Ken Griffey Jr. Rumors
Links on a memorable Thursday afternoon for Brooks Conrad and the Braves...
- Kevin Millar will join NESN as an analyst, according to Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe (via Twitter). Millar signed with the St. Paul Saints earlier this month.
- The Yankees signed utility player Jeff Natale and assigned him to Triple A, according to Pete Cava of the Times Leader via River Ave. Blues. The 27-year-old posted a .298/.432/.446 line in five seasons in the Red Sox organization.
- Royals GM Dayton Moore says winning the World Series is an eight or ten year process, according to MLB.com's Dick Kaegel.
- Sam Miller and Dan Woike of the Orange County Register run through some players the Angels could target, including Miguel Tejada and Will Ohman.
- Top Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish says his father has known agents like Arn Tellem and Scott Boras for years, according to Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker who translated from Chunichi. Darvish says he wants to keep playing in Japan.
- Tom D'Angelo of the Palm Beach Post wonders if the Marlins should trade Hanley Ramirez. It's a hypothetical question as the Marlins aren't looking to move their shortstop.
- Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says Pirates manager John Russell deserves an extension, especially now that some top Pirates prospects are nearing the major leagues.
- ESPN.com's Rob Neyer understands why Ken Griffey Jr. wants to play, but questions whether Junior deserves a roster spot on the Mariners.
- Adam LaRoche explained in March that he didn't reject a two-year $17MM offer from the Giants, even though they were interested in him last winter. He repeated as much to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, adding that he has no hard feelings towards the Giants.
In his latest Full Count video for FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal says that retirement could become a more realistic option for Ken Griffey Jr. if the 40-year-old continues to see less playing time. Rosenthal adds that, during their past two contract negotiations, Griffey and agent Brian Goldberg have discussed with the Mariners "how a phase-out might occur," since Griffey hopes to continue his relationship with the team after his retirement. Here are Rosenthal's other hot stove notes:
- Although Carl Crawford likely won't be a Ray past this season, the club has a chance to retain Carlos Pena. With Adam Dunn, Derrek Lee, and Paul Konerko eligible for free agency after this year, and Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez, and Prince Fielder potentially hitting the open market in 2011, there are a slew of alternatives to Pena. A power-starved club like the Mariners and Orioles could make a run at Pena, but it's still possible he ends up back in Tampa Bay, assuming there's mutual interest.
- If the White Sox decide to blow up their roster, it may happen sooner rather than later, given the ten and five rights that will kick in for A.J. Pierzynski and Mark Buehrle this summer. Pierzynski, Konerko, J.J. Putz, and Andruw Jones would be the most likely trade candidates.
- Although the Padres spoke to Jermaine Dye in the offseason, they'd prefer to stick to their current, younger players. If they decide to add a bat, it's more likely to be an active outfielder than the inactive Dye.
Links for Saturday...
- MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch writes that Pirates outfield prospect Starling Marte may require surgery on his left hand. Baseball America's Prospect Handbook called the 21-year-old "the first tangible result of the Pirates' renewed commitment to scouting Latin America."
- Matt Chico could start for the Nationals on Wednesday, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Chico was DFA'd by the club earlier this week, but only so that the club could place him in Triple-A.
- Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe tweets that the recently-DFA'd Pat Burrell is another reason why teams won't be spending major money on designated hitter-types anymore.
- Jack Cust is on his way back to Oakland after Eric Chavez managed just a .247/.298/.355 batting line during the first six weeks of the season, tweets CSNBayArea.com's Mychael Urban. The A's 40-man roster is full, so a move will need to be make to accommodate Cust.
- Paul Hoynes of The Cleveland Plain Dealer touched base with Indians' GM-in-waiting Chris Antonetti about having the fifth overall pick in June's draft. MLB's recommended bonus for that pick is in the $2.5MM-$3MM range, and Antonetti acknowledged that that money has already been set aside in the budget.
- Mike Morse is close to returning from the disabled list, which will create a bit of a roster crunch for the Nationals since he's out of options, writes MLB.com's Bill Ladson.
- Meanwhile, MLB.com's Owen Perkins notes that the Rockies would have a similar problem if they were to call someone up to help fill in for the injured Eric Young Jr.
- ESPN's Buster Olney spoke to Ken Griffey Jr.'s agent, who indicated that everything that happened this past week will have no bearing on his client's relationship with the club after he retires. Both links go to Twitter.
The 40-year-old Griffey is hitting .200/.270/.225 with just two doubles and zero homers in 89 plate appearances this year. He and Mike Sweeney have combined to form the least productive designated hitter in baseball, and because of that GM Jack Zduriencik is looking to add offense. Seattle reportedly has interest in Jose Guillen.
There was some talk that the Mariners could release Griffey before the end of the month, but that was refuted.
Was a better bargain than Andruw Jones signed this winter? The White Sox added him on a one-year deal worth $500K, and all he's given them so far is a batting line of .260/.360/.604. Meanwhile, the man patrolling his old Atlanta center field home, Nate McLouth, checks in at .167/.302/.271, and Gary Matthews Jr., who will make twice what Jones does from the Mets this year (and next year!), is hitting .152/.235/.196.
The problem is, this hasn't allowed the White Sox to move into contention. Thanks to a 14-20 start, combined with Minnesota's 22-12 beginning, Chicago is already eight games out, with Memorial Day still weeks away. So it may well be that the White Sox can, and should flip Jones to a contending team down the stretch. And that reasonable short-term deal means some of the smaller-market contenders are likely to be in the Jones sweepstakes.
What are some possible destinations?
- Washington could be a good fit. Willie Harris is hitting just .182/.313/.418, and with Willy Taveras also getting outfield at-bats, so Jones could be a good fit for regular corner outfield time. The Nationals have several pitchers set to join the big league team, but little in the way of outfield prospects at the top of their system. For now, the Nationals say they're content with Harris and Roger Bernadina.
- Cincinnati has seen Drew Stubbs struggle in center field so far; he's hitting just .196/.283/.321. It shouldn't be hard to convince Dusty Baker to play the veteran Jones over Stubbs, either. It's not clear that Jones is still an every day center fielder, but Chicago has already played him there four times in 2010.
- The Padres have Kyle Blanks in left field, Tony Gwynn Jr. in center field, and Will Venable in right field. Of the three, only Blanks profiles as a top prospect, so the other two could be vulnerable to a Jones acquisition, should San Diego remain in the race.
- With Eric Chavez and Jake Fox struggling, and Rajai Davis reverting to form, the Athletics could use Jones in either center field or at designated hitter to support an imposing starting rotation. The move sounds a lot like acquiring Frank Thomas, doesn't it?
- And don't fall asleep on Seattle, either. Currently 6.5 games out, the Mariners have the talent to climb back into the race, but their DHs, Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Sweeney, simply aren't hitting. Jones could also slot into left field.
- Tony Abreu could be an attractive trade chip if the D'Backs shop him for relief help, writes Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic.
- Ken Griffey Jr. should retire gracefully, writes MLB.com's Hal Bodley.
- We shouldn't be surprised to see Drew Storen arrive in the majors before Strasburg. As Ben Goessling of MASN.com explains, the Nationals may choose to reward Storen for signing so soon after they drafted him.
- Yorvit Torrealba has been one of baseball's best free agent bargains, if you ask MLB.com's Corey Brock.
- In a pre-draft notebook, MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo explains why pitcher Peter Tago is gaining on some fellow amateurs and the answer is pretty simple.
- Wondering which pitchers have seen their strikeout rate climb or tumble this year? RotoAuthority has the results for the season so far.
- If Mark DeRosa hits the disabled list, the Giants will rely on their own players, mostly John Bowker, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney believes the Nationals would like to debut Stephen Strasburg at home, while his colleague Rob Neyer can see the Nats breaking him in on the road. Last night I suggested we could see Strasburg's first MLB start against the Astros in early June.
- Marc Hulet of FanGraphs says it's too early to worry, but pitching prospect Aaron Crow reminds him a little of another former first rounder in the Royals' system: Luke Hochevar.
Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark that Ken Griffey Jr. will always get "the respect and dignity he deserves" in Seattle, so don't expect the Mariners to push Junior out of the way now that it seems convenient to do so. As one executive tells Stark, that's not an easy thing to tell a player like Griffey. Here are the rest of Stark's hot stove-related notes from Seattle and around the major leagues:
- Zduriencik says talk that the Mariners are trying to deal for a bat is "overblown" though he concedes that he's always "making phone calls" to other clubs.
- The Mariners will "wait and see what happens" with Cliff Lee, Zduriencik says. Lee becomes a free agent after the season and expects to get paid like an ace.
- The man who traded for Lee last summer, Ruben Amaro Jr., says the Phillies aren't as well-equipped to make a blockbuster move in 2010. "To be frank, I don't know if we have the resources to trade people to get that kind of guy," the GM said.
- Another GM believes one of Amaro's current players, Jayson Werth, may benefit from a relative shortage of right-handed power outfielders this offseason.
- A friend of Lance Berkman's thinks the first baseman would be prepared to accept a trade and leave Houston for a couple months. But the friend is less certain that Berkman would accept a deal if his new club was sure to exercise his 2011 option. At $15MM, there's no guarantee that will happen, in spite of Berkman's recent hot streak.
- Executives on other teams see Carlos Zambrano as a guy who "hasn't pitched like a top-of-the-rotation starter for two years."
Links for Wednesday, as Stephen Strasburg continues to dominate in the minors...
- Royals manager Trey Hillman told MLB.com's Dick Kaegel that he's as frustrated as ever about his club's slow start.
- R.J. Anderson of FanGraphs is not completely convinced that Hank Blalock is the solution for the Rays, even as Pat Burrell's struggles continue. Blalock may exercise the opt-out clause in his contract in the coming week. ESPN.com's Buster Olney names the A's as a possible suitor for Blalock (Twitter link).
- An Associated Press article on ESPN.com notes that the deadline for signing players with remaining college eligibility has been pushed back a day to August 16th this year because August 15th falls on a weekend.
- RotoAuthority identifies Scott Olsen as a candidate to post a sub-4.00 ERA and respectable strikeout totals for your fantasy team going forward.
- MLB.com's Carrie Muskat says the Cubs aren't about to make a deal any time soon.
- If you have experience designing databases, MLBTR has a project for you. We’re interested in finding someone to design a searchable database for the site, so send an email to email@example.com if you are the right person for the job.
- Mark DeRosa told MLB.com's Chris Haft that last year's wrist surgery was "a total failure." With numbness in a couple fingers and ligaments "flapping all over the place again," DeRosa might need another procedure. From Day 1, two years and $12MM was an aggressive commitment by the Giants.
- In a similar vein, Nationals free agent signing Jason Marquis will likely miss another eight to ten weeks with surgery to remove spurs and bone chips from his elbow, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports asked Ken Griffey Jr. about retirement, and Junior said, "I'll figure it out when I get to that point." The Mariners, meanwhile, have made a villain of Larry LaRue, the reporter who quoted a couple of unnamed players about a recent Griffey in-game clubhouse nap.
All of them [Don Wakamatsu, Jack Zduriencik, and Chuck Armstrong] are going to ask Junior to retire gracefully. If he doesn’t, the end of Griffey’s career will come, anyway – by way of a release from the Seattle Mariners. All that is going to happen, probably this month.
MONDAY, 5:14pm: Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik told Larry Stone of the Seattle Times that he "wouldn't read into or speculate on anything" as far as an upcoming release. Zduriencik didn't comment on any of the goings on in the team's clubhouse, though he did note that several Mariners are now struggling at the plate.
1:06pm: Ken Griffey Jr. could be released this month, reports Larry LaRue of The Tacoma News Tribune. The Mariners would prefer retirement, but at any rate, LaRue believes "the end is near" for Junior.
LaRue's story details Griffey's problems beyond his lack of offensive production. Apparently he is not proving valuable as a teammate either. For instance, LaRue says Griffey was unavailable to pinch-hit recently because he was asleep in the clubhouse during a game.
Meanwhile, Shannon Drayer of 710 ESPN in Seattle writes that Griffey has always napped because he has a "sleep issue." It doesn't change the fact that Griffey isn't hitting, but as Drayer notes, Griffey naps constantly.
On Saturday, Jason Churchill of Prospect Insider looked at a bunch of potentially players who could help the Mariners' anemic offense. Ms GM Jack Zduriencik talked to the AP about the situation yesterday:
"I've made a tremendous amount of phone calls. I continue to make phone calls. I've made several phone calls in the last three or four days. But it's like hunting season. It's not hunting season right now. Nobody's selling."
White Sox GM Kenny Williams said something similar to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times:
"I don't think anyone is really prepared to make any deals. And any interest expressed in any players out there who are impact guys has been done for quite some time. There really isn't much substance to anything at this stage of the season. Another 30 games, and you'll start to see talk pick up."
It's true that we shouldn't expect many big trades in May. I'm not sure why the Orioles and Royals wouldn't be willing to sell, but maybe they'd prefer to let the market develop.
The Mariners might be able to improve the offense by replacing Ken Griffey Jr. His .527 OPS is among the worst in baseball, but he's only had 63 plate appearances. Zduriencik says Griffey still has some time to find his way out of the slump: "You wait and see. You hope he gets on track. It's early. If he continues [to struggle] we will have to have some discussions with that."