This weeks article jumped out to me this afternoon at school, as I was sifting through my inbox. Fellow Baseball Digest Daily author Bill Chuck's email from Billy-Ball.com (I suggest joining this mailing list, very entertaining stuff) entitled The Feel Good Story of 2008. You can check out the full article here.
Bill Chuck outlines what the feel good story to date is, which is obviously the classy move made by the Red Sox brass to bring Bill Buckner to Fenway for the Sox real Opening Day. Buckner, as Chuck writes, "was greeted with love and forgiveness by fans who had unfairly vilified him since 1986."
Chuck however, feels as though there will be an even greater feel good story soon, and that is of Ken Griffey Jr.'s return to Seattle. Bill Chuck suggests that the Reds should make a move to get rid of Jr due to his high contract and the Reds need to move forward, taking advantage of their young core. Chuck writes, "Even though he’s the team's marquee player and its biggest gate attraction, the team can justify this deal, but only this deal for Griffey."
Similarly, Chuck suggests that the Mariners are an ideal location for Griffey, writing,
Let’s look first at the Mariners. The team is floundering in the bottom third in runs. They have the fourth lowest batting average. They exceed only Kansas City and Minnesota in On Base Percentage. Their DH, Jose Vidro is hitting .195. The M’s are just under .500 but the division is weak, there is plenty of time to make up the games they trail the A’s and Angels.A very compelling argument. But do the Mariners have the tools to pull it off? Additionally, do the Reds want something the Mariners could offer? I imagine the Reds would have been glad to take on Chris Tillman for Jr, however Tillman is now part of the Orioles organization after this trade.
Taking a look at the Mariners top prospects (according to Minor League Ball's John Sickels) Jeff Clement, Carlos Triunfel and Wladimir Balentien remain with the organization. Clement would be especially attractive to the Reds, considering their current catcher situation and the lack of depth coming through the system, the one catcher the team does have, is probably 5 years from being ready. If you would have asked me a week ago, I would have said 'no way' on Clement, but given that the Mariners have recently signed Kenji Johjima a 3 year extension, the club could spare Clement and use him as a trade chip.
Wladimir Balentien could also be an interesting piece for the Reds, as the team is on the verge of losing both Jr and Adam Dunn. Balentien could step into the spot of either player and provide similar power at a substantially cheaper cost. The Mariners seemed to be willing to shop him during the past off season, and they do not seem too willing to give him a shot with the big league club.
The Reds system obviously boasts some impressive talent, with Jay Bruce leading the charge and Joey Votto already up with the club. Clement would obviously be ideal, but I doubt that the Mariners would trade Clement and take on the entire remainder of Jr's salary. That said, receiving Balentien, and Juan Ramirez while the M's take on the entirety of Griffey's salary is a best case scenario in my opinion.
Think back to the Abreu to the Yankees trade of a few years back. John Beamer of The Hardball Times wrote a piece reflecting on that trade and how it was clearly a salary dump. I think Reds fans would take the loss of Griffey a lot harder then Phils fans did with Abreu, so getting something in return is important.
Overall, I do agree with Bill Chuck and I definitely see a match within the organizations. I think the Mariners fan base would appreciate the addition and the Reds fan base would be fine, as long as they received a major league contributor and a nice prospect. It is interesting to note, a few months back, the Reds had a surplus of outfielders and did not know where they were going to find at bats for all of them. Now Jerry Hairston Jr is getting at bats.
I do, however disagree with Bill Chuck that a return to Seattle for Griffey Jr would be the feel good story of the year. Really, no matter what else happens this season, if (and when) Doug Davis gets back on the bump, that will undeniably be the story of the year. I have intentionally refrained from talking about that subject, as many have beat it to the ground and this is such a tough time in Davis' life, but there is no way that won't be the feel good story of the year.