This post is going to generate a lot of hate mail, but I guess that can’t be helped. I’ll jump straight to the punch line: The Mariners should play Chone Figgins for every game for the rest of this road trip. Now, I know what you’re thinking, and yes, I might need to get a CAT scan on my head. But still, if you’ll let me go through the entire argument, I think it’ll make a bit of sense. Remember, at this point it’s all about getting ready for 2012.
First, Kyle Seager needs to be optioned to Tacoma. I believe it should happen right now; not tomorrow, not an hour from now, this very second. Actually, It should have happened during the off day before this road trip, but it’s a little too late for that.
Seager is hitting just .136 with a .376 OPS. He’s obviously unprepared to be successful at this level right now. He played all of 12 games total at the AAA level, and less than half a season at the AA level. He finished last season at high A. He’s simply not ready. Seager’s K rate is twice as high as his minor league rate. His walk rate is also almost twice as high as his minor league numbers. Why? because he’s looking at a awful lot of pitches and refusing to take the bat off his shoulder. He simply looks lost.
I get why they brought him up. The offense needed a boost and he was crushing AAA pitching. Roll the dice and take a chance that he’d beat the odds and make the jump to the majors and be able to help. It was a very long shot, it didn’t work out. Now send him down and let him begin working on getting ready for 2012. He still has a ton of learning to do in Tacoma.
I don’t want you to think I’m down on Seager, because I’m not. I really like his skills. I think he has a chance to be pretty darn good, but clearly he needs more time in the minors. Lets at least try and give him a chance to be successful, shall we?
Second, now is the perfect time to play Figgins. For starters, the all-star break and his extended “rest” before that seems to have helped him clear his head. You could see it on the field back in the first game of the series, especially defensively. He wasn’t being tentative. He attacked the baseball like he used to, it was a surprising sight.
Figgins also had decent night at the plate. 1-4, 2 BB. Not spectacular, but decent. the 2 walks is great little stat. When he was playing really bad, like before he was benched, he’d stopped taking walks. He also had a line drive out to left field, so for one of his outs he still made solid contact.
I know it’s only one game, but it’s something to build on. Figgins has been a mess mentally; his confidence is absolutely shot (not that it shouldn’t be), and anything positive could help him turn it around. That’s also why I think this should happen now, while the M’s are playing their next 7 games on the road where the home fans wont boo him every time he grounds out, or just walks up to the plate. Give him a week to get on a little bit of a roll before coming home to Safeco.
Why bother? Because the M’s have 17 million reasons to try and help him turn things around. No one will take his salary off the Mariner’s hands, and that’s simply too much money to throw away by cutting him. That’s just not going to happen, so the team might as well do whatever it can to help him get ready to succeed in 2012, and that requires letting him play.
Part of this is that I believe that, if cut, Figgins would join the long list of players who’ve flopped in Seattle only to succeed elsewhere. Cutting Figgins means the M’s will be paying him $9 million next season to play for someone else, and chances are high that he’ll be pretty good for whoever picks him up. I know most of you disagree. I’ve seen on the comments on this blog and others. The majority of people tend to think he’s “done” and wont ever play in the majors again. But the same was said about John Olerud, Scott Spiezio, and all the others who’ve left and managed to put up decent numbers for another team after leaving Seattle.
I don’t have a lot of evidence to back that up. It’s just a gut feeling, but I watch him play and I can see the doubt in his mind. That’s why his walk rate has plummeted, why he’s swinging at so many pitches out the zone, and why he’s been making so many mental mistakes on the field. If he cane get thing’s squared away upstairs, I think he can be successful again. Maybe not to his pre-Mariners > .400 OBP, but still much better than the putrid play he’s given us so far this year.
So this move as two possible benefits for the 2012 Mariners. It helps Seager get prepared to be successful at this level, and hopefully gives Figgins a chance to get back on track. If it works, great. If not, it wont hurt anything. Games this season all meaningless now anyways, so they might as well try. It’s not like they have anything to lose.