The Kid on His Way Home?

It appears to only be a matter of time now before Ken Griffey Jr. is brought back to Seattle, where he grew up as a player and where he sparked the imaginations of many both in and outside of Seattle with where his career might one day end up. Needless to say that his career has not followed a path many expected and we arrive now, in 2009, with Griffey reduced to what should be a positional role.

Forecasting for Griffey comes with a bit of an asterisk since he apparently played with a knee injury throughout 2008 that hampered his power and range and which he is now recovered from. CHONE and Marcel are going to be ignorant of that information (probably for the best) and they both present similar forecasts for Griffey, a slightly below average .330-2 wOBA over 452-79 at bats. As a DH, we would knock another five runs off that hitting projection, subtract another 17.5 runs for the lack of position and we end up with a player right at replacement level. His OF defense is such that him playing the field probably comes out to the same level despite the 15-run boost in adjustments.

A smart team however is not going to employ Griffey in a full time role. Notably, an effort to platoon him away from facing left-handed pitchers would help to improve his overall line as he’s posted a near-200 OPS point split over the last three seasons. In the best case scenario, the Mariners could hope for a return to his 2007-level of offense, while primarily manning DH with only occasional forays out into the field. That level would make Griffey worth around 1 to 1.5 wins.

That tells us that this is going to be a pretty inconsequential move, value-wise, for the Mariners in 2009. Certainly, sentimentally-wise, this is a slam dunk for them and assuming Griffey doesn’t command much money (an appropriate amount would be around $2-3 million), the main concern going forward will be making sure that Griffey doesn’t take too many at bats away from younger developing players.




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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

28 Responses to “The Kid on His Way Home?”

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  1. Biased Carruth says:

    If the Angels had signed Griffey, you would be trashing the signing to pieces. You’d laugh and trash it. With the M’s? You try to find positives. What the hell is wrong with you?

    Call it what it is, a terrible move. Don’t try to find positives just because the M’s are your favorite team.

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    • buttsecks? says:

      …maybe because the Angels don’t have the incentive to sign Griffey that the M’s do? Are we actually having this conversation?

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      • There’s really no point in responding to someone like this. Some people just want to see everything in black and white and will willfully ignore the shades of gray that go with everything in order to simplify the complex into a more simple world view that he or she can understand.

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      • Biased Carruth says:

        You can lie to yourself all you want. You’re not fooling anyone who reads your posts at LL. You’re biased. You hate the Angels. You find positives when the M’s make bad moves, while you never try to find a positive when the Angels make a questionable move. Why is that?

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      • buttsecks? says:

        I think the more relevant question is what’s this obsession with Matthew’s life? You might want to look into that.

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    • Bodhizefa says:

      Anyone who ignores the sales of tickets and memorabilia along with the goodwill of probably punching Griffey’s Hall ticket with an M’s uniform on is simply looking through a severely skewed lens. Also, if baseball is only about winning, I don’t even know why most of us bother watching or caring about it. It’s not simply about putting the best players out there for every team. Baseball is telling your kids stories about Griffey as he comes up to the plate and launches one last long shot with his sweet swing. Baseball is about wearing your #24 jersey to the park one last time. Baseball is hot dogs and organ music and the 7th inning stretch. It’s shutouts in Safeco or homeruns in Coors. It’s a game of legends and nostalgia. The Mariners have very little chance of winning a championship in 2009, so let’s let their legend live out his final days and enjoy it, ay?

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    • vivaelpujols says:

      I personally don’t give a crap about the M’s, but there is a pretty good case made to sign him over at Lookout Landing. And it isn’t written by Matthew.

      http://www.lookoutlanding.com/2009/1/29/742064/why-ken-griffey-jr-could-b

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    • philosofool says:

      No one should trash the deal until we hear about the value. The M’s front office has made pretty clear that they didn’t have Abreu money, not even at the price he went for. The M’s are looking at their last couple million for salary this year. There’s no big move up the sleeve, no free agent signing that’s going to make them likely contenders in the worst division in baseball.

      Griffey will generate some revenue because he’s Ken Griffey. Honestly, for the greatest number of wins they could have gotten from their last couple million–those wins are probably worth less than nostalgia ticket sales. The Mariners rotation is full and they have above replacement (though not always much) players at every position. Griffey won’t make the team millions, and if the deal is in the $2M range, it’s not a bad move for the club. It’s a one year commitment for a small free agent deal that will probably produce more revenue than any other signing option they have.

      I actually hate nostalgia, and it’s especially annoying in the Mariners because their marketing is so often about reliving some past season while we watch Willie Bloomquist go 4,759,786 plate appearances without an extra base hit. It’s horrible. But you can’t really oppose a Griffey signing at a reasonable price when there are no other moves left to be made. I was a frothing anti-Griffey guy six months ago, when this move sounded like an expensive way to loose. The opportunity cost of signing Griffey has changed and so has the likely cost of the contract. This isn’t a genius move, but it’s not team suicide either.

      (Man, if I wake up tomorrow and find out we signed Griffey for $5.5 Million Dollars, I’m going to scream and you will hear it in Washington D.C.)

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      • Erich says:

        Positive here is that M’s front office is more balanced. Jack Z would simply walk off the job if he had to be subjected to the kind of smoochy relationship other GM’s have had with the Seattle ownership. Jack will make this move without much enthusiasm and will not sell the future in the process. Manager Wakamatsu probably knows well the balance of developing the team and pleasing sentimental fans. I honestly can’t see us really getting burned here.

        Things are different now.

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  2. Biased Carruth says:

    That isn’t the point. The point is, Matthew is biased. He hates the Angels and would try to point out any negative he can find … without mentioning any positives at all.

    With the M’s, he does the opposite.

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    • Fresh Hops says:

      So what. I would hate the Angels too if I hadn’t already spent my hate on Derek Jeter. Seriously, I should find a sith lord and learn to hate more so I can hate the Angels.

      75% of what makes sports fun is that you love some guys and you hate some guys and the reasons behind it are mysterious or arbitrary, but it makes the competition great.

      But I’m just smiling cause I got my degree at UNC. (In three days, that comment won’t make sense. See here: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/02/11/SP8B15SDGQ.DTL

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    • Milendriel says:

      I love how idiot fans think fandom is solely about “love” or “hate.” There’s no middle ground for objectivity or open-mindedness, because idiot fans don’t know what those things are. So they have to project their simple-mindedness on those who disagree with them. Yawn.

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      • Biased Carruth says:

        Matthew isn’t objective when he writes about the Angels and Mariners. All you have to do is search his posts on LL regarding the Angels.

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      • Eric says:

        Let’s do a little hypothetical. What’s sadder: the guy who writes articles biased toward his favorite team or the guy who follows him around the internet and tries to get strangers to turn against him?

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      • BrettJMiller says:

        *facepalm*

        (obviously not directed to you, Milendriel)

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      • Fresh Hops says:

        I didn’t say solely! I said 75%, which is obviously a made up number and largely intended to express a point that this game really is about our sympathies and preferences (“loves” and “hates”, to be reductionistic) as it is about the academic side of understanding how the game works. If i have to sacrifice those sympathies and preferences in order not to be an idiot fan, I’d rather be an idiot fan. Fortunately, we can have our preferences and our understanding at the same time.

        (Just because we have our preferences doesn’t mean we can’t also be objective. Objectively, I know that Coach K is one of the best college basket ball coaches ever, probably as good or better than Dean Smith. I’m a UNC fan; I went to college there. I hate Coach K, because that’s part of what enjoying the game is about.)

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    • BrettJMiller says:

      Who cares? An Angels fan would do the same. There’s obvious downsides to this move that Matthew has pointed out and beaten to death with the rest of the Seattle blogosphere for months. Since 2008 Matthew, Graham, Jeff, Dave, and DMZ have pretty much argued why Griffey was a bad idea for the team. Now that he’s here, we know the reasons why it could be bad, so it hurts no one to know the potential upside.

      And it would be worse for the Angels–he wouldn’t be a huge draw for them, the park isn’t as good for him, and he’d have a harder time finding ABs, which may force his terrible glove into the field more often.

      Matthew may be a bit biased but almost any fan will naturally be a bit biased against their biggest rival. Give it a rest, you look like a child.

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  3. John G. says:

    This article should have been called The Old Man and the SEA.

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  4. JI says:

    At least there aren’t a million other distractions that come with a signing like this.

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  5. Rob says:

    I don’t see how Matthew is even being biased here. He called the move “inconsequential” like it is. I think everyone and their third cousin understands that this is a “slam-dunk” for sentimental reasons: one of the greatest players of the 1990s and of all-time returning back to his original team.

    If you’re trying to critique his articles for some reason, you picked a poor example to do so.

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  6. Jerry says:

    Oh yeah? Well I heard Matthew is biased against hamsters! That’s right. What the heck is wrong with the guy? He’ll go on and on about how great puppies and kittens and iguanas are, but when it comes to hamsters he HATES them! Well f***k you, Matthew! Until you start writing something positive about hamsters, I’m not reading another word!!!
    /sarcasm

    John G. – clever. I like it.

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  7. Devil's Advocate says:

    Based on my calculations, which are assuming a return to a semi-respectable .364 wOBA and 400 PA, and that all of his at bats will come from the DH position, Griffey will only be a 1.1 WAR player next year. Assuredly, this is far from great, and not even in the neighborhood of good. From the standpoint of winning more ball games this would not be a great move for the Mariners.

    From a nostalgia and marketing stand point this would be fantastic. But, if the goal is to win more ball games (as it should be) truly a meh kind of move. Under the parameters I described (which are truthfully on the high side) it’s not a team killing move. However, if Griffiey plays the field, ever, for any reason, this will destroy them.

    Now, I would like to believe that Griffey will come back to Seattle, be healthy, blast 40 HR’s and put up a .420 wOBA and play amazing defense, it just isn’t likely to happen. As much as I want this move to work, it most likely won’t. And that is the hard truth of it.

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  8. jamesllegade says:

    Mr. Biased

    In your next response please enclose an example of this supposed bias. Then we can discuss whether it is actually bias or a supportable arguement.

    Something tells me that your own bias is showing… in that you think a fair critique of your favorite team is, by its very nature, unfair.

    regards,

    JLL

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  9. Jason X USN says:

    The fact of the matter is noone is more critical of the Mariners front office than the Mariners blogosphere. This is just a look at potential upside, and unless your seeing an extended post not once does Matthew praise this move. He examines the possible upside of low risk move.

    Mr. Bias, your opinions may actually hold a drop of water if you can point out an instance where Matthew criticized a front office move made by the Angels/A’s/Rangers without backing it up with actual facts or projections that supported the claim. Is it possible that I missed the following post on the front page?

    The Angels Suck
    by Matthew Carruth:

    Today the Angels announced the signing of Bobby Abreu. Wow, what a stupid move. They truly suck. Obvious overpay for underproduction (of course I’m not sure the $$/years and I haven’t bothered to check projections based on PA and UZR because I’m totally biased but I’m sure it’s not good) that is typical of that awful franchise. Screw off Angels!

    If that was an actual post your criticisms might be valid. Now that you’ve attacked Matthew’s claim why don’t you back up your own? In your original response you stated “Call it what it is, a terrible move.” Can you please explain intelligently your reasoning behind the claim that this is a terrible move that directly contradicts Matthews opposing position? I’ll be waiting.

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  10. Biased Carruth says:

    I have a low IQ and I smell like cheese.

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  11. Schedule says:

    Maybe you should change the page subject title The Kid on His Way Home? | FanGraphs Baseball to more generic for your blog post you create. I liked the post nevertheless.

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