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June 14, 2011 at 8:14 AM

Dustin Ackley call-up? Look for Mariners to do it next week

Don’t miss my Talkin’ Baseball segment, coming up around 8:20-8:30 a.m. PT today on KJR AM 950’s Mitch in the morning show.
Many folks were disappointed when the Mariners didn’t call second baseman Dustin Ackley up from Class AAA yesterday. There has been a lot of understandable anticipation about Ackley’s arrival, but there are a few things worth considering about it first.
No. 1 — he’s not out of the woods yet as far as Super 2 arbitration status.
To recap: players become eligible for arbitration after three big league seasons. But each year, the top 17 percent of players with two-plus years in terms of service time are granted arbitration a year early.
That can be costly to teams.
So, teams do try to hold players back as far as when they promote them to the big leagues in order to avoid starting their arbitration clocks too early. The San Francisco Giants didn’t hold Tim Lincecum back long enough and it cost them millions in terms of the two-year deal they wound up having to pay him rather than get a third year at a minimal-leveled wage.
Last year, the Washington Nationals waited until June to promote Stephen Strasburg for the same reasons.
Here’s the catch. Nobody knows exactly how long you have to hold a player out. It varies each year and the cut-off point has tended to require a longer wait the past couple of seasons. Used to be mid-May was the cut-off. These days, mid-June is considered the minimal cutoff point to be safe.
Read that again, please.
The minimal cutoff point.
Today is June 14. We’re not even technically at the minimal point yet.
I’ve heard talk that, in order to be truly safe, teams might have to wait until July.
Now, I don’t think the M’s are about to do that. The whole “Super 2” concept might be gotten rid of in the next collective bargaining agreement, which could be hammered out this winter. But for now, assuming the provision is still going to be here in a few years, you might as well wait a few more days if you’re the Mariners.
And for me, that means Ackley gets the call next Monday.
Photo Credit: AP

That will give Ackley time to catch a bit of a breather. We saw him rested on Sunday after he’d played in every Class AAA game this season. Don’t be surprised if he gets another rest next weekend.
The last thing the Mariners need is a worn-out player to be promoted when they’re playing games that still matter.
Also, calling Ackley up on Thursday, when the M’s have an off-day, means he’d have to make his debut at home against the Phillies. At home, in front of hyped-up fans with increased expectations? Versus a team with arguably the best starting rotation in baseball?
Seems a bit cruel to put that type of pressure on Ackley.
But if the M’s wait another week, Ackley can make his debut on June 21 versus the Washington Nationals on the East Coast.
It buys Jack Zduriencik another week to figure out how to resolve his middle infield situation, by exploring trade markets for Jack Wilson or other players.
Gives the Mariners another week to work Adam Kennedy out at third base. As we told you a couple of weeks ago, finding Kennedy four days a week of playing time won’t be all that tough if you make him a Mark McLemore type of player (minus the outfield, of course, since you have to keep his legs fresh).
Kennedy can play second base a couple of times per week when Ackley rests. He can play third a bit to rest Chone Figgins. And, if you’re having trouble finding that fourth day, you can squeeze Kennedy in at first base or even DH — though that spot is becoming a touch crowded these days.
But that’s easy enough to resolve.
Just think Super-2 right now. The deadline is almost here. In a few days, meaning Thursday, we’ll be past the midway point in June. In a week, we’ll be a little safer and you can break Ackley in without worrying about the pressure of playing at home against possibly the best team in the majors.
And you buy time to figure out how to create a little middle infield room.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? Now, all the M’s have to do is figure out a way not to lose to the Angels any more. They didn’t get the pitching they needed last night. Didn’t score the four runs they needed to at minimum.
The last thing Seattle needs is for Vernon Wells do wake up. Because if Wells does once again become the player he used to be for the Angels, they could very well emerge as a division favorite once again. It was only one night, but as I wrote yesterday, the M’s could do themselves a big favor by taking care of business this week.
They have two more nights to do it.

Comments | Topics: Chone Figgins


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