Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Amber Alert: Ken Griffey Jr.

(Update: Griffey to the Mariners looking like it will happen.)

Is Ken Griffey Jr. retired? And if so, is that voluntarily or because no team in baseball wants him?

The only job Griffey has right now is the largely ceremonial one with the title of American Public Diplomacy Envoy. He was named to the position last year by then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. And considering the lackluster reaction to Griffey's baseball free agency, Condi may be getting more interest in front offices than Griffey is.

But that could soon change. The Mariners are known to be mulling over a Griffey homecoming, and Griffey's former Seattle teammate Harold Reynolds has been quoted as saying that Griffey wants to head back to Seattle.

What might Griffey get? At age 39, coming off another injury-addled season in which he batted only .249 with 18 homers for the Reds and White Sox, Griffey isn't asking for much: a one-year, incentive-laden deal.

And what might a team that signs Griffey get? He's a poor outfielder now, and needs to go to the AL and DH. But at least one person is convinced Griffey will be much better on the field in 2009 than in 2008, assuming a team comes along that's willing to put him on the field.

Reds team doctor Tim Kremchek is quoted thusly in the Cincinnati Enquirer (he was actually talking to ESPN's Buster Olney when Kremchek gave this quote):

"I told the Reds this - he's going to be a different player (in 2009) than he was last year. He's got a lot to prove to people, that he can still put up good numbers and help a team."

In 2007, Griffey batted .277 with 30 homers, a quite respectable season. Dr. Kremchek's contention is that Griffey can put up those numbers again now that the meniscus and cartilage damage Kremchek repaired in October has healed. (But what part of Griffey's body will give out next?)

If Andruw Jones can still find a job, then surely somebody will take a shot in the dark with Griffey, too.