Rickie Weeks is struggling, but Scooter Gennett is not the answer. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
I, along with many, have been a devoted Weeks supporter since his first game in 2003. But after a couple of injuries and a miserable campaign in 2012, the Rickie Weeks bandwagon has emptied quite a bit. But I’m still here. I may as well be driving.
Before you continue reading, make sure you check out Senior Staff Writer Lou Olsen’s critique of Weeks (here) and then come back to see my rebuttal.
Our rants will follow three basic points: Bat, Glove, and Presence.
People must understand that Rickie Weeks is a career .249 hitter, so expecting him to hit in the upper .200’s is unrealistic wishful thinking. For Weeks, last season was a fluke. He was still battling an ankle injury and didn’t turn it on until the second half of the season, ultimately batting .261. Don’t think any more about it.
In his article, Lou talked a lot about Weeks’ statistical struggles this season (batting .169) and how he’s currently mired in a long slump. Let’s break his season down even further.
Weeks will start hitting once Ramirez is back in the lineup. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Before Aramis Ramirez was placed on the disabled list on April 6th, Weeks was 7-for-15 (.467) with one home run and only two strikeouts. But since Ramirez has been out of the lineup, Weeks is only 6-for-62 (.097) with no home runs and 26 strikeouts. It’s clear that having Ramirez and Ryan Braun hitting behind Weeks in the order drastically improves his performance. When Ramirez returns, hopefully sometime during the next home stand, Weeks’ bat will rise from the dead and he will be the hitter he is capable of being. His power will come back and his strikeouts will fall, even if it is slightly. Though Jean Segura has been raking of late, putting Weeks back in the two-hole will not only get Weeks back on track, it will provide the offense with more firepower at the top of the lineup.
Weeks has been down in the count far too often this season. His first pitch strike percentage is 61.4% – his highest since his rookie year. He’s hitting .162 with 14 strikeouts when he’s down 0-1 this season. To have success, Weeks must become more aggressive at the plate, a trait that will return with more protection in the lineup.
Lou is a big Scooter Gennett fan and thinks he deserves his spot in the sun. With all due respect to Lou, I find that laughable. Yes, Gennett is hitting .386 in Triple-A and yes, he has struck out only eight times. But so what? Gennett has absolutely no power and is basically the same type of hitter as Logan Schafer and Jean Segura – a contact hitter who’s not a home run threat. Substituting Gennett for Weeks would be overkill and would greatly diminish Milwaukee’s offensive output. Sorry Scooter, it’s just not your time yet.
Remember when Weeks was a defensive liability and we all cringed every time the ball was hit in his direction? That’s no longer the case. While he is definitely not a fielding stud and occasionally boots a routine ground ball, he gets the job done. He doesn’t make the mental mistakes that a rookie like Gennett would. While Gennett and Segura might have a strong connection on the field, Weeks and Segura look pretty fluid as well.
Weeks’ fielding ability has improved since his rookie season. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Weeks’ defense has been spotty the last couple of games (two errors in Wednesday’s loss to the San Diego Padres) but his mind was probably focused on his hitting woes. Plus, his family attended the game and there’s nothing worse than having your parents intently stare at you in pressure situations.
Nobody else seems to be worried about Weeks’ defense and, as far as I’m concerned, it’s been a non-issue for a while.
Rickie is a leader, just not a vocal one. There’s no doubt he’s already helped Segura’s progression as a shortstop. They look like two peas in a pod out on the field. In an article by Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, he explains why younger players look up to Weeks.
"One of Weeks’ most valuable attributes can’t be measured by numbers, and that’s leadership. While he is quiet by nature, the presence he creates by being in the lineup every day, being prepared and being professional is invaluable."
Weeks shows up to work every day and almost never needs a day off. Just recently, when Roenicke wanted to give Weeks a day off, he talked his way out of it. No matter how bad he’s struggling, you won’t hear Weeks complaining or making excuses. He played in 157 games last year, a team high. He’s one of, if not the, hardest working players on the Brewers.
Roenicke had this to say about Weeks’ presence via Todd Rosiak:
"Everybody knows how tough he is. But just the way he goes about his job and the way he plays makes him a big leader, and a big part of what we do.”"
Weeks may not be boisterous and have the swagger Lou is looking for, but his presence is monumental in the Brewers clubhouse.
Before the season started, I predicted that Rickie Weeks would bounce back and be selected to the 2013 All-Star Game in New York; I still believe that. The injuries that have hurt the Brewers have also negatively impacted Weeks’ performance. I expect him to raise his batting average and start hitting the ball with more vigor within the next couple of days. Keep the faith, people.
In case you missed it, you can find Lou’s article on why Weeks’ time in Milwaukee should be over, here.
With whom do you agree? Leave comments and questions below.