With second base now off limits for a good decade or so, the Mariners have to be open to moving Dustin Ackley and/or Nick Franklin. According to CBS Sports.com’s Jon Heyman, the Mets, Padres and Yankees have already inquired about Ackley.
Ackley, the second overall pick in the 2009 draft, has hit a modest .245/.315/.354 in 1,324 major league at-bats, but he may have taken a step forward in the second half of last season, when he hit .304/.374/.435 in 184 at-bats. The Mariners were mostly using him a center fielder then, with Franklin starting at second. Overall, he made 49 starts at second, 46 in center and eight in left last season.
The Mets and Yankees, at least, would be looking at Ackley as a second baseman, it seems. The Mets are strongly considering trading Daniel Murphy, opening up the position for them, and the Yankees, of course, just lost Robinson Cano to the Mariners. The Padres might also use him at second if they trade Chase Headley and move Jedd Gyorko back to third.
The Mariners, though, could keep Ackley and continue to play him in the outfield. As is, they’re still looking for help out there; they’re still considering Nelson Cruz and they have some interest in re-signing Franklin Gutierrez. If the season started tomorrow, they’d probably have Michael Saunders, Ackley and either youngster Abraham Almonte or utilityman Willie Bloomquist starting.
On Sunday, it was reported that second baseman Neil Walker and the Mets were discussing a potential three-year contract extension worth “north of $40 million.” Those discussions took a turn for the worse. The Mets feel extension talks are “probably dead,” according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.
Walker underwent a lumbar microdisectomy in September, ending his 2016 season during which he hit .282/.347/.476 with 23 home runs and 55 RBI over 458 plate appearances.
The Mets may not necessarily need to keep Walker around as it has some potential options up the middle waiting in the minor leagues. Though Amed Rosario is expected to stick at shortstop, Gavin Cecchini — the club’s No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline — could shift over to second base.
The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.
It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:
On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:
“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”
Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.