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Griffey returning for another season in Seattle

Nov 11, 2009, 12:16 PM EDT

Ken Griffey Jr.’s return to Seattle was a success in so much as Mariners fans seemed to enjoy having him back and the team made major strides following a horrible 2008, but his actual performance was awful.
Griffey showed that he still has plenty of power and patience with 19 homers and 63 walks in 454 plate appearances, but he batted just .214/.324/.411 for a career-worst .735 OPS and was almost exclusively limited to designated hitter duties.
When he started dropping hints about wanting to return for a 22nd season at the age of 40 it seemed obvious that the Mariners wouldn’t–or at least shouldn’t–be interested in a second go-around. While the reunion was nice in a rebuilding season, the team seemingly has bigger plans for 2010 that should involve an upgrade at DH.
All of which is why this report from Larry Stone of the Seattle Times is surprising: Griffey and the Mariners have agreed to a one-year deal for 2010. Certainly getting sub par production from a part-time designated hitter is far from disastrous and won’t make or break the team in 2010, but it looks like nostalgia, loyalty, and perhaps some extra ticket sales will keep the Mariners from what would be a pretty easy upgrade.
Of course, that’s easier said than done with an incredibly popular future first-ballot Hall of Famer, but this isn’t exactly a Brett Favre and the Packers situation. Griffey has hit just .234/.340/.418 in 1,029 plate appearances spread over the past two seasons, is no longer capable of playing the outfield regularly, and the Mariners’ lineup needs all the help it can get after ranking dead last in scoring this year.

  1. Cru11 - Nov 11, 2009 at 12:23 PM

    I really am impressed with the amount of loyalty and devotion Seattle has shown Griffey (vice versa). I have always enjoyed watching Griffey play, a true gamer. If it wouldnt have been for those nagging injuries he would have the all-time home run record. Personally, Im glad hes coming back for another year I dont care how good or bad his numbers are. Long live the Son of Seattle!!

  2. comeonman - Nov 11, 2009 at 12:38 PM

    Loyalty on both sides,class move, don’t see that too often in sports

  3. GimmeSomeSteel - Nov 11, 2009 at 1:27 PM

    Is the Mariners’ team motto, “Commitment To Non-Excellence”?
    Loyalty is wonderful and rarely seen anymore, but pure nostalgia has a short shelf life. Griffey should ride off into the sunset and spend his time with the wife and kids.

  4. kball - Nov 11, 2009 at 1:28 PM

    The thing that a lot of people outside the Seattle area don’t understand is that Griffey is all things Seattle. He didn’t leave for the reasons that so many stars leave this area. He just wanted to go home. Nothing wrong with that. I firmly believe that if he had not left he wouldn’t have had the injury issues to the extent he did. I am very glad to see him coming back. If you need to understand why the Mariners would want him, just watch the dugout for a few games. He’s finally figured out that it really is all about the fun. He still has the same smile he brought when he was 18. The kid is alright.

  5. JW - Nov 11, 2009 at 1:32 PM

    The wins and losses isn’t a factor for Seattle. 2.5 to 3 million fans is all that matters. This team is about profits not Championships.

  6. MarinersFan22 - Nov 11, 2009 at 1:35 PM

    Following our last game of the season, Mariners fan were treated to a post game celebration that rivaled that of a World Series win.
    Griffey and Sweeney brought fun back to our club house. It was obvious to anyone who watched the 2009 Ms that the players were having fun and giving 110% for Griff and each other.
    I’ll take that over buying championship after championship (NYY) any day.
    If we’re going to win it all, I want us to win it the right way. With heart, guts, and determination.
    See ya in a few months Jr. Tickle Ichi for me.

  7. RMS - Nov 11, 2009 at 1:41 PM

    Let’s not forget Griffey recently had a bone spur removed from his knee. I think we’ll see an improvement in his availability, and numbers. I also wouldn’t put it past Griffey to retire at the All-Star break, if he just doesn’t have it any more. Thanks, Kid!

  8. Sam - Nov 11, 2009 at 1:53 PM

    Loyalty = Hanging around longer than the relationship remains mutually beneficial?

  9. Pshrug - Nov 11, 2009 at 1:55 PM

    This is all about clubhouse influence, not about the numbers. After the Mariners’ toxic ’08 season, Junior’s mere presence made a huge difference.
    I don’t usually give intangibles like “inspiration” creedence over hard (and dwindling) numbers, but in Junior’s case it made a big difference.

  10. M's Fan - Nov 11, 2009 at 1:55 PM

    Being a Mariner’s Season Ticket holder for many years, I can attest to the change in atmosphere since Griffey came home (Sweeney is also an asset). Griffey is wonderful to watch. His smile lights up the stadium. Sure,I want to win too, but I’m a baseball fan first. Give me good baseball. I was at the whole 1995 series and I don’t remember ever having so much fun. I am thrilled he has agreed to another year with the M’s and I hope it works out for him. He knows, we all know, he’s not going to produce on the field as he has in years past, but there’s more to being a team member than just swinging the bat. For years the camera flashes were out every time Ichiro was up and this last year the stadium lit up with flashes everytime Grif was up too. Anyone who can withstand the pressure put upon them as these guys do and keep their kool are amazing to me and the type of person I want my grandchildren to look up to. He’s coming back even though he knows he might not do as well as he’d like, but he’s coming back and for Mariners fans that’s a good thing. It’s something to admire and be proud of.

  11. Ilene - Nov 11, 2009 at 2:06 PM

    Why not make him a ‘player-coach?’ If his numbers don’t add up to a successful season yet the team wants him around in the dugout and clubhouse to keep the team in the right frame of mind, he can stick around the team and possibly become a hitting coach, bench coach… He wouldn’t get paid as much as a coach however, he would still bring the intangibles to the team.

  12. Bill@TDS - Nov 11, 2009 at 2:12 PM

    Let Griff provide his “clubhouse influence” as a bench coach. That way he can be all influence, all the time, uninterrupted by inconveniences like having to go out there and try to hit once every couple innings.
    Love Griffey, love the Mariners and their front office, but this just doesn’t make sense. That roster spot could have been pretty useful.

  13. pollyanna2 - Nov 11, 2009 at 2:18 PM

    There’s a difference between being a coach and being a player. Griffey is a player right now, and I want him to be OUR player at OUR stadium in OUR Seattle. I love Griffey, have always loved Griffey. He brings magic and hope to this team and after 2008 we need all the magic and hope we can get. Last year was a wonderful ride because we more than beat expectations. Who knows what this year could bring, let us dream and hope for all the magic Griffey and the Mariners can muster.

  14. Adam - Nov 11, 2009 at 2:36 PM

    It is being reported that Griffey was offered a ‘lesser’ role, and he accepted. So don’t take this signing as if he’s going to be a fulltime DH or anything. The M’s look to still be looking to upgrade in my opinion.

  15. Reggie - Nov 11, 2009 at 2:40 PM

    I have beena fan of junior since 1988 and so happy he is coming back for another year.HE IS A DECENT MAN and great baseball player,thank you for coming back.

  16. IdahoMariner - Nov 11, 2009 at 3:22 PM

    This was an easy choice, I think. A great player, still regarded as a threat by opposing pitchers (did you even look at his walks?), needs a hitting threat behind him, willing to take a lesser role but knows that his influence is greatest as a teammate (that coach idea is everywhere, and I’m so glad the Ms didn’t bite. if you’ve ever played at that level, you know it’s a huge difference. None of his teammates said, “oooo, I hope he comes back as a coach.” they said, I hope he plays next year too.), a great teammate, a reasonable contract — what’s not to like. For pete’s sake, the phillies had miguel cairo on their bench. Now THAT is a waste of a roster spot.

  17. Bill@TDS - Nov 11, 2009 at 3:23 PM

    Griffey is a player right now
    That’s debatable.
    Who knows what this year could bring, let us dream and hope for all the magic Griffey and the Mariners can muster.
    All that “magic” and “hope” was caused by some brilliant maneuvers by one of the brightest GMs in the business. I’d rather rely on more of those than dreams and magic. This one isn’t one of them.

  18. NYB - Nov 11, 2009 at 3:23 PM

    Always love when people like you say buying a championship…
    It sure didn’t buy them one the last eight years…
    If you plan to win it all on hearts and guts, and not talent, you’ll be waiting a long time my friend…
    Your idealism is refreshing but unrealistic..

  19. Bill@TDS - Nov 11, 2009 at 3:26 PM

    The problem is, as the guys at USSMariner pointed out, he still takes up a roster spot. If they carry 12 pitchers, that leaves them with four bench spots, one of which has to be a backup catcher. As the USM guys pointed out, that means Hannahan, Hall, Langerhans or Tui is out of the picture. Any one of those guys would be a better guy to carry on your bench than a 40 year old backup DH and pinch hitter.

  20. Shipwreck - Nov 11, 2009 at 3:54 PM

    I am a Mariner fan because they are fun to watch (’08 excepted) and there are no scandals here. Maybe they will win a championship and maybe not, but I can always be proud of our team. Jr. is Seattle, and I’m glad to have him on our team.

  21. LJ Leatherman - Nov 11, 2009 at 4:02 PM

    I’d rather they brought Edgar back.

  22. LJ Leatherman - Nov 11, 2009 at 4:03 PM

    I’d rather they brought Edgar back.

  23. awineguy - Nov 11, 2009 at 4:14 PM

    The roster spot thing is a truly silly argument, Wakamatsu doesn’t pinch hit much (who does in the AL) and after the top 10 last year nobody had even 200 plate appearances.
    None of Hall, Hannahan or Langerhans had OPS above .700 so I fail to see what competitive advantage they have over Griffey. Tuiasosopo is 23 years old so either he’s playing every day or his development is wasted.
    While there are certainly solid arguments not to bring Friffey back saving a roster spot for any of Hall, Hannahan or Langerhans certainly isn’t one in my mind.

  24. marinerfan88 - Nov 11, 2009 at 4:15 PM

    I live in Ca, and I watch Mariner and hope they beat the Angels
    every time they play them. I always will be Mariner Fan I thing it is a good move on Seattle part.

  25. mick-7-1961 - Nov 11, 2009 at 6:12 PM

    He draws fans, plain and simple and as long as he wants to continue to play, why not bring him back. He still has a few hits and homeruns in him and he’s a sure Hall of Famer.
    He’ll be a part-time designated hitter and will contribute in 2010.

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