For the next 16 years the Cincinnati Reds own Ken Griffey Jr. $5 million per year, it’s all deferred money from Griffey’s original contract signed with the Reds in 2000.
Still, the sure fire HOF is yet to be signed this off season, a bit surprising considering Griffey isn’t in need of more dough and could be reeled-in on the cheap.
I still believe Junior would have been a better sign for the Cubs than Milton Bradley, but the Cubs’ miss is another club’s opportunity, yet who those teams are is still unclear.
The latest reports out of Griffey’s camp say four teams are interested in him for at least the 2009 season.
Seattle is obviously one of the bidders, but after that it’s anyone’s guess.
What we do know about Griffey is he’d prefer to play closer to his home in Orlando, wants to play for a winner and wants a regular deal, meaning no minor league deal or an invitation to Spring Training.
So, here’s what I’m thinking:
After watching the Red Sox gamble with Brad Penny and John Smoltz it seems reasonable they’d also take a shot on Junior.
Plus, Griffey could fill the void left from Sean Casey’s recent retirement and the Red Sox will again be contenders for a World title.
Tampa Bay appeared to lose interest with Griffey after signing Pat Burrell, but the Rays would be such a solid fit it’s hard to imagine there’s still not an opening for Griff, if for no other reason than location.
Speaking of which, location alone has the Marlins in positioned to be considered as well.
Not only is the location prime for a Griffey signing, but the organization’s strong personnel efficiency typically fields a competitive team.
And should Philly fall into a post World Series let-down the Marlins are sure contenders in the division against the questionable Mets and rebuilding Braves.
Of course, for years the Braves were included in Griffey trade talk but never appeared to be serious.
Although, Atlanta is about a close as Griffey can get to Florida without playing for either the Rays or Marlins.
Lastly, however, is Houston: perhaps close enough to Florida and a likely contender in the NL Central.
Not to mention, there’s still an opportunity for Junior to once again pal up with his good buddy Adam Dunn, an unsigned free-agent and a Houston native to boot.
During the past four seasons Ken Griffey Jr. has averaged 41 more games played than Milton Bradley.
Since 2005 Griffey averages 131 games per season…Bradley averages just 90.
In this same time frame Griffey has posted 110 HRs, 328 RBIs vs. Bradley’s 62 HRs and 204 RBIs.
And you’re telling me a left-handed batting Bradley is a better sign for the Cubs than Junior?
Put Griffey in Wrigley’s small outfield, platoon him with Gathright and Fukudome, and let the man chase his ring with Chicago.
Not to mention, Griffey would be a far better addition to the clubhouse and would come to the North Side at a far more reasonable rate than Milton’s 3-years $30 million.
My prediction that Griffey ends up with Tampa Bay or Seattle appears spot-on after reading this report.
Of course, this isn’t a brilliant uncovering on my part, but the result of common sense.
Griffey’s agent, however, says six teams are interested in signing Junior…probably lasting no more than two seasons.
And whereas Tampa Bay appears to make the most sense for Griffey, given his family commitments (which resides in Orlando), the Rays’ signing of Pat the Bat greatly lessens that possibility.
Obviously, a return to Seattle is the fan’s choice for Griffey, but I think Junior surprises us all by signing elsewhere.
The guy has always been in search of a ring…Seattle isn’t postseason bound…and the Rays chances for a championship are always tough playing in the AL East.
Noting Junior has lost more than “a step” defensively, my best guess says Ken goes for an AL team where he’ll have the opportunity to DH.
So I’ll go out on a limb with this prediction…Junior signs with Boston to fill-in for an ailing Big Papi, or with Atlanta to stay close to home and help lead the Braves past New York in the East!
Ken Griffey Jr. owes the Cincinnati Reds nothing.
Since returning home in 2000, Griffey has respectfully served as the face of Reds baseball despite seven consecutive losing seasons and a plethora of home-town criticism.
As the game’s greatest player, Griffey bolted Seattle for lil’ ol’ Cincinnati, thumbing down millions of more dollars to play elsewhere for the chance to don the same jersey his father once wore.
And, despite one serious injury after another in Cincinnati, he always returned to the team’s lineup, earning his money the hard way, rehabbing for a perennial loser and serving as the team’s lightning rod for its terrible play.
Plus, considering the seriousness of his many leg injuries, no one would have questioned Griffey had he retired years ago.
Still, Junior humbly took the field time and time again for a frugal organization that never held up its end of the bargain to return championship baseball to Cincinnati.
Reds managers came and went, its pitching staff always subpar and the unveiling of Great American Ballpark was over shadowed by one of baseball’s largest fire sales ever in July, 2003.
And even as Junior neared the historic 600 career home run mark the organization did little to promote such a historic baseball event. Shameful.
Yet, all the while Junior stayed true to himself and to the team he wanted to end his Hall of Fame career with.
However, the relationship between the Reds organizations, its fans and Griffey has unfortunately grown beyond repair.
This became obvious to me when Junior, sitting on 599 career home runs, opted to play the final game of a four-game series in Miami with the Reds returning home a day later to begin a nine-game homestand.
Griffey later stated he’s increasingly felt more fan appreciation playing on the road than in Cincinnati; so be it if the home crowd wouldn’t witness history.
Thus, dealing Griffey to the White Sox is the right move for both parties: Jr. now has a legitimate chance to win a ring with Chicago this year or by signing with a contender next season, and the Reds finally bandage a decade long wound.
Unfortunately, though fittingly, Junior leaves Cincy without a proper farewell celebration.
The culmination of Junior’s work in Cincinnati should have been celebrated one last time in front of the home crowd.
And, as one of the game’s few home run hitters still believed to be untarnished in an era known for PEDs, it would have be nice for Reds fans – for or against Griffey’s departure – to show respect for a player who represented his family, team and city in an honorable fashion.
Of course, that possibility is over, and with it, so is the Junior era in Cincinnati.
- Notes: Junior has hits safely in all 11 games since the All Star break.
- He departs tied for the Reds leads in doubles this season (20).
- For his career, Junior has homered against 389 different pitchers including 12 this year.
- He is the 18th player in MLB history to reach 5,000 total bases.
- Griffey also ranks sixth in career home runs (608), and 16th in RBIs (1,752).
Watching the replay of Griffey Junior’s 600th career home run lifted my spirits higher than the arc on his 413 foot blast to right field.
What a great moment for Junior, the Reds, Major League Baseball and all of sports.
As usual, Griffey served up his humble pie after the game, flashing his trademark smile and suggesting he never envisioned himself smacking 300 dingers, let alone the big 600.
Of course, baseball fans know better, even to the point we all agree the guy could be sitting at 700 home runs had it not be for an unfortunate string of injuries.
Unfortunately, the stage for Jr.’s 600th blast should have been better than Dolphins Stadium and its whopping crowd of 16,000 fans.
Heck, even the Rays’ lowly stadium, just a few hours away in Tampa, would’ve been a better setting for such a milestone moment than the sandbox in Miami.
So, with Cincinnati beginning a nine-game homestand Tuesday, why didn’t Dusty Baker sit Junior this evening and let him chase history in the Queen City?
After all, Reds fans were left to watch Griffey hit No. 400 in Colorado and No. 500 in St. Louis.
So instead of letting history take place on the road again, I wish Baker would have explained to the media that he sat Griffey due to ‘general soreness’ and to avoid the lefty vs. lefty matchup of Florida’s starting pitcher Mark Hendrickson.
Besides the fact Griffey was 5-for-8 lifetime against the Marlins’ southpaw, no one would have questioned the move. And even if someone did, who cares?
Not to mention, Reds fans could use a good reason to head out to the ballpark with the club closing in on its eighth consecutive losing season.
Plus, with Griffey sitting at No. 599 the Great American Ballpark was bound to draw a sell-out or two with nine-straight home games on the horizon.
But there’s more to this moment than the business side of things. The city of Cincinnati and Griffey needed this moment to be shared together, a swan song for the perfect player whose celebrated homecoming never played out on the field as planned.
Instead, this special moment between Griffey and Cincinnati happened on a football field, a painted canvas of turquoise and orange instead of a sea of red.
Of course, there’s nothing that can be done now, No. 600 already landed in Miami.
But perhaps, the organization might give Griffey a proper ceremony at home tomorrow night.
Although, that’s asking a lot from an organization that hardly did anything worthy of promoting the event in the first place.
If anything, Reds fans deserve a few minutes to cheer its hometown hero in the hometown ballpark, even if No. 600 is after the fact.
1. Sun April 6th – Brett Myers – Great American Ballpark, Reds win 8-2
2. Tue April 15th – Ryan Dempster – Wrigley Field, Reds lose 9-5
3. Thur April 17th – Jon Lieber – Wrigley Field, Reds win 9-2
4. Wed April 23 – Chris Sampson – Great American Ballpark, Reds lose 9-3
5. Thur May 22 – Randy Wolf – PETCO Park, Reds lose 8-2.
6. Sat May 31 – Jair Jurrjens – Great American Ballpark, Reds win 8-7
7. Mon June 9 – Mark Hendrickson – Dolphins Stadium, Reds win 9-4
1 Barry Bonds – 762
2 Hank Aaron – 756
3 Babe Ruth – 714
4 Willie Mays – 660
5 Sammy Sosa – 609
6 Swingman – 600
More articles on Junior’s milestone achievement.
Even Griffey’s video game was great!
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