Here’s an interesting (if I may be so presumptious) and pertinent (ditto) historical sidelight to the Mariners’ efforts to trade Ken Griffey Jr. after the 1999 season. If you’ll recall, the newly hired Seattle general manager, Pat Gillick, was severely limited in his trade options, because Griffey held veto rights and made it clear he would only sign off on trades to a select few teams. One of them was the Braves, leading to a flurry of speculation that those two teams could work out a deal. According to sources at the time, the Mariners were seeking two players from the Braves: outfielder Andruw Jones, who had just finished his third full season with Atlanta and had yet to make the first of his five All-Star teams but had earned the first two of his 10 consecutive Gold Gloves; and pitcher Kevin Millwood, who was a combined 35-15 in 1998-99.
The Braves resisted, figuring they’d have a chance to get Griffey as a free agent after the 2000 season without having to give up any players at all. That never happened, of course, because Griffey signed a nine-year, $116.5 million extension with Cincinnati after the Reds traded Mike Cameron, Brett Tomko, Antonio Perez and Jake Meyer for him on Feb. 10, 2000.
Cameron was great for the Mariners, but it’s hard to argue that a Millwood-Jones package wouldn’t have been a better deal. Jones, before falling off a cliff last year with the Dodgers, was on a Hall of Fame trajectory, while Millwood remains a solid performer 10 years later.
The relevance, as you might have figured out, is that both Millwood and Jones are at Safeco Field with the Rangers. Millwood defeated Felix Hernandez yesterday and ranks fifth in the American League with a 2.78 ERA, while Jones is trying to resurrect his career with the Rangers after flaming out with the Dodgers (.158 in 75 games last year after signing a two-year, $36.2 million contract they had to eat). Jones, hitting .333 with three homers and eight RBI in a reserve role, is in today’s lineup for the Rangers, hitting cleanup and playing left field. Jones figures to see more playing time with Josh Hamilton on the DL, but his CF days are pretty much behind him.
Imagine the allure of a Felix Hernandez–Zach Greinke pitching duel! But we missed that by two days. Instead, we’ll get Carlos Silva vs. Sidney Ponson in Kansas City on Wednesday when the Mariners and Royals open a two-game series. It’s a clash of division leaders, as we all predicted it would be.
Speaking of the Royals, did you notice that Willie Bloomquist is hitting .372 (16-for-43) so far this year? His OPS is a tidy 1.020. But he hasn’t quite won over all the Royals’ followers. I can see a platoon role developing for Willie. Against lefthanders, he’s hitting .500 (11-for-22), with a 1.340 OPS. Against righties, he’s at .238/.619.
A few years ago, when the Mariners ran their “Sodo Mojo” ad campaign, I was deluged throughout the season by phone calls and e-mails from befuddled fans who wanted an explanation as to what the heck “Sodo Mojo” meant.
This year, fans seem to be flummoxed (love that word) by the new category that Associated Press has added to the standings published in most newspapers, including the Seattle Times. Right after the tried and true “GB” is “WCGB.” Here is a pre-emptive strike for all those who are confused by the new designation: It’s “wild card games behind.”
The presence of Elvis Andrus — the Rangers’ promising 20-year-old shortstop — got me to thinking about other players with rock and roll names.
Of course, there’s the utility infielder Jim Morrison, who played for several teams in the 1970s and ’80s.
There’s Steve Howe, the late Dodgers reliever, who shares a name with the guitarist for the rock group Yes.
There’s another ex-Dodger (and Oakland) pitcher, Bob Welch, who is not to be confused with former Fleetwood Mac member Bob Welch.
And, I suppose, you’ve got to go with ex-Mariner reliever Mike Jackson, who looks nothing like this:
I’m sure I’m forgetting some, but that’s what I’ve got you for.