One Solution To Two Problems

Dave · May 30, 2011 at 10:10 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

I’m pretty sure that if, before the season started, you would have offered Jack Zduriencik a 27-26 record – with the team only being 1.5 games out of first place, no less – through the first 53 games of the season, he would have gladly taken it. Even for those of us who didn’t think this team was going to be terrible, the record is a bit of a pleasant surprise. But, as anyone who watched this team play can tell you, there’s still some issues on this roster that need to be addressed. And probably sooner than later.

When the M’s made the decision to get rid of Milton Bradley, it was more about Milton than it was about having a better option in house. They decided to make do in left field with a platoon of Carlos Peguero and Mike Wilson, but Peguero has been awful and Wilson has hardly seen the field – even when Wedge put him in the line-up on Sunday, it was as a DH. Peguero just isn’t a Major League player, and he probably never will be. If he has any chance at a career, he needs to be in the minors learning some pitch recognition and an approach at the plate other than “swing at everything as hard as I possibly can”.

Michael Saunders isn’t in a much better place, though, so if the team options Peguero back to Tacoma, they won’t really have many options for left field. In a just world, Saunders would also be headed back to Tacoma, but the team needs him around to play center field while Franklin Gutierrez gets back to full strength. So, for now, he sticks around, but Wedge understandably isn’t very interested in giving him much more playing time in left except for as a defensive replacement.

So, the team needs a left fielder. There isn’t one in Tacoma (Mike Carp is a 1B/DH, and if Wedge won’t use Cust or Wilson out there, he’s certainly not going to use Carp) and unless they can swing a trade for one of Arizona’s Triple-A outfielders (seriously, I’d take any of Pena, Cowgill, or Gillespie right now) or something, there’s probably not anyone available in trade right now – league wide parity means that there are about 27 buyers and two or three sellers at this point.

The team also has another need, or they will at some point in the next few weeks when they call up Dustin Ackley from Tacoma. The presumption at the beginning of the year was that Jack Wilson would be the one to lose playing time or a roster spot to accommodate Ackley’s promotion, but Wilson isn’t playing much anymore. Adam Kennedy has essentially assumed the role that Ackley will be inheriting upon arrival, and he’s done a pretty nifty job for the team over the last month or so. There’s no way that Eric Wedge is going to want to bench him to get a rookie in the line-up, especially with the team playing well at the moment, so the organization will need to find a spot for Kennedy to play when Ackley comes up.

The team needs a left fielder. Kennedy needs a position. Two birds, meet one stone. Kennedy is not exactly an experienced outfielder; he has played just 63 innings out there in his entire career, in fact. That said, he’s a decently athletic guy and his routes can’t possibly be any worse than Peguero’s. Given a few days to shag balls in the outfield before being placed out there in a game, I’d imagine Kennedy could be adequate defensively in left field, especially if Saunders is still around to serve as a late-game defensive replacement.

Is it an ideal solution? No, of course not, and hopefully it wouldn’t be a long term solution either. If the team miraculously stays in contention, they’d need to go shop for a real outfielder at the trade deadline, but Kennedy could give them a few months to figure out the buyers-or-sellers question. If they fall out of the race, having him show some extra positional versatility may make him an even more attractive piece to potential buyers who already know he can play the infield.

If I’m the Mariners, I tell Adam Kennedy to report to Safeco early tomorrow to begin a conversion to the outfield for a few months. It’s his best chance at playing everyday with this team even after Ackley arrives, and it would give the team a legitimate Major League hitter to hold down the LF position for the next few months while they figure out just what this team actually is. It makes the roster decisions easier as well, as you can simply ship Peguero out to call Ackley up and don’t have to worry about finding a trade partner for Jack Wilson right away.

If you don’t shift Kennedy to left, you’re faced with either benching Chone Figgins (which I’m certain the organization is not ready to do, given the $17 million he’s owed in 2012 and 2013 before his contract expires) or delaying Ackley’s promotion to keep Kennedy in the line-up. I don’t think the organization wants to do either of those two things, and let’s be honest, as bad as Figgins has been lately, he still brings more to the table than any of the left fielders on the roster right now.

Kennedy to left, Ackley to second. If I was in charge, you’d see this by the end of the week. Let’s hope the M’s are thinking along the same lines.

Comments

111 Responses to “One Solution To Two Problems”

  1. lucky on May 30th, 2011 10:19 pm

    Kennedy in LF, Ackley at 2B…let’s do this.

  2. r0ry on May 30th, 2011 10:21 pm

    Ackley played OF in college right? Might it be easier just to throw him out there instead trying to convince the “veteran” to switch positions? And might Ackley actually be better than Kennedy in the OF anyway?

  3. Dave on May 30th, 2011 10:24 pm

    Ackley’s the future at second base – you don’t mess with that to keep a 35-year-old journeyman utility player in his spot.

  4. TradeYouForHeathcliffSlocumb on May 30th, 2011 10:27 pm

    I hope this is one of those Ryan-Langerhans-Dave-lives-inside-of-Jack Z’s-brain type moments… this makes too much sense not to happen

  5. hoiland on May 30th, 2011 10:28 pm

    That sounds amazing.

    Ichiro
    Ryan
    Smoak
    Cust
    Guti
    Kennedy
    Olivo
    Ackley
    Figgins

    I hope the Mariners can stick in this race for the next month. I would love to see them get Beltran to play LF and add some pop to the lineup. The Mets are bleeding money…

  6. naviomelo on May 30th, 2011 10:30 pm

    Figgins has far more OF experience than Kennedy. What about Kennedy to 3B, Figgins to LF, Ackley to 2B?

  7. Liam on May 30th, 2011 10:36 pm

    Jason Churchill wrote a piece earlier today saying the the M’s have considered putting Ackley in LF.

  8. Dave on May 30th, 2011 10:43 pm

    Pretty sure the last thing that a slumping Chone Figgins needs is to change positions again.

  9. SonOfZavaras on May 30th, 2011 10:46 pm

    I think your reasoning is sound, Dave. But I share r0ry’s concern:

    Is it truly “messing with the future” to make Ackley an outfielder just for his first few months in the big leagues? I don’t necessarily favor the move, but we know that:

    A. Kennedy isn’t in the long-range plans, past this year. So feasibly Ackley could claim the 2B position in 2012.
    B. Ackley has improved at second base, but isn’t exactly Alomar out there…
    ..and C. Ackley was a perfectly valid OF in college, with maybe only below-average arm strength as a minus.

    Whereas Kennedy’s played precious little outfield as a pro.

    I agree with much of what you posted, but I’m still wondering if it makes more sense defensively to put Ackley in the outfield (I think three years of high-level college ball might trump the guy who has 63 innings there as a pro).

    Ackley would have the easier time adjusting back to being an outfielder (I doubt he’s forgotten how to play there) than what Kennedy would.

    You can always tell Ackley that he’s the 2B- for the next decade- when Kennedy’s gone and give him a winter to re-adjust.

  10. wetzelcoatl on May 30th, 2011 10:48 pm

    With as bad as the LF situation has been I don’t doubt that the M’s have considered sticking Ackley there. I think actually doing it would be a mistake though. If Ackley can play acceptable defense and offer a plus bat in the middle infield then that is too valuable to risk by having him play in LF. It makes some sense in the short term but looking beyond this season its going to be much easier to find a corner outfielder with some pop than an above average bat at 2nd.

  11. naviomelo on May 30th, 2011 10:53 pm

    Is Ackley ready?

    2010 (AA): .263/.389/.384 (289 AB)
    2010 (AAA): .274/.338/.439 (212 AB)
    2011 (AAA): .292/.394/.472 (216 AB)

    What would you project him to hit in MLB?

  12. Liam on May 30th, 2011 10:53 pm

    I don’t really like the idea of moving Ackley to LF based on a short term need, but I do think too much was made of the Figgins and Lopez 3B2B switch. They are both playing their way out of baseball and I don’t buy that this was the reason why.

  13. Edgar4Hall on May 30th, 2011 10:53 pm

    I like the idea. I wish it was to 3B but LF sounds good and it seems that Kennedy would be solid and there have been more than a few 2B turned OF that turned out well.

    And just curious Dave, if we didn’t have the investment that we have in Figgins, would you really say that he has been more useful to this team than Peguero?

  14. Dave on May 30th, 2011 10:54 pm

    Being 27-26 on May 30th is not a reason to abandon the current player development plan. Even if you think Ackley would be better in left field than Kennedy, the lost months of developing as a second baseman would hurt the team more in 2012 than it would help them in 2011.

  15. Edgar4Hall on May 30th, 2011 10:56 pm

    Is Ackley ready?

    Dave did a really good article on Brock and Salk’s blog a week or so ago comparing his skillset with similar players that made a smooth transistion with similar numbers. He continues to improve. Shouldn’t numbers in the Minors be about progress and growth than about the complete bootom line of the entire year?

  16. Leroy Stanton on May 30th, 2011 10:59 pm

    I think what Figgins needs right now is to be valuable to the team and perhaps the way to do that is with his versatility. Maybe spending some time as the super-utility guy would take some pressure off until he can find his stroke.

    I also like what Churchill had to say about Ackley and LF. Kennedy at 2B and Ackley in LF would give us stronger defense than the other way around. Ideally, though, I’d like to see Kennedy get about half the starts at 3B. At this point, I’d rather have Wilson in the lineup than Figgins.

  17. bookbook on May 30th, 2011 11:00 pm

    “Pretty sure the last thing that a slumping Chone Figgins needs is to change positions again.”

    On the other hand, Figgins can’t possibly hit–or field–any worse, can he? If Kennedy’s more comfortable playing 3rd base than Left Field, I’d argue you move Figgins for him.

    (Yeah, I know the $17 million is committed to Figgins for the next two years. Evidently, “sunk cost” isn’t the right descriptor for such a commitment. Yet, I’d hate to see the team making suboptimal current decisions in a vain effort to recover some value from the past contract decision that, in retrospect, was very suboptimal.)

    Doesn’t the theory of freely available talent suggest that the M’s might be able to check Craigslist and get a better option for LF than any currently accessible to them? Please?

  18. Dave on May 30th, 2011 11:00 pm

    And just curious Dave, if we didn’t have the investment that we have in Figgins, would you really say that he has been more useful to this team than Peguero?

    Has been? No. Will be going forward? Yes. Figgins isn’t this bad – he’s in an epic slump, but there are reasons to believe he can be better this. Peguero IS this bad. He has no real Major League skills. He’s a batting practice power goof.

  19. r0ry on May 30th, 2011 11:07 pm

    Just to be clear, I’m definitely not advocating a permanent position change for Dustin. I just thought it would be a more plausible short-term solution while the team is in contention.

    I wouldn’t think a couple months (maybe) away from 2B would really stunt Ackley’s growth there, but if that is the consensus then I agree, it’s not worth it.

  20. bookbook on May 30th, 2011 11:09 pm

    I know it’s crazy small sample size, naviomelo, but Ackley has hit the following for May:

    .355/.440/.603 (140 PAs)

    Given Jay’s admonition that Tacoma is playing like a bandbox this year, we can’t wishcast anything like that slugging number, but it’s hard to believe he can’t out-produce a few current M’s starters in short order.

  21. macaberdeen on May 30th, 2011 11:11 pm

    Why not put Figgins in Left?
    /ducks

  22. wetzelcoatl on May 30th, 2011 11:14 pm

    I wouldn’t think a couple months (maybe) away from 2B would really stunt Ackley’s growth there,

    I just don’t think its worth the risk. Remember what happened with Morrow. It seems simple to say we’ll just stick Ackley in LF for now because we have a need there, but playing the game of moving guys around to fill needs can be dangerous, especially when you’re dealing with top prospects.

  23. Refuse2Lose on May 30th, 2011 11:15 pm

    After reading both Dave and Churchill’s posts it is obvious that Dave has a better outlook on the Mariners as a team this year and for the FUTURE. We’ve been screwed so many times by trying to go for it when we should be building for the future when we have a more legit chance to make an extended run, like contending for 5 years in a row instead of one year out of every 5.
    If Kennedy is willing to play in LF then it will also show us that he’s interested in this team and the success of us this year and beyond, which is good for an aging utility infielder who needs a job next year.

    I say we bring Ackley up for the next home stand and get ready to make a run into the All-Star break where we can then look to get someone real in LF and move Kennedy to 3rd with “whats his name” if we’re still in it.

  24. Dutch on May 30th, 2011 11:21 pm

    Who was it that said GMZ was interested in constructing a roster full of flexible players? Think Ben Zobrist type players. I know this was said sometime during the 2009 season. Whoever it was speculated that Ackley could cover LF/2B. Clearly, this situation describes the most beneficial scenario for the Ms: A plus bat that can cover two skill positions.

    That said, the Figgins/Lopez position switch failed miserably. The same could happen to Ackley. We’ll never know if the team decided that Ackley in left is worth the experiment- they’ve probably already determined it’s not worth the experiment.

  25. TripleAvery on May 30th, 2011 11:24 pm

    Shifting an infielder to left field isn’t a stretch to make. It’s not as easy as Dave makes it out to be, taking a couple days shagging balls in the outfield. That’s not where the transition problems lies. Infielders catch flyballs (popups) frequently, and more importantly are used to going back on a ball to catch it. The problem lies with getting your body lined up to make a throw after the catch or charging a groundball.

    Especially as a second baseman, the idea is to stop momentum and quickly shift it towards first base, whereas an outfielder will line himself up to bring all his momentum towards the base he’s throwing to. Playing the wall is another tricky subject for infielders to comprehend.

    All in all – Kennedy can go into Left Field tomorrow and play similar defense to Peguaro. He’ll even have better range in catching fly balls. He just won’t be throwing runners out or fielding everything on the ground cleanly for a couple weeks at least.

  26. naviomelo on May 30th, 2011 11:33 pm

    I know it’s crazy small sample size, naviomelo, but Ackley has hit the following for May:

    .355/.440/.603 (140 PAs)

    Given Jay’s admonition that Tacoma is playing like a bandbox this year, we can’t wishcast anything like that slugging number, but it’s hard to believe he can’t out-produce a few current M’s starters in short order.

    I’m sure you’re right, but that bar has been set so low that it doesn’t seem like much of an accomplishment. I am just not sure that it is in the best long-term interest of the M’s to bring him up now, after so few minor league at-bats. Has the 27-26 start made it that critical that we now need to maximize production at every position on the big-league team at the possible cost of complete prospect development? It’s not as though Ackley is toying with AAA, but if he keeps up those May numbers you mentioned, I will have to change my stance.

  27. Ben Ramm on May 30th, 2011 11:34 pm

    If Ackley played left field, just how much would it delay his progress as an infielder?

    Are development plans so carefully balanced than any variation will disrupt them entirely? It seems improbable that Ackley’s development as a second baseman is that precarious.

    It seems more likely that one day away from second base this year can be made up with one day at second base next year. Or, maybe it’s 1.1 days at second base next year. Or, maybe the delayed transition to the infield is smoothed over by Winter Ball where player can spend more time developing skills instead of trying to perform.

    But, for the sake of a manageable argument, assume that Ackley loses 100 games of second base development this year. How many games does that cost the Mariners next year? How many games does his hitting win them this year? I’ll admit that, in the nine years since I posted actively on usenet, sophisticated quantitative analysis of baseball has passed me by. But, if Ackley is going to stumble at second base, it seems like a better bet to have him do it next year when a competent left fielder might cover with his bat the mistakes that Ackley makes with his glove.

    Thus, keeping a competent defender at second base while replacing incompetent hitters in left field with a probably-competent Ackley seems like a better choice than guaranteeing struggles both in left field and at second base.

    And, if the team stumbles back into rebuilding mode in the next few months, Ackley can return to second base. If the team remains in contention, then Ackley in 2012 won’t be as smooth defensively as he would have been. So what? I’ll trade some struggles next year for an interesting September this year. This team is 1.5 games out. These opportunities don’t show up that often. They should be treasured.

    Ichiro probably thought that he was joining a team that would get him to the play offs at least a few times in his first ten years in the league. In 2001, did anyone see a decade-long drought coming?

    Delaying a player’s defensive development by 100 games hardly seems like the sort of usurious mortgage of the future that we’ve seen to acquire such luminaries as Heathcliff Slocumb. It seems like a good bet for the fun of an interesting September.

  28. Brzeczyszczykiewicza on May 30th, 2011 11:43 pm

    Kennedy in LF could be an intriguing solution to the M’s’ current problems. And he actually has a positive DRS and UZR in those 63 innings for what it’s worth. I think this idea could work!

  29. Klatz on May 30th, 2011 11:46 pm

    I agree with Ben Ramm, it seems as if replacing an average to slight above average defender at 2b with a likely below average defender would counteract the gain in offense in left field.

    If you consider the two options:
    Ackley 2b and Kennedy LF
    Ackley LF and Kennedy 2b

    the retention of defense up the middle is more important than the upgrade in offense.

    On a human level, I’d rather place a rookie in a less demanding position on a “contending” team. It’s possible that forcing Ackley to adjust to playing hard defensive position AND major league pitching is likely to impact his offense more.

  30. greentunic on May 30th, 2011 11:46 pm

    I’ve been in agreement with most that Carp is a “AAAA” player and destined to remain so…

    But at what point would and should we stop ignoring his absolute tear that he’s experiencing right now? It seems every other day I check Tacoma’s boxscore, he has at least one home run. He’s not Mike Wilson’s age, and he’s not Halman’s raw-ness (.376 OBP). I think we could trade him for something semi-useful or even consider giving him another shot in the majors. Only problem is where…

  31. rth1986 on May 30th, 2011 11:49 pm

    I’m in the camp for the Mariners keeping Ackley at 2B for the present and the future. As an average defensive 2B, Ackley would be one of the better 2B in the league. As an above-average defensive LF, he is merely good. The M’s need to have Ackley hold down 2B for the foreseeable future.

    I’m not too keen on sliding Kennedy to LF, though. I’d much rather the M’s pursue a versatile outfielder like Angel Pagan who could platoon in left or cover for Guti in CF. Depending on Kennedy (with barely a league average bat and playing out of position) in LF sounds ugly to me.

    If the M’s decide to go outside the organization for a LF, then the debate turns to whether or not Ackley provides an upgrade to Kennedy at 2B. Kennedy’s production this year probably is the upside to what Ackley could produce this year (give or take – more walks for Ackley, better defense from Kennedy).

    Ackley needs to start getting major league experience, but he probably wouldn’t be the big boost a lot of people are expecting him to be.

  32. mearls on May 30th, 2011 11:59 pm

    Ackley in left field just isn’t worth it. Why have a young player learn another position when it’s clear that his long term value is at second? It’s at best a stop gap solution, and that’s not the position that this team is in.

    I was at the game today, and Figgins looked horrible. Is he really in a slump, or is he done? He simply doesn’t look like the player he was in LA.

  33. Adam S on May 31st, 2011 12:08 am

    Peguero just isn’t a Major League player, and he probably never will be.
    Seriously I’m confused about Peguero. He was invited to the futures game last year and I’ve heard the media talk about him as a prospect.

    Is he just one of those guys who hits well at AAA, without having skills that translate to the majors, and our “not so sharp” local media refers to anyone less than 28 as a prospect? Or could he be the next Shin-Soo Choo?

    Pretty sad that our left field situation is so bad that we’re talking about moving a journeyman infielder there because he’s the best option. Can we talk Barry Bonds out of retirement? What’s Kenny Lofton doing these days?

  34. Brzeczyszczykiewicza on May 31st, 2011 12:09 am

    Figgins did hit a line drive today but as usual it was right at a defender. His line drive % is below his norm, but it’s still a respectable 18%, and those line drives are going to start dropping in eventually, they have to! His xBABIP is 100 points higher than his current BABIP! He will regress positively big time!

  35. rth1986 on May 31st, 2011 12:21 am

    Seriously I’m confused about Peguero. He was invited to the futures game last year and I’ve heard the media talk about him as a prospect.
    Is he just one of those guys who hits well at AAA, without having skills that translate to the majors, and our “not so sharp” local media refers to anyone less than 28 as a prospect? Or could he be the next Shin-Soo Choo?

    Peguero is definitely not the next Shin-Soo Choo. Choo was a five-tool talent that was severely underrated at the time. Peguero has similar power, but doesn’t have the contact skills, plate discipline, range or arm that Choo did. I’d be much more afraid of giving up on Saunders and seeing him develop into a Choo later on (but that doesn’t seem plausible at the moment).

    That being said, I think it’s unfair to bash Peguero too much right now (“batting practice power goof?” – ouch). He’s clearly over his head in the majors right now. Keep in mind he didn’t play a single game in AAA before this season. He needs a full season in AAA or two to refine his game. Once he develops his approach at the plate, I think he could have some value as a platoon bat in the future. Not in 2011, though.

    Same goes for Saunders in regards to developing at the plate. Both need to be in Tacoma right now.

  36. Westside guy on May 31st, 2011 12:49 am

    It would be silly to put Ackley in left field and delay his long-term development based on the (probable) illusion that the Mariners are going to be competitive this year. Sure we managed to take 2 of 3 from the Yankees, but most of this “hot streak” has been against terrible teams. And Texas has been playing short-handed… a problem that just got resolved a few days ago.

    I’m not sure I buy the idea that Chone Figgins is slumping – and, if it’s not a slump, he’s not bringing anything particularly valuable to the team. But, regardless, I’m sure Dave’s right; Figgins salary is going to be a strong factor in how this plays out.

  37. CarpCarter on May 31st, 2011 2:26 am

    I hope this is one of those Ryan-Langerhans-Dave-lives-inside-of-Jack Z’s-brain type moments… this makes too much sense not to happen

    That Langerhans trade actually turned out pretty horribly for us, so let’s hope not. Speaking of, Mike Morse would like nice in LF right about now.

  38. Axtell on May 31st, 2011 2:28 am

    It would be foolish to abandon everything the organization has been doing with Ackley at second base for an outside chance at contention. The team is overachieving, and the Rangers have been decimated by injuries. When they return to the lineup, expect the ferocity the Rangers displayed early in the season to return, and the M’s to fall back.

    It would be more of the same short-sighted foolishness that Bavasi so believed in to move Ackley to LF in the hopes this season continues as it has over the past month. It would be even more ridiculous (and destined to failure) to move Figgins there. We’ve seen first hand how position changes kill a guy’s confidence – why are people trying to get fancy with this stuff when the Kennedy to LF/Ackley to 2B is what makes the most sense?

  39. Bender on May 31st, 2011 3:22 am

    This doesn’t solve the problem as elegantly, but does it make any sense to get Rodriquez looking at some fly balls? Maybe get him and Kennedy out there and see which one can play defense better.

    Also I think I’d rather see Langerhans up as our 4th outfielder than Saunders. Saunders is just lost at the plate.

  40. bookbook on May 31st, 2011 4:19 am

    Ackley’s offensive approach is mature, so I’m not worried that we’d be bringing him up too early as a hitter.

    Peguero is a prospect. He has a chance of figuring it out, if not a very good one. The chance might be better at Tacoma than in the majors,

    All just my opinion.

  41. PackBob on May 31st, 2011 6:23 am

    While Peguero and Wilson have made some timley contributions on the field, their biggest contribution was the infusion of some positive energy. This seems like a team now that wants to win, where before it seemed a team that hoped it might win.

    Haven’t seen enough of Wilson, but as Dave points out, Peguero is just too raw and needs to work on things in the minors. I don’t think the defense in left is as important right now as having another major league bat in the lineup.

    Adam Kennedy is just that, and moving him to the outfield still leaves Rodriguez to either get more time at 2nd base, or let Wilson get more playing time and hopefully develop some trade interest.

    Without some more production from the offense, this team is some less-than-stellar pitching away from a losing streak.

  42. qwerty on May 31st, 2011 6:37 am

    Man, Shin Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera would look nice as M’s right now.

    Is Podsednik still available?

    Hasn’t Figgins played OF in Anaheim?

    Can Jake Shaffer be an option?

  43. eddie on May 31st, 2011 6:40 am

    Left fielders are a hot commodity, I saw an article in the LA Times that the Dodgers are in the market and dont seem to have a lot of options.

    The Rainiers have been playing Carp in left field so maybe it will be Carp and Ackley up, Figgins gone.

  44. MrZDevotee on May 31st, 2011 6:42 am

    My only problem with your suggestion, Dave, is that I’m not sure Kennedy, 35, is an everyday player, if it involves putting in the extra time to get up to speed for a new position.

    In the infield, as much as he’s getting most of the starts, he’s still in a platoon with Luis and Jack Wilson. So, in that sense, he isn’t being “leaned on” as much as he would be as the starting LF.

    I’d actually rather TRADE Kennedy (and/or perhaps Laffey, Wright, or Pauley) while his value is as high as it likely will ever be, hopefully for a AAA-MLB-ready outfielder, who slips into LF while Ackley slips into 2nd.

    THAT is the situation I think should be pursued, and one I think couldn’t be better with the way Kennedy is playing currently. We need to make room for Ackley and one of the holding pieces we brought in is kicking ass, for an ultra cheap $750,000. Perfect time to trade him.

    We’re all enjoying the winning going on, but we REALLY REALLY REALLY need to keep the eyes focused on building for the future, so that winning becomes a sustainable trait of this team. We’re in an absolute “best-case-scenario” moment right now with A LOT of these pickups (Kennedy, Ryan, Laffey, Pauley, Wright…) and it would be awesome to flip some of these guys for pieces that will be with us long term over the next few years.

    As a few different folks have mentioned, it’s gonna be a seller’s market with SO MANY teams still in contention. I truly believe Kennedy will be worth MORE as an infielder to someone else at the deadline than he will to us as a LF.

    And Ackley stays at 2nd base when he moves up.

    Where does that put us with LF in the short term? About where we are already, but so what? It’s short term. LF seems like the most obvious place we make a REAL move in the offseason, with some of that “spare change” we’ll have. A move that will give us both a bump in Offense AND Defense. So why not get something for Kennedy (and/or another of the place holders that are doing well) rather than just say “thank you” and watch him walk away at the end of the year?

  45. Ben Ramm on May 31st, 2011 6:48 am

    Ackley in left field just isn’t worth it. Why have a young player learn another position when it’s clear that his long term value is at second?

    Ackley played outfield in college:

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/marinersblog/2009683661_mariners_draft_pick_dustin_ack.html

    I am not sure what he would have to learn.

    Please don’t mischaracterize this suggestion as being a complete abandonment of the development plans or an all-in bet that Texas won’t surge. It’s not. There’s nothing preventing the Mariners from returning Ackley to his current path if they fall out of contention. No one is suggesting an irreversible trade of Jose Cruz for middle relievers. If it doesn’t work, return him to the current path.

    Can someone make the case that a few weeks of delay are going to cause long-term damage to Ackley’s development?

  46. asuray on May 31st, 2011 7:06 am

    That Langerhans trade actually turned out pretty horribly for us, so let’s hope not. Speaking of, Mike Morse would like nice in LF right about now.

    While I agree that our current LF options are not entirely enticing, I certainly wouldn’t want to see Morse trotting out there everyday. While his offensive contributions have been decent (2.2 batting/baserunning WAR since the beginning of 2010), he has been one of the worst defensive outfielders in baseball over the same span (-19.4 UZR/150, 5th worst amongst players with at least 500 defensive innings). As for the Langerhans/Morse trade, while it’s true that Morse has out performed Langerhans (Morse has about a 0.8 WAR advantage since the trade if you prorate Langerhans’ playing time to match Morse’s), Langerhans has been solid with the glove (not so much in CF), which was primarily what he was brought in for (that and his BB%, which has been north of 15%). I’d hardly say that the trade was “horrible” for us, or even significant for either party involved.

  47. Arron on May 31st, 2011 7:16 am

    I think before anything happens, the FO needs to decide what to do with Figgins. If they are REALLY commited to winning this year, he has to be taken out of the starting line-up. If they are serious about making a run, they will have to swallow their pride, like they did with Bradley, and bench Figgins. He is the biggest problem, and playing him because he is owed money is a Bavasi move. If they want to win now, make Figgins a McLemore type player who gives guys a day off. Move Kennedy to 3B. Ackley to 2B. As Devotee said, trade some of our scrap heap successes for a AAAA type LF option. Drop down CP and Saunders. Keep Wilson up as a platoon with Cust at DH.

    I agree that LF is bad, but Figgins is worse.

  48. asuray on May 31st, 2011 7:17 am

    Can someone make the case that a few weeks of delay are going to cause long-term damage to Ackley’s development?

    I don’t think the argument being made is that it will damage his development, somehow making him worse in the long run. If we assume his ability at 2B, which is where we want him long-term, is a function of his talent and his playing time at the position, then the +/- 100 games he would play in left this season would be +/- 100 games he wouldn’t be getting experience at second. If we make a further assumption that he isn’t entirely comfortable at second yet, which would be expected given his lack of experience there, then those games not spent at second will suppress his defensive value in 2012. The only way putting him in LF this year makes sense is if we are okay with potential gains this season at the expense of next season (assuming he actually performs well in left). The only way I would make that sacrifice would be if I felt we were going to be a contending team this year with a shot at a championship, which I am nowhere near convinced of.

  49. Paul B on May 31st, 2011 7:28 am

    There isn’t one in Tacoma (Mike Carp is a 1B/DH, and if Wedge won’t use Cust or Wilson out there, he’s certainly not going to use Carp) and unless they can swing a trade for one of Arizona’s Triple-A outfielders (seriously, I’d take any of Pena, Cowgill, or Gillespie right now) or something

    Is there any chance of trading Carp for a AAA outfielder?

    The only future Carp has with the M’s would maybe be to replace Cust.

    That Langerhans trade actually turned out pretty horribly for us, so let’s hope not. Speaking of, Mike Morse would like nice in LF right about now.

    Morse has a negative dWAR (this year, and every year). You’d change your tune as soon as you saw him take bad lines to balls hit toward him, and we all remembered seeing him in the field. Although, he has gotten a nice niche with Washington as an OF-1B.

  50. MrZDevotee on May 31st, 2011 7:51 am

    Mike Morse- putting the “Safeco Field effect” on display…

    7 HR’s
    22 RBI’s
    .821 OPS

    For the Nationals this season… Although, did he GROW after he left Seattle? I don’t remember a 6’5″ guy who weighed 230 lbs?

  51. asuray on May 31st, 2011 7:52 am

    Is there any chance of trading Carp for a AAA outfielder?

    I’m assuming that Carp’s only value comes as a first baseman or DH (i.e., he isn’t a viable defensive option in LF). If we sort MLB first baseman by WAR, eight teams show primary first baseman with negative WAR (ATL, BAL, MIN, PIT, WAS, LAD, OAK, SF) I’m guessing the Braves aren’t going to give up on Freeman and that Twins, Orioles, and A’s will probably stick it out with Morneau, Lee, and Barton. That leaves the Nationals (LaRoche), Pirates (Overbay), Dodgers (Loney), and Giants (Huff). The Giants have Brandon Belt, and a case could be made that the other teams have players that could probably perform moderately at first if they decided to make a change (Doumit, Blake, and Morse). If we don’t make that assumption, I doubt that we could do better than a Jamie Hoffman (LAD) or Alex Presley (PIT) in exchange for Carp.

  52. Adam S on May 31st, 2011 7:57 am

    If they are REALLY commited (sic) to winning this year, (Figgins) has to be taken out of the starting line-up

    First off I don’t think they are. This is perhaps an 80 win team. That’s a lot better than the 60-win team we’ve been and the 70-win team we projected in March. But it’s not an 88-win team and re-arranging the deck chairs won’t make it so. We might squeeze out a win or two plugging in Ackley.

    Second, if they could somehow get Pujols to play 3B, then sitting Figgins makes sense. But out of Ryan, Figgins, Kennedy, Jack Wilson, Rodriguez, and Ackley, Figgins is probably the second most useful major league player. Heck, Ichiro hit barely 200 this month and his offense is ALL batting average. Why aren’t people calling for Wilson in RF at least part time?

  53. Paul B on May 31st, 2011 8:10 am

    Why aren’t people calling for Wilson in RF at least part time?

    Maybe because Ichiro had a bad month, but Figgins has had a bad 7 out of 8 months? (the only exception being Sept 2010).

    And that doesn’t even consider fielding.

  54. charliebrown on May 31st, 2011 8:13 am

    Heck, Ichiro hit barely 200 this month and his offense is ALL batting average. Why aren’t people calling for Wilson in RF at least part time?

    Ichiro had a bad month. Figgins had an atrocious season last year and, unbelievably, is even worse in the first two months of this season.

    One bad month from a player like Ichiro is a lot easier to deal with then a bad season followed by an even worse two months.

  55. Paul B on May 31st, 2011 8:13 am

    Figgins BB by month since joining M’s:

    17-15-12-13-8-9-7-4

    Not a good pattern.

  56. Rick L on May 31st, 2011 8:21 am

    Ackley was an outfielder in college until he got hurt. Then he played first base. He is a better outflellder than a second baseman. Given that we have nobody who can hit to play left field, I think the months spent trying to teach him to play second base should be written off and put him where he can make a defensive and offensive contribution. Of the few Mariners who can hit more than .230, two of them are at second base. Sitting both to make room for Ackley and leaving a hole in left makes not sense to me.

  57. wetzelcoatl on May 31st, 2011 8:51 am

    Of the few Mariners who can hit more than .230, two of them are at second base. Sitting both to make room for Ackley and leaving a hole in left makes not sense to me.

    By all accounts Ackley seems to be improving at 2nd, he may never be a gold glove 2nd baseman but the fact of the matter is he is capable of playing the position and will bring a plus bat in a middle infield position. The two Ms you’re talking about at 2nd are both over 30 and unlikely to be with the team next year, and definitely won’t be with the team after that. Looking at next year’s potential free agents, its going to be much easier for the Ms to fill that hole in LF than it would be to acquire somebody who could play 2nd base and hit even decently.

  58. asuray on May 31st, 2011 8:54 am

    Indications are that Ackley will be an average second baseman with time while I’m guessing he might be a slightly above average left fielder. The type of hitter he projects to be would be only a bit above average for a corner outfielder but would be potentially top two or three in the league with respect to second baseman. Second base is where we can maximize Ackley’s impact on the team. It’s not difficult to find a left fielder that can be league average. We’re not going to get one midseason, however, without sacrificing potentially useful prospects and, even if we did get one, this most likely isn’t a playoff team.

  59. mlathrop3 on May 31st, 2011 9:04 am

    If Ackley comes up can Kennedy play 3B? That would leave you with a platoon of Figgins/Wilson in LF… (or preferably Langerhans/Wilson with Figgins on the bench).

    Watching Figgins play this year is dangerous for my television set. Many flying objects in the room.

  60. Carson on May 31st, 2011 9:07 am

    Ichiro hit .328/.380 in April with a BABIP of .345 – all of those numbers right at career averages.

    Ichiro has hit .260/.270 in May with a BABIP 62 points lower than his career average.

    He has to decline eventually, obviously, and this could be that time. I’m not worried yet, though. One bad month following a normal month, and a decade of proving his slumps can be broken, shouldn’t result in pitch forks and torches.

  61. JesseDee on May 31st, 2011 9:24 am

    I can’t believe so many people seem to be in favor of Ackley in left. He’s a much better offensive fit long-term at second, and as a young guy without a ton of experience there, it’s vital that he get the consistent playing time there. LF is a position where we need more power than Ackley offers; there’s no point in making him lose the experience at what WILL BE his long-term position just because we have a present hole there. Use a stop gap like Kennedy (or Peguero or M. Wilson or some other guy) while continuing to develop Ackley and get him acclimated to 2B. Moving him out to LF is about as short-sighted as you can get.

  62. Paul B on May 31st, 2011 9:35 am

    Ichiro has hit .260/.270 in May with a BABIP 62 points lower than his career average.

    That should be .216/.270 in May, not counting today’s game.

    with a BABIP 62 points lower than his career average.

    I get 123 points lower.

  63. Leroy Stanton on May 31st, 2011 9:45 am

    I can’t believe so many people seem to be in favor of Ackley in left.

    Some people view Ackley as a potential plus defender in LF and average at 2B.

    Moving him out to LF is about as short-sighted as you can get.

    If you accept that moving Ackley to LF could improve the defense overall then it’s not shortsighted. You have to weigh improved defense against Ackley’s greater value at 2B. Ackley would have even more offensive value at SS, but it would be more than offset by his defensive shortcomings.

    The M’s also have Kyle Seager who is looking more and more like a legitimate prospect. He could conceivably be the 2B of the future. That is forward thinking, not shortsightedness.

  64. Brzeczyszczykiewicza on May 31st, 2011 9:48 am

    Figgins had a .340 OBP last year and was worth over 1 WAR, and probably would’ve been at least a 2 WAR player last year if was playing 3B instead of 2B so he wasn’t horrible last year. And this year his BABIP is 100 points lower than his xBABIP so his slump isn’t going to last forever. Benching him would be a bad idea. But Kennedy in LF and Ackley at 2B is a good idea.

  65. Dutch on May 31st, 2011 9:54 am

    I’m surprised that no one addressed MrZ’s comment about trading Kennedy for an outfielder. (What do the Diamondback’s need?) It seems like that’s a reasonable idea worth exploring.

  66. amnizu on May 31st, 2011 9:56 am

    FWIW, I’d rather see the team wait on Ackley until mid to late June. Give the front office a few more weeks to decide if we are for real here. I have a hard time believing that the pitching (except for Felix) staff is going to be this good for much longer.

    Secondly, I’d rather see the FO reward Kennedy’s good play by giving him a natural position and send a clear message to Figgins that his performance needs to improve. The team could shift Figgins to LF or a LF platoon and give Kennedy a go at 3b without bringing up Ackley right away. This kind of hedges your bets, if Kennedy continues to perform and Figgins turns it around then great Ackley gets more time in AAA. If either falls flat then you pull the trigger on Ackley and adjust as needed.

    I think going back to super utility might actually be good for Figgins. Maybe fighting for playing time is what he needs mentally to perform. Having a cushy contract and guaranteed starting position certainly hasn’t worked thus far. I understand the team has a significant amount of money invested in Figgins for the future, however, it’s beginning to feel like they are spending good money (and playing time) to make bad here. Short of Figgins becoming the comeback player of the year next season there is not much chance of this contract working out to the good. It’s time to accept it for what it is, a bad contract and adjust accordingly.

  67. MrZDevotee on May 31st, 2011 10:01 am

    Ackley in LF would ONLY make sense, and be worth the lost development, if we thought we were REAL contenders this year (not for the AL West– but for the Series too)… And even then I’d probably argue against it.

    As JesseDee said, and I suggested earlier, LF is the primary position for upgrading this offseason, having run through all the prospects we wanted to try and nobody taking hold. Obviously we’re looking for power out there, as we gave the opportunity to seize the position to two guys who have had good slugging numbers in the minors…

    IF you put Ackley out there, he wouldn’t be the long term solution, because replacing whoever played this year at 2B with the type of bat we need to add to this lineup in the offseason (power, ability to put the ball in play) would be more difficult at 2B than in LF.

    In fact, Ackley is probably about the best thing we could possibly find to put at 2B, as far as power versus average, for a middle infielder.

    I’d rather keep running some mix of Peguero/Wilson/Saunders out to left, and hope somebody sells their soul to the devil for more talent, than mess with Ackley’s development so he can be a stop-gap move in a year we’re NOT REALLY contenders (beyond our division).

    Although (politicking for it again) what I’d REALLY like to do is flip some of these veterans (Kennedy, Wright, Pauley, etc.) to a contender with a need, for a LF prospect with higher upside than what we have (all we REALLY need is someone with a moderately good bat, and moderately good defense– which would equal a HUGE cumulative upgrade over the deficiencies of the current crop– plus render one of them obsolete, so we can have less suck on the roster).

  68. asuray on May 31st, 2011 10:01 am

    If you accept that moving Ackley to LF could improve the defense overall then it’s not shortsighted. You have to weigh improved defense against Ackley’s greater value at 2B. Ackley would have even more offensive value at SS, but it would be more than offset by his defensive shortcomings.

    The difference in positional adjustment between LF and 2B is 10 runs (-7.5 vs. 2.5). If we assume that Ackley will eventually be an average 2B, which seems reasonable given his athleticism, then he would need to consistently be at least a +10 LF in order to justify moving him there. Over the past three seasons, only one player in all of baseball, Carl Crawford, has been able to meet that defensive criteria all three seasons (Brett Gardner and Gerardo Parra are on pace to get their second consecutive +10 or better seasons this year). Your suggestion to move Ackley to left hinges on his ability to become one of the best, if not the best, left fielders in the league.

  69. MrZDevotee on May 31st, 2011 10:05 am

    Asuray-
    Very cool stat– where does one find the “positional adjustment” info? And what position is considered “1″ (or “0″?)…

    Or is it simply rating how much impact each position can have on a game?

    Thanks.

  70. Leroy Stanton on May 31st, 2011 10:14 am

    Your suggestion to move Ackley to left hinges on his ability to become one of the best, if not the best, left fielders in the league.

    No, it doesn’t. Positional adjustment has nothing to do with it. You’re argument is based on the idea that Ackley’s WAR is more important than the team’s WAR.

  71. vertigoman on May 31st, 2011 10:20 am

    I’m all for getting Ackley in the lineup and getting creative to find an offensive prospect a position is not uncommon.

    Miguel Cabrera served a utility type role early to give the Marlins an offensive infusion in route to their 2nd world series.
    Pujols played 3rd and LF before settling in as the best 1B in the world.
    Figgins was a super sub most of his career.

    Ackley to LF might even be a blessing in disguise for the team in that it’ll give him a soft landing of sorts and another winter to refine his game at 2b.
    Or maybe they move the three around to find the right situation. That kind of positional activity is common in the NL and we’re kind of NLish

  72. asuray on May 31st, 2011 10:23 am

    Very cool stat– where does one find the “positional adjustment” info? And what position is considered “1? (or “0??)…

    They come from TangoTiger. Dave did a FanGraphs article on them a while back at http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/position-adjustments/

    No, it doesn’t. Positional adjustment has nothing to do with it. You’re argument is based on the idea that Ackley’s WAR is more important than the team’s WAR.

    You’re going to have to explain your point a bit more. Ackley’s WAR, as with all of the players on the team, contributes to the team WAR. All things being equal, if his WAR goes up, so does the team’s. The only way your argument makes sense is if we assume that the Mariners, over the course of Ackley’s entire career, would never be able to get left fielders that are of similar quality to the second baseman they would be able to find, which would be contrary to the idea of positional adjustments, as left fielders who can produce at league average are much more readily available than second baseman. My argument is that you leave him at second and go find an average or better LF down the road. If you move him to left and his defense makes up for the higher offensive bar that left fielders have and you can find an average of better second baseman, then fine. If his defense isn’t top shelf in left, then you need to either make up those runs elsewhere (by getting an even better second baseman or upgrading another position), move him back so second and find a LF, or just take the reduced 50th percentile team win expectation.

  73. Badbadger on May 31st, 2011 10:26 am

    Why not give Mike Wilson a real try in left first? I know he’s not that exciting of a prospect but he’s an actual outfielder and isn’t clueless at the plate.

  74. Chris_From_Bothell on May 31st, 2011 10:30 am

    I’d rather keep running some mix of Peguero/Wilson/Saunders out to left, and hope somebody sells their soul to the devil for more talent, than mess with Ackley’s development so he can be a stop-gap move in a year we’re NOT REALLY contenders (beyond our division).

    Hear hear. LF is really the place to act like the rebuilding team the Ms are, and continue to use it to evaluate people. Playing Mike Wilson more than once a week would help in that department.

    Although (politicking for it again) what I’d REALLY like to do is flip some of these veterans (Kennedy, Wright, Pauley, etc.) to a contender with a need, for a LF prospect with higher upside than what we have

    This bit is understandable, and highly intelligent in the long view, but nervous-making for this year. What’s the proper time to do that? If an opportunity comes up, do you take it regardless of this year’s standings, in the name of rebuilding? Do you wait on it, trying not to mess with the good momentum that you have now?

    Or put another way: many of the same vets that are going to have any trade value at all, are also part of the different-hero-everyday that has the Ms barely staying at .500. How easy would it be to end up tanking the season if you yank the wrong guys and end up with a good longer-term LF investment, but one that in the short term doesn’t make up whatever you lose?

    Unless there’s a LFer out there that will get you back more value, and help wins games as much or more, as the Kennedy+Pauley/Wright/whoever that you’d send out.

  75. ivan on May 31st, 2011 10:32 am

    I agree with Churchill. Stick Ackley in LF and leave Kennedy at 2B till the team falls out of contention — which it will.

    Kennedy won’t continue to hit like he has, and his regression to mean could occur at any time. Once it does, he can ride the pines and Ackley can play 2B. It’s not going to “ruin Ackley’s development” — his development is a long-term process.

    Churchill made the point that putting Kennedy at 3B or LF and Ackley at 2B hurts the defense at two positions. I agree. 2B is Kennedy’s position, the only one he plays well.

    Franklin and Triunfel will be here soon enough, and maybe Seager. I doubt that any of them is a better defensive SS than Ryan. They will have to find a spot in the infield for whoever hits. Kennedy is 35 and this could be his last hurrah.

    So I don’t think the Ackley-to-2B thing is set in stone, or that it necessarily should be. This team needs to get some bang in the lineup, but there’s no reason in this case to sacrifice defense.

    The commenter who mentioned Zobrist was spot on. Earl Weaver built championship teams in Baltimore with players who were expected to play multiple positions.

    Ackley is a pro. He was a pro before he signed. He can handle it. It’s no big deal.

  76. BLYKMYK44 on May 31st, 2011 10:33 am

    Count me as someone who thinks that it would make more sense to put Figgins in LF and move Kennedy to 3B.

    If the argument is that Figgins is struggling and moving him to LF will make him struggle even more…

    I don’t see why taking Kennedy who is NOT sruggling and making him learn a new position (which if you accept that moving Figgins would be bad you’d have to argue moving Kennedy would be worse), which would lead to having two struggling players in your lineup.

  77. vertigoman on May 31st, 2011 10:35 am

    I am glad someone is saying that Peguero is not a MLB player. It’s painfully obvious despite some timely hits and a lack of team power.

  78. ivan on May 31st, 2011 10:38 am

    Plus there’s no reason to give either Peguero or Mike Wilson even one more at-bat. They’re both in over their heads. Let Saunders be the new Langerhans till he figures it out. Give Halman one more full season in Tacoma to see if HE can figure it out.

    These are not life-or-death decisions. This team is NOT going to the playoffs, barring a total collapse by Texas, which I don’t see. But they have to try.

  79. asuray on May 31st, 2011 10:47 am

    I think it’s important to point out that no one here has any way of knowing whether Kennedy would be any better or worse of a LF than Ackley. He performed just fine in the outfield in his limited time there from 07-09. Scouts said that Ackley should have the range for CF coming out of college, which presumably means that he has the range to play LF, but no one really knows how his glove of arm will play out there. Since this isn’t exactly a team built to win a championship, I say leave Dustin at 2B if that is where the team expects him to spend the majority of his time going forward with his career, and go find a LF through trade or free agency down the road. I’m guessing a platoon of Kennedy/Wilson/Saunders, while not ideal, would be able to bridge the gap between what we have now and what we get in the future.

  80. MrZDevotee on May 31st, 2011 10:54 am

    It’s a shame Figgins can’t show ANY life at all… With the Mets set to lose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, they might be willing to move Beltran for Figgins (in his unsucky years)…

    That would UP our salary expenditures short term (Beltran makes 18Mill this year)… But free us both from HIM, and from Figgins, heading into 2012.

    Problem solved, plus a net $9 million off the books over the next 2 years. Met’s get another infielder for multiple years, we get a huge priced (temporarily) rent-a-bat to play Left Field, who can still provide some pop at times.

    (Either that, or while they’re in town, maybe we can coerce the Orioles to give up Luke Scott, like many of us have been dreaming about the last few years– amazingly, he doesn’t even hit 6 years service until 2012. Adam Kennedy and Jamey Wright for Luke Scott? Not an impossible idea since JJ Hardy is being mentioned as trade fodder by the Orioles… They could then unload Hardy and his remaining portion of a $5 million salary.)

  81. Leroy Stanton on May 31st, 2011 10:59 am

    You’re going to have to explain your point a bit more.

    asuray,

    Hypothetically:

    Ackley-LF, Seager-2B, $12MM-DH: 3.5 + 2.0 + 2.5 = 8.0 WAR

    Ackley-2B, $6MM-LF, $6MM-DH: 4.0 + 1.5 + 1.5 = 7.0 WAR

    It could be better for the M’s even with Ackley having a lower WAR.

  82. asuray on May 31st, 2011 11:15 am

    asuray,

    Hypothetically:

    Ackley-LF, Seager-2B, $12MM-DH: 3.5 + 2.0 + 2.5 = 8.0 WAR

    Ackley-2B, $6MM-LF, $6MM-DH: 4.0 + 1.5 + 1.5 = 7.0 WAR

    It could be better for the M’s even with Ackley having a lower WAR.

    You can’t just make up numbers. Who are the $6 million dollar LF/DH and $12 million dollar DH? It seems like, if we take your numbers as truth, you’re saying that a +5 LF version of Ackley combined with Kyle Seager somehow becoming a 2.0 WAR everyday 2B, which certainly isn’t a guarantee, is equivalent to a +- 0 2B version of Ackley combined with a random 1.5 WAR LF? I’d say we have a much higher chance of getting a 1.5 WAR LF for $6MM than Kyle Seager becoming a 2 WAR player. I don’t see how the DH comes into play here. You’ll have to explain that as it was where the 1.0 WAR difference in your equations was derived from. Personally, I think it’s unlikely Seager becomes anything more than a serviceable utility IF, in which case you’ll need to spend $10MM+ to get a 2.0 WAR 2B. The long and short of my argument is that you put players at the position where they generate the most value to the team. Unless Ackley is an elite defensive LF, he generates the most value at second.

  83. asuray on May 31st, 2011 11:23 am

    For reference, an average of 2.0 WAR second baseman would be Aaron Hill (5.9 WAR from 08-10), Ryan Theriot (5.9 WAR from 08-10), Howie Kendrick (4.2 WAR from 09-10), or Freddy Sanchez (8.4 WAR from 07-10)

  84. EricL on May 31st, 2011 11:37 am

    Keith Law posted this in his latest “top 25 prospects listing”:

    He’ll hit and gets increasing raves for that tool, but no one is buying him as a second baseman anymore, and I believe he’ll end up in left field where his value takes a hit. But he’s so good at the plate that he’ll still be an above-average player, just not the franchise guy I expected when he was at second or in center.

    He has Ackley rated as #12 (previously #7.)

    Really? “no one is buying him as a second baseman anymore”?

  85. jryoung222 on May 31st, 2011 11:46 am

    Here’s what Keith Law says about Ackley in today’s prospect update:

    He’ll hit and gets increasing raves for that tool, but no one is buying him as a second baseman anymore, and I believe he’ll end up in left field where his value takes a hit. But he’s so good at the plate that he’ll still be an above-average player, just not the franchise guy I expected when he was at second or in center.

    Hmmm. Not that Law’s necessarily right about this, but it’s something I haven’t heard before. I doubt Law just pulled this out of thin air, so it makes you wonder, if indeed Ackley is struggling as a 2B, how much do you push on something like this before you realize it ain’t going to work and go to a Plan B, putting Ackley in LF and figuring out what to do at 2B in the offseason?

  86. Leroy Stanton on May 31st, 2011 11:51 am

    You can’t just make up numbers.

    You can when you say “hypothetically”.

    I was laying out a scenario where the M’s are better despite Ackley having a lower WAR. I did that because you asked me to explain my point about Team WAR versus Ackey’s WAR.

    You claimed Ackley in LF was “shortsighted”. Seager’s inclusion was to illustrate longer-term thinking.

    Who are the $6 million dollar LF/DH and $12 million dollar DH?

    It was hypothetical, so they don’t exist, but it did illustrate filling one position with a higher quality player as compared to filling two positions with lower quality players for the same money.

    Ryan Theriot (5.9 WAR from 08-10)

    I think that’s a good comp for Seager.

  87. asuray on May 31st, 2011 11:56 am

    Maybe Law is right, maybe he isn’t. I doubt that he knows more about Ackley’s development than the Mariners’ front office staff and, if they weren’t buying him as a second baseman anymore, then he wouldn’t be playing second base. I know the following comparison is pretty loose and uses less than perfect statistics, but Ackley is on pace for ~15 errors, .977 fpct, and a 4.00 range factor this season which, in terms of major league comparables, would put him in Bill Hall/Daniel Murphy/Ben Zobrist territory. Not great but by no means horrible.

  88. ppl on May 31st, 2011 12:19 pm

    Well progress has been made on one front.

    Nobody mentions Tui as an option anymore.

  89. asuray on May 31st, 2011 12:25 pm

    I think that’s a good comp for Seager.

    Really? If so, we’re in trouble. 75% of Theriot’s value came from baserunning, which doesn’t seem to be Seager’s strength. If his other skills are in line with Theriot’s, then we’re looking at .5 WAR per year player. As for the rest, a) someone else supplied the “short-sighted” quip, though I tend to agree, and b) it’s not really fair to use Seager to illustrate your point as I can counter with one of our young left fielders becoming a 2 WAR player (equally improbable), which puts us right back at Ackley at 2B being the better value. If you’re paying $6MM for a 1.5 win player regardless of position, per your example, then getting a 1.5 WAR LF and having Ackley play second is worth .5 wins over getting a 1.5 WAR 2B and having Ackley play left.

  90. Chris_From_Bothell on May 31st, 2011 12:47 pm

    Baker just asked Z point-blank about this blog post’s scenarios. Z confirmed that Ackley is going to be at second base, period. He also refuted the notion of playing Kennedy in left regularly, though.

  91. JMHawkins on May 31st, 2011 12:59 pm

    Don’t forget, LF for the M’s is cursed.

  92. Leroy Stanton on May 31st, 2011 1:03 pm

    Z confirmed that Ackley is going to be at second base, period.

    Actually Chris, he said this:

    “We view Ackley as our second baseman going forward”

    Views change.

  93. Leroy Stanton on May 31st, 2011 1:09 pm

    75% of Theriot’s value came from baserunning, which doesn’t seem to be Seager’s strength.

    That’s just wrong.

    As for the rest, a) someone else supplied the “short-sighted” quip, though I tend to agree, and b) it’s not really fair to use Seager to illustrate your point as I can counter with one of our young left fielders becoming a 2 WAR player (equally improbable), which puts us right back at Ackley at 2B being the better value.

    Sure, you can put in whichever hypotheticals you’d like. Yes, you can make a case that keeping Ackley at 2B would be the best call. What you can’t do is credibly make your original argument:

    Your suggestion to move Ackley to left hinges on his ability to become one of the best, if not the best, left fielders in the league.

  94. SodoMojo on May 31st, 2011 1:11 pm

    What about a minor league contract few week try out for Scott Podsednik or Rocco Baldelli?

    Send Saunders and Peguero back down to AAA. Pod or Baldelli can ease Guti back into CF and ease Kennedy into Left at the same time.

    Leave Wilson up to platoon and because you want to send the message to minor leaguers that hard work pays off.

  95. Refuse2Lose on May 31st, 2011 1:16 pm

    So do you think that Ackley could get the Lopez affect by playing 2nd base this year when he comes up? Say he makes an error or pulls a Figgins, at such a young age it could affect his psyche at the plate. But, the best move would be Ackley at second, and Kennedy at 3rd, and make Figgins move to LF.
    That will make him prove, for one he is willing to try to produce in the 8 hole or 9 hole where I think he belongs, and second that he is willing to help the team win (showing he’s really invested) because he knows he’s struggling so its best for the team if we have Kennedy and Ackley in the infield where they know how to play.
    Then, we can also utilize Jack Wilson to relieve Ackley and Ryan, and Luis Rodriguez who can give Kennedy, Ackley, or Smoak a day off.
    This gives us a line-up with versatility and no Peguero or Big Mike and possibly Saunders if we can bring back Langerhans when Guti can handle every day grind.

    Ichiro RF
    Ryan SS
    Smoak 1B
    Cust DH
    Guti CF
    Kennedy 3B
    Ackley 2B
    Olivo C
    Figgins LF

    Bench:
    Langerhans OF
    J Wilson SS/2B
    L-Rod 1B/2B/3B
    Jimenez C/Emergency OF
    Carp? DH? 1B?

    BETTER HITTING, BETTER VERSATILITY
    Sacrificed for a bit of fielding….but I like the idea of Ryan, Kennedy and Smoak able to help pull the young kid along in the infield.

  96. Leroy Stanton on May 31st, 2011 1:23 pm

    So do you think that Ackley could get the Lopez affect by playing 2nd base this year when he comes up?

    That doesn’t mean what you think it does, but it’s funny to think about. :)

  97. asuray on May 31st, 2011 1:24 pm

    What you can’t do is credibly make your original argument:

    How do you figure? If your point is that Ackley is of equal value to the team in LF as opposed to 2B, all else being equal, then you are assuming that he can make up that 1.0 WAR difference in positional adjustment somehow. The only place that could come from would be defensively. In order for him to make up 1.0 WAR defensively, he would need to be a consistently elite LF. As for the Theriot thing, I noticed right after I posted that I had misread the FanGraphs “baserunning value” column. .42 of Theriot’s 5.9 WAR came from baserunning, so an average baserunning version of Theriot, which is what it sounds like you think Seager could be, would be a 1.6-1.8 WAR player. That might be about right. I don’t think he’ll be a +4 defender at second though. I think of him as a higher strike out and slightly higher walk version of Jeff Keppinger.

  98. jryoung222 on May 31st, 2011 1:33 pm

    asuray,

    Agree – who knows, really. However, the fact that Law would say, “no one is buying him as a second baseman anymore” is a pretty strong statement, and is based, I assume, on him talking scouts and other insiders, so it does make you at least question if Ackley’s really our 2B for the next decade. I guess the question is, if he ends up a below average defensive 2B, which is a distinct possibility, does it make sense to keep him there, or does the team get more net value by putting him in the OF and finding an alternative at 2B, i.e., an above average defense/average offense guy?

  99. Leroy Stanton on May 31st, 2011 1:39 pm

    If your point is that Ackley is of equal value to the team in LF as opposed to 2B

    That wasn’t my point. My point was that he could have a lower WAR in LF and the team could have a higher total WAR. That could be because of players they already have and/or positions they would need to fill.

    … all else being equal, then you are assuming that he can make up that 1.0 WAR difference in positional adjustment somehow.

    He can, but that’s different than he will. If he’s -5 runs at 2B and +5 in LF then that would do it.

  100. asuray on May 31st, 2011 2:06 pm

    If he’s -5 runs at 2B and +5 in LF then that would do it.

    Given the progression of his performance at second and his general athletic abilities, I’ve been assuming he could eventually get himself to being an average defender at second. If he is, in fact, only a -5 max second baseman, then moving him to left gains merit. Given the lack of actual data, I’d say there is significant overlap in the expected ranges of defensive performance for him at 2B and at LF, indicating the the difference in defensive value might be negligible.

    My point was that he could have a lower WAR in LF and the team could have a higher total WAR. That could be because of players they already have and/or positions they would need to fill.

    However, we don’t have any indication that any players exist in our system that have a high probability of performing to the level necessary to warrant Ackley moving to left. If we had a nice prospect who could be expected to provide above-average performance at 2B going forward, then Ackley to left might make sense. I’d say that the collection of outfielders we currently have in the system plus what we could be expected to pick up via free agency or a trade over the next few years without having to sacrifice much has a greater chance of yielding an average-plus player than what we have, or could get, at second base.

  101. djw on May 31st, 2011 2:51 pm

    Leroy, your point is true in the trivial sense that if the internal and below-market non-Ackley options for second base are very good and left field are very bad, Ackley’s lost WAR won’t from shifting to Left won’t hurt the team.

    I’ll cheerfully concede that if the scenario is accurate, you’re correct (in the short term) and that such a scenario is an actual possibility. But it’s not likely. There’s no good reason to assume Seager will develop in a best case scenario and all outfield prospects will continue to be useless, and no other viable options will be generated via trade.

    The M’s have a number of prospects at various positions, of various quality. They’ll draft more prospects shortly, and probably trade for more at some point as well. But pinning all your hopes on a B-ish level AA prospect like Seager (and ignoring the rest) isn’t a sensible way to think about the future. The M’s historic failures at that position notwithstanding, it has long been the case that MLB calibre left fielders are easier to acquire than MLB calibre second baseman. The M’s current pipeline of prospects isn’t dramatically unbalanced enough to overcome this.

  102. Leroy Stanton on May 31st, 2011 3:24 pm

    But pinning all your hopes on a B-ish level AA prospect like Seager (and ignoring the rest) isn’t a sensible way to think about the future.

    djw, it was just an example to explain how Ackley’s WAR is less important than the overall team WAR. I wasn’t advocating Seager at 2B over Ackley. However, I do think that in the near-term, Seager is better than any of our OF prospects:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/top-10-prospects-the-seattle-mariners-2/

    Only Pimentel and Chavez rate higher than Seager, but Pimentel is only 18 and Chavez is really struggling at AA. Conversely, Seager has made the adjustment to AA very nicely and I suspect he’ll be in AAA when Ackley is called up. That could mean he’ll compete for a job next year.

    But the question is about Ackley and not Seager. It is not a given that Ackley is worth more (WAR) at 2B than LF. Nobody knows yet, but we’ll find out soon enough.

  103. djw on May 31st, 2011 3:58 pm

    djw, it was just an example to explain how Ackley’s WAR is less important than the overall team WAR.
    Of course it is. But the larger point is that we know that quality 2B are harder to find than quality LF, and the current development levels of the prospects of a middling farm system doesn’t change that, so Ackley at 2B is very likely to be more beneficial to team WAR than than Ackley in LF. You’re correct that this is not an absolute certainty, but when teams make decisions about players they’re always probabilistic.

    (Assuming, of course, that Keith Law is wrong about Ackley’s defense. I hear so many conflicting things about that I don’t know what to think.)

  104. The_Waco_Kid on May 31st, 2011 4:16 pm

    There are a lot of good ideas here, but let’s not overreact to our current situation. Chances are the months ahead will be rougher than this one, even though Ichiro will probably improve and Figgins may. We have to prioritize the future (especially this early). In the end, Kennedy is old and I’d keep him at 2B and hope for a trade offer. I think you move Ackley only if you feel the 2B experiment has failed, but you don’t delay him. Figgins in LF (or Utility) is interesting, but I’d keep auditioning the kids in LF. Saunders deserves more time. Peguero deserves a little more. Mike Wilson has barely played. Maybe even give Carp a chance in LF. It’s a long shot, but why not. Exhaust every option this year, look at the LF market in the offseason, and move Ackley to LF only as the last resort.

    Much as I want us to contend this year, this season is more about winning enough to (a) be realistic contenders next year, (b) not get Jack Z fired, and (c) be more attractive to free agents next year.

  105. ppl on May 31st, 2011 4:25 pm

    The left field issue is overrated.

    With fans it easily crosses over into superstitiion.

    LF is a problem only because of bad moves to fill it, a general lack of positon player talent coming up through the system and trades of prospects who could have filled it over the years.

    It really is one of, if not the easiest position to fill.

    Try finding a top of the rotation starter, a good Catcher or a good SS or 2B. Those are way harder to fill. Easier to get a star calibre LF than a decent player up the middle.

    The M’s actually have that top of the rotation guy. They are trying to get that elusive star 2B.
    If LF becomes the biggest problem, the team is not in too bad of shape.

  106. just a fan on May 31st, 2011 4:53 pm

    Right now, the Seattle Mariners are 1.5 games out of 1st. The Seattle Mariners are in a race for the pennant.

    Moving Ackley to LF while the M’s are chasing the pennant will not destroy his future ability to play 2nd. Maybe it will delay his growth there, but if he’s capable of being a 2nd baseman, four or five months in left ain’t gonna stop him.

    If the M’s fall out of it in the next two months, then they can trade Kennedy and shift Ackley back to 2nd for the last couple months.

    If the M’s stay in contention, then they should be putting the most capable lineup out there.

    I vote Ackley to Left.

  107. KiWiNiNjA on May 31st, 2011 5:31 pm

    I can’t believe all the short-sighted Bavasis in this thread.

  108. Chris_From_Bothell on May 31st, 2011 6:15 pm

    Actually Chris, he said this:
    “We view Ackley as our second baseman going forward”
    Views change.

    Wow. Ok, Leroy. Ya know I generally get your point of view, on multiple blogs, but I see there’s no arguing with you on this one.

    If you’re going to go all “depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is” on me, then you’ve got your mind made up and well, you’re entitled to your opinion. :)

  109. scraps on May 31st, 2011 7:08 pm

    T

  110. Leroy Stanton on May 31st, 2011 11:42 pm

    Wow. Ok, Leroy. Ya know I generally get your point of view, on multiple blogs, but I see there’s no arguing with you on this one.

    If you’re going to go all “depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is” on me, then you’ve got your mind made up and well, you’re entitled to your opinion

    I think you may have misunderstood me. I just had a different reading of Jack’s words. No argument intended, I’m only offering another perspective.

    You said:

    Z confirmed that Ackley is going to be at second base, period.

    And I took that as a definitive statement.

    What Jack said was:

    We view Ackley as our second baseman going forward.

    I took that to mean “right now, but possibly subject to change”.

  111. bookbook on June 1st, 2011 6:53 am

    An Ackley, Gutierrez,ichiro OF would have chased down a whole lot of flyballs. That said, is it too early to start a free ackley movement?

    Even KG, not exactly an Ackley fan, is wondering why he isn’t up yet.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.