Mariners switching infielders around, but why?

March, 8, 2010
3/08/10
5:01
PM ET
It's nice to know that March still has some surprises. As Bob Condotta reports, the Mariners are seriously considering shifting Jose Lopez to third base and Chone Figgins to second base:

A week into the Mariners' grand experiment to move Lopez to third and allow free-agent signee Chone Figgins to play second, Lopez says, "I feel great."

Primarily a second baseman in his six previous seasons as a Mariner, Lopez admits he was initially wary of the move, saying, "Nobody is comfortable at a new position the first couple of days."

But he said handling three ground balls without a flaw in his first two games has helped his confidence.

"I feel better," he said Sunday. "I feel really comfortable right now. I don't feel 100 percent. But I think I've got a chance to get to 100 percent before the season starts."

Nothing is concrete yet, but Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said all signs point toward Lopez staying at third.

"There's nothing right now that says that wouldn't work that I've seen," Wakamatsu said.

That includes not only Lopez's play on the field but his body language, which Wakamatsu said from the start has been positive.

"You're asking a guy to change a position, you want his enthusiasm for it, and he's shown that," Wakamatsu said. "I think initially he has liked it."

The Mariners made the move thinking Figgins — primarily a third baseman with the Angels — might give them a more athletic, mobile body at second, and a replacement was needed at third with Adrian Beltre signing with the Red Sox. Lopez, and his 25 homers of last season, fit the offensive profile of the position.

I'm just catching up to the news, I guess ... This floored me. I don't find the "offensive profile of the position" argument particularly compelling. Cal Ripken didn't fit the "offensive profile" of a shortstop, but he was a pretty good one for a long time. Joe Mauer doesn't fit the "offensive profile" of a catcher, but the Twins keep sending him back there.

For that matter, Chone Figgins fits the "offensive profile" of a second baseman, but the Angels sent him to third base and his numbers there were fantastic. Earlier in his career, his numbers at second base were not so fantastic. They were, in fact -- and yes, we're talking about a small sample here -- not as good as Lopez's.

I've got a great deal of faith in Seattle's front office. They've earned it over the last 16 months. But moving two players who have been good (or good enough) at their most recent positions strikes me as rearranging perfectly good deck chairs on the Queen Mary.

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