BY John Hickey 07:34PM 04/09/2011

Why Ackley isn’t the Mariners’ answer yet

Regardless of ills at second base, Mariners need to let him learn in minors

Dustin Ackley needs to stay at Tacoma, regardless of Mariners' current issues at second base. / Getty Images

In the wake of this week’s Jack Wilson fiasco, some think what the Mariners need to do is bring up 2009 first-round draft pick Dustin Ackley to play second base instead of Wilson.

Let’s just slow down a bit.

The Mariners aren’t ready for Ackley, the second overall draft choice. Ackley isn’t ready to be here.

They need to leave Ackley in the minor leagues and make fixes without involving him.

Why?

Ask the scouts. Well, since you can’t, I’ll ask for you. More than one has suggested that whatever was thought of the two Wilson errors Wednesday in Texas, you’d see those and more with Ackley.

He is just a year removed from being a center fielder and first baseman. While it seems that he’s enough of an athlete to make the conversion, his skills aren’t close to being as finely honed as a major league second baseman needs to be.

As with Wilson, he is still learning what a second baseman does and how he does it. The catch-and-release portion of his and Wilson’s games while trying to turn the double play are works in progress.

The difference is the Mariners have Wilson on a short-term lease. His $5 million contract is up at the end of this season, and it’s unlikely he’ll be back. Whatever mistakes he makes will be short term.

On the other hand, if Ackley is close to the hitter scouts say he will be, he might play for the Mariners for a decade. They need him to be the best second baseman his defensive skills will allow. That means not coming to the big leagues now.

It behooves management to give Ackley all the school time he needs in Tacoma because, as Wilson is proving, it’s tough to learn at the big league level. For the moment, stick with Adam Kennedy or bring back Wilson, once he’s redeemed himself. Don’t even think about Ackley.

As for Wilson, he seems properly penitent after having taken himself out of Wednesday’s game following errors on consecutive plays — a dropped throw and a wild throw — behind Felix Hernandez.

It was a decision that manager Eric Wedge called “unspeakable,’’ yet much was spoken about it, by Wilson, general manager Jack Zduriencik and Wedge.

Club insiders say that Zduriencik is pleased by the way Wedge handled the situation. When Zduriencik went looking for a no-nonsense manager this off-season, this episode is what he had in mind – someone who didn’t mince words when he saw something he didn’t like.

One incident doesn’t change the culture. But it suggests that the culture is capable of being changed, and they have someone to change it. That’s not nothing.

Twitter: @JHickey3


YourThoughts

  • Bill Grevstad

    Put Wilson back at shortstop, he is better than Ryan.

  • 3 Lions

    Why did Sark jepordize Price;s career by leaving him in the forth quarter? Price was one hard tackle from being done for the year, at the start of conference play. Let us not confuse playing hurt means I am tough w making a smart/prudent decision. Price’s health is more important then the possibility of coming back against Nebraska w 5 minutes left!

  • Thedude44

    crumudgeon..not so sure about your assertion that things will only get tougher for the Dawgs. In fact I see things quite opposite if the Pac-12 morphs into a super-16 school conference, especially if the “pod” theory comes to fruition (four 4 team divisions). This would have UW paired with OR St., OR and WSU which would easily be the conference’s weakest historically speaking (winning %) giving the Dawgs the softest conference football schedule year in year out. Add in the coming sanctions for Nike U and that also makes things look much better for UW..

    • crumudgeon

      Just heard that expansion will be put off for a while.  Apparently, Texas would not budge on dumping its deal it had with ESPN, and without them the Oklahoma schools et al were no longer desired.  This is a good thing for the Pac ‘whatever’ because we don’t need no stinkin’ Horns or Sooners disrupting our west coast personae.  Besides, Texas blew up their own conference with their bullying attitude of “my way or the highway.  We don’t need those pigs in our conference.  Nobody does.