Dustin Ackley was a college star at North Carolina and the No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 draft, one spot after Stephen Strasburg. He moved quickly through the Mariners’ farm system, had a solid rookie season in 2011 at age 23 … and has hit .221 with a .600 OPS in 198 games since then.
Yesterday the Mariners demoted him to Triple-A and in discussing the move afterward manager Eric Wedge more or less blamed sabermetrics for Ackley’s struggles. Seriously, via Greg Johns of MLB.com:
Wedge was talking about Ackley’s demotion to Triple-A and his mental approach, and he intimated that Ackley might have been too concerned with pitch selectivity and high on-base percentage, leading to a one-liner that hit on one of baseball’s most intriguing ongoing philosophical battles.
“It’s the new generation. It’s all this sabermetrics stuff, for lack of a better term, you know what I mean?” Wedge said. “People who haven’t played since they were 9 years old think they have it figured out. It gets in these kids’ heads.”
That’s particularly amusing in contrast to all the articles about how so many people within baseball don’t pay any attention to sabermetrics.
Wedge is 164-211 (.437) in three seasons managing the Mariners and also had a sub-.500 record in seven seasons managing the Indians, so apparently a lot of his players pay tons of attention to “people who haven’t played since they were nine years old.”
(Complicated handshake to David Cameron of FanGraphs, who alerted me to this silliness and is no doubt personally responsible for the majority of the Mariners’ struggles during Wedge’s tenure.)
On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.
Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”
Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”
Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.
Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.