August 25, 2011

Off day reflections: Where are you Chone Figgins?

Jered Weaver’s press conference became a hot topic around baseball circles everywhere; from radio shows, to internet message boards – everyone was talking about what a “breath of fresh air” Weaver was and how their respect for the 28 year old Cy Young Award candidate had grown by leaps and bounds.

Weaver chose to follow his heart instead of his bank account and fans and baseball folks in general took note. It’s a wonder more baseball players don’t follow suit.

Which brings me to a question; I wonder what Chone Figgins is thinking these days?

Figgins signed a four year, $36 million contract with the Seattle Mariners following the 2009 season. He went from being a gold-glove caliber third baseman and a catalyst for one of the best teams in baseball to being a forgotten man on a last place team in a hurry.

In 2010 Figgins went for the money and in the process found himself in a new environment, playing a new position (going from 3B to 2B) and hitting in a new spot in the lineup (from lead off to hitting second). He was moved back to 3B this year, but he still hasn’t been the same. Today he finds himself on the injured list – but even if he was healthy; he would probably not be playing much. You see he’s hitting just .188 with an OBP of .243 in 288 at-bats.

I hope he likes overcast days and plenty of rain.

Figgins hasn’t had much to smile about and if you have ever seen Figgy smile, you would know it’s the kind of thing that lights up a room. From the moment he put on a Mariner uniform he never looked the same to me. I didn’t see that familiar sparkle in his eyes. He looked out of place and everything that has happened to him since makes me wonder if he has any regrets.

Speaking of regrets, it appears that plenty of Mariner fans have some whenever they discuss Figgins. There’s a perception that he quit on the team. Most hoped he would somehow be traded at the deadline; which came and went without such a move.

The happy-go-lucky, do-anything-for-the team guy we knew in Anaheim has appeared a bit cranky and hard to deal with in Seattle. He’s had a few public displays of frustration and it’s become somewhat apparent that his time in Seattle hasn’t gone the way he had hoped or planned.

Things have been so bad – that his batting average even had an impact on beer prices at a local bar in Seattle. In May it was reported that Norm’s Eatery and Ale House in Seattle was selling Widmer beer for whatever Figgins was hitting. If he was hitting. 202, the beer was priced at $2.02.

I don’t drink beer – but if someone did that with Jeff Mathis’ batting average, they might go out of business. Sorry, I couldn't resist.

In June of this year, a blog called “Outside is overrated” did a piece justifying the author’s dislike of Figgins.

Another columnist; Jim Moore of the Seattle Post Intelligencer wrote on May 31, 2011, “He’s done nothing to justify his $36 million contract and came off like a jerk during the Don Wakamatsu dust-up last year, making it doubly hard to be sympathetic. If he played in New York or Philadelphia, this guy would have been chewed up and spat out already. In Seattle, the media have been relatively soft on him.”

More from “The Flagrant Fan:” Chone Figgins bounced back some in the second half last season and he will probably come back a bit in this second half. But this is not the player the Mariners thought they were getting and as we have seen, if the season ended tomorrow, Figgins would have the seventh worst OPS since 1979 for players with more than 250 at bats. It's been mind-boggling to say the least.

There is literally page after page of stuff like this all over the internet.

It’s difficult to find anything positive about Figgins, although “Safeco Faithful” gave it shot with a piece titled “You are the problem, not Chone Figgins.”

I feel badly for Figgy. He was a big part of the Angels success during their run at American League West pennants. It pains me to see him struggle so much and for that infectious smile of his to be MIA.

Would things have turned out differently had Figgy stayed in Anaheim? One can only speculate, but I would bet Figgins would like to go back in time to find out.

In light of what Weaver just did and coupled with what happened to Figgins, I have to wonder if more players aren’t considering their futures a little differently these days. Just wondering.

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