Three Guys Who Agree On Everything: Ken Griffey Jr.

Let's do this.

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Jeff: Question the first: should the Mariners make a move for Ken Griffey Jr?

Graham: It might be worth it as a PR stunt, because this team sure isn't winning many baseball games with or without him around. I guess the problem with Griffey at this point is that he's essentially Raul Ibanez's slightly less able twin, and having them both on the same roster (and potentially patrolling the same outfield!) is a great recipe for Strasburgitis. Which I'd approve of, but I don't think that's what the team wants. But to make a grab for attendance... maybe. I have no idea what sort of impact a Griffey trade might have attendance-wise, but the Cinci series from last year indicates that Seattlites still haven't gotten over their collective crush on the dude.

There's also money to be considered. He's on a high salary this year, and we'd be on the hook for quite a lot of it, as well as the buyout. And getting Cinci to pay would probably require prospects, in which case we're probably going to get owned in a trade.

I'm going with 'no'.

Matthew: Short answer: no and no again.

Long answer: If the Mariners are hell bent on bringing Griffey back for one more season, I'd far far prefer it to be this year than next. So, under these very specific conditions I would embrace a move for Griffey.
-We are not on the hook for anything in 2009 and Griff makes it clear that he's retiring at the end of the year.
-It costs us figuratively nothing in terms of talent.

Jeff:

I'll paste Graham's response since the dumb fucker forgot to reply all:
 
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It might be worth it as a PR stunt, because this team sure isn't winning many baseball games with or without him around. I guess the problem with Griffey at this point is that he's essentially Raul Ibanez's slightly less able twin, and having them both on the same roster (and potentially patrolling the same outfield!) is a great recipe for Strasburgitis. Which I'd approve of, but I don't think that's what the team wants. But to make a grab for attendance... maybe. I have no idea what sort of impact a Griffey trade might have attendance-wise, but the Cinci series from last year indicates that Seattlites still haven't gotten over their collective crush on the dude.
There's also money to be considered. He's on a high salary this year, and we'd be on the hook for quite a lot of it, as well as the buyout. And getting Cinci to pay would probably require prospects, in which case we're probably going to get owned in a trade.
I'm going with 'no'.
 
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I'm going to agree with Matthew's conditions here - my big problem with Griffey is that he wouldn't in any way help us win, so given a situation in which we only have to deal with him in 2008, when we're no longer a threat to win anything, I'd be okay with it. Provided, of course, that he also doesn't cost us anything of real value. I'm not nearly as wild about Griffey as a lot of other people apparently are, but I have to admit that it would be pretty cool to give him a three-month reunion/farewell tour in the stadium he helped put together. It would certainly make the games more interesting to watch, which is really all you can ask for when your team's a pile of crap.
 
Unfortunately, the reality of the matter is that any deal would be unlikely to meet these conditions. The Reds know we're desperate, so they'd ask for something shiny, and the Mariners love drawn-out nostalgia, so they'd probably be cool with having Griffey around in 2009. Both of these are bad. Really bad. Bad enough to make me fearful of something that's theoretically supposed to warm my cold heart.

There does exist a way by which the Mariners could add their crippled old white whale and make everyone happy. I do not, however, have any confidence that they could pull it off without messing something up. So while I'd be happy to see how a good GM would make this work, Bavasi's track record just makes me tremble.

Graham: I forwarded it already, assdolphin.

Jeff: Whatever you say, bitch.

Matthew: rags!

(This better be going in the writeup)

Graham: At least I don't have furry sympathies.

This is part of the roundtable, right?

Matthew: LATE

Jeff: At least we're not emailing any lazy .

Graham: I won't tolerate this abuse towards my coloured brethren.

Jeff: You lost your color when you moved to England.

Matthew: Looping back on topic for a second, I think it's worth it (both because it's true and because it will drive certain morons crazy) to harp on the fact that Griffey is 100% not going to help us win. Not this year. Somehow even less next year. Acquiring Griffey and then (as they of course would) putting him in the outfield is a bigger admit to going nowhere in 2008 than putting Tits in the pen and Morrow in the rotation would be. Of course, Bavasi won't see it that way.

Graham: Well, yeah. If people think Raul hurts the team by being a good bat and an crappy defender... Junior's worse at the plate and in the field.

Also, Jeff, it's not my fault I happen to be a frosted Twinkie. >:(

Matthew: If only Randy wanted to finish his career in Seattle...

Graham you're more like the Halloween Twinkie from the crazy neighbor. The one with razor blades hidden inside.

Jeff: To the best of my knowledge there's never actually been a reported case of razor blades in Halloween candy. But then there's only been one reported case of Graham. I don't know where I'm going with this.

Let's transition to what Griffey brings to the table, then. Offense. Go.

Matthew: There hasn't been. It's just an urban myth kept alive by frightened parents who cannot see that they're raising a generation of fucking weakling offspring. If I ever do have small genetic mutations of myself I'm moving to a country with way less strict child safety laws if I haven't already.

Offense. Well, he brings a terrible split against LHP that stretches back nearly every year of this decade. So right away you have to see that his similarities to Raul extend past the useless glove and old age. He sees a decent number of pitches, probably because he's realized that he has no power left, but his high intentional walk count is also a factor there, and is a strike against his seemingly improved walk vs. k ratio.

His LD% is steady from 2007 but that's unimportant here because his BABIP isn't down much from 2007 (.268 from .284). That's right in line with what we'd expect, but his HR/FB% is at 6.6%. That's the percentage of flyballs that he hits that end up over the wall. That's down from 13.2% last year and 17.5% in 2006. Jose Vidro's HR/FB is at 7.6%. It might be a small sample size thing, but given his age and trend is simply looks like Griff's power is gone. Completely.

He obviously doesn't add any speed so in a sum package the 2008 version of Griffey looks pretty close to the 2007/8 version of Jose Vidro except he might have worse defense and he costs more.

Jeff: Going through some of the numbers, one thing in particular jumps out at me (other than what Matthew already mentioned):

03-06: 47% swing rate
07-08: 42% swing rate

Griffey isn't swinging as often as he used to. More specifically, he isn't swinging at strikes as often as he used to. His swing rate on balls outside of the zone is the same as ever, but his swing rate against strikes has dropped from ~73% to ~65%.

This is pretty typical of an aging slugger, and indicative of a guy with a slowing bat who's being selective for pitches he knows he can hit. And it's sort of working - Griffey's doing a good job of making contact when he swings. The problem is that his contact isn't very solid, which manifests itself in his reduced line drives and lower HR/FB%. That 6.6% that Matthew posted is damning. Right now that's worse than Vidro, it's worse than Ichiro, it's worse than Luis Castillo...it's worse than a lot of other guys' rates. It's just unthinkably bad for an alleged slugger. And even if you think he's just pressing to hit his milestone and that over time he'll regress to something closer to last year's 13.2%, that still isn't all that great.

In his prime, Ken Griffey Jr. could hit for average, hit for power, and draw a walk. Only the least meaningful of those skills still remains, and should pitchers realize that the pop is almost gone, that remaining skill may yet go away. He just doesn't look like he's got much left in the tank. I know Safeco's built for him and all, but if he can't produce in Cincinnati, what reason do we have to believe that he'd be able to produce in Seattle? Confines don't get much friendlier than the GABP.

Don't buy the hype. Barring some sort of remarkable turnaround, Griffey wouldn't be of any help to the team.

Graham: HR/fly is pretty fickle this early in the season though. Right now it's at 7.7% after #599, and a couple of home runs is all it would take for him to be looking vaguely decent there - I'm not sold that his power has -completely- collapsed yet, not after two months.

But on the other hand, even if the power came back to last year's standard, he's a worse version of Raul Ibanez. And we already have one of him on the roster. Acquiring Griffey makes no sense baseball-wise.

Jeff: I know it's early, and HR/FB can obviously change quite a bit given a hot streak or a dry spell, but right now Griffey would have to hit home runs on five consecutive fly balls to get back to last year's rate. And if you're uncomfortable going off two months of data, combine 2008 with 2007 and you have 36 homers on 289 fly balls - 12.5% - which is well below 2004-2006's 18.8%. I dunno, that seems pretty clear to me. The man's bat appears to have slowed, and it's predictably robbed him of much of his power. His true talent SLG isn't anywhere close to where it used to be, and it's killing him as a hitter.

Jeff: On the verge of a milestone, Griffey's sat the last few days with "general soreness". The man is as durable as a marshmallow airplane.

Defense. Go.

Graham: Mike Cameron^-1.

Seriously, he's Raulesque out there... what more is there to say than that?

Matthew: I don't know; ever let marshmallows sit out in the air for a day or two? They get pretty tough.

His defense is atrocious. Over the period from 2002-5 I had Griffey's defense rated as the second worst in all of the major leagues in center field. Sure, he's moved to rightfield now, but it's also three years later, which is like eight years for a normal human being. Griffey is about par with Ibanez and Manny in terms of defensive prowess and if the Mariners made any "use" out of his glove it would be a direct insult to Ichiro to have to share an outfield with those two.

Jeff: Some numbers:

Center Field

UZR: -46 runs per 150 games (2003-2006)
PMR: -44 outs per 150 games (2005-2006)
RZR: -36 outs per 150 games (2004-2006)

Right Field

UZR: -16 runs per 150 games (2007)
PMR: -14 outs per 150 games (2007)
RZR: -22 outs per 150 games (2007-2008)

Say what you will about individual defensive metrics, but we have a mountain of evidence that Griffey is one of, if not the worst everyday defensive player in the game. You're talking about a guy who's a -15 run corner outfielder when he's completely healthy, which he never is. He's impossibly bad and quite likely worse than Raul Ibanez with dust in his eye, meaning that even if he were a plus hitter - which he isn't - he'd still be giving everything right back in the field. When MGL called him the worst player in baseball, he wasn't kidding around. Griffey's got a convincing argument.

So we've established that Griffey isn't a good hitter, and he isn't even good enough to be an awful fielder. There has to be an upside, right? What would he do for us?

Matthew: He'd sell tickets.

And think of the Griffey bobbleheads!!!

Graham: For us? Not a whole lot. For the franchise, he might serve to stop the attendance haemorrhaging, but I really can't imagine Seattle's interest in going to see him lasting for 2 months.

So, we're going to trade Clement and Triunfel for him, right?

Jeff: Triunfel has an attitude problem anyway. Can't have those kinds of players in the system. And Clement's always showing up the pitcher by not swinging sometimes, and that's a little arrogant for a rookie. It would be in our best interests to let them both go.

A few years ago my brother bought me a Jesus action figure with wheels on the feet to allow for Real Gliding Action! I think it would be funny to do something like this for Griffey instead of churning out another bobblehead. His head would probably fall off of the damn things anyway.

Have we missed anything? Is there anything left to say about this?

Graham: Closing remarks: Don't trade for Ken Griffey Jr. you idiots.

Matthew: His baserunning sucks too

Jeff: We'd all be okay with picking him up for cheap as long as he isn't around in 2009, yes?

Matthew: At this point, it might actually be beneficial because I assume he'd play RF and that in turn might mean Wlad goes back to Tacoma for awhile, netting us that missed year of team control and Griffey would help us lose games.

Graham: I still don't like the idea of having to pay him $4M to go away.

Jeff: I kind of do. It's like one final indignity for the shitbed second half of his career.

We'd all hate having to give away talent to get him or having to deal with him full-time in 2009, yes?

Graham: Yes

Matthew: Hate is too weak of a word.

Jeff: Good point. I think there are only three things left that the Mariners could do that would cause much of a negative reaction:

(1) Trade Felix
(2) Replace Bavasi with Sabean
(3) Trade talent for Griffey

We're too numb to feel any of the little things (like, say, keeping Morrow in the bullpen), but these...these would be powerful enough to tear down the walls of indifference and instigate a flood of rejuvenated rage.

So we agree then. With one particular unlikely exception, the Mariners should absolutely not make a move for Ken Griffey Jr.

Matthew: Actually, number 2 I don't think would cause much reaction in me. It's just more of the same. I nominate the eventual not drafting Strasburg because of money concerns for #2

Jeff: I would be mildly amused by new-GM Brian Sabean swinging a three-way trade that deals Felix for Griffey and Bocock.

Matthew: I'm all for that if it meant Felix ended up in SanFran because then I'd finally have Lincecum and Felix on the same team and said team would have a better GM.

Jeff: Lincecum! Felix! Sanchez! Cain! Zito!

Matthew: You assume Sabean doesn't get Zito back in the deal with Griffey...

Jeff: I think adding Zito should probably be #4 on that list I wrote.

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