The present may stink but the future is bright
By Mike Salk
Depressing as things may be at the major league level, a quick look trip to Tacoma can help put a smile on your face.
That team is good. And not just because they are filled with ex-major leaguers being stashed in Triple-A. The Rainiers have some serious talent.
Adam Moore needs to be back in Seattle. I saw him go 2-4 with a home run on Sunday which means he is now hitting .321 with three long balls since returning to Tacoma. He is hitting; he is catching well; those who have seen him in the organization say he is ready to return. Why are they waiting? I don’t get it. For the record, he crushed the ball he hit out yesterday.
I went made the trip south to talk to Moore but as is his way, he wanted to talk more about Michael Pineda. Like everyone else who has seen the flamethrower in action, he believed Pineda is big-league-ready. The organization may be trying to make sure he is consistent enough to handle the major leagues, but both Moore and catching partner Eliezer Alfonzo say that time is now.
This may sound strange, but I can’t really print what they said about Pineda because they didn’t use words to describe it. Instead, they used that peculiar baseball terminology where they make a motion with their hand to indicate the crazy movement on the ball when Pineda throws it and they made a noise meant to emphasize how fast it is and how far it moves. I’ll try to imitate it on This Ain’t Cricket. But, trust me, they think he is going to be a good one.
The only problem with Pineda is his innings limit. He’s thrown 117 innings so far this year (40 innings in Triple-A). His season will likely end soon. I’d expect a September call-up but only one appearance at the most.
Dustin Ackley is good. Really good. He is the crown jewel of a stellar draft class from 2009 that includes Nick Franklin, Rich Poythress and Kyle Seager, all of whom have had years that beat expectations. Remember, this management group was brought in largely based on their success in drafting impact players in Milwaukee.
I saw Ackley get into an 0-2 hole on his first at bat (although one of the called strikes looked outside), then take a few tough pitches and foul off another before drawing a walk. In his next at bat, he crushed a double down the line. He later hit the ball hard again for an out. The dude understands the strike zone; he doesn’t get cheated; he plays with confidence; and he’s getting bigger.
In short, Ackley is a grinder. That is to say, he gets the most out of each trip to the plate and makes the pitcher work hard to beat him. That is EXACTLY what is missing from the Mariners lineup.
Even better, Ackley seems like a more confident kid than he did even in spring training. He seems comfortable with his teammates and they recognize he’s going to be something special.
I mentioned that the Tacoma lineup is stacked. It has Greg Halman and his 24 home runs buried near the bottom of the order. It has Mike Wilson hitting nearly .300 with 15 home runs batting ninth.
If the present is too tough to take, at least the future might be bright!