To get this out of the way, on Thursday, Chone Figgins basically stated that he does not want to return to the Mariners next year. All I can say is, hopefully that means the front office will actually do something about it. Figgins has been a thorn in the side of Mariner fans for the past 2+ years and it's time for him to move on. It was time for him to move on last offseason too, but I'm willing to bet that Jack Zduriencik didn't want to have to eat crow after only 2 years of a 4 year deal. At this point though, it'd be a massive failure on the front office's part if they held on to him until next year.
I don't claim to know why they kept him last year, other than the fact that they did. Figgins' playing time diminished to the point where he got a total of 8 starts the final two months of the season. If Figgins is expecting to be traded, he better start calling in favors to whoever he might know in the front offices of other organizations. I can't see him being traded easily as his value is almost nothing. If he does get traded, you can expect to get back either a young minor leaguer that might not make it beyond double-A with the Mariners eating a lot of Figgins' contract or a bad contract for a bad contract deal. Something similar to what the Mariners and Cubs did with Carlos Silva and Milton Bradley. I'm not sure why he stopped hitting once he got to the Mariners. Maybe it was the park, maybe where he was in the lineup, maybe he's just getting up there in age. I doubt very much that the hitting coach, Chris Chambliss, was to blame. Speaking of which.....
Chris Chambliss was let go by the Mariners on Thursday. I sincerely doubt he had much to do with the hitter's struggles this season, but I guess they felt there needed to be a change. If you're not entirely convinced he might have been part of the problem, take a look at the home/road splits for the hitters this season. If your jaw doesn't hit the ground or you don't do a double take, check the numbers again.
The insanity that was the Safeco effect this year was such that if it were a physical entity, locking it in a padded room and medicating the hell out of it might not have been enough. Weather has been one reason given, but throughout this entire season, not once did I hear that maybe Chambliss was the cause for the offense's difficulties. We'll never really know why he was let go while the rest of the coaching staff, at least as far as we currently know, is coming back next year. If I had to guess, I'd say the current Triple-A hitting coach will be the one to fill the position. Jeff Pentland has been a hitting coach for the Mariners before and with the praise he's gotten after working with Justin Smoak and Casper Wells in Tacoma, it wouldn't surprise me at all to read sometime this winter that he's named the hitting coach. Time will tell on that one.
Two more quick items of note. The first being that Bob Engle, the Mariners vice president of international operations, announced that after his contract is up at the end of October, he won't be returning to the Mariners organization. After seeing some of the players he's scouted for the Mariners and the Toronto Blue Jays, this one's not a minor loss. A few of the international players he's signed while with the Mariners include Erasmo Ramirez, Carlos Peguero, Jose Lopez, Greg Halman, Carlos Triunfel and the man himself, Felix Hernandez. That's a hell of a list while with this organization. Engle will be sorely missed in the scouting department of the Mariners front office.
Brendan Ryan and Dustin Ackley both went under the knife after the season was over. It was minor surgery compared to other surgeries, but you're still having a person cut some part of you open and rummage around in there. The two procedures were arthroscopic in nature, with Ryan getting bone chips removed in his throwing elbow and Ackley to remove a bone spur in his left ankle. Both injuries occurred towards the start of the season and you can't help but wonder, how much of an effect did it have on their play on the field?
For Ryan, I doubt it was too terribly much as he's not exactly a .300 hitter in the first place. Still, it couldn't have been very comfortable at the plate or while throwing out runners on the basepaths. Ackley, it won't become clear until next season. The bone spur may have hampered his hitting this season, as the left ankle is the plant leg for a left handed hitter. Putting weight on it is not my idea of fun, let alone the kind of torque it endures during a swing. Both players had successful surgery and should be ready for spring training next year.