Jemile Weeks Gets Buried

In case you needed another reminder to never believe what a front office lets the public hear, here’s what Billy Beane told Jane Lee of MLB.com just six days ago:

The talent is still there, insists Billy Beane. That’s why the A’s general manager was so patient with a struggling Jemile Weeks last year.

That’s why the second baseman, hitting just .220 over 113 games, wasn’t demoted until August. And that’s why Weeks, who turned 26 last week, will be considered very much a part of what manager Bob Melvin deemed the “open competition” for the second-base position this spring.

Three days later, the Athletics acquired Jed Lowrie in exchange for Chris Carter, Brad Peacock and Max Stassi. Now Weeks is buried on the depth chart — either Lowrie or Scott Sizemore is likely to start at second base (with the other starting at third base). Adam Rosales, Josh Donaldson and Eric Sogard all have MLB experience at one if not both of the positions in question, all with the potential to keep him off the roster. Weeks, therefore, has an uphill battle to climb if he is to break camp with Oakland instead of Triple-A Sacramento.

The trade puts the stamp on a precipitous drop for the younger Weeks brother. He was the one player the Athletics deemed untouchable last winter according to Ken Rosenthal’s sources. He had just polished off a brilliant rookie season in which he hit .303/.340/.421 (110 wRC+). A .350 BABIP played a role, but Weeks’s speed could at least explain some of it, and with more experience against major league pitching it wasn’t difficult to see his walk rate rise from a poor 4.8 percent to his minor league norms (in the 8-14 percent range) to offset some of the impending drop.

Although the discipline returned — he walked in 9.8 percent of plate appearances in 2012 — the bottom utterly fell out of his BABIP. He pounded the ball into the ground (49.5 percent of balls in play) and didn’t seem to gain much from his speed — he mustered just a 4.3 percent infield hit rate. He hit 11 fewer doubles despite taking 74 more plate appearances. The final result was a .256 BABIP driving an awful .221/.305/.304 (73 wRC+) line. He earned the boot back to Sacramento 118 games into his second season.

Is there anything left with Weeks? He is already 26, but he has shown a consistent ability to make contact at the major league level (13.9 percent strikeouts in 945 plate appearances). There’s no reason to believe he can’t sport at least a normal BABIP (like his career .301 mark), but without any semblance of power (four career home runs) that isn’t enough to deserve a starting job on a team trying to contend like Oakland. Weeks owns a .260/.321/.360 (90 wRC+) line in his two seasons in Oakland, and with his mediocre-at-best defense at second base, that makes him a well below average player.

Weeks still has options left, and perhaps he flashes what made him so successful in 2011 in spring training or in the early goings at Sacramento to earn a trip back to Oakland. Neither Lowrie nor Sizemore have been beacons of health throughout their careers, and with second base looking like a wasteland — the position put up just a .701 OPS last year, besting only shortstop (.688) — Weeks serves as a perfect second or third option in a situation where one might well be needed.

Still, “good second option” can only be considered a disappointment given the lofty expectations Weeks set with his rookie year. Now, the club who once deemed him untouchable has buried him deep down the depth chart, and he faces a rough climb between him and his old starting role.



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Uncle Randy
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Uncle Randy
3 years 3 months ago

CARDINALS

Well-Beered Englishman
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Well-Beered Englishman
3 years 3 months ago

ARCHBISHOPS

…am I doing this right?

Uncle Randy
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Uncle Randy
3 years 3 months ago

Yeah man, totally nailing it.

Dudenessness
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Dudenessness
3 years 3 months ago

That’s what she said.

Gabriel
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Gabriel
3 years 3 months ago

For me, the key thing is his fielding. Every time the ball was hit to Weeks, I worried, even on seemingly routine plays. He usually made the play, but never inspired confidence. In order to compensate for his poor fielding, he was going to have to make up for it with an impact bat. Now, he did that his first year, but he wasn’t even close his second year.

Put another way, I was happy when Cliff Pennington replaced Weeks at second. Pennington, with his 65 wRC+ in 2012, would at least make the play on defense. Pennington is now with the Diamondbacks, but the A’s have other options now. I’m guessing Billy Beane has figured that the odds that Weeks will hit as well as he did in 2011 are pretty low and that it is a much safer bet to have a solid fielder with a mediocre bat than to cross his fingers and hope Weeks hits.

scatterbrian
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Member
scatterbrian
3 years 3 months ago

I don’t think Lowrie equals the end of Weeks. Looking at what the A’s did last year and this off-season, they are clearly building a team of versatility. They are not going to have 9 guys with 500+ plate appearances (last year they only had four, and one was Weeks.) They seem to be planning on having ~12 with 300-500. This will be a mix-and-match team, with only Cespedes and perhaps Reddick and Moss deemed “everyday players.”

I also feel 3B is Donaldson’s job to lose going into ST. He was a much different hitter after returning from a mid-June demotion (.290/.356/.489, 136 wRC+, BB% up, K% down) and appears to be a fantastic defender. Sizemore is older and coming off missing a year, and wasn’t really that great to begin with.

Nick O
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Nick O
3 years 3 months ago

Yes, neither Lowrie nor Sizemore is going to steal Donaldson’s job at 3rd. It’s more likely that Lowrie takes much of Nakajima’s PT at short.

Gabe F
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Gabe F
3 years 3 months ago

Lowrie (if he’s healthy) will play like 90-110 games. Here’s how I see it.

First base against lefties 30ish games
Backup SS to Nakajima 20ish games (Japan season is shorter, Melvin will want to keep Nakajima fresh)
Backup to 2nd base 20ish games
3B against some righties 20ish games

Robbie G.
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Robbie G.
3 years 3 months ago

You honestly believe that Oakland traded a pretty good prospects package for a guy who is going to play in only 90-110 games, even if he stays healthy all season long?

I do agree that Billy Beane is thinking that Jed Lowrie will play at multiple positions. It appears obvious to me that Beane has recognized the brilliance of Tampa Bay’s roster construction and is emulating it. I assume this is an obvious observation that has we’ve all made by now.

shthar
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shthar
3 years 3 months ago

Petty larceny at best.

brendan
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brendan
3 years 3 months ago

agree donaldson was impressive down the stretch, but that was SSS right? for projection, you have to look at his whole career, and ZIPs thinks he is a .234/.295/.383 hitter. I hope he improves on that, but with good defense at 3B, I’ll take it.

ChrisCEIT
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ChrisCEIT
3 years 3 months ago

How does he appear to be a fantastic defender? I would bet that his defensive value regresses a great deal from last year. Maybe, just maybe he’s better suited to 3B than C, but I doubt that he’s anything other than below average in terms of true talent at that position.

NRC
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NRC
3 years 3 months ago

Chris – no. You must not have seen him play. He is very clearly plus.

bjoak
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bjoak
3 years 3 months ago

I don’t thjink Beane’s comments were disingenuous. If he knew 100% that trade was going to happen, it would have already happened, right? Also, if he gets asked the question, what is he going to say? He can’t respond, “Hey, we have a trade in the works so this probably won’t be Jemille’s year.”

Earlier this year I wrote that Beane said Crisp was an important part of the team and would not be traded. That was a lot less nebulous than his comments on Weeks, but someone challenged me about it’s sincerity. Now, in retrospect, we see that a concrete statement like that usually holds. A vague statement about how Weeks might end up with a job is not much of a fact, however.

bjoak
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bjoak
3 years 3 months ago

Also, if you reread your quote up top you’ll see that Beane didn’t say Weeks would be in competition six days ago. He only said Weeks has talent. It was Bob Melvin who said at some undisclosed point in time that there would be a competition.

Ivan Grushenko
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Ivan Grushenko
3 years 3 months ago

Weeks or Sizemore could be platooned with Lowrie at 2B. I think he’d have to clearly beat Sizemore in ST for that though, since Scott doesn’t have options left.

Scott
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Scott
3 years 3 months ago

I thought he did have an option left.

West Coast Hard Baller
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West Coast Hard Baller
3 years 3 months ago

I think most people (including many A’s fans) think too highly of Weeks and the recently disposed Chris Carter. Weeks has a very long swing and the A’s were not happy that he wasn’t improving it. There is not doubt that Beane and Melvin believe that versatility is the key to the A’s being able to compete. Collect a lot of parts that have successful track records somewhere (Jaso mashes righties, Lowrie owns lefties, Moss/Carter, Smith/Gomes platoons last year, Kottaras and his high OBP) and then mix and match to individual game situations to build a winning formula.

Personally, I think it’s fascinating watching the A’s continue to reinvent themselves. I don’t know if they can repeat last year’s success, but it’s not because I don’t think the offense can repeat. Yes, Moss or Donaldson or even Reddick may regress, but with Lowrie, Chris Young, Sizemore and Jaso added to the mix, they seem to have a lot more depth if there are holes found.

I think the starting pitching might be the problem. I can’t see Griffin, Millone, Colon (clean version???) or even Parker improving from last year. I know Parker seems to have the stuff, but his peripherals suggest that he will have to pitch better to get the same results as last year. Losing McCarthy is the key defection. Maybe Straily steps up, but I didn’t see a guy who was polished enough last year to think that he’s ready.

Another thing Beane has done is collect a lot of good arms in the bullpen to help the young pitchers. Should be fun to watch these guys again this year.

Ericpalmer
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Ericpalmer
3 years 3 months ago

I get your argument about pitching, but I don’t see what a clean or dirty colon has to do with baseball. Andddddd I’m out.

jdbolick
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Member
3 years 3 months ago

I really doubt that the deal was about marginalizing Weeks so much as getting a solid player for what Beane perceived as spare parts.

Hurtlockertwo
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Hurtlockertwo
3 years 3 months ago

Rickie kind of sucked last year too, maybe the brothers got some bad advice??

Kiss my Go Nats
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Kiss my Go Nats
3 years 3 months ago

I went out and looked at Sizemore’s and Weeks’ stat projections and they are not very different. We have little evidence that Sizemore is better then Weeks defensively at second (-3.5 UZR/150 vs -6.7 UZR/150). OPS for Sizemore is expected to be .711, but with all the time off this last summer I would say that might be optimistic. Whereas the projected OPS for Weeks is .681. But, most of sizemore’s OPS career is against lefties (.784 vs .675) while Weeks is more steady (.685 vs .679). Lastly, Weeks has tons more speed, so he may become a better overall baserunner and has potential defensively to acquire more range. I would not expect to much upside from Sizemore. In other words, I am not convinced that Sizemore will get much playing time at second. Weeks has more upside and Sizemore is not much better right now. If Donaldson lives up to his projected OPS of .666 then I see Sizemore taking over third more.

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