Is the Chone Figgins era over yet?

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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.

The Nats are going to sign Francisco Rodriguez for some reason

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The Nationals bullpen is a tire fire. They’re about to add another tire. Per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Washington is about to sign free agent reliever Francisco Rodriguez.

K-Rod was released by the Tigers last week after posting an ERA of 7.82 over 28 appearances this season. He has a 1.658 WHIP, is allowing 11.9 hits per nine innings and is posting his highest walk rate in five years. Also worth noting: the Detroit Friggin’ Tigers decided that he was not good enough to be in their bullpen.

So, yeah, good luck with that Washington.

The Giants chemistry is suffering because a guy they all hated is gone

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I’ve spent years arguing with people about team chemistry. You know the battle lines on all of that now: people who talk a lot about team chemistry tend to attribute winning or losing to good or bad chemistry, respectively. I tend to think that characterizing chemistry is a retroactive exercise in which teams that win are happy and then cite their happiness as the reason and vice versa. Jim Leyland agrees with me, for what it’s worth, so I’m pretty happy with my take.

Not that I’ll claim a monopoly on wisdom here. I’ve never played on a professional baseball team. I don’t know what it’s like to try to prepare to play baseball while surrounded by jackwagons who don’t get along with anyone. I can’t imagine that makes life easier. Indeed, based on the testimony of players I have spoken to, I will grant that there is at least some intangible yet real benefit if everyone is happy an gelling. I dismiss team chemistry arguments for the most part, but if I ran a team I’d at least try to get rid of bad seeds if their bad seeding was not outweighed by seriously outstanding on-the-field play. You want your workers happy, folks.

All of which makes me wonder what the heck to do about this passage from Ken Rosenthal’s latest column. It’s about the reeling San Francisco Giants. They have all kinds of issues — their offense is putrid, their pitching isn’t much better and they’ve been without their ace most of the year — but today Rosenthal looks at their team chemistry. It’s a quiet and subdued clubhouse, he notes, and it has a lot of people wondering if something is wrong there. What could it be?

Sandoval, who was an often noisy and boisterous presence during his time with the club, departed as a free agent after that season. Pence has suffered a number of injuries in recent years and declined offensively, making it difficult for him to be as vocal as he was in the past. Some with the Giants muse that the team even misses Angel Pagan, who created an odd sort of unity because most of the players disliked him.

Read that last sentence again. And then go on with your talk about how team chemistry is a legitimate explanatory concept regarding what makes teams win or lose as opposed to a post-hoc rationalization of it.

Not that it’s not a good article overall. There’s some interesting stuff about the Giants’ bullpen culture. And, of course, we now know why no one signed Pagan last winter.