The big storyline that is brewing around our youth oriented Seattle Mariners this Spring Training has to do with our aging veterans; Ichiro and Figgins.
First, Manager Eric Wedge has decided that Ichiro will be our number three hitter for this season. I’m a little torn on this decision. I have been arguing (with friends and family) that Ichiro should be our number three hitter for the past couple of seasons. I have always felt the team should have their overall best hitter batting third. They have the best opportunity to get the most at bats with the combination of base runners in a game. I have been frustrated with Ichiro getting on base and then staying there.
Batting third is not new to Ichiro as well. Remember the 2009 World Baseball Classic, which his home country of Japan won? He had no problem batting third. Sure his slugging may be a littler lower than some of the prototypical number three hitters but with the Mariners and Safeco, it will never be about power in that stadium. He was out best hitter and yet, we were not able to scores runs with him.
However, when the news broke about this, I started getting texts from friends and family that I was right along; but I feel now that it is too little too late. I am no longer convinced that Ichiro is the best hitter on our team. I firmly believe it is Ackley and I was really getting comfortable with Ichiro staying at leadoff and Ackley at three. So with that being said, a .272 average at lead-off is great for the team right now. I am sure people are going to be upset that I am changing my tune, but I think Ackley at three is best for this team. But I can live with him at two and Ichiro finishing his career at three. It’s the other announcement that Wedge made that really ticked me off.
Wedge all but gave Chone Figgins the starting job at third base and is the first and most likely candidate to replace Ichiro’s lead-off spot. What really bothers me about it is that Figgins has done nothing to earn it. And more irritating is that he is now taking at-bats away from hitters that not only have more potential but actually proved they are better hitters than Figgins. The fact that Seagar is most likely be sitting in Triple A while Figgins struggles mightily irks me. I really don’t want have another Edgar/Presley situation here. Edgar was a better hitter that was sitting in Triple A while the Mariners were giving at-bats to Presley, costing Edgar 5 years of Major League service. Just because we owe the guy $36 million does not mean he has to waste a lineup spot. I have heard a lot of justification of this move based on the amount of money we still own him and I have the perfect analogy to support this argument.
A little while ago, about the beginning of Figgins’ first season (2010) with the Mariners, I was in the market for some new jeans and my girlfriend could not have been more excited. She had been talking to me about what are the hottest styles, filling my brain with all the in’s and out’s of jean fashion. So on the day we actually decided to go and make the purchase, we headed out to Nordstrom’s. I got the jeans and spent $140 dollars on them, uneasily handing over my credit card. This is the most I have ever spent on jeans in my life. I was typically a one jean person, sticking with my old fashion $40 Gap jeans. As soon as I got home, I really started to feel the regret starting to settle in. I kept trying and trying to like them but I kept feeling like a doofus. My girlfriend was still telling me that I look great in them and I was still convinced that these were the right jeans because, hey, I spent $140 on them. But soon the price tag effect worn off, I faced the facts, and stopped wearing them to go back to my $40 Gap jeans. They just fit right.
And that is Figgins. A pair of jeans that our girlfriends convinced were the right fit. At some point, you have to come to realization that you made the wrong choice and it’s time to hang it up in the closet, just visible enough for your girlfriend to see so she doesn’t complain. It’s time to move on from Figgins and give the future of the organization the opportunity to play.