1. Chone Figgins is not going to be designated for assignment. So just get that thought out of your head. When Richie Sexson and Jose Vidro were DFA’d midseason of 2008, when Milton Bradley was sent packing earlier this year, they were done as Mariners regardless. All three were in the final years of their contracts. They had no future with Seattle, so it was easier to just jettison them.
Sexson couldn’t hit, didn’t work and wasn’t going to do so in the future. Vidro was pretty much the same. Bradley? He was a malcontent. He was awful at the plate. He was worse in the field. And the idea that he was just a moment away from a tirade or tantrum made everything uncomfortable. He had to go.
He’s only in the second year of his four-year contract. The Mariners owe him $9 million last year, and $8 million next year. Realistically they can’t just walk away from him right now. Coupled with this year, it would be like a $21 million loss. It’s bad business.
Figgins works. He gives effort. He does extra work in the cage with hitting coach Chris Chambliss. He does work on his fielding at third. The effort is being put in, the results have not followed. I will be the first to say if someone isn’t giving effort. Figgins is giving effort.
Yes, he was brutal at third on Sunday. Should he have been charged with more than one error? Yes. Of course, his body language is that of a petulant 12-year old. But he is cares about his performance and the team. You can look at some of his quotes from yesterday.
So what do you do with Figgins? You can’t trade him. He’s hitting .190, he’s not taking walks like he used to for some reason and he really has little or no value. At this point, Jack Wilson has more value and he barely gets to play. And even if he starts playing better, the Mariners won’t get much in return. They would either get the team to eat his salary, or have to pay part of his salary and get a middle of the road prospect, if that.
So what do you do? Well, you could cut back his playing time a little and give Luis Rodriguez a few starts. Rodriguez isn’t necessarily that much of an upgrade in the long run. But right now, when games matter, he will probably give you a more competent at-bat and the possibility of something more than a slap hit to the outfield. And even those little flares that Figgins hits aren’t dropping because team’s are playing him at girls fastpitch depth.
Everything I know about baseball (it’s not much), tells me that Figgins won’t be this bad for the rest of the season. He can’t be. Can he? He’ll get better. Will he be the on-base machine that was supposed to wreak havoc on the base paths and help the Mariners manufacture runs they thought when they signed him? No. Nothing I’ve seen tells me he can ever reach that level again.
But it doesn’t seem like Wedge is ready to start cutting into Figgins’ playing time completely. If he waited 50 games and Figgins going 2 for his last 36 to fall below .200 to finally drop him to eighth in the order, it might be a while before we get to the point where Figgins is benched.
“I’m a patient man,” Wedge said. “I believe that patience is going to be rewarded in this game nine times out of 10.”
Wedge has been patient with Figgins for all of his struggles. Expect him to stay that way.
2. The left field situation is also becoming cumbersome. The Mariners aren’t getting much production out of it. Carlos Peguero looks overmatched. He has holes in his swing and his approach of swing early, swing often, swing as hard possible isn’t working. Yes, he will hit the occasional home run, but he isn’t doing much else. Defensively, he is not good.
Michael Saunders, well, we’ve discussed his issues at length. His new swing is a work in progress, lefties overwhelm him and he has no confidence. He’s been okay in the field. But he’s lost at the plate. If he is ever going to develop into something, he needs to be in Tacoma where he can play every day and work through this.
So what do you do in left field? Of course, Ryan Langerhans is down there. Yes, it’s not flashy. But he will give you a better at-bat than the other two and can play center field at a competent level.
Then there is the guy a lot of people want to see called up – Mike Carp.
He’s hitting .312 with 14 homers and 43 RBI for the Rainiers with a .376 on-base percentage and a .598 slugging percentage. Carp had extended looks at the big league level and failed to hit. But he’s only 24, and he could have made some adjustments that might lead to big league success.
But playing him in left field? I like to joke that his defensive skills in left are Ibanez-esque. Carp has been playing outfield for the Rainiers for the last few seasons because of the glut of first baseman/DH types they’ve carried on their roster. He played 43 games in the outfield last season and has only played left and right field this season. I’ve seen him play at least 70 games in the outfield.
Is he horrible? No.
Is he good? No.
I would guess he’s average. I’ve talked to a couple scouts who think he does a better job than Peguero. His routes and jumps are a little better. He isn’t fast. The ball over his head gives him some trouble. Arm? It’s adequate.But usually if he can get a glove on it, he will catch it.
Not exactly an inspiring scouting report.
Yet to play him in a major league game, you have to weigh the runs created by having him at the plate versus the runs he would cost in you in the field. It’s a risky gamble because he’s never shown the ability to produce numbers at the big league level. So if he doesn’t hit to a high level, you are going to be giving runs away most games. The Mariners don’t hit well enough to give runs away.
Yes, Greg Halman is back. He’s a better athlete and defender, than all of the other left field candidates. But he missed 40 games, he is just coming back and he also struggled to hit at the big league level. Halman isn’t afraid to strike out either. If he had been playing for the first 40 games, then call him. Then again, had he been playing most of the season, he probably gets called up instead of Mike Wilson.
There is no definite solution for left field. They are not getting much production from the spot. They might be better off going and getting a big league fourth outfielder like Washington’s Laynce Nix or KC’s Mitch Maier. They might not bring huge improvements, but they are better than what they have now.
3. When Dustin Ackley is called up, an no, I don’t know when that will be, he needs to play every day. No part time, not most of the time, all of the time. And not having Adam Kennedy’s bat in there all the time shouldn’t be a worry. Kennedy gives you a solid professional at-bat. But Wedge can be creative and find ways to get his bat in the order four or five times in a week without cutting into Ackley’s playing time. Kennedy is 35 and isn’t an every day player. He will wear down if you play him every day. You can use Kennedy at second, third, first and DH. There has been some talk with putting him in left field. Hey, it can’t be any worse then what they have.