I’m not finding much time to write and even less I feel like writing about, but I’ll try to get through the rest of this series before free agency starts. Enjoy the World Series. It should be a fun one!
Chone Figgins- Figgins is as big a mystery as any player currently on the team. Defensively, he played a serviceable but not great second base last season, but popular opinion is he will move back to third base for 2011. The big caveat there is that he may not be with the team, as I imagine the Mariners would be willing to move him if someone would give a good return or take all of his salary. If he is back and at third, he used to be very good defensively there, and the hope is that the move back will get his bat going. Who knows if that will happen, but he did finish the year hitting fairly well. A rebound to even his career averages in 2011 might be the biggest addition the Mariners could make this offseason.
Matt Tuiasosopo- My hope has about run out with Tui. He still has some offensive potential, but has shown no ability to hit in the majors. His defense is scary at every position. It might click for him eventually and he could be an average starter or decent utility man, but for now he’s just okay depth if you have a major injury.
Has an Option
Jose Lopez- Lopez has a 2011 team option for about $4.5 mil, I believe, which seemed like a good deal and a no-brainer to exercise before last season. Now, I’d be shocked if Jose’s back next year. It’s kind of the end of an era. A really disappointing era. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he went to a team with a smaller park and had a good career. I hope he does. I also wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t.
In the Minors
Alex Liddi– Liddi just completed his first year in Double-A, where he was moderately successful but failed to cement himself as a top prospect in the system. My Liddi love is well-chronicled here, but objectively he’s looking like a potentially average starter at best. He strikes out a lot and plays a mediocre third base, but there is some power and he’s clearly still developing. I’m not sure whether he’ll return to West Tennessee or join Tacoma next year, but he’s at least a year away and probably closer to two or three. Right now, he’s not someone to make roster plans around.
Nate Tenbrink- Pretty similar to Liddi in skills, but minus the Italian-ness, and he took the opposite approach to get there. He came out of nowhere to post a big year in 2010, earning a midseason call-up to Double-A. Interesting guy, but he has a long way to go and whether he can stick at third base is a major question.
Unless the Mariners find a very favorable deal in the offseason, I expect to see Figgins at third on opening day. It’s a shot worth taking, in my opinion. If he somehow returns to his 2009 form, he’s one of the better third basemen in the league again. I’m not betting on that, but there aren’t many better options. Liddi and Tenbrink and maybe Carlos Triunfel are interesting guys in the minors, but the long term answer isn’t likely in the system currently. I’m still holding out hope that Anthony Rendon, an elite college bat and currently the draft’s top prospect, falls to the Mariners next June. That’s a longshot, however, so the best thing for everyone would be a return to form by Figgins.