Gruman: Brewers must stick with Weeks through slump
MAY 15, 2013 10:31a ET
What to do with the struggling second baseman?
Rickie Weeks is mired in another prolonged slump, and the whole state is talking about it. There's some in this town that would like to chase ever player who has a bad week, but Weeks has had a bad month and a half and deserves to be talked about.
But that doesn't change the fact Weeks is going to be Milwaukee's starting second baseman next week and even next month. The Brewers are committed to the former All-Star in part because of what he can bring to the table and also because there's simply no other viable option.
And they're right in doing so. Before you start sending me angry notes on Twitter or rip me in an e-mail, hear me out.
I'm not blind to the fact Weeks has hurt Milwaukee's offense this season with his .183 batting average and lack of run production. What's often ignored when someone calls for a player to be benched is a better option is needed to replace him.
Do the Brewers have a better option than Weeks at second base right now? My opinion is no. The most popular choice is Triple-A second baseman Scooter Gennett. I'm not completely dismissing Gennett as a future starter in the big leagues, but to expect the just turned 23-year-old to come up and hit .275 or even get on base at a greater rate than Weeks' .305 clip is unrealistic. Remember how long it took Jean Segura to adjust to big league pitching? And he has done it quicker than most.
At 5-foot-9 and 157 pounds, Gennett lacks extra base hit potential at the Major League level, one of the reasons some scouts feel his future is as a utility infielder. Regardless of that, Gennett deserves his chance to prove himself in the big leagues, but he needs more than 129 Triple-A at-bats to prove he's ready for that chance.
Eventually - maybe even later this season - Gennett could be a valid option to spell Weeks, but just not right now. Rushing him to the big leagues does nobody any good.
As far as in-house options, Milwaukee doesn't have anyone. Yuniesky Betancourt is coming back down to reality after an incredible start. In a 2-for-25 slump that has his batting average down to .238, Betancourt was signed to be a backup and should return to that role whenever Corey Hart returns.
Until then, Betancourt has to start at first base because Alex Gonzalez hasn't done much at the plate. That leaves Jeff Bianchi. I don't think I have to say much as to why Bianchi isn't a viable candidate to become the starting second baseman. A nice backup because of his defensive ability, Bianchi doesn't hit enough to be in the lineup more than occasionally.
There's all that, and I have yet to mention anything about Weeks himself. There's going to be varying opinions on the type of player Weeks is. Some feel he still can play at the All-Star level he was at before the gruesome ankle injury cost him a significant chunk of time in 2011. Personally, I feel Weeks is what he is.
He'll likely be hitting somewhere between .230-.250 by the end of the season with close to 20 home runs. An average player who will strikeout quite a bit but will also walk and get on base at a high rate, especially for his position. When hot, Weeks can carry Milwaukee offensively. And the Brewers have nobody that will produce close to those numbers at second base.
Now there comes a point where a slow start becomes something more. There also comes a point where the Brewers have to make a change. When will that time come? Remember Weeks didn't break out of his slump until July last season, but then was a major factor in the Brewers getting back in the postseason race.
Could Weeks struggle all season? Of course. But his track record says he won't, and the Brewers need Rickie Weeks to be good in order to compete for a playoff spot. That's why Milwaukee is going to give Weeks time to bust out of this slump.
We'll see if it works out, but it's a gamble worth taking.
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