Sunday, February 11, 2001

Griffey on waivers no big deal

        Junior Griffey's not going anywhere unless the Reds show him the door, and why would they do that? One of baseball's best players also is its best bargain. Griffey is pocketing $6 million this year. That's half a Manny Ramirez and a couple cans of Skoal.

        In Saturday's paper, we ran a story saying the Seattle Mariners claimed Junior on waivers last summer. It was news only because it was Griffey; teams waive great players all the time. The waivers are “revocable.” Meaning: “We wouldn't cut this guy if he stole Carl Lindner's Rolls. If you claim him, we'll just take him back.”

        The Mariners didn't claim Griffey because they thought they'd get him. They claimed him - and went public with it this week - to tweak the Reds and, specifically, Reds general manager Jim Bowden. Bowden can be brash and egocentric. Bowden can be a bit much. Former Reds GM Bob Quinn liked to call Bowden “Abner,” as in Doubleday, and that was 10 years ago.

        That doesn't mean Bowden isn't good at what he does; he's among the best. It doesn't hurt his ability to deal. GMs who won't deal with GMs they don't like - and miss good opportunities because of it - aren't GMs very long.

Embarrassing Bowden

        The Mariners went public (sort of: a team “official” leaked news of the claim) to embarrass Bowden. The Mariners understand, too, that Junior's sensitivity meter is perpetually in the red zone. Maybe they thought it would be amusing to create a rift between player and team.

        Chances are decent at some point this season, something will offend Griffey, and he will mention that the Reds put him on waivers last summer. The Mariners will get a good chuckle out of that, no doubt.

        When asked to comment on the report that appeared first in a Seattle paper, Bowden's response was elegantly Bowden-esque: “I'm sure the Seattle Mariners organization would abide by the rules of Major League Baseball and never leak any information about” the waiver process.

        Bowden couldn't be reached to chat Saturday.

        The Reds did waive Griffey. They waived their entire roster. It's a procedural thing a team does when it wants to sneak a player or two through the process without another team making a claim.

Who isn't on waivers?

        As player agent Joe Bick said Saturday, “At some point, every player in baseball is put on waivers. Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark McGwire. They have all been on waivers.”

        Maybe Bowden waived the whole team to sneak Dante Bichette through the process, so he could trade Bichette to Boston and get something in return. That, too, would be Bowden-esque: smart and ultimately effective.

        Griffey is still tight with lots of the old-guard Mariners brass - vice president Lee Pelekoudas, president Howard Lincoln and the Nintendo people who own a majority of the club - but he has no desire to return to Seattle.

        He may have had a difficult summer last year. He may, in the wake of A-Rod's titanic $250 million deal, feel a little like the mechanic instead of the Mercedes. Wouldn't you?

        But he doesn't want out, and the Reds don't want him to leave. The Mariners thought they had a chance to stick it to Jim Bowden, and they did. End of story.

        Can we go to spring training now?

        Paul Daugherty welcomes your comments at (513) 768-8454.


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