Thursday, May 24, 2012

Leave Chone Figgins alone (on the bench)

Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times Mariners Blog wrote an article today condemning the Mariners' decision to send Casper Wells to AAA in lieu of designating struggling infielder Chone Figgins for assignment. Baker makes the argument that Figgins is holding back the rebuilding plan the Mariners organization has; that he's single-handedly retarding the progress of the organization and the talented youth we have in the minor leagues. But Figgins is, well, he's nothing. He's a null value. He's an expensive null, sure, but he's still a null value, and doing anything with him at this point would actually be more of a detraction to the organization than letting him sit on the bench through the rest of his contract.

Face it, Figgins isn't a tradeable asset anymore. And while you might be able to pull off some ludicrous lopsided deal for Jack Squat (I think he's a catcher), where you eat the bulk of Figgins' contract and get some bullshit player in return, it'll never be a trade that benefits you in any way other than freeing yourself from Figgins. And unless he goes after manager Eric Wedge like he did Don Wakamatsu two years ago, what's the point? Every roster needs bench players. Every roster needs utility players and veterans to help guide youngsters through the day-to-day life of Major League Baseball. You need pinch-runners and defensive substitutions and late-scratch fill-ins. 162 games is a lot of freaking games, and depth is something every single team in the majors needs. And while Figgins' contract isn't that of a utility player, that's what he is now. Stop trying to make Figgins something that he isn't. He's a utility player. That's it. It's that simple. So, Geoff Baker and everyone else who's clamoring for a Figgins pink slip, forget the contract, forget the money owed -- the Mariners aren't going to get anything of value in return -- and embrace Figgins for his new multi-purpose role.

As far as what's "best for the organization," Figgins sitting on the bench is infinitely better for the organization than calling up a talented youngster from the minors to sit on the bench and stop getting regular plate appearances. The Mariners have far too many young players still working their way up and down the depth chart as it is; adding another to the mix would be pointless, which is obviously why they sent Casper Wells down to the minors. Wells is a talented player, jury's still out on how talented, but having him sit on the bench watching games didn't help him or the organization in any way. Sending him to the minors to get regular at bats did. So bravo to the Mariners for handling both Wells and Figgins the right way.

Who cares if Chone Figgins doesn't get more at bats this season? Who cares if he's "wasting away" on the bench? Who cares if he doesn't have the opportunities to boost his (non-existent) trade value to move him for another utility player who maybe costs less (but you still end up paying out on Figgins' contract anyway). The Mariners need guys like Chone Figgins, guys like Munenori Kawasaki (Mune should be playing more often, but that's another story), who fill a role and don't need 600 plate appearances to be an asset to the team. Yes, Chone Figgins is an asset to the Mariners (it's weird to type that), and as long as he's not a distraction or a disruption, he will continue to have a role and a purpose on this team.

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