Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ken Griffey Jr: Ouch, Atlanta

Shocking news last night that Ken Griffey Jr has decided to sign with the Seattle Mariners instead of the Atlanta Braves. The deal with the Braves seemed to be a near certainty, but Griffey, perhaps feeling quite nostalgic, decided to turn back the clock and sign with the Mariners.

Ouch, Atlanta. That hurts.

And you know where it hurts the Braves the most? The pocketbook. With the economy currently in the tank, having a guy like Griffey around would be a huge asset for Braves management because it would give fans a reason to buy all different kinds of Braves items. Stuff like tickets, merchandise, concessions, and TV revenues all would go up with Griffey on board.

Strangely enough though, I don't think this will hurt the Braves on the diamond. Sure there was always the chance that Griffey would recapture his glory days at 39, but odds are high that Griffey would be nothing more than a platoon player, even at the dish. In addition, playing Griffey everyday in the field would be a major risk given his injury history and decline; it's obvious that Junior should be in the AL with the hitter friendly DH.

Now the big question for Braves management has to be who do they pursue next? The obvious choice has to be Garret Anderson, who hit .293 with 15 home runs for the Angels last season. It's clear that he can still hit right handed pitching (.293, 14 HR in 2008), but the question remains: can he play defense consistently? Anderson was the Angels DH 60 times in 2008 and having him the outfield consistently would be a liability. We'll see if that's a risk the Braves are willing to take at this point. Trading for Xavier Nady or signing Luis Gonzalez remain options as well.

For Braves fans, this one has to be yet another letdown. This is the second time this offseason that a player (Rafael Furcal) has spurned their offer to sign elsewhere after the media reported that a deal was close. Even at his old age, people will still pay money to see Ken Griffey Jr, one of the best players in baseball history, play the game. He was that good.

Too bad Braves fans. For now, you'll have to settle with Gregor Blanco and Josh Anderson. Ouch.


Anonymous said...

Another let down for sure. The Braves had a major league low of 27 homeruns in 2008. They better find someone who can lead this young team to a Championship.

tHeMARksMiTh said...

Yeah, it hurts, but it wasn't as if the Braves should have been counting on clean-up hitter production from him. He is old and has an injury history (even though his doctor said he was "in the best shape he's been in for a number of years" -- baloney). Personally, I don't really want Anderson, mainly as a result of his defense. As for Swisher or Nady, Swisher wouldn't be bad, but how much do you have to give up for him? At this point, put Diaz/Jones in left, Anderson in center, and bring up Schafer when he shows he can handle it.

As for the economic benefits he brings, he may not bring that much. The TV revenues are already locked in and wouldn't be affected. Attendance might go up for the beginning of the season, but they usually are high then anyway. If they start losing, Braves fans don't come to games (did you see the attendance at Turner for the last few months?), especially to see declining stars. As for jerseys, etc., he would certainly help, but I wonder about how much.

Jorge Says No! said...

Bettor: Do you think Garret Anderson could be the answer?

theMARksMiTh: I actually think it would cost the Braves less for Nady than Swisher considering the contracts. Nady us a free agent at the end of the season, while Swisher is signed for the next few years at a very team friendly price.

Would bringing in a Garret Anderson or Luis Gonzalez help the Braves the much? Maybe, but probably not at this point.

thanks for the comments.