Something tells me life would be better if Michael Pineda and Dustin Ackley were playing for the Mariners right now. I don’t really have any justification for this. Heck, I don’t even know what Pineda looks like. I do, however, know that Ackley is a scrawny white boy from North Carolina, which would generally register a reading of absolute zero on my gaydar (it’s an electronic device…you buy it at Staples).
Here’s the thing, though. Everyone is talking about this unlikely tandem like they’re the love spawn of Zeus and Jennifer Aniston or something. Fact is, I know my minor leaguers. But unless they come bearing the reputation of a guy like Stephen Strasburg, they mean very little to me. Which is why up until a few weeks ago, I didn’t really give a damn about Pineda, de facto ace of the Tacoma Rainiers, nor his sidekick at second base, Ackley.
This is absolute blasphemy to some of you. I get that. Don’t freak out. To many of you, Pineda is hung like Greg Oden and Ackley is the second coming of Jack Perconte Jeff Schaefer Bret Boone. There are those folks who cling to these guys’ nuts like a bad rash. I understand. I’m not trying to cramp your zest.
And yes, I realize that Ackley was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 draft. The Buzz Aldrin to Strasburg’s Neil Armstrong. The John Adams to Strasburg’s George Washington. The Clay Aiken to Strasburg’s Ruben Studdard. But come on. Has there ever been a greater dropoff between one and two in any draft ever in the history of the world? (Don’t say Darko, don’t say Darko…) Yeah, Ackley might be good, but he’s not Stephen Motherf**king Strasburg, who we all know is the guy we’d rather have right now. Of course, just by saying that we’re dealing with hypotheticals. And some of you hate that. So we’ll move on.
So we’ve covered Ackley. But what’s the deal with Pineda? The way his name gets tossed around, you’d figure he had his own celebrity sex tape or something. He’s big, he throws hard, he’s the future. That excites me a little bit, I won’t lie. But it seems like he’s come out of nowhere to achieve this superstar status. Like Wladimir Balentien once did, for example. Not that I’m comparing the two from a talent perspective. Just sayin’.
In my mind, if a player is as good as these two seem to be, you don’t let them fester in the minors any longer. Especially when you’re a billion games out of first place and so pimped out in the cellar that you’re currently alphabetizing your bottles of vintage wine.
You see, there are many “theories” in baseball by which the Mariners have always abided. Starting pitchers rarely eclipse, say, 110 pitches. Closers always pitch one inning, the ninth, when the team is ahead. Situational lefties face left-handed batters. Prospects aren’t rushed to the bigs. I love baseball. But there are some dumbass theories that pollute the game.
(Side note: I’d like to reference Sunday’s Mariners-Red Sox game as evidence of one of these dumbass theories. It was the bottom of the eighth. The M’s were losing 2-1. Right-handed reliever Daniel Bard was pitching very effectively for the Sox when manager Terry Francona came sauntering out of the dugout to make a change. He brought lefty Hideki Okajima in from the pen to face the switch-hitting Justin Smoak. Prior to this at-bat, Smoak had gone 0-3 on the day, facing only right-handed pitching. Francona’s swap effectively forced Smoak to turn around and bat from the right side — his power side, mind you, which Francona chose to ignore. This appeared to be a situational pitching change that defied all logic. Turning a switch-hitter around to his natural side is unconventional to say the least. But apparently Francona reasoned that it would produce results. It did not. Smoak connected on a solid single to left field, which in turn spawned a three-run outburst from the Mariners, which ultimately cost Boston the game. Honestly, if my manager had made that “situational” move, I’d be pissed. But hey, I’m not on the Sox bandwagon so it’s not my fight. Just an example.)
Failing to promote uber-prospects like Ackley and Pineda would be a costly mistake by the Mariners’ front office. There’s no doubt in my mind that the dual promotions will eventually occur. But I’d like to see these moves made sooner rather than later.
You know, so I can have some closure in my life.