SEATTLE — It finally happened. After about one month into his third season in Seattle manager Eric Wedge made the permanent decision to bench the 34-year old Chone Figgins. Figgins, who has failed to even come close to live up to his four-year thirty-six million dollar contract is currently hitting .189 25 games into the season with two home runs and his last hit coming on April 29th, ironically a solo home run.
The Mariners gave Figgins a third go around to see and hope that he would work out but it never materialized and now the question becomes how much longer is Figgins a member of the Seattle Mariners. As it stands right now that’s yet to be known but the other question is who is the next Figgins?
With a young core of players and veterans not performing up to par there has to be a point where Wedge and general manager Jack Zduriencik draw the line. The Mariners have a plethora of talented elite prospects between double-A and triple-A who are ready to make the jump.
However, the next veteran to go will be catcher Miguel Olivo.
Jesus Montero, who the club acquired during the offseason, has emerged early this season as the face of the offense even though his role is still mixed as a catcher and designated hitter. While Montero does possess the raw power to be a designated hitter the numbers clearly show that his best performance’s come when he starts behind the plate.
In 47 plate appearances this season as a catcher Montero is hitting .386 with an on-base percentage of .404 including three home runs. The other 67 plate appearances Montero has played as a DH he’s hitting .200 with a .262 on-base percentage.
All impactful offensive stats Montero is better behind the plate than as a DH except he has more strike outs and less walks when he’s DHing vs catching.
With Miguel Olivo on the 15-day disabled list Montero has taken the reigns as the “head catcher” per-say and flourished which has also allowed backup catcher John Jaso to emerge as a strong alternate. What does that mean for Olivo?
It means when he becomes active again his days are likely numbered in Seattle. Montero’s main concern coming into the season was his defensive ability behind the plate and he’s answered those questions with flying colors. He’s also become one of the leaders in the club house and also a fan favorite.
To add on-top of that Jaso has become one of the more clutch Mariner hitters and has always been versatile whether it be hitting leadoff or coming of the bench.
Even though Olivo’s salary is three and a half million this season he’s got a three million dollar club option looming next season and it’s seemingly a zero chance it’s picked up. He’s not a power threat offensively and his one of the worst defensive catchers in the majors which doesn’t bod well for his future in Seattle.
Keeping Olivo and allowing him to take away any at-bats from either Montero or Jaso would be criminal. Once he becomes active off the disabled list Olivo will become the next Chone Figgins and there’s no other way around it.
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