It kills me to say this, but Ken Griffey Jr. should not be wearing a Seattle Mariners uniform in 2010.
The news broke this morning that the 39-year old Kid will be returning to the tune of $2 million for next season to play an extremely limited role with the club.
Before I get into this, let me first say that Griffey is unequivocally my favorite player in the history of the game and the greatest player I have ever seen in person.
He holds a spot close to my heart and is a link back to my childhood. Anytime I want to imagine Junior leaping over the wall at Tiger Stadium to bring back a home run, I can summon the memory on cue.
His 630 career home runs, fifth all-time, are a marvel and his swing is the most beautiful thing since sliced bread.
But he has no business occupying a roster spot on a Mariners team that in a state of rebuilding and in need of every roster spot available.
According to the reports, Griffey has stressed to management that playing time would not be an issue, and this is where I have my reservations about the signing.
If Griffey knows that his playing ability is so limited that he won’t even lobby to be on field consistently, then why is he coming back?
I know, he is a great clubhouse influence and Ichiro seemed to beam with excitement around Griffey throughout the 2009 campaign.
But the objective of Jack Zduriencik needs to be focused on winning an AL West title and unseating the Los Angeles Angels from the lofty view from the top.
The Mariners rebounded from a laughable 2008 campaign of only 61 wins to ascend above the break-even mark and go 85-77 in 2009.
The Kid was able to stroke 19 home runs and collect 57 RBI in 2009, showing that just maybe his career still has legs under it, but I just don’t see how Griffey helps develop this team further into the future.
And sure, I was at Opening Day last season, and there was nothing better than seeing Junior jog out from behind the right-center field wall for introductions.
However, by the middle of the season, everyone had seen the Kid back in town and stopped coming out to support a middle of the pack ball club.
This season, the attraction of his “victory tour” will only do so much, and it certainly won’t have any positive impact on the success of the Mariners.
It won’t will ball games.
It won’t sell out every home game.
Don’t get me wrong, Griffey will marginally increase crowds throughout the season and will probably drill 15 home runs and drive in around 50 runs.
Those numbers are nothing for a player at the age of 40 to frown at, but they don’t supply the Mariners with the necessary pop from the designated hitter position that they need.
Seattle has a serious problem on the offensive side of things, especially considering that Russell Branyon declined a contract offer for next season.
Branyon was one of the only Mariners capable of producing runs in 2009, and his absence will extend the void in the middle of the lineup into one of great magnitude next season.
So it kills me to say this, but Griffey should have hung up the cleats and walked off into the sunset after 2009.
Yet even with that being said, I’m still going to make it a personal mission to see the Kid play as much as I can next season.
I mean, how often can you see a sure-fire future Hall of Famer in your own backyard?