Looking ahead to the 2011 season for the Seattle Mariners, who will open spring training Feb. 13, we’re going to evaluate the probable roster - and players likely to be on it at some point in the season.
The scouting reports will be just that, including evaluations from a variety of scouts, coaches and managers. Some don’t mind us using their names, some do. Teams are funny about such things.
Consider it a refresher course on the Mariners: Even if you know the numbers, you’ll read what major league scouts think of the players and can compare that with your own observations.
We’ll start with infielder Chone Figgins.
Chone Figgins, 2BBats: Switch-hitterThrows: RightHeight: 5-8Weight: 180Age: 322010 salary: $8 million
2010 stats: .258 with 42 stolen bases, 62 runs and 74 walks
Batted .286 after the All-Star break and a brutal start to his first season in Seattle and increased his hit total in each month of the year. Enroute to a team-leading 42 steals, Figgins became the first Mariner ever to steal two bases on Opening Day. Asked to play second base for the first time in his career, Figgins committed 18 errors there - but gave the team more range and better double play turns than Jose Lopez had. “He’s a puzzle,” Rays scout Roger Jongewaard said. “When you don’t think he’s an infielder, he plays pretty good. When you think he’s made the adjustment, he’ll play poorly.”
Take your pick: Figgins batted .200 in April, .220 in May and publicly criticized then-manager Don Wakamatsu for dropping him from second to ninth in the batting order. After apparently loafing on a play, Figgins was pulled from the game by Wakamatsu - then had to be pulled away from his manager in an ugly dugout display. “I don’t know if you win with Chone Figgins,” Jongewaard said. “I don’t know if he’s an All-Star player, and you need those to win.”
Summing up Figgins's 2010
The first year of a lucrative four-year contract was as disaster, on and off the field for Figgins, who was as responsible for Wakamatsu’s demise as any single player. Yes, he stole bases and drew walks, but he also struck out a career-high 117 times. Figgins didn’t hit above .271 in any month until September, when he batted .322.
Looking to 2011
Whether Figgins opens the year at second or third base remains uncertain, but he must make that transition, along with batting second instead of hitting in his preferred leadoff spot. Figgins skill-set at the plate is much like Ichiro’s - a slashing line drive hitter, a more aggressive base-stealer, a table setter. He’s hardly the only free agent to struggle in his first season with a new club, but Figgins has much to prove to the team and it’s fans. “I’ve always thought Figgins was better in the outfield than the infield, and that he’s not a player worth the kind of money Seattle paid him,” Jongewaard said. “But he’s proven me wrong before.”