One could ask if anyone has a future with the Seattle Mariners, but sarcasm aside, the Mariner brain trust, such as it is, has committed to a youth movement. And though the youth movement has had more ups and downs this season than a bi-polar patient off his meds, the plan can not be blown up. At least not now.
Consider Dustin Ackley. There were high expectations for Ackley after a mediocre 2012. He had to get better. But he didn’t. At the all-star break he was batting .205. With Nick Franklin taking his spot at second base, Ackley disembarked from the Good Ship Mariner and took a tugboat to Tacoma where he learned to play the outfield, and regain confidence in his hitting.
In the 49 games he has played since the all-star break, he leads the team in hitting, batting .312. That is a big turnaround from .205.
Does it mean anything?
I think the second half of the season has preserved a roster spot for Ackley in 2014. What anyone does in August or September is not a guarantee they will succeed next year. But Nick Franklin has struggled. He is batting .193 since the break with 71 strikeouts in 197 at bats. A 36% strikeout rate is not good. On the plus side he leads the Mariners with 25 rbis since the all-star game. Just as Ackley’s post break success does not guarantee 2014 success, Franklin’s struggles does not mean he will struggle next year. But Ackley, if still destined for the outfield, is also insurance in case Franklin falters at second. That is why Ackley will be back.
The problem facing the Mariner front office, other than wondering if they will have jobs once the ownership question is settled, due to the death of owner Hiroshi Yamauchi, is the majority of Mariner hitters are young and there is no track record to base expectations on. You know what you will get with Raul Ibanez or Kendrys Morales, but with rookies and second year players, one does a lot of wishing and hoping.
I doubt the 2014 season will show a quick turnaround. I fully expect they will finish 4th again next year. But there is still wishing and hoping. And praying or making deals with the devil.