It’s been a long couple seasons for Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks. The injuries and ineffectiveness finally took it’s toll in 2014, as Weeks was moved out of a full-time role for the first time since 2005. The move came at an inopportune time for Weeks, as he’s now set to be a free-agent. While Weeks is coming off a fine year, in which he had a .359 wOBA, there are plenty of questions facing the second baseman moving forward. Assuming he can find a team to give him a shot in a full-time role, does Weeks have anything left in the tank?
The results are a bit skewed based on his part-time performance in 2014. Weeks was effective, hitting .274/.357/.452, but only received 286 at-bats. He was actually better against right-handers, which hasn’t been the case over his career, but received just 119 at-bats against them. He was mostly his usual self against lefties, but, again, only received 133 at-bats against lefties.
So, yes, last season was better, but the sample was too small to analyze closely. The main problem here is that, the further you look back with Weeks, the cloudier things become. When healthy, Weeks has been a rare power-hitting, strong on-base middle infielder. But, as we all know, he hasn’t been healthy. A hamstring issue shut him down at the end of 2013, and a horrific ankle injury in late 2011 may have been the reason for his early troubles in 2012.
That leaves a huge question mark for teams looking to pick up the 31-year-old during the offseason. Technically, the Brewers can bring him back on an $11.5 million option, but that’s a fair amount to pay for a part-time second baseman. Unless he’s willing to take a pay cut, it seems Weeks will hit the market.
Weeks has always been a “bat-first” player, which should make his free agency case more troubling. Over his career, he’s compiled a -56.5 fielding figure. Whether or not you buy into defensive metrics, the eye tests seem to agree here, Weeks isn’t a second baseman. The Brewers were well aware of this, and even asked Weeks if he would be willing to learn left field last season, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Weeks declined the offer, stating “I’m a second baseman. I feel like right now I should be playing second base.”
Unless Weeks is willing to reconsider, he’s going to be looking at some limited offers this offseason. He’s clearly hit the decline phase of his career, and he hasn’t been all that good at the plate since 2011. On top of that, health has always been an issue. The Brewers had a lot of success platooning both Weeks and Scooter Gennett last season, and may have found the one way to get both production and health from Weeks.
If Weeks is willing to take on the same role again, that could be beneficial to both sides. At the same time, teams aren’t going to pay much for a guy who can start against righties and be used as a late pinch-hitter. There’s certainly more left in Weeks’ bat, and it would be a shame to see him take on such a muted role again. If he can find a team willing to give him a full-time role, a one-year, prove it type deal might be the best thing for both sides.
Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.