We Should Probably Talk About Rickie Weeks

Following an abysmal 2013 campaign that saw him slash .209/.306/.357, Rickie Weeks entered the 2014 season as Scooter Gennett‘s very expensive backup. Last season didn’t exactly come out of nowhere either, as it marked the third consecutive campaign in which Weeks’ weighted on-base average declined.

Weeks has started just 11 games this year, but five of those starts have come in the last nine days. Before anyone goes taking that as evidence that Weeks may be working his way back into the regular starting lineup, I’ll note that four of those five games were against left-handed starters. Still, it’s the largest chunk of playing time he’s gotten all year, and he is absolutely crushing the ball.

Through Sunday, Weeks has just 62 plate appearances on the year, but to say that he’s taken advantage of what playing time he’s gotten would be a serious understatement. Obviously, the sample is very small, but the 31-year-old is hitting .351/.403/.509 and, while we’re making a small sample even smaller here, he’s reached base in 12 of his 26 plate appearances against right-handers.

Yet Weeks still finds himself on the bench nearly every time the Brewers face a right-handed starter (he has one start against a righty this year), despite the fact that Gennett isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire with his .269/.312/.385 production. Gennett certainly hasn’t been bad, but he hasn’t been any better than league-average for the position offensively.

I’ll freely admit that I’ve never been that optimistic about Gennett — I think his ceiling is that of a second-division regular. I love his bat speed, a skill that will likely allow him to post batting averages in the .280 range, but he doesn’t have any other plus tools. That .280-ish average is an empty one; Gennett has never hit more than nine home runs or stolen more than 14 bases in any of his four professional seasons.

I’ll also add the note that I absolutely believe the fact that he hit six homers in 230 plate appearances last year was a fluke, just in case someone wanted to make that argument. You’re still welcome to, of course, but I’d love to hear the argument for Gennett’s sudden home-run power being legitimate. This is a guy who hit one home run every 115.25 plate appearances between Double-A and Triple-A.

While Weeks is admittedly a defensive liability, Gennett isn’t really more than an average defender himself, so it just kind of confounds me as to why Milwaukee is sticking so strictly to their “Gennett vs. righties, Weeks vs. lefties” formula, especially when Weeks, a notoriously streaky hitter, is red-hot right now.

But then you’ve got all the weirdness with Weeks refusing to play in the outfield, which is just bizarre, seeing as he’s basically turning down additional playing time. Even with their devotion to Gennett as their second-sacker of the future,  the team indicated some desire in getting Weeks’ bat in the lineup, and he refused.

Regardless of circumstance, it seems highly unlikely that Weeks will be getting anything resembling regular playing time as long as he’s with the Brewers, seeing as the team won’t play him at second base, and he won’t play the outfield. Weeks, along with his red-hot bat and $11 million contract, will likely continue to ride the pine for the NL Central-leading Brew Crew.

As I noted on Friday, there are plenty of teams who figure to be in contention this season who could use help at second base — the A’s, Yankees, Giants, Orioles and Cardinals all come to mind. With Milwaukee clearly set on Gennett at the keystone, Weeks could bring back some help for the rotation or corner infield — both of which are areas of need for the Brewers.

It’s obvious at this point that Weeks won’t be wearing a Brewers uniform in 2015, so they might as well get what they can for him. They’ll surely have to eat much of his remaining contract if/when they do trade him, but he’s essentially dead money sitting on the bench as is.

If Weeks does end up getting traded, I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a bit of a resurgence. For as much as I’m well aware that Weeks’ skills have indeed been eroding, he’s a classic change-of-scenery candidate, and to be honest, I believe in that kind of stuff to an extent. He’s also still only 31 years old; it’s not unreasonable to expect that he still has some gas in the tank.

He’s practically unowned in fantasy right now, and for good reason. I just have a sneaking suspicion that won’t be the case a couple months from now. I’m already moving him from Tier Six to Tier Five in June’s second-base rankings, and he could easily slide up further if he’s dealt away from Milwaukee.

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Scott Strandberg started writing for Rotographs in 2013. He is a film critic and entertainment writer for The Norman Transcript newspaper. Scott is also the bassist for North Meets South, and a noted pro wrestling enthusiast. Follow him on Twitter @ScottStrandberg.

8 Responses to “We Should Probably Talk About Rickie Weeks”

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  1. Patrick says:

    What really shocks me is that Weeks, as an upcoming free agent, wouldn’t want to improve his winter value by getting some OF experience. 32 year old bench players that man only one position aren’t exactly in high demand anywhere. With Davis currently slashing 215/244/376, the LF position is wide open and Weeks’ for the taking. I don’t know how his defense would transition to the OF, but it’s not like Davis has a plus glove anyways, plus Gomez covers the gaps well enough to make up for a deficiency in one of the corner spots.

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  2. jdbolick says:

    Presumably Weeks just wants to be out of Milwaukee. I didn’t draft him and have been hesitant to trade for him because I’ve been constantly expecting a trade, perhaps to the Yankees. Obviously from the .419 BABIP, Weeks is currently playing well over his head, but the much more aggressive approach has been a positive development (48.7% swing percentage blows away his 40.8% career average and 42.9% career high).

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  3. pepe says:

    No mas Rickie por favor.

    I’ve spent so many years laughing to myself saying, I can always get Rickie on the waiver wire, Rickie can go 20/20, Rickie could at least be above average.

    But now that I’ve written this, the fantasy universe will make him the highest ranked 2B ROS. It’s just been that kind of season.

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  4. jim S. says:

    Weeks is one of the worst 2B ever. When he played with 1B Fielder, it was a terrible right side of the IF.

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    • SecondHandStore says:

      You’re a crazy person if you believe that. The defense was never there, but his offense made him a top 10 second baseman for several years.

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  5. SecondHandStore says:

    I don’t think the Brewers are going to trade Weeks. Gennett cannot hit LHP so it would hurt the team if they got rid of the guy that can. If they did the last thing they need is help in the rotation or the corner infield spots.

    Does no one look at the numbers before they make judgments? Brewers are getting average production at 3B which will get better when Ramirez returns. Until then Reynolds is a fine back-up to have.

    They’re also set at 1B with Reynolds who is much better defensively than people give him credit for. He’s streaky (93 wRC+ right now but a week ago it was around 110), but at the end of the season I bet he has around a 110-115 wRC+ which is fine. They could benefit by upgrading from Overbay, but that might come by signing Morales.

    The Brewers don’t have a Strasburg and people think that means they have nothing at all. That’s clearly wrong. Their rotation has been very good. They also have Smith and Thornburg in the pen to act as depth. Then there is Jimmy Nelson who might belong in the major league rotation right now. Mike Fiers is probably fine for a spot start every once in a while too.

    By the way, Gennett is more than just average defensively at 2B. That’s an old scouting report that says otherwise. He’s not elite defensively, but he’s pretty darn good. The numbers back me up on that. With the groundball pitchers in the rotation, his defense is meaningful.

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    • So you’re advocating that the Brewers keep an $11 million player on the short side of a platoon instead of seeing what they could get on the trade market?

      Regarding the corner infield, Ramirez will be 36 years old next month, played in only 92 games last year and has already missed time this year. Reynolds has an OBP of .283 and is striking out in 35.5% of his plate appearances, which is a career-worst rate even by his standards. Overbay is terrible. If they want to stay in contention, corner infield is quite clearly a spot that could use an upgrade.

      The rotation: Marco Estrada has given up more homers than any other pitcher in baseball this season, and his unsustainable BABIP and strand rates are huge, glaring red flags. I saw Jimmy Nelson pitch a couple weeks ago and wrote him up for FanGraphs. While I really like him as a prospect, I don’t think he’s ready. Too inconsistent at present for me to trust in a major-league rotation. Will Smith is far better as a reliever than he was ever going to be as a starter. Same goes for Thornburg. None of them are guys that a contending team wants to be counting on. Yes, their rotation as-is is quite good, but if any of those guys get hurt, things could get very ugly in a hurry. They could use another reliable arm.

      I’m still not overly impressed with Gennett’s defense. Good instincts, but his arm is just okay and his range isn’t anything special.

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  6. Mr baseball says:

    The brewers, as nearly all teams, need SP help. The brewers have nothing at 3b after this year and right now a 37 year old ARam can’t be counted on to be healthy. 1b is only “good” compared to last year. The brewers have problems at the corners now and it will get critical very soon.

    You can’t have weakness at these traditionally high offensive positions when your best offensive player Braun can’t stay on the field. Oh and LF is an offensive black hole.

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