Chone Figgins didn’t play in the Mariners’ loss Tuesday, but in the last three games he’s started, he’s gone 0-for-15 with six strikeouts from the leadoff spot. All three games turned into one-run defeats for Seattle.
Figgins is currently batting .189 in 95 at-bats for the season. He’s struck out 28 times already. Of course, he hit .188 in 288 at-bats last year.
Despite his struggles, Figgins was simply handed a starting job and the leadoff spot by the Mariners this season. Of course, his contract had a lot to do with that — the Mariners were hoping to find someone willing to take on a portion of the $17 million he was due through 2013. Figgins, though, hasn’t helped his cause there, and it’s doubtful anyone would take him unless he came at close to the minimum salary. Since that’s the case, the Mariners need to forget about money for a while and start playing their younger, better players.
With Mike Carp back from the DL this week, Figgins simply doesn’t belong in the Seattle lineup any longer. Kyle Seager looks like the long-term choice at third. Carp is a poor defensive left fielder, but he needs to play. Michael Saunders has done a nice job in center so far, though he’s cooling off now.
The Mariners don’t need to release Figgins, but they should be thinking of him as a utilityman, not a starter. And certainly not as a fixture in the leadoff spot. The Mariners are in better shape now than they have been in a couple of years, but it’s hard to take them seriously when they’re still playing guys for financial reasons.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.