Figgins’ Slow Start Must Be Maddening for M’s

The signing of Chone Figgins during the offseason was considered by most to be a major coup for the Mariners.

Not only did it supposedly weaken the AL West-rival Angels, but it gave the Mariners a speedy top-of-the-0rder type hitter to go along with Ichiro Suzuki that would surely result in more run production for a team badly in need of it.

Well, the move hasn’t exactly worked out. Twenty-one games into the season, it’s bringing back memories of Jeff Cirillo, the third baseman who hit .245 and .209 in his two years with the M’s.

Granted, Figgins isn’t the only player slumping for the M’s. Franklin Gutierrez (.367 average with a .964 on-base-plus-slugging percentage) and Ichiro Suzuki (.314 average, .366 on-base percentage) are the only hitters producing.

You can’t really be that surprised by the anemic numbers put up by designated good guys Ken Griffey Jr. (.226) and Mike Sweeney (.158). If they get hot, it’s a bonus.

I don’t think anybody was counting on Adam Moore (.207) and Rob Johnson (.167) to produce much either. If they hit .250, everybody will be happy.

Milton Bradley (.204) and Jose Lopez (.238) aren’t tearing it up either, but they’ve shown signs of breaking out.

But what about Figgins? The M’s signed him to a four-year, $36 million contract? That’s a lot of dough for a small-ball player who’s only made one All-Star team (he was a late addition in 2009) and is 32 years old.

He’s currently in an 0-for-16 slump and is batting .183.  He has walked 16 times, which is tied for fourth in the AL. But what’s alarming is that he’s struck out 23 times. Only eight players in the majors have whiffed more to date. If you’re a power hitter, the strikeouts are tolerable. If you’re 5-foot-9 and your game is all about getting on base, then you need to put the ball in play.

Based on his career stats, Figgins’ start is an aberration. When the M’s signed him, the they thought they were going to be able to drive opponents crazy with Ichiro and Figgins a the top of the order. But if he doesn’t snap out of this slump pretty soon, manager Don Wakamatsu should drop him to the No. 9 hole in the lineup.

Hey, at least Figgins and Ichiro would still be batting back-to-back.

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