do at the Major League level. 

But I’m of the mindset that when you have a chance to win now, you do what’s best for the immediate future.  Because of that, Griffey seems to be a bargain gamble that the Braves should make.

- Mark Bowman

10 Comments

Schafer is the only name on that list that has real major league star potential and that is why you didn’t see him in Atlanta last September OR on the 40 man roster at all yet. Options are everything in today’s baseball. Jones and Blanco are not where Anderson is, from a contribution standpoint, so they can go back to AAA for now. If Jones has a bounce back season similar to 2007, or Blanco steals 40 bases, we can look for a spot for them then. They are the tweeners that the likes of Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman turn into journeymen. It happens, that’s baseball.

The Braves need an outfielder but I am not sure they need Griffey. I have always been a fan but we need someone to stay healthy and productive. I am not sure that
jr. can do either of these. We must have a big bat in the middle of the lineup to compete in the east. I am hoping for a trade that will land us this player or for Heyward to show up and wow Bobby. If we don’t come up with that bat we will be relegated to 4th place this year. If 4th place is where we are going to be then lets do it with the kids and give them a head start on being major league ready. This includes Hanson and maybe even Freeman.

I’m curious, what kind of numbers does this “Big Bat” need to produce? I hear the term used all of the time, but I’m not sure how big is big enough. 30 and 100 at .280? Swisher was 27 and 75 at .220. Let’s figure out what it means when we say “A Big Bat” in the lineup. Don’t give me names, give me numbers. Then we can see how the Braves can get there. Names just cloud the whole situation. Let’s find the target so that they can aim for it.

There were a grand total of 11 guys in the majors last season that hit 35 HR and 100 RBI. One of which was Adam Dunn, who was blasted on this site 100 times a day while he was on the market. Asuming Puhols, ARod, Braun, Cabrera, Howard, Teixeira and Quentin are off limits, that leaves just Ryan Ludwick, Carlos Delgado, and Adrian Gonzalez to choose from. Delgado is not coming to Atlanta, Gonzalez is still too cheap for the Padres to move yet, and a Ludwick deal never materialized.

Scott Thorman and Jason Perry are the only Braves farmhands that hit more than 15 homers and played above Myrtle Beach in single A. Thorman is now a minor league free agent.

So, for $2 million dollars, who was it you were looking for again? Griffey is the best answer internal/exteral, clubhouse or field, righthanded or left.

Oops, I left off Manny, but he isn’t coming to Atlanta either.

Solid analysis Bowman, Who knows you may one day rival DOB.

With the limited funds available Griffey will be a nice pickup.

Just glad TPTB didn’t waste any moneies on the vastly overrated Big Donkey.

By a big bat I mean someone who drives in runs. That figure to me means 100 rbi. The best we had last year was McCann with 87. If you place a 100 rbi man in the middle of the lineup that makes everyone else better. If we are unable to get that then we need someone with a .400 on base pctg. who can be on base for the others to get the rbi. This is a either or situation to me but it would be nice to have both. I am a realist however and would settle for either. Jr. is neither so lets make a deal and find that someone even if we have to give up someone on our major league roster. Lets keep the kids and hopefully in’10 we can win the east.

rother: Speaking of Jason Perry, he is a minor league free agent, is he not?

Mr. Bowman: Can you give us an update on Jeff Ridgway’s status? I know he had surgery after the season. Is he going to be ready to compete for a bullpen job this spring?

Perry is not listed on the G-Braves roster currently. There are only 3 position players there so far. I’m guessing that makes him a minor league free agent, but I’m not sure how that works. I’m guessing he is getting pretty close to rule 5 status as well.

One negative we didn’t include in this blog is Griffey’s checkered injured past. But while playing at least 123 games as an outfielder (primarily a corner one), I will assume he could hold up while serving in a platoon role. While filling their needs for pitching and deciding that they still want to add Tom Glavine to their rotation, the Braves have left themselves with limited funds to fill their need for an outfielder. Based on the money that they have, Griffey still seems to be the best fit.

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