- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 8, 2003

Before I left the Orioles in spring training, someone asked me whether I would be coming back to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., before the season started.
When I replied no, he said, "What if the team makes a big 12-player deal?"
"You mean if the Orioles trade 11 of their players for one of someone else's?" I asked.
Little did I know that was possible.
It may not take 11 Orioles to make a deal for Ken Griffey Jr., but if it does, Jim Beattie and Mike Flanagan should jump at the chance. Any 11, in fact. Let the Reds have their pick, if that is what it takes.
Not that it would make the Orioles a whole lot better, but it would make them a lot more interesting, at least for a while.
By the time the Orioles catch the rest of their roster up to surround Griffey with a championship supporting cast, he will be 43 years old and putting up Marty Cordova-like numbers.
Griffey (468 home runs, 1,358 RBI over 14 seasons) is 33 now. That's 10 years, boys and girls, and not a number I just pulled out of the air. That's what one general manager said in assessing the talent level throughout the organization, from top to bottom, with a lot more bottom than top.
"They aren't just five years away," he said of the Orioles. "It's going to take them 10 years to dig their way out [of the player development hole Syd Thrift dug for the organization before owner Peter Angelos finally said enough]."
(By the way, the word is that Angelos gave Syd a comfortable financial package to sail off into the sunset, and Thrift responded by going to work as a consultant for the Tampa Bay Devils Rays, the Orioles' bitter rival for last place in the American League East.)
Ten years! If the Orioles' new regime is really interested in player development, it should pass on Ken Griffey and go for Trey Griffey instead. He's 8 years old and will be 18 by the time the Orioles have some players who can help make them a winning franchise again.
Until then, his dad would at least keep the Orioles from looking like a farm club and put some people in the seats. Though Griffey has been slowed down by injuries the past two seasons, there is no reason to believe that he can't rebound to be one of the best players in the game, as evidenced by his three home runs in yesterday's exhibition game against Pittsburgh.
Speaking recreationally, there are no indications that Griffey has abused his body; it doesn't appear that he is breaking down from juicing up. So he could have at least six more good years in him, the remaining length of his contract with the Reds.
As far as the money, if the Orioles get the Griffey who can hit 40 or more home runs a year (and one would think that with his left-handed bat in Camden Yards, he has the potential to hit 50 year in and year out), he would be more than worth it. Griffey hit the B&O; Warehouse on Eutaw Street during the 1993 All-Star Game home run contest, and he would be a bargain at about $12million a year or less, depending on the schedule of deferred payments.
That's less than the Orioles are paying Cordova, David Segui and Brook Fordyce combined. So don't tell me it is a poor use of resources.
And while Griffey is not the happiest camper in the world, he is no Albert Belle, who is still receiving checks from the Orioles, addressed to the Bates Motel, Parts Unknown, USA.
Reds general manager Jim Bowden dismissed any talk about trading Griffey, even though they tried to deal him during the offseason to the San Diego Padres only to have the trade fall apart when Phil Nevin refused to approve it. "It won't happen," Bowden said. "We are going to open our new Great American Ball Park with Junior in center field."
Of course, Bowden is a Thrift disciple, which could mean that the last place Griffey will be on Opening Day is in center field in Cincinnati. The talk in training camps is that Griffey is still on the block and can be had.
Maybe even in an 11-for-1 deal.

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