Mets, Padres, Yankees ask about Mariners’ Dustin Ackley

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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.

Jim Crane thought the heat over sign-stealing would blow over by spring training

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The Astros’ sign-stealing story broke in November, a steady drumbeat of coverage of it lasted through December and into January, when Rob Manfred’s report came out about it. The report was damning and, in its wake, Houston’s manager and general manger were both suspended and then fired.

After that a steady stream of media reports came out which not only made the whole affair seem even worse than Manfred’s report suggested, but which also suggested that, on some level, Major League Baseball had bungled it all and it was even worse than it had first seemed.

Rather than Manfred and the Astros putting this all behind them, the story grew. As it grew, both the Red Sox and Mets fired their managers and, in a few isolated media appearances, Astros’ players seemed ill-prepared for questions on it all. Once spring training began the Astros made even worse public appearances and, for the past week and change, each day has given us a new player or three angrily speaking out about how mad they are at the Astros and how poorly they’ve handled all of this.

Why have they handled it so poorly? As always, look to poor leadership:

Guess not.

In other news, Crane was — and I am not making this up — recently named the Houston Sports Executive of the Year. An award he has totally, totally earned, right?