Catching up on the news from the weekend:
Ackley Wins MVP
Dustin Ackley won the Most Valuable Player award in the Arizona Fall League. You always have to take the AFL stats with a big rock of salt, because it’s a pure hitter’s league, but the numbers are fun (courtesy of the Mariners): Ackley won the AFL batting title with a .424 average and also topped the league in on-base percentage (.581), slugging (.758), OPS (1.338) and runs scored (28), all while also going a perfect 5-for-5 in stolen-base attempts.
A lot of us – myself included – have gone along with the theory that Ackley will start 2011 in Tacoma, and play his way into the Seattle lineup mid-season. However, after that showing in the AFL, Ackley seems better positioned to earn an Opening Day spot on the Mariners if he has a good spring training. This will be one of the most compelling stories of the Mariners spring training camp.
The Mariners added 10 players to their 40-man Major League Roster, raising the total number of protected players to 39. The complete list of players added is here, and Jay at USS Mariner wrote about them here. Players on the 40-man roster cannot be drafted away by other teams in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft, but the Mariners will have to use the first (of three) option years in order to send these players to the minor leagues in April.
There were a couple of surprises – most notably former Rainiers lefty Cesar Jimenez, who has been out of action for essentially two years. It turns out that he had labrum surgery and spent all of 2010 rehabilitating in Arizona. Jimenez is now pitching in the Venezuelan Winter League, where he is having some early success. We could once again see the change-up artist in Tacoma this year.*
Rainiers players from 2010 who were added to the 40-man roster were all pitchers: Josh Lueke, Michael Pineda, and Mauricio Robles. Also Yoervis Medina, who started and won one game for Tacoma.
Teams are announcing their 2011 coaching staffs. The weekend provided some more news:
- Albuquerque manager Tim Wallach was named the Dodgers third base coach, so the ‘Topes are hiring a new skipper.
- Memphis manager Chris “Hammer” Maloney returns to the reins of the Redbirds - much to the dismay of reporters and broadcasters throughout the PCL.
- After an affiliation switch, the Round Rock Express inherited the Oklahoma City coaching staff, led by manager Bobby Jones.
Additional links of interest (to me, at least!):
- Here is an update on broadcaster extraordinaire Jon Miller, who is leaning towards not accepting a radio-only role with ESPN. I agree that the travel he did for 21 years was crazy.
- Brock and Salk posted the audio of their interview with Felix Hernandez after he won the Cy Young Award.
- Former Rainiers and Mariners reliever JJ Putz is a free agent – and the Diamondbacks are interested.
- Ever wonder about all of those crazy minor league team names? Me, too. Friend of the blog Tim Hagerty has written a book about them. Biscuits to Casketmakers - Stories Behind The Most Unique Minor League Baseball Team Names is out now.
- Speaking of books, someone wrote one about Ron Necciai – the only player in professional baseball history to record 27 strikeouts in a nine-inning game.
- Stan Musial turned 90, and here are 90 things to love about one of the greatest living Hall of Famers.
- Sad news from Ohio, where Toledo Mud Hens broadcasting legend Frank Gilhooley passed away.
That’s today’s round-up. We’ll see if there is much news this week – some years baseball goes quiet during Thanksgiving week, other years all kinds of big moves go down.
* this reminded me of the year Jimenez pitched in the starting rotation for Tacoma, when he was a rather unlikely candidate to pitch one of the best games I have ever seen – eight perfect innings at Cashman Field in Las Vegas, broken up by a just-barely-fair double down the left field line to lead off the ninth. He finished with a 28-batter one-hit shutout.