So by now you may have heard that Griffey's coming back. He had such a good time last season that he's agreed to accept a lesser role in exchange for the opportunity to do it all over again in 2010, and the contract he's getting - according to Jerry Crasnick - will again have a low base with a bunch of incentives. The more things change, and so forth.
What this isn't is a baseball move. Or at least, what this isn't is a baseball move intended to improve the team's chances of winning on paper. For one thing, Griffey's coming on as a bench player. Bench players seldom make any kind of significant difference. And for another, let's face it - Griffey isn't good. Not adjusting for park, he has a .330 wOBA over the last two seasons and a .336 wOBA over the last four, offensive performances turned in either as a DH or as a DH-level defender. He's totaled 0.3 WAR since 2006 and, due to the failures of science, he's only getting older. People will argue that there's upside here, that Griffey will hit better now that he's gotten his knee fixed up, but there's no reason to believe them. Griffey's only statistical upside is luck. In terms of true talent, he is essentially a replacement-level player.
What this is, then, is an acknowledgment on the front office's part of the effect of Griffey's presence. This is a pure chemistry move. There's no other way around it. The front office is smart enough to know that Griffey can't contribute much in the box scores anymore, so their decision to bring him back anyway shows that they believe he makes the team work better together just by being himself. Which, well, we can't prove one way or the other. The rational thing to do is to doubt the significance of any effect until it's proven, and with that in mind the return of Griffey is at best inefficient, but on the other hand it's really really hard to argue against anything that makes Ichiro smile so damn much. Throw in the fact that this can only help with the Felix negotiations and I can't bring myself to be that disappointed. Maybe it's because I figured this was going to happen all along. But I see enough potential justification for this move that I don't feel so bad about it.
Dave has already run down what this means for the roster. Things change if the team decides to carry a six-man bullpen (or if, y'know, trades), but for now I'd hold off on purchasing any Langerhans apparel. That sucks. Ryan Langerhans is awesome. But...hey, Griffey, all right. Now that this is out of the way, here's to the front office focusing on the moves that will actually make a big difference.