11/16/2009 2:04 PM ET
Just say no
Figgins not the right player for Amazins
By Howard Megdal / SNY.tv
Chone Figgins' markedly average career OPS+ should be a red flag to teams like the Mets looking to sign the speedster. (AP)

There are about 80 reasons to enjoy watching Mets Yearbook: 1971, which premiered on SNY last week. From the music to Ralph Kiner's batting instruction to Joe Pignatano talking about how to pitch to Joe Torre, there are multiple delightful moments during each minute of the broadcast.

But possibly my favorite was the segment talking about why 1972 was going to be the best year ever for the Mets, thanks in large part to an acquisition from the California Angels: Jim Fregosi.

One could hear the echoes of another Angels player who some argue the Mets should acquire: Chone Figgins. However, Figgins is a similar fit to Fregosi -- a player who will need to be moved from his primary position, will be joining the Mets after his prime, and will cost entirely too much for the privilege -- though this time, it will be dollars, rather than Nolan Ryan.

Let's start with the basics: Figgins is rumored to want somewhere in the neighborhood of five years, $50 million. Now, I do, too, but unlike me, Figgins is drawing interest from a range of teams, so his wish may actually come true.

Now what do you get for 5/50? Well, Figgins will be entering his age-32 season, so you'll be getting the ages 32-36 seasons of a player with a career OPS+ of 99, or below league average.

Not exactly elite so far.

But wait -- there's more! Figgins is a base-stealing threat. And last year, he stole 42 of them, while getting caught a league-leading 17 times. The 71 percent success rate is below average. And he's getting older, which doesn't tend to help basestealers. His career mark is just below 75 percent. Carlos Beltran, he is not.

People also point to Figgins' superior defense. And he has been a very good defender -- at third base. But there are a couple of reasons why that isn't a good reason to sign him. First, defense tends to age poorly, often worse than offense does (and you are getting, remember, his age 32-36 seasons).

Then there's David Wright. He's a year removed from winning a Gold Glove. Either you believe his 2009 season was an outlier, as I do, or you don't. There's no reason to think he will bounce back offensively, but not defensively.

Worth remembering: Figgins' OPS+ career is 99. David Wright, in his awful 2009 season? 123.

So what about moving Figgins elsewhere? There's always second base -- where Figgins has not been a great defender. In fact, he's been a below-average defender at second base. If the Mets want a high on base percentage, below-average defender at second base, they don't need to sign Figgins -- they have Luis Castillo already under contract.

Fun fact: Castillo's OPS+ last year was 98.

You could always move Figgins to the outfield, where that OPS+ is even more glaring, and his defense is also below average. Angel Pagan had a 121 OPS+ in 2009, and plays a superb left field, but you could bump him for Figgins, paying ten million per annum for the privilege of an older player who isn't as good as Pagan defensively or offensively.

I'm just not seeing it.

Ultimately, the Mets have a fairly small amount of money to spend. They need to make sure that where they spend their money provides a significant jump in production for 2010.

Chone Figgins is a useful player if he is playing third base and you lack a good alternative at the position. He is in no way a decent fit for the New York Mets in 2010. Someone will overpay for him, but if it is the Mets, the team is almost guaranteed to regret the move from the moment it happens.

Howard Megdal is a contributor to SNY.tv, MLBTradeRumors.com and the editor of The Perpetual Post. His book, The Baseball Talmud, is available now.
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