Why the Mariners need to bench Chone Figgins

Jun 23, 2011

He's not hitting or fielding well. His manager is losing patience. Fans are booing him. Yet, there's not much the Mariners can do about third baseman Chone Figgins. KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says the best thing to do is bench him.

Even Figgins admits things are bad. He says he feels out of rhythm on offense and defense. In a story by Larry Stone with The Seattle Times,  Mariners manager Eric Wedge appeared frustrated, saying Figgins needs to get more aggressive about turning things around:

"We're trying to give him opportunities to get himself going, but it's a fine line, and we're sure as hell walking it."

Art Thiel said Figgins was highly touted when he was acquired as a free agent from the Angels at the end of 2009. But now, with Figgins batting .190 and making errors at third base that are costing runs, the team doesn't have many options about what to do with him.

"It's really clear that the Mariners are in a dilemma like I've never seen. There's no good answer."

They Can't Trade Him

Art says Figgins is playing too poorly and costs too much money to be an attractive trade. The Mariners are locked into a guaranteed contract to pay him $20 million over the next two-and-a-half years.

They Can't Let Him Go

If they got rid of Figgins, Art says the Mariners would have to "eat" his $20 million dollar salary, at a time when they're already paying $12 million from a guaranteed contract to Milton Bradley, who was let go earlier in the season.

They Can't Send Him to the Minors

Art says a player with a big guaranteed contract doesn't get sent down to Triple-A. Besides that, he says Figgins has already maxed out his time in the minors (meaning he's out of options).

Time to Bench Him

Art says the team needs to make Figgins a reserve player, move Adam Kennedy to third base and keep new Mariner Dustin Ackley at second.

"This is one of the worst player predicaments the Mariners have ever had. In a team that's had a bundle of them - that's saying something. It's too bad but the less Chone Figgins plays for this team, the better off they're going to be."

You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest.