Maybe It’s Time For Dustin Ackley To Play Some Outfield

Dave · June 10, 2013 at 7:40 am · Filed Under Mariners 

The Mariners outfield is a complete disaster. Not that this was that hard to see coming, but with Michael Saunders looking more like the 2011 version of suck than last year’s useful role player, the Mariners simply don’t have a single outfielder on the team that projects as any more than a decent bench player going forward. Talk of sending Saunders down or giving him time off to work on things falls apart when you actually look at what that would leave. Endy Chavez is a replacement level scrub at this point in his career, but he’s the only other guy on the roster who can play center field, and if he’s in center, you’re locked in to Ibanez playing everyday, and that is nothing short of a total disaster out there.

Michael Morse can’t play the outfield either, not in any kind of competent way, and not without one of his oversized muscles giving out. While the people who built this abomination of a roster might not want to admit it, the realities of building a team full of designated hitters are currently punching the Mariners square in the face. If they want to stop running out embarrassing line-ups, they need an entirely new outfield.

Unfortunately, the team’s total lack of off-season planning has left the organization bereft of outfielders, even at the minor league level. Carlos Peguero is still terrible. Eric Thames is not much better. Abe Almonte is Endy Chavez with worse defense. There’s no one in Tacoma’s outfield who is any better than replacement level either.

So, while I’ve been resistant to the idea in the past, maybe it is finally time to ask Dustin Ackley to start taking some reps in the outfield. No, I don’t think Ackley should be converted into an OF full time — and I still prefer him to Nick Franklin long term at second base — but with Franklin playing well enough to deserve a real shot at second base, Ackley’s best path back to the Majors this year involves him having some defensive versatility. And he’s got both the history and the skills that suggest that he could probably pick up the OF fairly quickly.

OF isn’t a new position for him, as he played there when his arm was healthy enough to allow it in college. Most of the people who were skeptical about his ability to become a quality defensive second baseman have projected Ackley as a long term OF since he has the foot speed to cover some ground out there. You’d probably want to give him a little bit of time to get used to reading balls off the bat again, but it wouldn’t be long of a process to get him to a point where he’s an upgrade over what the Mariners are using in the outfield right now. After all, anyone who isn’t an amputee is an upgrade defensively from Ibanez and Morse.

Ben Zobrist is probably the model you point to here. Zobrist is an excellent defensive second baseman, but he spends a few hundred innings in the OF every year so that the Rays can take advantage of platoon advantages and mix-and-match their roster of role players to best fit on a daily basis. Ackley’s bat isn’t at Zobrist’s level and might not ever be good enough for him to hold down a regular OF job, but giving him the versatility to be able to play the OF when needed can’t hurt his long term value. And it’s the only real way for the Mariners to get both Ackley and Franklin into the line-up together in the second half.

The Mariners are probably going to have to pick between those two at some point, as both are most valuable at second base and neither one has the defensive chops to be a true super utility guy, but with 2013 a lost season and the team in desperate need of competent outfielders, giving both Ackley and Franklin extended looks won’t cost them meaningful wins. This isn’t a pitch to try and fix this roster or turn the season around — that’s an impossible task, and everyone should, at this point, just admit that this roster is bad and the season is over — but it might give the Mariners their best chance to put a decent group of Major League players on the field together, and give them a few months to evaluate, side by side, whether Ackley or Franklin should be their long term answer at second base.

Unlike with Montero, this isn’t the kind of position change that has been long overdue and is required by some kind of skill deficiency. Ackley can still play second base and could still be the organization’s future everyday second baseman. Right now, though, they need three new outfielders, and he is the only guy in Tacoma with any hope of providing value out there. Getting him some versatility and a path back to the big leagues make this a move worth considering, at the least, and maybe worth implementing immediately.

Whether they like it or not, the Mariners are once again building to the future. Endy Chavez, Raul Ibanez, Michael Morse, and Jason Bay are not the future. Dustin Ackley might be. The best way to get him back on this team in the second half is to have him replace one of those guys, and the best way to do that is to have him start playing the outfield again.

Comments

66 Responses to “Maybe It’s Time For Dustin Ackley To Play Some Outfield”

  1. Bodhizefa on June 10th, 2013 8:06 am

    I’m curious if Dave is the last man standing in his affection for Ackley over Franklin. I originally hoped we would make Franklin the “Zobrist lite” player, and I still think both could enhance their stock by learning the outfield. If both are hitting, I certainly don’t think we should trade them. Let’s find a use for them on our offensively challenged team.

  2. Adam S on June 10th, 2013 8:09 am

    And it’s the only real way for the Mariners to get both Ackley and Franklin into the line-up together in the second half.
    Couldn’t Franklin play SS once they trade Brendan Ryan? I realize he isn’t really a major league quality SS long-term. But if you’ve been willing to run Morse and Ibanez out there as corner OF and you’re trying to get a look at players not optimize wins, can Franklin at SS be any worse?

    Any thoughts on Saunders rebounding? He was off to a good start and someone here or one of your “competitor” bloggers even mentioned All-Star Michael Saunders. Have pitchers figured out a weakness and they all exploit it?

  3. Dave on June 10th, 2013 8:10 am

    Brad Miller is the SS when you trade Brendan Ryan.

    As for Saunders, his weakness is he lacks the ability to make contact. That’s always been true, even last year. The only way to be a decent hitter while swinging through as many pitches as Saunders does is to hit for some power or be an elite defender. He’s not an elite defender, and the power comes and goes. When he’s driving the ball, he’s useful. When he’s not, he looks awful. Neither one is the “real” Saunders. The “real” Saunders is sometimes good, sometimes bad. He’s basically a left-handed Casper Wells.

  4. stevemotivateir on June 10th, 2013 8:21 am

    Brad Miller has been doing just about everything right with the bat. But he has a lot of errors in the field.

    Any idea why? Is he trying to do too much?

  5. littlelinny6 on June 10th, 2013 8:28 am

    Jason Churchill actually slightly disagrees with Dave on Brad Miller. He mentioned yesterday in commnents that Franklin is closer to a league avg defensive SS right now than Miller but Miller has a better chance to stick long term. I think the Franklin situation screams of “Ackley can’t play 2B” all over again. The guy has been dismissed before even trying him there. Not saying he is going to be Brendan Ryan but league avg. defense is definitely a reasonable expectation for him.

    Plus I think Ackley really needs to spend 100% of his time focused on the offensive side of the ball, not learning a new position yet again.

  6. PackBob on June 10th, 2013 8:37 am

    The only concern I have with Ackley coming up to play outfield is that he may start hitting like he did before he was sent down. I have no idea if more time in AAA would beneficial or make no difference whatsoever. But I think you have to look at Ackley with what’s best for him, not how he might help the team out of its current quandary.

    It seems to quick for him to have figured out what was wrong or have it ingrained if he did figure it out. But stranger things have happened. If he’s ready, yeah, bring him up. Even a rusty Ackley would upgrade the outfield defense, and provide more options to deal with the next injury.

  7. dgood on June 10th, 2013 8:37 am

    I don’t think you can say him learning a new position hurt him. I mean he hit quite well while learning 2B. It wasn’t until he had it down he cratered as a hitter.

  8. Hutch on June 10th, 2013 8:44 am

    Wouldn’t the team be better off trading one of it’s alleged abundance of middle infielders for OF depth rather than sticking Ackley out there, where his .280/ 15HR ceiling doesn’t even project to be league average? The guy was a runner up for a Gold Glove at second last year, why mess with what works (or could work if the FO quit changing Ackley’s batting stance every two weeks, anyways.)

  9. scraps on June 10th, 2013 8:49 am

    Bodhizefa, I’m not Dave, but I still like Ackley over Franklin long-term (though “long-term” might mean getting rid of the Mariner’s bad advice-givers, or trading Ackley).

    I still remember Ackley’s good beginning as a Mariner, too; Franklin is in his first two weeks. I’ll wait a lot more till coming to a decision.

  10. stevemotivateir on June 10th, 2013 8:52 am

    @Hutch

    What abundance of middle infielders?! Miller’s in the plan moving forward, Romero’s already in LF. Triunfel isn’t worth much and Franklin’s obviously needed at 2B in Seattle right now.

    We went from plenty-of to just-enough pretty quick!

  11. casey on June 10th, 2013 8:55 am

    I like the idea of Ackley as a Zobrist type – always thought he had that kind of bat. Certainly bat is playing that way at AAA. Could also play some first base while waiting for Smoak to get healthy.

    Didn’t know the front office was changing Ackley’s swing every two weeks – didn’t know that was in the front office job description – should keep Chuck and Howard and Z in the office and off the field.

    Finally think there are some other fixes such as getting Zunino to the big club (our catching situation is embarrassing and a big part of that horrible roster planning last winter) and having Ramirez or Hultzen added to the rotation in next 2-3 weeks.

  12. vertigoman on June 10th, 2013 9:02 am

    Linny6,
    Churchill is the guy that was adamantly saying that there was nothing wrong with Ackley. He’ll be fine…. Now he’s the one saying that there is something fundamentally wrong with Ackley’s offense and he has no place in the majors at this point. I guess the wind blows “scouts” opinions around quite easily.
    I don’t pay attention to Churchill’s opinions too much. They’re usually Keith Law’s anyways.
    It is not unusual for players to play multiple positions. Ackley did it in HS and college. He’s played OF as a pro. This is not a reach and Zobrist is a great example of this. A position change might take his mind off his swing which may well be exactly what he needs. At the very least its not going to hurt him.

  13. currcoug on June 10th, 2013 9:06 am

    At this point, we should be once again be thanking Justin Upton for rejecting the trade. Walker looks ready for AAA, if not an August call up. So far, Franklin has been solid.

    Those who suggested that Ackley be moved to the OF, were met with some derision…and now we have Dave suggesting same. Who knows? Maybe it will help Ackley’s bat…stranger things have happened.

    Personally, I would like to see Romero called up for LF.

    It sure would be nice to have Tuiasosopo right about now, but he is doing a fine job for Detroit, mostly in LF. Oops.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?id=tuiasma01&year=2013&t=b

  14. Jay R. on June 10th, 2013 9:21 am

    “everyone should, at this point, just admit that this roster is bad and the season is over”

    Pretty sure most of us were there by the first week of March. Not like this complete Charlie Foxtrot was tough to predict. Unless you work in a decision-making capacity for the Seattle Mariners, that is.

    I would like to see Ackley back, and would love to see much less of Raul in LF, so what the hell? Never hurts to have some versatility down the road for the next regime to utilize. Or trade away for some ‘veteranness’.

  15. Badbadger on June 10th, 2013 9:21 am

    “It sure would be nice to have Tuiasosopo right about now, but he is doing a fine job for Detroit, mostly in LF. Oops.”

    Notice that his BABIP is over .400. That will come down about a hundred points pretty soon.

  16. Klatz on June 10th, 2013 9:36 am

    In this instance, I don’t any of the bloggers/commenters really have any idea of what’s good for Ackley. We’re pretty sure that the outfield needs help at the MLB level. I’m not even sure Ackley knows what’s going to help him.

    But it’s certain that the M’s could use a good outfielder. I think they’ll muddle through until the AS break but then at least one or more of Ibanez/Bay/Morse will have been traded. With little likely help from the minors, the team will need to find an OF(s) from outside. And Romero may be able to be a “LF” but it’s not clear he’s ready yet.

  17. jak924 on June 10th, 2013 9:37 am

    A guy like Saunders drives me crazy. He’s got that natural long swing and he’s moving hands up and down as the ball is pitched. Another guy that should be taking his show to AAA.

  18. sawsatch on June 10th, 2013 9:41 am

    If Ackley doesn’t play second for the Mariners, then he won’t remain a Mariner.
    This is just one of the many failed details in an overall failed plan.
    The plan was to have great young players succeed and make it possible to acquire veteran talent.
    The young have failed and no one wants to play here.

  19. smb on June 10th, 2013 9:58 am

    Man, 2 of the bottom 8 in UZR? What a joke.

    Ouch…just ouch. And if we’re looking at Ben Zobrist as possibly Ackley’s ceiling now…well, don’t let me demean that idea or him either, as Zobrist is certainly useful, but that’s just really disappointing given what we thought we were getting in Ackley.

    And I totally agree with the ‘thank god Upton declined that trade” sentiment. I didn’t like that trade then and I still don’t like it now.

  20. SonOfZavaras on June 10th, 2013 10:05 am

    Good article, Dave. Your posts are often the kind where “Hey, I never thought about it like that”…this one happens to be just as I was wondering the same thing.

    “The Mariners outfield is such a mess, I wonder if Ackley and the team would be better off being our left fielder…”

    …and along comes this article. I agree with a lot of it. When a team is depending on Endy Chavez as much as this one is, you know there’s a few tourniquets being applied and a whole lot o’ bleeding.

    The roster planning this winter- or lack thereof- has just been inexplicably incompetent. I know that it was just about the worst free agency period we could’ve asked for with no clean answers to our many questions, I get that…but what they chose to do was WOW! bad.

    And it wasn’t hard to see in March. Let alone when it’s smacking us in the face here in mid-June.

    The only way to be a decent hitter while swinging through as many pitches as Saunders does is to hit for some power or be an elite defender. He’s not an elite defender, and the power comes and goes.

    Um, wait. I thought he was in the major leagues pretty much on that alone, being “an elite defender”.

    I do know that seeing Saunders out there compared to Ibanez is like seeing a phantom jet next to The Wright Brothers’ plane.

  21. SonOfZavaras on June 10th, 2013 10:12 am

    The young have failed and no one wants to play here.

    Oh, please. While your basic points are salient enough, sawsatch, let’s leave the pity train at the station.

    The truth is, the Mariners’ condition is NOT unique. There’s 15-18 teams out there who are attempting the same thing as we are: figuring out who’s young and can be built upon, figuring out who stays and who goes.

    Kyle Seager hasn’t failed, and he’s a young player. The ones in AAA are all young enough for us to still reserve judgment. Mike Morse wanted to play here and all but did cartwheels when he found out about the trade to Seattle- while not a great player he’s not “no one”.

    This running a major-league baseball team is hard stuff. We’re just trying to figure it out, same as most others.

    We’ll get there. But there’s a real need for a transformative, seismic move that just alters the direction we’re on.

    And no, I’m not qualified or smart enough to know what it is just yet.

  22. JasonJ on June 10th, 2013 10:18 am

    Why didn’t these boneheads sign Bourn or Swisher…or both! Everybody could see that our outfield situation was going to be a mess not only in 2013 but for the next few years. There’s nobody in the minors that offers much hope and the only guy that had any long-term potential was Saunders and now he is regressing.

    I have mentioned in previous posts that they may need to give Ackley a shot at outfield but in my opinion he is a pretty damn good second baseman. I guess that is the only position Franklin can play so it makes sense to bump Ackley but it seems like a waste.

    I’m not sure what the right answer is but I still feel like Jack Z. blew it by not signing at least one ACTUAL outfielder (not a DH masquerading as an OF) this past off-season who would be around for 3-5 years.

  23. ppl on June 10th, 2013 10:22 am

    At this point Ackley has not solidified himself offensively as a regular player so the best thing would be for him to be used in a interchangeable part role for now.

    I love his defense at second and I hope he can get back to being the everyday guy there.

    We all wanted more from him. But the team must do the best with what it has and this is what will work best right now.

  24. sawsatch on June 10th, 2013 10:34 am

    I’m not on a pity train. I know other teams are doing poorly as well.
    It’s just that J. Z. hasn’t delivered on his promises. The fact that others have failed doesn’t change that fact.
    By the way, I feel things could change with good local ownership.

  25. raul_podzednick on June 10th, 2013 10:49 am

    I went to a game several weeks ago and it was obvious from the outfield bleachers that Saunders’s swing had gotten too long again, why is there no one who can help him correct this sooner? It’s not that hard, show him a little video of success with is short compact swing driving doubles to deep left center and then showing flailing away now. I am sure it will hit home. Or for the love of god bring in Josh Bards brother as a full time swing doctor. Why does there have to be only one batting coach?

  26. SonOfZavaras on June 10th, 2013 10:53 am

    Count me among the ones, BTW, that haven’t totally given up on the idea of Nick Franklin being our shortstop.

    Now, can he play shortstop better than he plays second base? Hmmm. Not so sure on that.

    But I see a guy who CAN play there, if you get enough in trade for a Brendan Ryan to part with him.

    It’s not whopping for the position, but I see enough lateral range from Franklin to play shortstop. I see enough arm to play there.

    If Ackley were to convert back to outfield, I think it should be because it makes the team better if he does. Right now, it’s difficult to argue we’d be worse off if it happened.

    I’d like to point out, though, that Ackley does NOT have the arm strength to handle center or right field. It’s barely passable in left, he may be on a par with Ibanez when it comes to arm strength.

    On a par with Ibanez. Think about that for a second.

  27. redranger on June 10th, 2013 10:59 am

    If Ackley gets to 80% of Zobrist production, I’d be ecstatic. You’d have at least a 4 WAR player. Who wouldn’t be satisfied with that?

  28. SonOfZavaras on June 10th, 2013 11:04 am

    Plus I think Ackley really needs to spend 100% of his time focused on the offensive side of the ball, not learning a new position yet again.

    This is not an inconsiderable point. It’s asking a lot of someone to convert at this high of a level, and we’re already trying it with Montero to first base.

    (Or, we were…before someone had the damn bright idea of telling him where his catcher’s mitt was in Tacoma. Jesus. H. Christ. Someone was STOO-pid.)

    They DID spend a lot of time converting Ackley to second base, and his defense has been better- way better- than what was advertised for us to expect.

  29. casey on June 10th, 2013 11:25 am

    Seeing Ackley hit for two weeks at triple A I still see the dominant offensive player we drafted and saw through his first MLB season. He hits with runners on base, he hits for modest power, and he is on base all the time (where he can take advantage of his plus base running skills). He is a constant offensive threat…something we sorely need on the Mariners.

    Mystery is why this hasn’t translated to MLB at bats (have read all the theories from changing mechanics to MLB pitchers having him figured out to being overly passive at the plate and his approach to the game, to his hitting confidence being shot – that this is a pyschological problem).

  30. raul_podzednick on June 10th, 2013 11:28 am

    Ackley has played OF before, I really don’t thinks it going to be that mentally taxing of a transition. Where is this info about his arm strength coming from. His Tommy John surgery is well behind him and I always thought pitchers could actually gain velocity from it. I think he could succeed in the OF, he may never be superstar there but he could be a valuable contributor which at this point I would settle for.

  31. shortbus on June 10th, 2013 11:30 am

    It’s a shame Ackley’s arm is too weak to play CF. It’s the position his bat and speed would play the best at. Then he could hit .280/.350/.400 and be a solid contributor. As a corner outfielder he might have to add something else (basestealing?) to his offensive game or play outstanding defense.

    I just don’t know what this team was thinking in how the roster was put together. If it was any combination of “I’m sure Guti will stay healthy,” or “Ibanez can play outfield for 100 games,” then they just weren’t thinking clearly. Realistically we know they couldn’t get the FA’s they really wanted and didn’t have a good backup plan.

  32. frazfan on June 10th, 2013 11:36 am

    Unfortunately, Saunders is having a serious problem getting the head of the bat on the ball. I presume he’ll finish the season better that he’s doing now, but I say this with a hope and a prayer. As for Ackley in the outfield, well, why not as long as his arm can handle it. He has experience as an outfielder and seems to be more than competent defensively. Even if either Franklin or Ackley is eventually traded, giving them reps in creases their value (as long as they don’t give up mass errors or fall into a batting average pit AKA Ackley).

  33. pbk13 on June 10th, 2013 11:59 am

    New management is needed at the top of this team. I found it disturbing yesterday that the stadium was packed. The fans in Seattle are giving management little reason to improve things. I find it hard to root for a team where players don’t give care. It’s impossible to root for a team where management doesn’t give a shit. Go Dodgers and Go Everybody Who is Playing the Mariners!!

    how many years has it been since there was a decent team in Seattle? And how many years will we have to wait for one?

  34. GhostofMarinersPast on June 10th, 2013 12:30 pm

    Pbk13

    If you were truly a fan of this godforsaken team then you would know exactly how long it had been since we’ve fielded a decent team.

  35. smb on June 10th, 2013 12:31 pm

    I wasn’t there but to be fair, wasn’t the stadium mostly full of Yankees fans yesterday? Anyone care to guess on the split there? Can’t control the ‘message’ our ownership takes from packing the stadium with Yankees fans…if they take that as “Seattle loves us and the job we’re doing,” then we’re worse off than I thought, and that is saying something.

  36. sawsatch on June 10th, 2013 12:31 pm

    They didn’t want to lose a draft pick by signing Bourn.

  37. sawsatch on June 10th, 2013 12:32 pm

    They didn’t want to lose a draft pick by signing Bourn.

  38. EastsideSteve on June 10th, 2013 12:34 pm

    Shortbus,

    You are one of the few that has said anything about Ackley’s arm strength. I noticed when he was playing second how laboring his throws were to first. We don’t need another Jeremy Reed in center.

  39. Mathball on June 10th, 2013 12:43 pm

    Why do I feel that before we bring up Ackley, we need to fire Wedge and bring in a manager that won’t mess him up again?

    I am sure it is not that simple and I hope I am wrong.

  40. Athanasius on June 10th, 2013 1:25 pm

    vertigoman,

    Want to let us know where Churchill said Ackley was fine, or do you prefer just making grandiose statements with no evidence to back it up?

    I’ll follow your lead: my recollection is that Churchill has been saying since early last summer that Ackley’s swing is broken. Dave has been defending Ackley as recently as early this year, stating that Ackley would be fine due to his contact rates, while naysayers raced to get off his “bandwagon.”

  41. make_dave_proud on June 10th, 2013 1:34 pm

    This could be a good thing, and I’d be on board with it. But, we’re also at the point where I sound like a Baker commenter: blow it up. Rebuild.

  42. Snuffy on June 10th, 2013 1:55 pm

    I posted this earlier on Saunders. He appears to have 2 issues… long load to his swing with excess hand movement. He also dance/jumps at the ball.
    ***
    Saunders does do 2 things quite often that seem to hurt his swing, especially when they occur at the same time.

    1-He has a (less pronounced but still) visible over the top movement of the bat head toward the pitcher before he starts his swing. Gary Sheffield had a far more active movement of the same type and hit very well so I can’t claim this is a true fault. In the Saunders swing it looks like he takes too long to load and is then committed to a swing path too early. This is especially so when he is busted in on his hands. Sheffield had tremendous power in his wrists and forearms, comparatively, Saunders does not (but that’s true for nearly all batters compared to Sheff). This could lead to a less powerful bat head speed through the hitting zone. Of course, maybe this is how Saunders loads his swing, but excess hand-movement usually leads to more swing and misses.

    2-Head movement also leads to more swing and miss situations. Watch Saunders front foot land in connection with his back foot coming off the ground. Frank Thomas had a hard plant and often lifted his back leg. But with Saunders, his back foot comes up too soon, before his front foot is firmly down. This means a less solid hitting base, more head movement and less power. There are times when neither foot is on the ground fully when he makes contact. See a much better explanation here…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9j-uq1Cmj8

  43. sawsatch on June 10th, 2013 1:56 pm

    Starting with ownership.

  44. casey on June 10th, 2013 2:22 pm

    Snuffy loved this analysis and the video – pretty interesting stuff. Type of analysis you might see of golfer’s swings – imagine there is more of this than we might know about (or maybe not with most hitting coaches being just old ball players).

  45. JE on June 10th, 2013 3:04 pm

    I was there Saturday, and I get to one or two games a year due to the distance. We were surrounded by Yankee fans, I’d say at least two or three to one. Its weird, if the Yankees got a hit, big cheer, the Mariners a sparse cheer. So much for the home field. Its almost like it is simply a place for events instead of “where the Mariners play” we need the fans to support the team and need to create a team that the fans can root for instead of the visiting team.

  46. ivan on June 10th, 2013 3:05 pm

    Has it ever crossed some people’s minds that Swisher or Bourn just might not have wanted to play here, period, for whatever reason, and that no amount of money in the world would have brought either of them here?

  47. sawsatch on June 10th, 2013 3:11 pm

    Players want to be paid well and win. Go Hawks!

  48. casey on June 10th, 2013 3:32 pm

    by my count Seahawks only have one winning record in the last 5 (2012). Either the players are still coming for the Holmgren years or all it takes is one winning season. Wonder if this is all it would take to have the free agents lining up for the Mariners.

  49. Longgeorge1 on June 10th, 2013 3:55 pm

    Hey have any of you guys been to Tacoma recently? It’s just a SSS but Abraham Almonte. has looked very good. He has speed, a plus arm, makes contact, usually very solidly and good plate discipline. It could be a Zunino type of AAA start where he more or less flames out, BUT this “scout ” thinks he looks better than any other position we have in the system. If Ackley can’t hit good enough to play second what makes anyone think he could hit good enough to play CF?

  50. casey on June 10th, 2013 4:27 pm

    what a horrible lineup tonight – at least Astros are playing guys who have a future. Yech – Bay, Ibanez, Shoppach, Chavez – like watching seniors tour golf only having to play the back tees.

  51. casey on June 10th, 2013 4:29 pm

    Almonte bears watching – has kindof come from nowhere. Haven’t seen him play but am envisioning a young Endy Chavez type?

  52. sawsatch on June 10th, 2013 4:56 pm

    The test is the Major Leagues. J.Z. is great at building AA and AAA ballclubs.

  53. mca on June 10th, 2013 5:52 pm

    I like the idea of Ackley playing some OF just for the roster flexibility a future team might have, a huge upgrade over the current team of DHs at every position. If he is not able to overtake Franklin at 2B (and I have no idea who will be better in the long term) and if he can play at least 2 OF positions, 2B, and 1B, he could be an everyday player without a position. I’m not sure if I’m right to give the advantage to Montero figuring it out over Smoak, but if he does (and lots of other things go right) the lineup could look something like this for 2014(hopefully some upgrades can be made, of course, but at least its flexible):
    DH-Morales / Montero
    C-Zunino / Sucre
    1B-Morales / Ackley / Montero
    2B-Franklin / Ackley
    SS-Miller / Franklin (unless it’s really impossible to even be a backup SS)
    3B-Seager / ? (Triunfel? Liddi?)
    LF-Romero / Ackley / Saunders
    CF/DL-Gutierrez / Saunders / Ackley
    RF-??? Chavez?/Morse? /Ichiro?(I know this would not happen and most people would not be happy about this, but if I have to see a RF suck, I’d rather see one sucking his way to 3,000 hits rather than sucking his way to obscurity. The outfield situation really is dire.)
    If the new manager does not insist on a 12 man bullpen, even if Guti does stay healthy and keep a role on this team, this leaves room for one more player. The team would still not be good, but it would be bad with less Veteran Grittiness and way more Youthful Hopiness.

  54. msfanmike on June 10th, 2013 6:19 pm

    Ackley did a nice job fielding a position where he never looked to be a natural. Being able to play more than one position is only going to help him and the team. I doubt that his arm could be worse than Johnny Damon’s … And I sure as hell hope he can eventually hit like Damon could.

    In recent interviews, I have heard Z say “not yet” when asked about a potential position change for Ackley. I have not heard him say “no” … At least not recently.

  55. stevemotivateir on June 10th, 2013 7:55 pm

    Has it ever crossed some people’s minds that Swisher or Bourn just might not have wanted to play here, period, for whatever reason, and that no amount of money in the world would have brought either of them here?

    Shannon Drayer re-posted an interview with Swisher that either she had made, or another local writer (I honestly can’t remember), just before he signed with Cleveland. He made it clear he wasn’t down on Seattle at all.

    There’s no reason to believe $ wouldn’t influence them. You think they were holding out for Cleveland?

  56. gopilots70 on June 10th, 2013 7:59 pm

    I agree that Dustin you should be given some time in the outfield. I suggested it yesterday on PI and Jason strongly disagreed, but I have great respect for his opinion and for Dave’s. Along with most of the people on these blogs.

    I like the Zobrist comparison. The M’s are always saying they love versatility—check the statements after last week’s draft–but they rarely practice it. I never understood why Montero was not given at least practice at first base from Day One. And what does it hurt to put him out there a few times a month?

    And we should have seen Carlos at third, short and second a bit more frequently already.

    I think the manager is worried about being “embarrassed”. But the most embarrassing thing was the last ten days or so where they had literally no options on the bench because they didn’t want to put Smoak or Morse or Sucre on the DL. Ludicrous! And we call ourselves a major league teams?

  57. stevemotivateir on June 10th, 2013 8:00 pm

    For those high on Almonte, it’s worth noting he’s only played 21 games for Tacoma. What he’s done at the plate is nothing short of impressive, but it is short.

    And then there’s the defense to consider.

  58. sawsatch on June 10th, 2013 8:04 pm

    Swisher held out for $ and Bourn would have cost them a first round draft pick. This team is going nowhere anyway, though I admit a good lead off hitter would be fun to watch.
    Geoff Baker said it well: that the season was built on the young guys producing with additions and leadership provided by the veterans. The veterans can’t carry a team on old bodies and our field manager is behind a rock and a hard place. The young guys aren’t producing and if he just plays the veterans daily, they tire, their production decreases and they get hurt.

  59. stevemotivateir on June 10th, 2013 9:14 pm

    ^Swisher would have cost them a draft pick too. And you can bet Bourn was holding out for more money as well. Made sense to target both, especially once it was clear both would come at a reasonable price.

    Worth noting, Wedge played a role this roster construction. He put himself between the rock and a hard place. He wanted old players like Bay and Ibanez, he’ll have to live with their limitations -until he’s fired, anyway.

  60. sawsatch on June 10th, 2013 10:02 pm

    Can’t argue with your reasoning. All for naught though if the so-called young talent can’t produce.

  61. Woodcutta on June 11th, 2013 2:05 am

    Bourn/Swisher would have cost the M’s a first round pick in this year’s draft but I would have preferred to see an actual ML caliber player signed by the M’s instead of picking at 12. If there was an offensive player in this past draft that had the current skills to be called up within two years, he would have been drafted higher than 12. IMO, this last free agent period was the time to snag an above average to all-star level offensive player or two b/c of where the M’s picked. The M’s front office needs to have a complete and fully flushed out offseason plan. The team can’t afford to have another Plan A only offseason.

  62. cougarcountry on June 11th, 2013 5:30 am

    If his bat can’t stick at 2b, why would we want him in the outfield?

    1200 PA’s into this thing and talking about Ackley as a barely useful IF/OF positional guy feels like optimism.

  63. stevemotivateir on June 11th, 2013 7:17 am

    That’s more or less my take on it, Woodutta. I just wanna see them get proactive now.

  64. vertigoman on June 11th, 2013 11:11 am

    Athanasius,
    I’ll let you go back through the super opinionated tweets and occasional blog posts. I honestly can’t read that site anymore and I had to I unfollow his twitter account.

  65. sawsatch on June 11th, 2013 11:46 am

    To Snuffy’s post:
    Good points on Saunders. He takes a lot of called 3rd strikes as well.

  66. MMonkman on June 16th, 2013 9:30 pm

    I’m about a week late to the comment party, but the first paragraph of this post prompted me to undertake this analysis (started before Jeff’s subsequent post about Ibanez’s monkey paw trickery).
    http://bayesball.blogspot.ca/2013/06/annotating-select-points-on-x-y-plot.html

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