Unless you’ve been hiding under rock, I’m sure you’ve heard that Dustin Ackley is now the Mariners every day second baseman. This is only news in that it’s finally happening. There isn’t a more expected move that could have been made in baseball right now. Everyone knew we were going to see Ackley, it was only a matter of when.
To me, the interesting part of this was the other half of this transaction, the playing time shift that’s going to happen, and the move that wasn’t made.
Luis Rodriguez was the odd man out on the M’s roster, and was optioned down to Tacoma to make room for Ackley. This came as a bit of a surprise to me, but looking at it now I can say it shouldn’t have been surprising. Rodriguez was hitting just .167 hadn’t gotten into a game for a week now. He clearly wasn’t adding anything to the team at this point.
Adam Kennedy‘s platoon with Jack Wilson at second is now over. All signs point to Kennedy now getting most of his playing time at third at the expense of Chone Figgins. This likely wont make Figgins happy, but he hasn’t played well enough to hold on to his playing time, and the M’s need to keep Kennedy’s bat in the lineup against right handed pitching.
The most interesting part of this for me was the move that wasn’t made. Since spring training, it has always been assumed that Ackley’s appearance would mean the end for Jack Wilson. Wilson had already lost his job at shortstop to Bendan Ryan and had been forced to move to second, and with Ackley taking over at second, and Wilson trade seemed a forgone conclusion.
In fact, we’ve been talking about it for so long that I found myself rather surprised that Wilson and Ackley are going to be both in Mariners uniforms at the same time. Sure, Wilson’s trade value is pretty low right now. His .530 OPS isn’t going to attract a lot of attention. His UZR numbers are down as well, but if you’ve been watching the games you’d know that over the last month he’s settled in at second base and has actually been playing extremely well defensively, and his UZR will show that once the next update comes out. Though even if you give him credit for for his defense, he’s still a glove-only middle infielder who’s owed about $3 million for the rest of the year, so it’s not like the M’s would get a good player in return, probably just some A to AA reliever at best.
So perhaps that’s why Wilson is still here, or perhaps it’s because the M’s are winning, or both. As Geoff Baker pointed out, if the M’s are going to try and contend, having a slick fielding backup infielder can’t hurt. Especially if Ryan ends up getting hurt at some point. The M’s would be hard pressed to keep contending with Rodriguez at short for an extended period of time, so having Wilson to stick into the starting lineup would be worthwhile.
The same can’t be said if the M’s were in full “prepare for 2012″ mode. There would be nothing to gain by holding on to Wilson and his salary until the end of the season. Trading him, even if it was just to dump his salary, would be the right move. The drop off from Wilson to Rodriguez just wouldn’t be enough to justify keeping Wilson around if the Mariners had reached the point where they were out of it and playing all their prospects.
Luckily for us, that isn’t the case. The M’s are winning, and that is a very good thing.