Saturday, December 05, 2009

Mariners Ink Chone Figgins

In a development that could seriously weaken the California Angels, Chone Figgins has apparently decided to sign with the Seattle Mariners in a deal worth about $9 million per year. The Mariners have not yet announced there intentions concerning Adrian Beltre who is in his option year with that team. The Mariners could still pick up Beltre's option, decline it or Beltre can also do either. Both Beltre and Figgins are fine fielding third baseman. Beltre is the more spectacular of the two. Figgins has some flexibility so if Beltre stays, Figgins can play elsewhere.

If in fact the Mariners are "replacing" Beltre with Figgins, the trade off isn't as positive as you would think. Would you guess, for example, that Beltre has the higher career OPS+? Would you also guess that Beltre is younger than Figgins? But Figgins is an excellent lead off man. But wait, the Mariners already have one of those. His name is Ichiro Suzuki. What are the chances that Suzuki will not bat lead off? Uh. None. So that takes away one of Figgins' strengths. He then becomes a powerless Number 2 hitter who will have Ichiro on base in front of him. The two can create havoc of course with the stolen base threat. But until 2009 when Beltre suffered from a painful shoulder injury that eventually required surgery, Beltre produced good power numbers over his career which the Mariners will miss.

The Fan thinks that Beltre is poised for a bounce back year, especially if he signs in the National League where he had some great years. Figgins is useful as on on base threat with good speed (his caught stealing rate did increase this past year) and can play a handful of positions. But there is a strong possibility that Beltran could be the more valuable player overall this coming year, especially if his shoulder is healed and he is again healthy.

The biggest thing this signing does is weaken what the Angels do. They rely on aggressive base running and good defense to keep them in the hunt in the AL West. Figgins provided both of those things the past few years for the Angels and was a big part of their success. Of course, it cannot be forgotten that he utterly tanked in the past few post seasons, but you have to get to the post season before you can think about who does well once they get there.

The Fan isn't sure if this is a good deal for the Mariners or not. Beltre is a good player, much better than he's given credit for. But he was expensive and he's had some injury in his history. Figgins should help clog the bases along with Ichiro. But what will the Mariners have behind them to drive the pair in?

Desmond DeChone Figgins is a fun player that can really spark a team. He is also 31 and should see his speed diminish over the length of this contract. Once his speed is gone, what else does he have to offer? Well, he should get on base his share of times, and that is always a good thing.

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