Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Geriatric Braves: Tom Glavine and Ken Griffey Jr

Depending on the source, it now appears very likely that the Braves will sign Ken Griffey Jr. to a one year contract. The 39 year old outfielder is in the twilight of his career and is noticeably on the decline. Griffey will undoubtedly bring a good bit of revenue to the Braves simply based on merchandise and ticket sales. From that perspective, the move is a home run.

And from the baseball side of things, this appears to be a good risk for the Braves. Their outfield is in shambles right now outside of Jeff Francoeur and if they want to compete in 2009, they will need some production from someone outside of Chipper Jones, Brian McCann, and Yunel Escobar. Griffey at least gives the Braves a chance for the Braves to find some cheap production to support their main group. Look for "the Kid" to platoon with Matt Diaz in left field, which could keep him fresh and productive.

But on the down side, you have to wonder how much Griffey has left in the tank. Even though Griffey hit 18 home runs last season, he was only able to muster a .249 batting average and is no longer a great defensive player. Griffey has dealt with so many injuries over the past ten years and you just have to wonder how much more his body will be able to take. I worry about Griffey running around in the spacious Turner Field because of his injury history so restricting Griffey to left is a must.

I'm sure he will have his moments of glory with the Braves, but at this point, it might be unrealistic to expect any major production from Griffey. Then again, if he does produce, watch out for the Braves.

In addition to Griffey, the Braves also seem to be close to re-signing Tom Glavine. The 42 year old Glavine is coming off a season where he was unproductive (5.54 ERA) and injured. Glavine underwent surgery on both his elbow and shoulder, which limited him to 13 starts in 2008.

Despite the horrid numbers and injuries, the Braves seem intent on bringing back the declining star on a one year deal. Glavine is expected to be the fifth starter on the Braves and if healthy, might be able to contribute.

However, you have to wonder if the soft tossing left hander will be able to make a successful return to the big leagues. Even before the injuries, his stuff was declining as he relied more and more on smarts, guts, and guile. I'm sure Glavine's mental toughness will win him a few games with the Braves, but at what point does his physical liabilities start to have a real effect on his performance? There is only so long you can survive with a 83 MPH fastball in the big leagues.

We'll see how these two signings work out for the Braves. If the Braves limit their expectations of Griffey and Glavine, then they might be pleasantly surprised with some production. However, expecting miracles from either of these aging stars is stupid. Please keep expectations in line.

If anything, the team just got a whole lot older and more enjoyable for me. I'm not sure how these guys will react on the field given their old age (in baseball terms of course!), but having three first ballot hall of famers on one team (Glavine, Griffey, Chipper) is very exciting. Too bad for Braves fans that it's 2009, and not 1999. A team with those three would have been remarkable.


tHeMARksMiTh said...

I am not optimistic, either, but they give the Braves options. The chance for a couple million dollars that these guys can do it is worth it. On Griffey, he has the upside of hitting 25 HR and driving in a lot of runs while mentoring the young guys. On Glavine, he can also teach the youngsters, but he may not be a bad 5th guy. Last year, they wanted him to be the third guy. That was a mistake (says hindsight). We'll see, but the Braves have some other options (Schafer and Hanson mainly) that could come up if needed but still need some seasoning.

Josh said...

theMARKsMiTh: What do you know about Tommy Hanson? From what I have read, he's the real deal. He really did come out of nowhere last season...

As for Glavine, I'm not too sure how much he has left. Any pitcher who undergoes major shoulder surgery at 40+ is not a good bet for a good return. I think the Braves (if they bring Glavine on board) should still have a competition for the fifth spot, especially if Glavine is not up to the task.

thanks for the comment.

tHeMARksMiTh said...

Hanson really didn't come out of nowhere. He was highly regarded, but scouts needed to see two things. One, could he compete at higher levels (he only pitched at Low A last season, but moved through High A and AA this past season)? Two, could he harness and control pitches? For the first, that was a definite yes, especially after the AFL, and for the second, there are still some concerns but those seem to be pretty much gone. Is he the real deal? Chipper thinks so, and he usually says how he really feels (which gives his Frenchy comments more credibility from my perspective). Would I start him in the majors? Depends on how Spring Training goes. If he pitches extremely well, you might as well let him be the fifth guy. If he struggles, send him down for 2-3 months and see how it goes.

Josh said...

tHeMARksMiTh: From a Mets fans perspective, this guy sounds quite good. Lots of strikeouts and low BAA...Hanson is a scary thought for us!

thanks for comment and the insight!