It looks like Rick Ankiel of the St. Louis Cardinals will be giving up his career as a pitcher to attempt a career as an outfielder.
It seems a wise move, as Ankiel's had problems with wild pitches dating back to his infamous postseason of 2000, after having a fabulous regular season at the age of 19. After injuries and surgeries, he still could never find full control of his pitches consistently.
As a hitter, Ankiel has enjoyed good success or has hit poorly, depending on whether one thinks of him as a hitting pitcher, or just a hitter. His athletic skills are his best asset currently.
According to ESPN, the Cardinals don't mind sending Ankiel back down to the minors, despite the fact that he has no options left. St. Louis believes that since he's undergoing a pitcher-to-hitter change, that he will be safe going through waivers.
This will never happen, but I would like it if Brian Sabean were to attempt to pick Ankiel up if indeed the Cardinals try and pass him through. Why?
Well, why the heck not?
What exactly does Sabean have to lose? The Giants outfield hopefuls for the future are well-noted for being few and far between -- Torcato and Ellison are 4th outfielders at best, and Linden...well, if Linden can ever translate his minor league hitting success to the majors, he'd be decent, but he's yet to come close.
So why not pick up Ankiel and give him a whirl? In limited major league ab's, Ankiel's numbers really don't look any worse than any other young outfielder prospects the Giants have tried in years. In 2000, in 68 at-bats, he carried a .674 OPS. Granted, that's not much, but Giants outfield prospects have barely had that kind of OPS when hitting full-time -- Ankiel did it while starting 33 games.
It isn't really that I think Ankiel will do much, or become much more than a 4th outfielder himself. But he has some minor-league hitting data that also supports he may be able to swing a good stick, and at least he's had a couple major league home runs to his credit. So with the dearth of young outfield prospects and with the need to at least think juuuuuuust a little of the Giants future P.B.B. (post-Barry Bonds), this is the type of move that, in my opinion, needs to be made.
Go get 'im, Sabes. Zero-risk, small chance of a decent reward. That's good business.
If not, well, here's to hoping my other team, the Kansas City Royals, picks him up.