Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Figgins and Trading and News, Oh My!

Proof he did.....something at least
November 20, 2012 was a little bit of a busy day for the Seattle Mariners.  Busy is kind of a relative term, especially without context, so to give it a little bit of background, there's been absolutely nothing going on concerning the Mariners as far as actual roster moves go.  We've heard rumors about rumors and what Jack Z has said and what it might mean and what it might not mean and I think you get the picture.

Today, the Mariners made a trade, added players to the 40-man roster and took players off the 40-man roster.  The news I'm sure you're all most excited about is Chone Figgins.  As a fan, I'm just as excited and pleased as you are.  It wasn't a big mystery as to who one of the players to be DFA'd might be, but there was still some doubt in our collective mind about whether or not it would happen.  We'll get to all of that stuff in a paragraph or ten, but first, the other news.

At the start of the day, the Mariners traded Trayvon Robinson for Robert Andino, formerly of the Baltimore Orioles.  Earlier I mentioned not knowing with absolute certainty whether or not Robinson had another option left.  That question was answered fairly conclusively.

This is not, in any way, shape or form, a trade that will have people talking.  It will in the sense that there wasn't really much of anything else to talk about, but that doesn't mean it was worthy of discussion.  You may be wondering why I'm writing about it then.  The simple answer is, because it happened and I can.

This was nothing more than trading an extra backup that wasn't needed for a backup that is probably needed.  It didn't clear a roster spot because both players were on their team's respective 40-man rosters.  However, the Mariners did not need a 53rd outfielder, but they did need a backup utility infielder.  That's exactly what they got with Andino.  He essentially replaces Muni on the roster and brings better offensive value and less.....pizazz.  Which is an actual word, believe it or not.  We'll certainly miss the entertainment value Muni brought to the table, but if the Mariners are winning, I doubt we'll notice, or care for that matter.

Robinson was behind 5 other players on the depth chart and was out of options.  The Mariners could either risk losing him by placing him on waivers or move him for a roster need.  Granted, backup infielders aren't exactly few and far between, but when you have a piece somebody else wants and they have something you want, you have the start of something wonderful.  In the baseball world, they call it a trade.

The Mariners also added 5 minor leaguers to the 40-man roster to protect them in the Rule 5 draft, which is a stupid draft.  Players are rarely kept and even when they are, they never play and are basically set back in their development.  There are a few exceptions every couple of years or so, but I dare you to name one player not named Lucas Luetge who was taken in the Rule 5 draft that actually helped his team.

The players added to the roster are Vinnie Catricala, Brandon Maurer, Anthony Fernandez, Julio Morban and Bobby LaFromboise.  You may have heard of a couple of these guys and not the others.  You may have heard of literally none of these players too, but then you'd have to be paying as little attention to the Mariners as possible.  Not something I could blame anybody for, but then why would you be reading a blog about the Mariners?

Catricala is a decent prospect who went from the outfield to the infield and completely imploded at the plate in AAA last season.  He's still only 24 years old, so it's not like last year was a make or break type of season for the guy.  Maurer has put himself on the prospect map by doing what prospects do: he did fairly well for a season.  He's a 22 year old starter who projects well, so placing an eye on him would be ideal and a little bit disgusting.  Morban turned 20 and was in High Desert (A+ league) last season.  If you don't know much about High Desert, any of us could go in to that league and hit .300.  He hit .313, but with 17 homers.  He's worth watching to see how he does when he leaves High Desert.  LaFromboise and Fernandez are two lefty relievers that will probably end up being lefty specialists if they can crack the 25-man roster.  Most of these guys were expected to be added, but nothing earth shatteringly shocking either.  That is the very definition of an awkward sentence.

To add room to the roster, Scott Cousins and Chone Figgins were DFA'd.  Cousins was with the Mariners for a total of 5 minutes, which is sad in that we have absolutely no proof he was with the Mariners unless you count reading about it in the "Transactions" section of some baseball based web page.  Being designated for assignment, Seattle has 10 days to trade, release or outright to the minors either of these players.  If either elects not to accept the assignment to the minors, they become free agents.  Cousins could end up in AAA if he's not traded or outright released, but with the trade of Robinson, having an extra outfielder in Tacoma is a good thing.  A young outfielder gets traded for a backup infielder, an older outfielder with a longer track record gets DFA'd.  Losing Cousins won't hinder any kind of plans.  Losing Robinson wouldn't have either, but Robinson was a more appealing target for other teams, I would suspect.

And now Figgins.  We don't really need to get in to just how awful he was while with the Mariners, so we won't.  All of us knows exactly what Figgins did(n't) do while here, and all of us are thrilled to see him go.  It's a wonder it took so long for the front office to cut him, but this is one of those instances where I wasn't in the room so speculating on what they were thinking isn't really worth doing.  Suffice to say, it was a long time coming and the day finally arrived.  The move wasn't exactly worth anything as far as actual baseball operations are concerned.  They'll end up having to pay Figgins $8 million to go away for next season, but this situation has gotten to the point where there was no other option.

Figgins wanted out.  The fans wanted him out.  The only ones that wanted to keep him were the guys actually making the decisions.  He became the face of a Mariners team in trouble and even with a second half turnaround last year, Figgins was nowhere near the center of it and remained a massive thorn in the sides of many.  He had opportunities, but nothing worked.  Figgins the baseball player had punched his ticket and all of us, Figgins included, were just waiting for the engineer to realize the train was ready to roll 30 minutes ago.

I don't know if Figgins is a total dick or the greatest guy in the world.  All I know is, now that he's not on the team any more, I wish him all the best.  There's no point in staying bitter about a player that's no longer considered dead weight.  That would be akin to getting bitten by a spider while lounging outdoors, missing your chance to kill it and hunkering down in a ghillie suit for the next few days waiting for your chance to strike.  Let's just enjoy the fact Figgins is no longer with the team and leave it at that.

Incidentally, when/if Figgins gets released in a week and a half, any major league team can sign him.  They could sign him to a minor league contract and invite him to spring training as a non-roster invitee.  If he makes the team, the club he signed with would be responsible for the major league minimum salary, which is $490,000.  So no matter how you slice it, the Mariners are going to be paying Figgins a pretty penny no matter what.  Then again, they've been paying him an obscene amount of money compared to his production, so 2013 will be similar to every other year.  And that's my little jab before signing off to consider the likely landing spots for Figgins.  Not really.