Dustin Ackley, Outfielder In Training

Jeff Sullivan · June 12, 2013 at 5:12 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

It’s not that I didn’t like Nick Franklin. I’ve thought of Franklin as a pretty good prospect all along, a guy capable of eventually helping an organization move forward. But for a super long time, I thought Franklin was obvious trade bait. For a long time, maybe he was obvious trade bait. Franklin wasn’t going to be able to be a long-term shortstop, and the Mariners already had this Dustin Ackley embedded at second. Franklin made the most sense as a guy who’d go away in order to bring back a different guy. But that supposed that Ackley wouldn’t be bad, and then Ackley was bad, and then Franklin became the Mariners’ second baseman, and now look where we are. This is, officially, happening:

What this isn’t is a long-term strategy shift. The Mariners haven’t committed themselves to Franklin as the second baseman and to Ackley as an outfielder. Plans change as circumstances change, and that’s plainly evident from this very Ackley example. We don’t know what’s going to be going on a year from now. This is just an idea being put into execution.

But it’s pretty easy to interpret. Franklin has done well so far, and the Mariners like Brad Miller as a shortstop. The outfield, meanwhile, is threadbare, and Ackley had collegiate outfield experience before he had Tommy John surgery, from which he’s obviously recovered. People were wondering how the Mariners would find room for Ackley and Franklin at the same time, in the event Ackley got things fixed. Here’s your answer. Ackley might not be transitioning to the outfield full-time, but he’s at least going to increase his versatility so that he can play the outfield in a pinch. He’s done it, and while he won’t have a rocket-launcher arm, Ackley should be able to cover a lot of ground. That’s the important bit.

So now Ackley is in Tacoma working on his hitting and a new defensive position, while Jesus Montero is doing the same. For Ackley, at least, it should be somewhat familiar, so this shouldn’t be jarring, even if it’s been years. Ackley turned himself into a plus defensive second baseman so in that regard this might be questionable, but Franklin wasn’t going to become an outfielder himself, and Ackley could be good out there too. If the Mariners end up having to play Franklin at second and Ackley in left.

Which, yeah. Let’s not all get ahead of ourselves. Franklin hasn’t cemented himself as a quality big leaguer, and neither has Ackley. Franklin’s new and Ackley’s in the minors again after falling flat on his face. The ideal situation would be that Franklin and Ackley both succeed for a long time at these respective positions, but we can’t assume that, nor can we write off the possibility of a trade. Maybe Ackley scoots back to second. Maybe Ackley disappears, even though not long ago that would’ve been almost unthinkable.

Getting Ackley some reps in the outfield was a pretty obvious decision, and now it’s been made. Going forward, this could have pretty apparent implications. At present, consider that Dustin Ackley has been bumped off by Nick Franklin. Consider that, a year ago, Ackley was surpassed by Kyle Seager. In the positive light, Franklin has really emerged. In the negative light, Ackley sure is sinking. This could certainly work, but for a long time it would’ve been nuts to think it could come to this.

The Mariners could really use some outfielders. They might just have one, in an infielder. It’s worth trying. Why the hell not?


26 Responses to “Dustin Ackley, Outfielder In Training”

  1. shortbus on June 12th, 2013 5:19 pm

    Maybe the team was concerned that the Jeremy Reed comp wouldn’t be complete until Ackley was an outfielder.

  2. Paul B on June 12th, 2013 5:26 pm

    Why do I think Ackley would be a worse 4th outfielder than either Jason Bay or Endy Chavez?

  3. casey on June 12th, 2013 5:27 pm
  4. MrZDevotee on June 12th, 2013 5:30 pm

    I was with you, and kinda thinking Ackley would basically BE Endy Chavez as an outfielder.

    C’est la Merde Vie…

  5. MrZDevotee on June 12th, 2013 5:32 pm


    (Imagine if Ackley was pronounced differently… the pink roses are particularly nice…)

  6. rth1986 on June 12th, 2013 5:36 pm

    While I don’t see the harm in putting Ackley in the outfield for versatility, I’d ultimately hope that we trade from our middle infield strength for a center fielder. Hopefully one of Franklin, Miller and Ackley can be part of a package that brings a true CF to Seattle.

    We still have Seager (2B only), Romero (poor 2B only), Triunfel and Taylor who can play the middle infield too. Tons of depth there.

  7. SonOfZavaras on June 12th, 2013 5:37 pm

    If we can get him into the Dustin Ackley that was supposed to be a perennial .300-hitting threat in the major leagues, he can play bass fiddle for all I care.

    If Ack can do well at left field and hit, great with me. But I’m not sold on the arm strength whatsoever until I see him do otherwise.

  8. casey on June 12th, 2013 5:42 pm

    was just thinking in a fair world Ackley is better cast a desperado vs yet another Mariners front office desperate move. Love Angie by Stones though too…

  9. mca on June 12th, 2013 5:42 pm

    I think Ackley in LF would be an immediate improvement over watching Ibanez in LF, and I like Ibanez (just not as a current player on a team I cheer for).

  10. phineasphreak on June 12th, 2013 5:44 pm

    I’d like to see Ackley stick at 2nd, where he’s a gold glover, and hope that his new success in AAA transitions back to the bigs. If the M’s think that Miller is the future at SS, then why not trade Franklin or Franklin plus someone else for a legit OF. At this point, literally NONE of our outfielders should be playing every day (in the OF). They’re 4th OFs, or they’re 1st/DH’ers. I’d like to think that Condor will come around, but the way he’s playing now doesn’t warrant every day playing time. He’s simply getting it because of our complete lack of depth in the OF.

  11. californiamariner on June 12th, 2013 6:07 pm

    This team has definitely become a lot more interesting in the last couple of days. Swap out Bonderman for Erasmo and Harang for Hultzen down the road and the 2nd half will at least be interesting to watch on a daily basis. (If Hultzen every gets healthy).

  12. furlong on June 12th, 2013 6:13 pm

    To my old tired eyes Franklin is already a better fit at second than Ackley ever was. Frankin has more range and a much better arm and right now a better stick. If Ackley can get the ball back to the infield he would be a vast improvement over Morse.

  13. cougarcountry on June 12th, 2013 6:44 pm

    So, a team badly lacking offensive production is taking a guy whose bat couldn’t stick at second base and trying to groom him into a part time left fielder. And this is supposed to be intriguing or exciting for the future in some way. Huh….not happening.

  14. Sowulo on June 12th, 2013 6:45 pm

    If his bat comes around, Ackley could be another Johnny Damon but with a better glove.

  15. casey on June 12th, 2013 6:49 pm

    I think the interesting part is that Ackley is clearly Tacoma’s best hitter right now, hitting .429 and OPS’ing 1.143 in 70 at bats – off the chart numbers. Half empty a AAAA player / Jeremy Reed clone, half full this is the offensive player he was as he dominated college pitchers and then made his way through the minor league system.

  16. akampfer on June 12th, 2013 7:16 pm

    Ackley was an outfielder in the first place, playing center field for UNC. I always wondered if it was a matter of playing him where he is comfortable, but that didn’t work for Figgins, so who knows.

  17. cougarcountry on June 12th, 2013 7:21 pm

    I have very little confidence in the likelihood of Ackley ever being a Damon like hitter, who even at his peak was a 118 OPS+, and who at the same age was into his 3rd year of being a solid major league player, and posting a .380 obp while Ackley is face planting and dealing with his second demotion.

    So, high/optimistic side is Johnny Damon, who was at his peak a 4 WAR player. Super.

  18. Sowulo on June 12th, 2013 7:45 pm

    At his peak, Damon was a 6 WAR player.

  19. scraps on June 12th, 2013 8:01 pm

    “Second demotion”? What am I missing?

    I’m still confident, as long as Wedge is fired before Ackley comes up again.

  20. bookbook on June 12th, 2013 9:01 pm

    Ackley and Franklin should both be 2b’s somewhere. They’re good at it, and right for the position. That said, the M’s will probably be best served by getting both into the line-up in the second half. It can only enhance the trade value of whichever one if that one can prove his capability of hitting in the majors.

    Of course, this all backfires if Romero proves ready to get his feet wet, but can’t because he’s blocked by Ackley. Oh, the humanity!

  21. cougarcountry on June 12th, 2013 9:58 pm

    fangraphs has him at 4.5 WAR, back in 2000- when he was 1 year older than Ackley is now…. Perhaps I’m misreading. At any rate, I’m not very optimistic about Ackley ever being the kind of hitter Damon was, and that’s pretty sad given expectations. Perhaps that’s short changing him, but his last 800 or so plate appearances don’t exactly exude any kind of confidence. I mean we’re a few years and 1100 at bats into this thing and all we see is him posting an ops+ of 50.

  22. GLS on June 12th, 2013 11:10 pm

    Ackley, Franklin, Romero, Miller – someone’s almost certainly getting traded at some point. But, the deal that you want may not be available when you want it, so you have to find a way to get guys on the field. Hence Ackley in left, Romero in right, Franklin at second, and Miller at SS – that’s probably how it will work out at some point this year or next if whatever the trade ends up being hasn’t happened yet.

  23. bookbook on June 13th, 2013 6:07 am

    As a team with no DH and no 1b, we ought to be able to fit any and all comers who are willing to swing the bat with authority (on the “bright” side?)

  24. Soda Popinski on June 13th, 2013 9:52 am

    Danny Tartabull anyone?

  25. Westside guy on June 13th, 2013 10:37 am

    I don’t really understand how our farm system can be rated so highly when we have basically no outfield prospects at all.

  26. vertigoman on June 13th, 2013 2:51 pm

    Mark Mclemore was my favorite player on the 2001 team. 2B by trade with enough wheels to play OF and enough on base ability to justify it. Limited arm but could run the bases well. I’d be happy with a Mac clone.
    Position versatility is a good thing. Everyone is so quick to lump players into roles that are set in stone. Shit happens, being able to come in from the OF or vice versa mid game is a huge advantage when it comes to the 25 man roster construction. It allows for more specialization on the bench or bullpen.This is in no ways a stretch for him defensively and if he isn’t hitting to expectations it all doesn’t matter anyways. The current regime just proved that.
    The Rays found a spot for an athletic fielder in order to get him (Zobrist )in the lineup everyday. It’s paid off on offense and defense. It allows the Rays to mix and match. The Cardinals are doing that now with Carpenter.
    We should be excited if this works out.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.