Undoubtedly iffy, but we'd love to have Griffey
A fine comeback win for the boys last night, bringing us to within a half game of the White Sox, placing the Twins in a position to take over first in the Central for the first time since early May. But instead of lauding the win (or discussing Alexi Casilla's trip to the DL) today, I'll use this space to sample the MLB flavor of the week, and touch upon the July 31st trade deadline. So to wit:
There's no way in hell the Twins will acquire Ken Griffey Jr. Not with the 2009, $16.5 million club option that the 38-year-old legend has on his contract for next season. And while the contract does contain a $4 million club buyout clause, there is still no way the Twins would make such a splash. But it's fun to dream. And Griffey would be such a fine and fitting addition to a Twins' lineup that is last in the AL in home runs (73), albeit tops in the Majors in batting with runners in scoring position (.316; Baltimore is 2nd at .285).
Griffey is becoming, if he hasn't already become, the Ernie Banks of our generation -- Hall of Fame numbers, but with no World Series appearances (poor Banks never even reached the playoffs). Now a vet of 20 MLB seasons, Griffey hasn't seen the postseason since back in '97, toiling with perennially dumpy Cincinnati, a club that remains in last-place mode despite the smart hire of Dusty Baker as skipper.
Statistically, Griffey is within reach of a number of milestones that he no doubt aims to reach before concluding his spectacular career. Most notably, he's about 350 hits away from 3,000, and he needs 54 home runs to surpass Willie Mays for 4th on the all-time list.
The Terry Ryan/Wayne Krivsky days of Minnesota-Cincinnati brokering are gone, as the former has obviously retired from his GM post and the latter one-time Ryan lackey was canned from his own GM job in Cincy before landing a lesser gig with the Mets. Nonetheless, Griffey would still be a seemingly perfect addition for the Twins' playoff push. In 62 lifetime games at the Dome, he's hit .295, with 22 home runs and 62 RBI.
Furthermore, as per another improbable suggestion I made earlier in the season, no other AL contenders -- sans Tampa and Toronto-- would require the DH services that Griffey could offer. Personally, I don't see Griff migrating to Canada at this juncture of his storied career, just as I would wholly assume that his proclivities would lean toward lining up with Mauer and Morneau before the Rays' Crawford and Longoria.
In the words of Casey Stengel, "Most ball games are lost, not won." I continually lament in this vein that Twins' brass are never proactive enough to reach out and grab someone like Griffey when we are on the cusp of the opportunity for greatness, such as this 2008 season has (surprisingly) presented. To pay the remainder of Griff's 2008 contact, to eat the $4 million for next year, and to give up some young talent is justified. I believe the Twins will win the Central without making such a splash. It's losing 4-2 ballgames in the first round of the playoffs that concerns me.
As per a (slightly) more realistic option ...
To a far lesser extent, Oriole third baseman Melvin Mora, like Griffey, is an accomplished veteran who could use a change of scenery. Mora hasn't seen the postseason since '99, when he was a Met. And while, like Griff, he too is the possessor of a large contract (calling for a bulky $9 million in '09), Mora's name has never been mentioned as trade bait for the Twins, while dudes like Adrian Beltre, Garrett Atkins, Kevin Kouzmanoff and Bill Hall have received ill-conceived ink.
And while Mora's best years may be behind him, his 27 HR seasons of both 2004 and '05 really don't seem all that far away when considering that with his current 14 home runs and 63 RBI, he would rank second on the Twins in both categories. A slightly better-than-average third baseman, Mora has historically been known for his bat, as evidenced by his double-digit HR totals in the last seven seasons. Lastly, he's always enjoyed hitting in domed stadiums. In his 119 career games started indoors, Mora has accrued 24 home runs and 22 doubles.
In closure, I'd find it a wee bit depressing if we acquired the recently demoted LaTroy Hawkins from the Yanks, as has been rumored in the last few days. Acquiring scabs (even if they were once your own) from other contenders reeks of a desperate frugality not befitting a Champion.
I'd rather we did nothing. Unless, of course, it involves getting Liriano back up here, wherever we can fit him in.