Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.
February 12, 2009 3:14 PM
Posted by Geoff Baker
Thanks to the thousands of readers who tuned in to our live web broadcast today. There were hundreds of you on at any given moment of the hour-long show and that certainly exceeded expectations considering the short notice we gave. I have a feeling we can double those numbers easily. Our next broadcast will be tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. Pacific time. That way, we can wrap up the first day of pitchers and catchers reporting to camp. Stopped by the field today and had a nice chat with new bullpen coach John Wetteland, who I watched as a fan when I lived in Montreal. But the real action starts tomorrow morning. I will be there to recap it all for you, then will take your questions live on camera.
So, it seems the only story worth following today for Mariners fans has been the pending arrival of Ken Griffey Jr. back into the Mariners fold. My guess is, he shows up here on Monday, passes his physical, then hits the field on Tuesday. But he is coming. Make no mistake about that.
In our poll segement of the Geoff Baker Live! show today, 40 percent of you said you thought Griffey would receive a base salary of $3 million. That sounds a bit high to me. I see his base being at $1 million or $1.5 million, but no higher. Maybe I'm wrong. But here is an important question the team will have to answer: At what point will the team have to part ways with this nostaligc kick and start focusing on the future?
That's not meant to be a shot at Griffey. But if he comes here and puts up an OPS of under .750 as a DH, should he be receiving ABs once the season reaches, say, June or July? At what point will Griffey's nostalgic moment wear thin for some of you? Obviously, plenty of you have a soft spot for him. After all, a majority of our poll readers answered that he should receive the highest salary choice posted.
So, does he get a week? A season? A half-season? At what point does Ken Griffey Jr. kept kept on this team at the expense of, say, Wladimir Balentien? If Balentien struggles, should Griffey take ABs away from him?
Let's remember, Griffey is here for one season -- tops.
Balentien is only entering his second full season as a major-leaguer. Actually, last year wasn't even a full season for him.
For now, the pair could be used as a DH platoon. Balentien bats right, Griffey hits left. But then, what does that mean for the loser of the Kenji Johjima-Jeff Clement battle? Clement also bats left, so if he's the DH most nights, does Griffey take ABs away from his progress? Lots of questions, as I said. Food for thought.
My take is, Griffey should stay in the lineup as long as he hits. If he shows signs of having a slow bat, or his production dips down in to the low .700s OPS-wise, it's time to forget nostalgia and go with the future. I saw nostaliga at work as a fan when Gary Carter came back to play for the Expos and as a writer when Tony Fernandez returned to the Blue Jays. Both were all-stars and members of playoff teams in their heyday. In Fernandez's case, it was a worthy return in terms of hitting -- for a while. Carter's return was all nostalgia.
In both cases, neither move resulted in any long-term attendance increases.