By John Boyle
During the offseason, Mariners manager Eric Wedge and general manager Jack Zduriencik said repeatedly that no matter who Seattle added to its roster, what would really determine the team’s fate was how its young nucleus developed.
Well two months into the season, two members of that nucleus, Jesus Montero and Dustin Ackley, are now in Triple-A Tacoma following Ackley’s demotion Monday. The team brought up infielder Nick Franklin and sent Ackley down, just the latest in a flurry of moves that also saw Montero sent down, Robert Andino designated for assignment, and Carlos Triunfel and Jesus Sucre brought up in the last three days.
The Mariners also brought Hector Noesi up and sent Lucas Luetge to Tacoma.
Ackley, a former No. 2 overall pick, is hitting just .205 this year, and was 0 for 19 in his last six games.
“It was just time,” Wedge told reporters before the game. “Obviously, we fought for the guy for quite a period of time now and wanted to make it work up here and not have to do that. Ultimately, we couldn’t take it any further.”
(You can read more quotes from Wedge and Zduriencik over at The News Tribune’s Mariners blog).
On the plus side, it should be interesting to see what Franklin, a first-round pick in 2009, does with this shot at the big-league level. In Tacoma, he was hitting .324 with 9 doubles, 4 home runs and 20 RBI in 39 games.
And of course it is too early to declare this season, or Montero or Ackley’s careers a bust, but this certainly shaping up to be a worst-case scenario for the Mariners. Unless Franklin and Triunfel are so good that people forget about other failures, it’s going to be hard for the Mariners to convince anyone that they’re on the right path when two of the young core guys they’ve talked so much about are in Tacoma trying to fix their games. Maybe Montero and/or Ackley get it together in the minors and come back to have great seasons—baseball is full of young players who needed a demotion before finding success—but until that happens, this is just the latest piece of bad news for a franchise with way to much of it over the last decade.