Who knew Chone Figgins was a head case.
He played himself out of the starting lineup in Seattle, alienated the M’s fan base, and only Alex Rodriquez has received more boos from Mariner fans, and Figgins received his boos wearing a Mariner uniform, not a Ranger uniform.
Figgins is attempting a comeback with the Los Angeles Dodgers and in an interview with the Los Angeles Times we learn what precipitated his humpty-dumpty fall from grace. When asked what went wrong in Seattle, Figgins answered, “It kind of says it all when you signed a $38 million contract (four years) and they pinch hit for you in the fourth game.” The implication is that his confidence was shattered, that he felt the M’ lost faith in him. What a devastating blow!
He hit .259 that first year (2010), his best with Seattle. He then hit .188 and .181. So Chone is blaming his three year failure on being pinch hit for in his 4th game. He couldn’t recover over three years? And what are the Dodger brass going to make out of this? I don’t know about them, but to me it says he can not accept responsibility for his failure. It was lack of confidence in himself-if indeed it was-not the Mariner’s. If you can’t accept your own failures, instead blaming others, possibly even teammates, what does that say about your character? His quote reflects a whiner, not a man who accepts responsibility, and nobody likes a whiner.
It also says he is not a competitor. If he wanted his starting job it was his to take by playing the way he did for the Angels. Instead he sat and moped and whined. Maybe, as some suggest, it was that big contract that did him in. There have been players who failed after getting big money. Whether the pressure of living up to expectations, feeling they must put up big numbers to justify the contract, or once they get the big money, they slack is the question.
But Figgins humpty-dumpty fall being blamed on the Mariners leaves Chone with egg on his face. And all the Dodgers men couldn’t put him together again.
No whining in my baseball E-novel based on 1911 New York Giants: http://www.amazon.com/Loonies-Dugout-Terry-Nelson-ebook/dp/B00EEN7YNA/ref=la_B00EEVHN38_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1393522218&sr=1-3
Going into play July 23rd, 2012, Seattle was 42-55, thirteen games below .500. Sounds like most Mariner teams of the past decade. But after that date they were 33-32, one game above .500. What happened on July 23rd was that Ichiro was traded to the Yankees. Seattle played better without him.
Coincidence? Perhaps, but consider that some players on the team felt Ichiro was not a team player. They don’t say so in public, but there have been interviews where players strongly hint that was the case. The old saw says veteran leadership is important, yet the two veterans that should supply leadership did not. Ichiro did not want to be the face of the franchise, went for individual numbers, did not want to bat lower in the order-until he was traded to the Yankees, and the other veteran Chone Figgins, was not only the biggest free agent flop, but sulked, and had the leadership of a lemming.
King Felix is the face of the franchise. He is approachable, smiles, and will lead the pitchers. And the Mariners have Michael Morse, a veteran who is approachable, likeable, wants to be a Mariner, wants to change the perception of the Mariners to other players in the league, and both he and Kendrys Morales can hit with power. They will provide protection for the still young Mariners, taking the pressure off Smoak, Ackley, et al.
The Mariner clubhouse will be more enjoyable because there is better chemistry. So says Brendan Ryan who thinks this years team will be more close-knit. When talking about last year, though not naming names, it was clear, the clubhouse and what happened when the press was not around was not a smooth sailing cruise.
Of course the Oakland A’s in the mid 1970s’s were contentious, often fought with each other in public and private, had a discordant clubhouse, a fractured team with more hate than love for each other. But they won and won and won. It was a different era. They could play between the lines. I don’t think in todays age that can happen.
But the fact Seattle played better without Ichiro; said goodbye to Figgins, and traded Vargas; while adding big bats, moving in the fences, signing their ace through the next seven years, and having young players either on the roster or in Tacoma ready to move forward, points the Good Ship Mariner in the right direction. They just need to follow their compass and not get lost.
In a recent interview Jack Zduriencik, Mariner GM, may have tipped his hand about off season plans.
Nick Swisher, soon to visit Cleveland, and Michael Bourn, are the next two obvious choices. But if either signs with Seattle, they would have to give up a second round pick. Jack said Seattle has good success in the draft and likes the way they are building a team, indicating that he may not want to give up a pick.
Jack, give up the pick, this is not the NFL. The baseball amateur draft is not as scientific as pro football. It is a crapshoot.
If Jack passes on those two, that leaves Cody Ross (22 homers with Boston last year), Scott Hairston, Delmon Young, Raul Ibanez, who has twice been with Seattle, and Seattle native Grady Sizemore.
Sizemore makes sense because he has been injured since 2010. He would probably play for free and would fit with Jason Bay, also injury plagued the last two seasons.
They also wanted a veteran and Raul Ibanez fits that definition since he is nearing 50. Okay, he is not that near 50, but if you bring him back for the third time, why not Darnell Coles again, or Diego Segui. They might have something left.
Those names are what Seattle usually end up doing, that being cheap signings. It has been reported they offered Josh Hamilton four guaranteed years at $100 million with two option years based on performance.The Angels offer was better and Hamilton does not have to carry the load as he would in Seattle. The Angels have Pujols and Trout, so Josh is just another star on a potential playoff team.
But the Mariners did try. And when they do get a signing like Chone Figgins or Adrian Beltre, fans end up disappointed.
Jack has also said that next years free agents look better than this years class. Does that mean the Mariners are going to save the money they were going to spend this year until next season?
Going the trade route is still an option, but Jack is a cautious skipper in the trade route waters. Something will have to be done in the next six weeks. Spring Training is not that far off. Maybe the good ship Mariner will pick up some new passengers on the route to Arizona. Is James Baldwin available? Carlos Silva?
The news is not good. In fact it is downright scary.
Consider this: of all franchises in all sports, the lowly Seattle Mariners have seen the biggest drop in attendance. MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, group them all together and Mariner fans have left what they perceive as a sinking ship at a faster rate than anyone.
Between 2002 and 2012, according to the website 24/7 Wall Street, the attendance at Mariner games at Safeco dropped like a deadened bunt, to the thud of 51%.
Losing half your fan base in a decade says a lot. One can blame the economy and rising gas prices that keep those outside King County from going to many games, but that is, to some extent, a red herring.
The real problem is ownership and a string of poor General Managers who traded away promising rookies, or lost them to free agency, and signing, or trading for players who stunk up Seattle like rotting fish in a Pike Street Market dumpster. Adam Jones, Shin-Soo Choo, and Mike Morse are three former Mariners that have gone on to star for other teams. What a big difference thy could have made, had they stayed in Seattle.
Fans have sent a message to the Mariner brass. They are tired of bad player moves, they are tired of losing every season, they are tired rising ticket prices for mediocre teams, they are tired of bad community relations like ownership not wanting an arena built in the SoDo district.The message ownership sent was clear. They said they were interested in profits, not going to the World Series. Thank you Howard Lincoln. They were unwilling to spend money to bring in a winner. I can understand how over the years they became gun shy. Consider Chone Figgins. When they did try to land free agents, they were often burned. But that gets back to wrong decisions. Figgins and Ichiro were the same type of player, both singles hitters. Third base is a power slot. The signing made no sense.
But you still must spend money to make money. You can always make a profit, make up the money spent by fielding a winner, getting into the playoffs. More games, more marketing, more money. Fans in today’s age want to see a winner, especially when they are overpaying on seats and concessions. But the Mariners were content with profits they continued to make. Until recently.
I wonder if the brass has read the article that said the Mariners have dropped 51% of their fans. Are they now going to wake up? Are they now going to bring in the right players to get the good ship Mariner sailing fast in deep waters? Or are they going to continue to sail in shallow waters, probably running aground on a sandy beach on an uncharted island?
If the downward spiral continues, maybe the Mariners will follow the Sonics to Oklahoma City.
The Mariners said they have little interest in free agent outfielder Josh Hamilton. Length of contract and dollar amount is the reason. It is fiscally responsible, and baseball good sense. You don’t want to pay $25 million a year to anyone in his late thirties when production is questionable. It is far better to spend millions on the largest scoreboard screen in baseball. Everyone wants to attend a live baseball game and watch it on high-definition.
The Mariners recently concluded a meeting to discuss trades, free agents, and other contract issues. What took them so long? Were they busy familiarizing themselves with their new TV remote. Perhaps downloading Netflix movies like “Eight Men Out,” a fictional rendering of three innings during a Mariner game; or “The Natural,” the story of Chone Figgins” (a satire); “Field of Dreams,” the story of Mariner fan, Rip Van Winkle, who dreams the Mariners win the World Series. Fortunately for Winkle, he never wakes up, sleeping in eternal bliss; or the classic “It Happens Every Spring,” where once again Mariner hopes die early. (like Friday the 13th series, this baseball series has gone on too long); and finally “Bull Durham,” the story of all press releases from the Mariner front office coming from press agent Kevin Durham. And in case there is any confusion, the new Spielberg movie “Lincoln” is not about Mariner corporate dunderhead Harold Lincoln, but about some president over a century ago. By the way my review here http://terrynelson.net/lincoln.html
Anyway the Mariners are doing something. It is called watch and wait. I am tired of being patient. I want action. Miami and Toronto have been busy, Detroit signed Tori Hunter, teams are claiming players off waivers.
I watch the waiver wire. I get teletypes in my office. I check the Internet constantly, downloaded the free agent tracker. I email my Mariner insider. What I have learned is the Mariners claimed Scott Cousins. I did not know he was a baseball player. I thought he was a skater or something . I have lots of cousins, not sure I need another one.
I need a blockbuster. I need something to write about. Trader Jack where are you? Get me somebody.
Rumors during the baseball offseason should be taken with a grain of salt, even better, a whole salt shaker full of salt. Baltimore, it is said, have Josh Hamilton on their shopping list. And now Seattle is linked to the troubled outfielder. Hamilton reportedly wants a seven-year deal for $175 million. That is $25 million per season.
If Josh were a tea totaling, God-fearing, all-american eagle scout, who helps old ladies across the street, reads Dr. Seuss to cancer ridden children without TV cameras present, had a tattoo free body, loved Lawrence Welk music, and was 26 years old, that would be great deal.
We know none of that is true. Injuries limited him to 89 games in 2009, 133 games in 2010, and 121 games in 2011. But the big problem is Mr. Hooch. There have been alcoholics who have played baseball and many were successful. Hamilton has been a great hitter. He averages 35 homers over the last six years with 122 RBIS. That is production. He hit 43 in 2012 with 128 RBIS and a .285 average.
Terrific numbers. Alcohol is still a problem though. He has fallen off the Ranger horse a couple of times. To his credit, he fessed up, apologized, and got back on the horse. When you combine injuries, which can be a risk for any player, and Mr. Hooch, you have a high risk factor.
The biggest problem though is that he is 31 years old. If he insists on a 7 year contract, you are paying $25 million a year to a player through his mid-thirties up to 38. In baseball parlance you are paying way to much for a player whose best years most likely are behind him. Yes he still has three to four years where he could be very productive. But after that you are paying for a baseball senior citizen whose production is unlikely to be worth the money.
The Mariners gave big dollars to Chone Figgins. It probably was the biggest waste of money in Mariner history. If Hamilton bombs out like Figgins that could be devastating to the franchise. But the Mariners must do something. They need to make a big splash. They need to start winning. They need a bat. And they have the money.
Alex Gordon and Billy Butler from Kansas City would be good fit for the Mariners, but maybe the M’s could use a little bad boy image. If you are a riverboat gambler you say roll the dice. I am thinking it might be worth the roll. But then it is not my money.
I wonder if the Mariners have those dice in their grubby hands. I wonder if they are rolling them around in those sweaty palms. Are they going to roll them?
Chone Figgins said in an interview last week he wants out of Seattle. If he is having as much trouble leaving as he did getting hits, there are plenty of Mariner fans who will gladly show him the southbound lanes of I5.
In his first year with the Mariners Figgins hit a meager .259, far below his career average as well as fans expectations. In 2011 he hit .188 and in 2012 .181. If hitting below .200 was below the Mendoza line, then hitting below .190 is hitting below the Figgins line. There are many pitchers who hit better than Chone.
It has been a waste of money, one of the worst Mariner free agent signings in their mediocre history. And he is still owed around $15 million. I never liked the signing for two reasons. He is the same type of hitter that Ichiro was. A singles hitter. Having them bat one-two in the order was proposed because they both had speed. But Chone never liked batting number two, he was a leadoff hitter-at least in his mind. He was given that chance this season and he failed. The second reason is that he was moved from 2nd base to 3rd base, a position that is a power position and Figgins has no power. He is-or was-a 2nd baseman, leadoff hitter. He did not fit with Seattle.
When asked the other day about Figgin comments regarding his wanting out of Seattle, Jack Zduriencik, Seattle’s general manager, said, “that was not a smart thing to say.” I disagree. He should let everyone know his feelings, so the front office can be nudged to part ways with this lost cause.
Mariner fans want Figgins gone, and sooner, the better. Greenland would be a nice place. I have flown over that delightful place. It is a icy as Figgins character. Rumors are surfacing about Chone’s attitude, his personality, and that he is a cancer in the clubhouse. Whether true or not does not matter. The bottom line is Figgins must go.
Figgins is like that guy by the freeway exit with a sign asking for help. In Figgins case his sign reads: Out of hits. Please help. Anything will do.
The difference is that Chone has $15 million. But I will still pay his bus fare out of town. Or even the ferry.