The very definition of a sacred cow, discussions centering around Ken Griffey Jr. have kind of been off limits for the past few years. It's been tough to point out weaknesses in his game, for fear of being lumped in with the nutjobs that call in to local sports talk radio in Cincinnati. WHIFFEY IS NOT YOUR SAVIOR! That kind of stuff.
But his game does have holes, and they became ever more apparent this past season. His hitting numbers fell across the board. His slugging percentage fell from .576 in 2005 to .486. His batting average dropped from .301 to .252, and his on base percentage suffered a similar drop from .369 to .316.
Griffey is 36 years old, and he'll be 37 for the 2007 season. With all the injuries he's had you really have to start wondering how much gas he's got left in the tank. I think his numbers in 2006 were good enough that he's probably got a few more years left, should he wish to play that long, but the biggest concern is without a doubt his defensive position.
It kind of boggles the mind that Ken Griffey Jr. is still playing center field at this late date in his career. He's had numerous leg injuries, some quite severe, and he's also put on some weight in the past few years. There's really no excuse for a franchise continuing to play him in center field, one of the most important defensive positions in baseball. It seems fairly obvious that the team would be better off with Griffey playing elsewhere, but the Reds have set themselves up in a way that makes it difficult. He can't play left field because Dunn is there, and I'm not sure he's a great candidate for right because his arm isn't the greatest. Apparently first base is out of the question because Junior has said that the sudden starts and stops at first aggravate his old injuries.
So here are some questions to get the Junior discussion rolling:
- Where should Junior play?
- Should the Reds try to trade him? As his contract comes closer and closer to it's end, this possibility probably becomes more and more likely. What kind of return would you want, if you do think the Reds should trade him?
- How do you feel about Junior's 2006 season?