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March 14, 2011 at 11:52 AM

Nate Robertson to have elbow surgery, out of race for rotation spot; Dustin Ackley hits a bomb in “B” game

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Some breaking news here as the Mariners announced that pitcher Nate Robertson will undergo elbow surgery on Wednesday and will be unable to throw for four weeks after that. In other words, scratch Robertson from contention for the fifth starter’s job.
The surgery will be performed in Los Angeles by Dr. Neal ElAttrache and will remove “loose bodies” from the elbow. The team says the elbow has bothered Robertson the past two outings.
Robertson said that, if all goes well, he should be major league ready by early June.
“It’s terrible timing for me trying to make the club,” he said.
At the same time, he added, the Mariners have expressed an interest in hanging on to Robertson going forward. They told him so in a meeting with the coaching staff and top brass this morning. Robertson has been the guy the team most envisioned being able to land the fifth starter’s job when camp opened.
Does this help Michael Pineda’s chances of making the team? Well, it doesn’t hurt them.
Speaking of Seattle’s top prospects, that’s Dustin Ackley arriving at home plate in the photo above after smoking an absolute bomb of a home run over the right field wall during a Mariners “B” game against the Padres this morning. The ball took off on a line, easily cleared the 340-foot sign in right, then struck the top of a building a good 50 feet behind the fence.
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Chris Gimenez came up right after that and drilled a home run to right center — also a bit of a cannon shot, so you have to consider the pitching a bit. But nice to see some of that line drive power folks have talked about when it comes to Ackley.
For those of you asking, no, this doesn’t help Ackley’s chances of making the opening day roster.

Yes, some of you are a bit concerned that Brendan Ryan and Adam Kennedy haven’t shown much at the plate. But it makes almost no sense for the M’s to risk sacrificing a year of service time by keeping Ackley in the big leagues on April 1.
Doesn’t matter if he hits .300, or .500, or .700.
Keep Ackley in the minors until April 21, you’ve got him for the rest of this year and six more seasons after this one. So, you grit your teeth for three weeks, then get to have your cake and stuff your face with it, too.
Super-Two status for arbitration is another matter and you can argue that keeping Ackley in Class AAA until mid-June (which is what teams are doing these days just to be on the safe side, as opposed to mid-May like in the past) isn’t worth the talent-level cost to the team just to save arbitration bucks. Don’t forget, Ackley already makes seven figures per season based on a major league contract he signed back in 2009.
Most of that is bonus-related, but he would begin to make a $1.5 million salary in his third major league season in 2013 if the M’s kept him the majors this spring. So, he’d already be making seven figures, with the ability to opt-out if he goes to arbitration a year early prior to the 2013 campaign as a Super Two player.
But it’s not like he’d be jumping from $400,000 to seven figures. Don’t forget, he’d be compared to other players his age, with similar numbers and service time. Not saying he wouldn’t take home a windfall, but there might not be as big a gap between his $1.5 million and what he’d win in arbitration versus the jump he’d get if he was just an ordinary minimum-salaried guy being paid $450,000 or so.
Ackley would earn $900,000 in 2012 under the same contract structure. So, he’ll be getting paid handsomely regardless of whether he’s Super-Two eligible or not.
With Pineda, that’s not the case.
Pineda will be a minimum-salaried player right up until his arbitration eligibility kicks in. So, by hitting arbitration a year early, he’d go from lower six figures to seven figures overnight.
Stay tuned. This promises to be one of the more watchable storylines as camp continues to progress.

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan


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