Chone Figgins: M's Won't Play Him, Won't Dump Him

Third baseman Chone Figgins of the Seattle Mariners misplays this grounder by Jeff Mathis of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Safeco Field on in Seattle, Washington. Figgins was charged with an error on the play. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

When the Seattle Mariners needed to clear a roster spot, did they jettison Chone Figgins, the majors' biggest bust over the last two seasons? Nope. Which is really stupid less than smart.

Thursday, Mariners catcher Miguel Olivo came off the DL. Which meant someone had make room on the roster for Olivo, and so reserve outfielder Casper Wells got demoted to triple-A Tacoma. While super-bust Chone Figgins will continue to hold one of the club's 25 precious roster spots. Even though Figgins has arguably been the worst player in the major leagues, these last two seasons. With no apparent reason for optimism.

Why? Here's Geoff Baker (via The Seattle Times):

As for Figgins, Wedge said releasing him hasn't even been considered by the team.

"Not right now,'' Wedge said. "Right now, that's not even an option for us. With Chone, as you all know -- we were very open with you (media) guys about that -- we wanted to give him every opportunity to get back on track. We feel like we did that, leading him off, switching his role a little bit, and it didn't work out.

"So now, he's a utility player and a super utility player at that. He gives us protection. We'll play him when we need him. We'll use him how we see fit to help us win ballgames and go from there. You knew that that was the next option if it didn't work out. And that's where we are right now.''

When I was younger, I delighted in pointing out rank stupidity. Or what I believed was rank stupidity.

Today I'm less young, and I see rank stupidity less often. And when I see it, I take less delight in pointing out.

But this is really, really stupid. I'm not saying Eric Wedge is being stupid. I'm not saying Eric Wedge's boss is being stupid. I'm not saying Eric Wedge's boss's boss is being stupid. But I have little doubt in my mind that someone is being stupid. Not that I take any great delight in pointing this out.

I mean, come on.

Over these last two seasons, Figgins has been roughly two games worse than a replacement player.

Not two games worse than average. Two games worse than your average call-up from the Pacific Coast League.

Yes, Figgins can play 13 positions. But as Baker notes, "Wedge has used Figgins just four times in three weeks. He's had just six plate appearances, going hitless and walking once. Not quite what super-utility guys normally do for their teams."

By definition, a player the manager won't use is useless.

Perhaps it makes sense to send Casper Wells back to the minors, where he can play every day. But Wells is 27; it's not like he's going to learn to hit in the Pacific Coast League. If he can't hit yet, he probably won't ever hit. But the thing is, he's hit before. Not a lot. But certainly enough to make him your platoon left fielder.

But if not Wells, then someone else who can hit. Off the bench, at least. The Mariners' lineup, with Miguel coming off the Disabled List, will routinely include three hitters with sub-600 OPS's. That's bad enough. What's worse is when you can't pinch-hit for those guys because nobody on the bench can, you know, hit.

It must drive Eric Wedge absolutely nuts, having Figgins on the roster. Most managers love to manage, making their little moves here and there, especially when the games are close. But with Figgins, there's very little managing that Wedge can do. Figgins can't hit, and he's not a better fielder than any of the players who play the positions he can play. Which is how he gets used four times in three weeks. Figgins is a man without a country, like Tom Hanks in The Terminal except Figgins can't remodel a waiting area and he's not obsessed with Benny Golson.

But someone's forcing Chone Figgins upon Eric Wedge. It might be general manager Jack Zduriencik, who presumably thought it was a really good idea to spend $36 million on four seasons of Figgins (we're just barely into the third season). Or it might be Zduriencik's boss, or even his boss. But someone somewhere just can't stomach the indigestion that comes with eating nearly $15 million.

Someone, somewhere, doesn't understand the concept of the sunk cost, a better example of which you might never see. Because however unfathomable Chone Figgins' bizarre decline, it's nearly as unfathomable to think he'll turn things around. It's been too long since he's been anything but awful. Sorry to say.

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