Results tagged ‘ Ken Griffey ’

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

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

Griffey, Glavine and Geritol

Within this next week, the Braves will likely sign Tom Glavine and continue their pursuit of Ken Griffey Jr.  Then to further show his appreciation for senior citizen Hall of Famers, Frank Wren is going extend Hank Aaron the invitation to come out of retirement to rightfully regain his title as the undisputed home run king.

Imaginary sources have indicated Aaron’s motivation to come out of retirement came last week when he awoke and immediately proclaimed, “If Andruw Jones can get a job, then there must be at least one other team looking for somebody that swings like a 75-year-old man.”

Seriously, all attempts at humor aside, the Braves could complete a successful offseason with the acquisitions of both Glavine and Griffey.  Before beginning their respective Hall of Fame clocks, these two legends still have the potential to be productive and just as importantly, the understanding that their wishes to play in Atlanta will only be granted with small financial guarantees. 

Approaching his 43rd birthday and coming off a surgical procedure that repaired his left elbow and left shoulder, Glavine hasn’t yet had the opportunity to face live hitters and truly prove whether he’s worth the guaranteed $1 million the Braves are willing to offer. 

But he says his arm feels better than it has over the course of the past five years and while this might be a product of his stubborn desire to play, I’m thinking his pride is too great for him to decide to pitch if he thinks there’s even an inkling that he might repeat last year’s frustrating experience.

If there was any inkling that he was going to embarrass himself, Glavine would likely take his 305 career  wins and head into retirement.  The only downside to this would be the fact that he’d once again have to share a stage with Greg Maddux when they would both be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013. 

If I had to spend a majority of my career sharing the limelight with Maddux, I certainly might be tempted to play another year.  But enough about my selfish shortcomings and back to Glavine.

With Jorge Campillo, Jo-Jo Reyes, Tommy Hanson, James Parr and Charlie Morton, the Braves have plenty of candidates to serve as their fifth starter.  They don’t exactly need another pitcher.  But even at 43 and coming off surgery, I wouldn’t necessarily consider Glavine to simply be just another pitcher. 

If Glavine is truly healthy and capable of consistently throwing his fastball around 88 mph, his changeup will once again prove effective and provide him the opportunity to prove he can still be better than any of the aforementioned candidates — minus Hanson.

By the end of this season, there are some who believe Hanson might actually be the best candidate to pitch in any role in the Braves organization.  But the Braves don’t want to rush his development and at the same time, they could certainly save some money by delaying his arbitration clock and keeping him in the Minors long enough to ensure he won’t be a Super Two at the conclusion of the 2010 season.

Now taking this one step further, if there are doubts about Glavine, why aren’t there equal ones about Kenshin Kawakami, who is slated to pitch in the fourth spot of the rotation? 

Glavine’s notched 305 wins in this league and he pitched effectively in the three starts that he made while actually healthy last year.  Shouldn’t he be given the same benefit of the doubt as a Japanese hurler, whose only previous association with the Majors came  via the games he’s watched on television and MLB.com? 

Glavine is seeking an incentive-laden contract that could net him $6 million, most of which he’s comfortable to defer over a negotiable length of time.  When it’s said and done, the package will probably be worth closer to $4.5 million and with this gamble the Braves will only be providing a guarantee of $1 million. 

I’m less clear about what Griffey is actually seeking from a financial standpoint.  But I received some indication that the Braves might be able to secure him for $1-2 million.  This year, the veteran outfielder begins drawing some of the deferred funds from the contract he signed with the Reds before the start of the 2000 season. 

While Griffey hasn’t shown that he can still hit Glavine or most other Major League left-handed pitchers, he has hit .291 with a .908 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) against right-handed pitchers over the past four seasons. 

A platoon of Griffey and Matt Diaz in left field sounds a lot better than one that would consist of Brandon Jones and Diaz. 

-  Mark Bowman

 

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