Tag: Chone Figgins

Seattle Mariners: Strategizing a Breakup with Chone Figgins

Apparently, Chone Figgins is sick of playing for the Seattle Mariners. At the risk of stating the obvious, the feeling is definitively mutual. Does Figgins have a suggestion on how to end this relationship?

Remember when the Mariners signed Figgins to a four year free-agent contract? Fans were pretty excited because they imagined Figgy and Ichiro setting the table for the rest of the lineup and creating a lot of offensive production.

Statistically, there is not much point in reviewing what has happened over the last few years. Suffice it to say that Figgins has been in a two-year hitting slump. He has become the poster child for bad contracts, and I expect him to be on a number of “worst contract” lists in the future.

What do you do with a player like this?

The barriers to resolution are many. The solutions are limited. How do you get another team to take a weak-hitting, high-salary player off your hands? Even the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox have some standards. 

I have to imagine pursuing a trade is a waste of time. Just because Figgins has voiced his displeasure does not mean that the phone is going to start ringing off the hook in Jack Z’s office. If I were the Seattle management, I would send out a group text message to all the other GMs and say, “Chone Figgins is available. We will take ANYTHING.”

When that yields nothing, the Mariners need to take action.  Cut the player and eat the contract.

Obviously the Mariners are not in a financial position where they can afford to just dump expensive contracts. However, enough is enough. This deal has been a failure, and it is time to move on. I do not blame Jack Z for this deal. Every free agent contract is a risk, and sometimes players just do not adjust to their new environment.

Is there any hope of redemption at this point? That seems doubtful. In the last three years, Figgins has hit .259, .189 and .181 for the season. Does management really believe that Chone will suddenly rebound to his .298 average of 2009?  I suppose anything is possible, but conventional wisdom says that the time for serious improvement has passed.

Figgins will turn 35 in January. His confidence at the plate appears to be shot. I do not see this as a prime scenario for a reclamation project.

It is time. Cut him. Bring up someone from the minors. They cannot hit much worse. 

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Why the Miami Marlins Should Offer Heath Bell for Seattle’s Chone Figgins

The Miami Marlins signed Heath Bell in the offseason as part of their expensive and aggressive push to win in their new stadium for 2012.

If anything has gone over worse than the dancing Marlins statue in center field, it has been Heath Bell’s first year in Florida.

He has fallen in and out of the closer role, seeing his ERA balloon to 5.34 as of this writing. He gives up more than a hit an inning, and his WHIP is an amazing 1.610. He isn’t walking many batters, but that seems to be because he is giving up so many hits.

He has blown seven of his 26 save opportunities and has been the very symbol of this disappointing season in South Florida.

And good news, Marlins fans! He is signed for the next two years.

It would probably be best for Bell to have a change of scenery. But how can the Marlins move him and his $18 million guaranteed?

Obviously, the first call would be to the Dodgers to see if they are willing to take on even more big bucks for rotten contracts.

Failing that, the Marlins need to find a partner who also wants to move a player needing a change.

The Vernon Wells and John Lackeys of the world make too much money. But the Marlins, the team at the furthest point Southeast in the major leagues, should look clear across the country to the Northwest and the Seattle Mariners.

They have Chone Figgins, whose time away from the Angels has also been a disappointment. Virtually all of his stats dropped in 2010, his first year in Seattle.

And that season was by far his best. His average has plummeted to sub .190. He has 22 extra base hits total in the past two seasons combined. And his walk total is falling like a rock as well.

He is owed $17 million over the next two seasons if he gets 600 plate appearances in 2013.

Here is the proposed deal: Have the Mariners pick up the option and send Figgins and $1 million to the Marlins for Heath Bell and a minor leaguer.

The Mariners would get a veteran pitcher entering a pitchers park. Bell would pitch alongside closer Tom Wilhelmsen and young relievers Charlie Furbush and Lucas Luetge, as their bullpen is strong enough to have a veteran in a smaller role.

The Mariners would also get a minor leaguer that would be the equivalent of getting a draft pick for Figgins had they let him go via free agency. Chances are they would never have offered Figgins arbitration, so the farmhand would be an extra bonus.

Meanwhile the Marlins would remove the tension of using Bell and would have the versatile Figgins on their roster.

Cut from the same speedy and hustling cloth as Ozzie Guillen, perhaps Figgins could be a useful tool for a National League team. He can come in as a pinch runner and fill in in the outfield and infield. Plus he would bring a veteran presence to the bench that goes with 35 career playoff games and a World Series title.

The trade may not work. Figgins might be buried on the bench in Miami, and Bell could be shelled in the American League.

But we already know the players are not working where they are currently playing now.

How bad could a change be for them? It’s certainly worth traveling 3,355 miles to find out.

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Fantasy Baseball 2012: 5 Ways to Replace Jacoby Ellsbury on Your Roster

Here are five ways to recover the numbers lost from Jacoby Ellsbury‘s six- to eight-week absence from the Red Sox lineup (dislocated shoulder)…without necessarily gutting your fantasy roster.

(That may be a lie.)  


Option No. 1: Grab Cody Ross off waivers

OK, so this isn’t the most exciting way to start a column, but with Carl Crawford (hand) still nursing his way back into the lineup, Ross will undoubtedly be granted full-time at-bats for the foreseeable future.

For the 2008-09 seasons with the Marlins, he combined for 46 homers, 163 RBI and 132 runs. Given his age (31) and the cozy dimensions of Fenway Park, Ross has a chance to replicate the numbers of years past—at least on a per-game basis.

Since the Red Sox are already thin with starting pitching and the bullpen, I doubt club execs will make a substantial trade for an outfielder in Ellsbury’s stead. The team’s best minor-league option may be Bryce Brentz…but even that seems like a short-term step down from Ross and his 22-homer potential.


Option No. 2: Target Jason Bay, Mike Carp, Will Venable, Brandon Belt or Jon Jay in free-agent waivers

All five outfielders certainly have their warts—Bay and Belt are slumping, Carp’s been hurting and Venable and Jay are routinely overlooked in fantasy circles—but hey, that’s why they’re free agents in most leagues.

Astros center fielder Jordan Schafer would have been the best available Ellsbury clone earlier in the week, but you’ll never go unwanted in fantasyland after collecting five steals in a 48-hour period. He’s gone.

Look, unless you’re playing in a 12-team league full of absentee borderline moronic owners, it’s going to be a tough road without Ellsbury. We’re talking about a top-six outfielder (although no one should expect 32 homers again) and top-15 overall asset. It’s nearly impossible to flourish in his absence.

But in short bursts, Bay (four-category factor), Carp (25-75 guy in the minors), Venable (20-steal potential), Jay (poor man’s Martin Prado) and Belt (future NL batting champion) can bring a level of fantasy respect to anyone’s team.


Option No. 3: Grab Chone Figgins off waivers, or trade for Mark Trumbo

Before Opening Day, Figgins was only 3B-eligible and one of baseball’s more anemic corner-infield options. But with a seemingly permanent spot in the outfield (left or center field) after just nine games, Figgins (.270, 4 RBI, 1 SB) should garner full outfield eligibility sometime in the next 10 days, making him attractive to owners who crave modest three-category success and dual-position versatility.

Regarding the 1B-eligible Trumbo, he should have full 3B eligibility sometime around April 25. Depending on how the Angels handle the Mike Trout and Vernon Wells situations, Trumbo (29 HRs in 2011) could see up to 30 games in the outfield this season.

For owners of Ellsbury (105 RBI, 119 runs, 32 steals last year) and Emilio Bonifacio (2B-3B-OF eligibility), a sneaky Trumbo acquisition would subsequently bump Bonifacio to the outfield spot in Ellsubry’s place.

As a secondary move, I highly endorse the act of grabbing Trout (baseball’s No. 1 prospect) off waivers ASAP, in anticipation of a May call-up that will be permanent (and enriching).

Bottom line: Replacing Ellsbury’s eight-week production doesn’t necessarily demand the plug-and-play addition of an outfielder. It can also come from a simple redistribution of current assets, prompted by a modest trade.

And for those with grander thoughts… 


Option No. 4: Trade your Round 1 superstar

During spring training, Ellsbury had an Average Draft Position value of 15, meaning the majority of his owners also grabbed Joey Votto, Robinson Cano, Justin Verlander, Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez or Prince Fielder with their low Round 1 selection.

The quickest way to overhaul the composition of your roster involves a simple six-word email/message-board dictum to the rest of the league: “(Superstar’s name) is on the block!” This should draw immediate responses, in the general form of four trade proposals:

  • 1-for-1 value: Jon Lester, Dan Haren, Nelson Cruz, Hunter Pence or Starlin Castro
  • 1-for-2 value: Melky Cabrera and Bud Norris
  • 3-for-2: (Round 1 star)/Yovani Gallardo/Jordan Schafer for Ian Kennedy/Matt Holliday
  • 2-for-3: (Round 1 star)/Matt Moore for Jason Heyward/Jason Kipnis/Max Scherzer 


Option No. 5: Put Ellsbury on the trade block

The final solution requires certain fantasy owners to perform an honest assessment of their rosters and prospects for the entire season.

1. Can my team endure/absorb the two-month loss of Ellsbury?
2. What are the chances I’ll be in ninth, 10th, 11th or 12th place overall on June 10?
3. What other areas (outfield aside) are in need of significant help?
4. What categories or positions could not sustain a key injury?

If the above answers are roundly negative, it may be time to make the early executive decision of selling Ellsbury to the highest bidder, as a means of fortifying the outfield and one other area of concern.

After all, if your club was barely a pennant contender before Ellsbury’s right shoulder had a fluke encounter with Rays shortstop Reid Brignac, then perhaps it’s time to cut your April losses…and hope for a profitable return in May and June.

This is where it pays not to get too attached to original draftees. Very few teams can win a roto championship without disrupting the core, via trade, at some point; and whether these hard decisions occur in mid-April or late July, change is inevitable.


Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.

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Seattle Mariners: Lineup Switch Proves Smart in Win Against Oakland

I know it’s only the third game of the season, but you can’t help but get your hopes up when watching a game like this one. 

On Friday night, in what felt like the real season opener, the Mariners bats came alive. They put up seven runs on 13 hits against the Oakland A’s, including seven hits and five run against ace Brandon McCarthy. And no bat was bigger than new leadoff man Chone Figgins, who finished the game 3-for-4 with two RBI. 

After a rough two games in the Tokyo Dome last week, where he only recorded one hit in eight at-bats, Figgins seemed to be more focused at the plate back on domestic soil. Granted, two of his hits were bunts and the other was a bloop single, but he still got on base. And that’s all that manager Eric Wedge and M’s fan can ask for after his struggles at the plate over the past two years. 

When Figgins gets on base it opens up many opportunities thanks to his speed, as shown when he recorded his first stolen base of the young season. It also gives Dustin Ackley the chance to thrive in the situations he was made for, which he also did against the A’s in going 3-for-5. If those two can get on base as well as they did Friday night, then it sets up the ideal situation Seattle was hoping for when they moved 10-year leadoff man, Ichiro, to the three hole. 

Though Ichiro was hitless on the night, he came through with a sac fly to bring in the team’s seventh run of the game. If he can get productive outs on an off night, wait till he’s playing like the Ichiro we all know and love with runners on (career .334 with RISP). 

When the top three players in your lineup have the potential to be three of the best in the league when playing at their best, you are guaranteed to see the numbers soar in the win column. Once the young power trio of Justin Smoak, Jesus Montero and Mike Carp (who bat 4-6 in the lineup) all get into their grooves, the Mariners will be one team to watch out for.

The key for me is Figgins though, and if he can get on base by any means necessary like he did in Oakland, then things are looking good for the Seattle Mariners

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Chone Figgins Leading off for the Seattle Mariners Will End in Disaster

Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge recently made a groundbreaking decision to move Ichiro to the No. 3 hole and have Chone Figgins and Dustin Ackley hit 1-2 at the top of the order.

I have no problem with Ichiro hitting No. 3; I believe the time has come for Ichiro to start utilizing his power more than his speed and finesse.

What I’m still trying to wrap my head around is Figgins leading off after two embarrassingly bad seasons.

Who could’ve possibly thought this was a good idea?

His OBP (on-base-percentage) last year was .241. That wasn’t his batting average, that was his OBP!  His batting average was a mind-boggling bad .188 in 81 games last year.

It is possible that he went through some miracle transformation over the offseason, but then again he is 34 years old and hasn’t been relevant at the plate since 2009.  According to his WAR (Wins Above Replacement), he’s actually been one of the worst players in the majors since he came to Seattle.

Considering the money they Mariners are paying him, I wouldn’t say anything if they put Figgins at the bottom of the lineup just so they could get some bang for their buck.

There is no reason for him to leadoff; a leadoff hitter needs to have a extremely high OBP. His job is to get on base; that’s what Ichiro has been doing for the last decade.



I have no problem with Ackley batting No. 2. He is one of the best pure hitting prospects in the game.  He sprays line drives all over the ballpark, a perfect No. 2 lefty.

There are other candidates to lead off for the Mariners.

Franklin Guiterrez is an intriguing option.  Guti enters hot and cold streaks, but overall I think he is a much butter leadoff option than Figgy.

I’m all for second chances, but let Figgins prove himself at the bottom of the lineup, and if he can prove he can handle the responsibilities, then give him a chance.

With Ichiro hitting No. 3, I think the Mariners expect him to get more RBIs than home runs.  Which is OK.

With runners on base, Ichiro can be dangerous with his ability to simply put the ball in play and put the game in motion.

Unfortunately, with Figgins leading off, I’m not sure how many runners on base there will be for Ichiro.

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Felix Hernandez in Midseason Form as Seattle Mariners Dominate in Season Opener

Everything looked a bit different on Opening Day today as I watched the Mariners after six months of waiting. Maybe it was because of the new ROOT Sports look instead of FSN. Maybe it was all the changes the M’s had made to their team in the offseason.

Maybe it was the fact that we were missing Dave Niehaus and his sweet, sweet voice…I found my eyes misty as I watched the pre-game Opening Day introduction narrated by Niehaus.

Or maybe it was that the Mariners actually had some offense tonight (too soon?). Regardless, there were some positive signs to build from after tonight’s ball game.

The M’s stranded several runners early on, but showed great patience at the plate.

Oakland A’s starter Trevor Cahill lasted just 4 2/3 innings, throwing a whopping 105 pitches, as the Mariners hitters forced the ace to exit early and then capitalized on the weak bullpen.

“[Eric Wedge] was in the dugout telling us, ‘We’re knocking on the door. Keep going, keep grinding,’ ” Mariners DH Jack Cust said.

Chone Figgins showed a rare flash of power as he cranked a solo shot off reliever Craig Breslow in the sixth inning, putting the M’s ahead and matching his entire season home run total from last year.

After a Cust walk and a Justin Smoak double in the seventh, Oakland’s defensive play melted down and allowed the Mariners to score three easy runs to widen the lead to 6-2.

M’s batters walked a combined seven times, demonstrating outstanding patience and an ability to put up runs and make King Felix’s night much easier.

Speaking of Felix Hernandez (or should I say ‘Larry Bernandez’?), the ace picked up right where he left off after his Cy Young-winning campaign last season.

After an understandably shaky first inning in which he gave up a two-run shot to Josh Willingham, Felix settled down and retired 24 of the next 27 batters.

Felix was dominant, allowing just five hits in all nine innings of work. He had ‘just’ five strikeouts, but got 15 ground-ball outs as he forced the A’s into submission.

“If you talk about Opening Day, you can’t ask for much more than that,” Wedge said of Felix’s performance.

Overall, the offense showed the potential for productivity. Ichiro did what he needed to by getting on base and stealing his way into scoring position. Smoak showed some pop as he belted a double to initiate the three-run seventh inning.

Miguel Olivo contributed well to the offense, going 2 for 5 with an RBI and showing that maybe the catcher position won’t be the black hole offensively that it was last season.

On Saturday, the A’s and M’s square off again as Jason Vargas faces Brett Anderson at 6:05 PT.


Ichiro is one hit shy of tying Edgar Martinez’s franchise record of 2,247 hits.

Felix Hernandez was the first Mariner to throw a complete game on Opening Day.

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Best of the Best: Top 7 Seattle Mariners Team Commercials

Every year the Mariners come out with a new set of five or six commercials in which they feature their most exciting players.  This year we got to meet Larry Bernandez and watch Ichiro hit tic-tacs.  The marketing team always comes up with something pretty clever.

Here’s a look at some of the best:

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MLB Spring Training 2011: 10 Mariners Questions That Need to Be Sorted Out

How do you fix a team that has lost 100 games twice in three seasons?

That’s the glaring question that general manager Jack Zduriencik and manager Eric Wedge are tasked with in 2011.

After a few nice trades and additions propelled the team a giant step forward in 2009, they took another giant step back in 2010. Though most assumed that ’09 team overachieved, the additions to the club last season led those same pundits to believe we’d at least see a similar outcome, perhaps even a better one.

With pitchers and catchers doing bullpen sessions and position players trickling in ahead of the mandatory report date this Friday, the team is getting a chance to have a hard, long look at their squad early.

It’s a good thing, too, because there are questions that must be answered post-haste.

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Seattle Mariners: 10 Bold Predictions for the Team’s 2011 Season

It’s like hitting the big red reset button.

Spring comes and players report to Arizona. Some have new looks with their hair or physical condition. Some spent the winter hibernating while others never stopped to enjoy the downtime.

You never know what you’ll get from your team heading into a new season. Unfortunately, the 2010 Mariners saw that these surprises aren’t always as sweet as the contents of a box of chocolates.

So we turn the page to 2011 and find out what surprises lie ahead. Here are 10 of those that we might (maybe, possibly, could) see.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Three-Team Trade Could See Blue Jays Landing Kevin Kouzmanoff

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners, and Oakland Athletics are discussing the framework of a deal that would see the Blue Jays acquire a third baseman.

The Mariners are looking to unload third baseman Chone Figgins and it looks like the Athletics are putting together a package to try and acquire him. In the move, according to Olney, you will likely see Athletics third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff sent to the Blue Jays as part of the package.

A guy like Jason Frasor is probably a prime trade target for the Mariners’ woeful bullpen, outside of David Aardsma and Brandon League from the Blue Jays. Another guy they may look at is Edwin Encarnacion, but I doubt he would be very successful in Safeco Field, where power hitters go to die essentially.

This may all just be speculation, but the basis for the deal makes sense for all sides.

For the Mariners they clear some money off the books and open a roster spot for Dustin Ackley to take over at second and possibly move Brendan Ryan to third, or call up a prospect from Tacoma such as Carlos Truinfel.

For the Athletics, they appear to be making a playoff push, or at least an attempt to try and compete with the Texas Rangers, who recently signed Adrian Beltre, and the Los Angeles Angels, who recently dealt for Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells.

Adding Figgins, who is a decent gaps hitter, and a great base stealer, would at least give the A’s some speed back that they lost in the earlier trade with the Blue Jays. The deal saw center fielder Rajai Davis head the other way for relief pitching prospects Tryston Magnuson and Daniel Farquhar.

Lastly, for the Jays, Kouzmanoff is a decent power hitter, who, of course, has a low on-base percentage. Like most Blue Jays, he has a tough time getting on base with any consistency. But one thing he does have is good defence at a pretty fair price.

Kouzmanoff, in my opinion, has the potential to hit 25-30 home runs if acquired by the Blue Jays. Having played his last few seasons in pitchers ballparks like in Oakland and San Diego, Kouzmanoff has seen a slight decline in power numbers.

A change of scenery might do Kouzmanoff some good in this instance.

The Jays are more likely to go after him as opposed to someone like Michael Young because a.) He’s cheaper, b.) He won’t take up space for Brett Lawrie and lastly c.) He’s younger with more power potential than many people think.

Time will only tell if this rumour does in fact come true, but for me, this would be another win-win move for Anthopolous if he does in fact follow through with this rumoured deal.

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