Ken Griffey, Jr. is a first ballot Hall Of Famer. That is obvious. Those Hall Of Fame skills are long gone, though. He was bad enough last year. Here are Griffey's 2009 stats: .214/.324/.411. That isn't good. In his final year in the big leagues, he flat out stunk. Check out his 2010 line: .184/.250/.204. Ouch! This wasn't new, either. Ken Griffey has been a below average player for years.
With all of that said, in the end, he was still very popular in Seattle. Griffey would get a big cheer when the lineup was called out over the PA system before the game. When he came to the plate, people got off their butts to cheer for him.
Perhaps Griffey waited too long to bow out gracefully. Here is why he did the right thing.
Ken Griffey, Jr. was not helping the Mariners win ball games. He could no longer play in the field. He was useless against left-handed pitching. His .212 average over the last 4-plus seasons tells us that. He wasn't much better against right-handers, either.
Most fans would rather the team win games then continue to “do right” by Griffey.
It wasn't much fun watching Griffey in 2010. To watch the shell of his former self that Griffey has become was sad. Every weak ground ball, every lazy pop out to the second baseman, and every bad strikeout helps to tear some of the good memories away.
As long as Griffey is on the roster, Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu would give him more unsuccessful at-bats. When Griffey wasn't playing, there would have been more drama like the clubhouse nap incident. The team is now better off without the distractions that Griffey brings.
Griffey's roster spot will be better used by someone who can actually perform on the field. On one hand, the Mariners got intangible benefits like veteran leadership from Mike Sweeney and Griffey. On the other hand, they were carrying two designated hitters who don't hit. The Mariners owe it to the other players and the fans to put the best team on the field.
The Mariners are in 4th place in AL West. If the Mariners are going to make any attempt at the postseason, they will replace Griffey with someone who can help them.
It only made sense for the legendary Griffey to stick around if the Mariners think they are in the business of entertainment instead of winning baseball games.
Ichiro can't be too happy slapping singles for a lousy team. Other guys like Franklin Gutierrez and Cliff Lee can't be thrilled to be playing on a team with little or no shot at the playoffs.
In 2010, Griffey was not a major league caliber player. It is unlikely that he ever would be again. Given that Griffey was basically the 25th man, retiring may not help much on the field but it helps the Mariners surround guys like Ichiro, Lee, and Gutierrez with the best players available.
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