Mariners should put struggling Chone Figgins on notice

May 2, 2012, 10:52 AM | Updated: 11:10 am

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After a strong start, Chone Figgins is now hitting a paltry .209 and leads the Mariners in strikeouts with 24. (AP photo)

By Jim Moore

Can we stop the madness now? Can we stop thinking that Chone Figgins is suddenly going to show up as the pesky Anaheim Angel that he used to be?

Can we finally cut ties and move on?

Following a mostly torrid start, Figgins has gone 5-for-36 in his last 10 games, an average of .139. I don’t know what his OPS is or his on-base percentage or any of that other sabermetric stuff, but I’ll assume that Figgy’s horrible in those stats, too. He also leads the teams in strikeouts with 24.

When manager Eric Wedge announced that Figgins would replace Ichiro as the Mariners’ leadoff hitter, I liked the plan. It was a what-do-we-have-to-lose kind of plan during a what-do-we-have-to-lose kind of season. The Mariners aren’t going anywhere this year anyway, so whatever they do in terms of experimentation, sign me up for all of the above.

Ichiro has thrived in the third spot in the order, hitting .302 with nine runs batted in. He’s on a pace for 58 RBIs, which isn’t great, but with the power shortage on this team, I’ll take it.

Figgins was emotionally moved by Wedge’s decision. You could tell in an interview that he was truly touched. I tried to be happy for him, but it’s hard to be happy for a guy who’s acted like a jerk since he’s been in Seattle. And when you’re an unproductive jerk, it’s hard to be supportive at all.

But I figured what the heck, maybe Figgy will be rejuvenated by this move to the top of the lineup. Maybe he’ll justify the $9 million he’ll get this year and the $9 million he’ll get next year, or maybe it’s $10 million, I forget. Whatever it is, we all know it’s a joke.

And yet …

I’ve been pulling for Figgins. I’ve enjoyed seeing his smile in the dugout. From the ROOT Sports shots I’ve seen, he looks like he gets along well with teammates.

I figured, why not give him the month of April to see how it works out. As I mentioned, and as you know, Figgins was on fire early. But he’s hitting .209 now.

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Releasing Chone Figgins would free up more playing time for younger Mariners like Michael Saunders and Alex Liddi. (AP)

Former baseball players-turned-analysts say that you can’t really judge a player’s performance until he’s had 100 at-bats, that we’re too quick to read anything into anything until that happens. Figgins has had 86 at-bats, so he’s 14 away, three or four games away, from that magic number.

Give him two more weeks. Give him 125 at-bats. And if he’s still hovering around the Mendoza line, release him.

I understand that the Mariners are trying to milk something out of their bad investment, but I’d release him even if he’s hitting .225. Heck, .250 wouldn’t be good enough for me, either.

The mere presence of Figgins in left field means that Mike Carp and Casper Wells are on the bench. We know that Figgins, at 34, isn’t in the Mariners’ plans for the future. We don’t know that about Carp or Wells. I’d like to find out, and the only way you find out is by playing them both.

Worse than that, if you send Figgy back to third, then you’re putting Kyle Seager and Alex Liddi on the bench. We’re pretty certain that Seager’s in the future plans, and Liddi is like Carp and Wells — we’re not sure, but we’d like to find out.

In a surprising development, Liddi is the second-leading hitter on the team with a .289 average. Seager’s batting .278 with seven doubles and seven RBIs. I don’t know about you, but I want to see Seager in the lineup every single day. He always seems like a threat in the batter’s box.

I also like the idea of Dustin Ackley leading off, and Seager following his North Carolina buddy in the two hole.

There’s no room in the lineup for Figgins anymore. If he wants to be a backup utility man, fine. But I don’t see him being OK with that.

So give him two more weeks. Or give him whatever the time period is until Franklin Gutierrez returns. At that point, there will really be a logjam in left field with Michael Saunders in the mix, and in no way do I want to see Saunders on the bench. He’s hitting .254 with four home runs and 12 RBIs.

Last year the Mariners released a struggling Milton Bradley on May 16. I’m expecting the same fate on or around the same date for Chone Figgins.

The Go 2 Guy also writes for his website, www.jimmoorethego2guy.com, and his columns appear every Monday in the Kitsap Sun. You can reach him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.

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