03/11/2005: Rick Ankiel: the gamesmanship begins
Rick has started his career as a position player by taking some at bats as a DH in an intrasquad game. More interesting is some other gamesmanship that's going on, according to an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch yesterday.
The general buzz that I've heard (among the few baseball fans/pundits I've had a chance to read or chat with about this) is that while Ankiel showed some talent at hitting in the minors (particularly in the low minors) and "wasn't bad" for a pitcher (.250/.292/.382 AVG/OBP/SLG in 72 plate appearances) in his one full season in the majors, he's going to have to be sent down to the minors for seasoning as a hitter. However, complicating the matter is that Ankiel is "out of options"--basically, he's had enough major league service that the Cardinals can't send him to the minors without placing him on the waiver wire first--in other words, all other MLB teams would have a chance to claim his contract from the Cardinals and let Ankiel play for them.
If there's a possibility that Rick would pitch again, another team might be tempted to pick him up off the waiver wire and try to rehabilitate him (Rick's only making near league minimum, so he might be worth the risk). If another team claims his contract on waivers, however, they are required to keep him on the major league roster or else place him on waivers again, which makes him a bit risky if he doesn't rehabilitate.
Meanwhile, apparently Rick, in a bid to remain in the Cardinals organization has enlisted the help of his agent, überagent Scott Boras:
One day after Ankiel announced that he was "retired" from pitching and that he would pursue a second career as an outfielder, the club and his agent went about laying foundation for his wish.Keep an eye on this; it could be interesting.
The Cardinals officially turned Ankiel over to first-base coach Dave McKay for outfield instruction and hitting coach Hal McRae to hone his technique. Ankiel's agent, Scott Boras, said Thursday that he intends to notify the other 29 major-league clubs that his client has closed the door on pitching. Boras' intention is to prevent any rival club from claiming Ankiel on waivers should the Cardinals, as expected, attempt to outright him later this spring.
"We're going to let all teams know he's not going to pitch anymore," Boras said. "It's not an option. We would never do that to the Cardinals."
General manager Walt Jocketty spoke with Boras about Ankiel's conversion Tuesday night. Jocketty conceded there was "risk" to outrighting Ankiel but voiced skepticism that another club would take Ankiel and his $400,000 salary, knowing that it must keep him on its 25-man roster or risk losing him to a similar claim.
"If some other team wanted to take him as a pitcher, that's not going to happen," Jocketty said.
Len on 03.11.05 @ 08:43 PM CST