Let’s Now Give A Shit About Rickie Weeks

Jeff Sullivan · February 12, 2015 at 12:42 am · Filed Under Mariners 

You’ll never believe this, but the Mariners just signed a former Brewer. The specific former Brewer in this case is Rickie Weeks, and his contract is worth money that doesn’t matter over the minimum number of years. In the worst-case scenario, Weeks is bad, and his salary gets in the way of the Mariners’ midseason flexibility. In the best-case scenario, Weeks performs and hits all his incentives, but then Weeks might only hit all his incentives if he plays a bunch, and if he plays a bunch it’s because something happened to Robinson Cano, so in at least this one way the Rickie Weeks best-case scenario is also among the Mariners’ worst-case scenarios. This is off to a good start.

Despite Weeks’ career Milwaukee-ness, this is a surprising move. You would’ve thought Weeks would go to one of those places that has a hole at second base. Instead he joined the team with literally the best second baseman, but then, to be honest, Weeks at this point isn’t really a second baseman anymore anyway. Now, just one year ago, Weeks refused to move off second to play another position, so that bodes poorly, but that’s also in the past, and I can’t imagine Weeks just signed with the Mariners voluntarily in the belief that he’ll stick to his spot. Maybe he really is that stupid, or maybe his agent really does have that little knowledge of the greater baseball landscape, but the probability points to Weeks now being a little more open-minded. People tend to be less stubborn when they’re increasingly desperate to put off irrelevance.

Because it’s a surprising move, it’s an interesting move. This one wasn’t telegraphed, this one wasn’t predictable, and this one wasn’t some minor-league contract with an invite to Peoria. In theory, Weeks can fit on this team. In theory, it’s simple. Many of us assumed the Mariners were finished changing things up, but — and you might want to sit down — they couldn’t pass up a chance to acquire a right-handed proven slugger with a history of bad defense and strikeouts.

Weeks was the second overall pick in 2003, and because of that he’s thought by many to be a career under-achiever. Just for the record, these were the picks around him:

  • 1st: Delmon Young
  • 3rd: Kyle Sleeth
  • 4th: Tim Stauffer
  • 5th: Chris Lubanski
  • 6th: Ryan Harvey

Everything’s relative, and Weeks has had his moments and seasons in the sun. He started to hit in 2006, and through 2011, he was a fine all-around regular second baseman. He was a hell of a hitter through his peak; between 2009 – 2011, Weeks posted the same wRC+ as Victor Martinez and Andrew McCutchen. But then, in 2011, the Phillies were the best team in baseball. Things have changed. Weeks got worse, as players do. He started to get booed from time to time. Though his hitting numbers picked up last year, he was also heavily platooned, swinging the odds in his favor, and he lost his regular job to a fellow named Scooter. In addition to this, defensive metrics hate Weeks at second like they hate few other players.

Weeks is no longer an everyday player. Last year’s performance shows a change in his batted-ball profile, away from putting the ball in the air, but the safe assumption here is that Weeks should only really bat against lefties. Against righties, he can be exploited, and it’s not like he’s going to gain some runs back with his glove. Weeks goes to the bench as experienced insurance. So: what does that mean?

Weeks has literally only played second in the majors. He’s played second, occasional DH, and occasional pinch-hitter. In the minors, he played only second base. The Mariners, though, didn’t sign Weeks to just back up Robinson Cano. The bench, as I see it:

  • Jesus Sucre, or maybe John Baker
  • Willie Bloomquist
  • Justin Ruggiano
  • Rickie Weeks

The catchers are just catchers, and I don’t know if they even own their own bats. Bloomquist can play anywhere, or at least he could play anywhere, but now he’s coming off surgery, and I’ve heard some talk that he might not be ready for the start of the year. Ruggiano is the platoon partner for Seth Smith. That leaves Weeks as the last guy. That means no space for Jesus Montero. It means no space for James Jones, or the loser of the shortstop competition. Space would require a five-man bench, and that would require a six-man bullpen. You won’t see a six-man bullpen with a manager who’s fond of an eight-man bullpen.

The Weeks news isn’t yet confirmed, so we don’t have any quotes from the team. As such, we have to guess at his usage. I see a little bit of lots of things. A few games of giving Cano a breather. Maybe even a couple games at third. I think he picks up some games against lefties as a first baseman, and he might sneak in at DH once or twice. Weeks could also get reps in an outfield corner — Dustin Ackley is both left-handed and Dustin Ackley, so he’s not a lock to do anything, and as things stand Ackley is also the roster depth behind Austin Jackson. Jackson is also supported by James Jones, Endy Chavez, Franklin Gutierrez, and maybe Brad Miller, but those guys won’t start the year with Seattle. I guess Miller might, but that would be as a shortstop.

Weeks provides the Mariners with a little flexibility and a little bit of pop. Let’s say the roster stays as it is, and let’s say…Miller wins the job at short. Against righties, the Mariners could start six left-handed hitters. Against lefties, the Mariners could start five right-handed hitters. You can move your own numbers around if you figure the right-handed Chris Taylor beats Miller out. The point is the team has some built-in protection. And nothing is set in stone. Injury or under-performance means different players show up. If Montero beats the hell out of the ball in Tacoma, he’ll rise. You’ll see Gutierrez if he doesn’t accidentally fall in front of a bus. If Bloomquist is toast, Taylor and Miller could potentially co-exist. Weeks himself has a guaranteed contract, but a guaranteed contract just means you have guaranteed money, not a guaranteed roster spot. Weeks won’t last if he pulls a 2013. And as much as 2014 was encouraging, 2013 was the opposite, and just a year earlier.

When it’s February, you get more than a thousand words about a bench acquisition that teams with holes at second base didn’t want. Weeks has been a really good player before, but then Endy Chavez has been a really good player before, and if it’s perspective you want, the Mariners got Weeks for a year and $2 million. That’s less than half their guarantee an offseason ago to Willie Bloomquist. This isn’t like getting a pitch-framer for cheap, because it’s a market inefficiency. Rickie Weeks isn’t a market inefficiency. He’s just a guy who hits lefties sometimes, and he has a history that takes a little longer to thumb through than most. It’s for the best, for him, he’s moving on from Milwaukee. That doesn’t mean it’s also for the best for Seattle, but it’s not like the system was overflowing with quality candidates for the one spot remaining. Weeks is good enough to satisfy those who confuse activity for improvement, and he could even be better than that.

The upside, per usual, is that Weeks plays the hero in an exciting and extended playoff run. Maybe he delivers the sort of hit or two that make him an area legend. Every champion includes bit parts no one ever expected much from. The downside is that Weeks sucks, and sucks often enough and conspicuously enough that he gets booed in Safeco, too. We could hate him, and he could hate us. But that’s just the way it is with anyone. You have to give a chance to people. Don’t decide they suck before you know them; if they suck, that’s a tough thing to keep hidden.


32 Responses to “Let’s Now Give A Shit About Rickie Weeks”

  1. Woodcutta on February 12th, 2015 12:57 am

    Ugh…I thought the M’s were trending away from these type of players. There is talk about using him in the OF at either RF or LF when the players that should be playing there need a day off. I have the over/under we see a Weeks/Jackson/Cruz outfield at 10 games into the season.

  2. Woodcutta on February 12th, 2015 12:59 am

    Also, over/under we see a Weeks/Chavez/Cruz outfield 40 games into the season.

  3. brettb3 on February 12th, 2015 1:05 am

    That will only happen if guys get hurt.

  4. djw on February 12th, 2015 4:38 am

    Maybe they’re going to release WFB? That would make this move make more sense.

  5. MrZDevotee on February 12th, 2015 5:19 am

    Best line of this story, when talking about our backup catchers: “I don’t know if they even own their own bats”…

    Made me laugh out loud… Classic Sullivan-ing…

    I’m thinking about this like djw… Either Willie is looking at an extended bit of rehab, or considering retiring. Weeks at any defensive position scares me, but the .820 career OPS against lefties is not a bad thing to have on the bench.

    The Mariners kinda actually have some depth this year, thru AAA. With real MLB players on the bench in the majors. The casual fan won’t have to google Abe Almonte or James Jones the first week of the season.

    That’s a decent bit of progress.

  6. thstarkweather on February 12th, 2015 7:27 am

    Agree with djw. I think that Miller and Taylor make the squad and that only one of Bloomquist/Weeks makes the 25 man roster. Weeks also provides better righty option for 1b than Bloomquist. If the Weeks move is a replacement for Bloomquist and a righty option for first (I cannot imagine LoMo playing 150 games there), then I don’t really mind it.

  7. PackBob on February 12th, 2015 7:44 am

    As usual, the M’s keep us head-scratching as to what they have in mind. Maybe it’s partially a spring training competition sort of thing, which Lloyd seems to love. It’s hard to see the M’s ruling out an 8-man bullpen to start the season.

    The most sense would be that Willie will not be ready and Weeks would replace him to start the year.

  8. Adam S on February 12th, 2015 7:59 am

    Having slept on it, this feels like a typical Jack Z move. Acquire a small part without an overall plan for the roster. Reminds me of the year they acquired Morse, Ibanez, and Bay (and someone else); each player made the team better n terms of depth and flexibility but ultimately they had 3 DHs.

    Weeks is a better bat than Bloomquist if Morrison or Cruz needs a day off. But counting on a guy who’s only played 2B for 10+ years to be a utility guy seems like a lot of wishing.

    I think this lends strong suspicion that either WFB won’t be ready for opening day or he’ll be at 80-90% — healthy enough to play but not good enough to be on a ML roster.

  9. _David_ on February 12th, 2015 8:36 am

    Couldn’t there still be a Miller/Taylor job share and no Bloomquist?

  10. Nate on February 12th, 2015 8:46 am

    Heyman quote via Rotoworld:
    ‘Weeks to be used in the OF a lot’.

    Platoon for Ackley?? Is he willing now to do this?

    Rotoworld Link

  11. Liam on February 12th, 2015 9:05 am

    I’m just going to assume Jack Zduriencik was around the water cooler and misheard his staff talking about Wikileaks.

  12. MrZDevotee on February 12th, 2015 9:07 am

    I don’t think they’ll continue the Miller/Taylor job share… They both really need to be playing SS everyday, so most likely one of them wins the job outright in Spring and the other will be the starting SS in Tacoma.

  13. _David_ on February 12th, 2015 9:40 am

    MrZD- I agree that they should get reps, but they’ll probably just torch AAA. I’m wary of the value of MiLB when a player is too old/good.

  14. rowlandice on February 12th, 2015 11:16 am

    If the loser of Miller/Taylor is depth at AAA, where does Ketel Marte end up? 2B in Tacoma?

  15. ivan on February 12th, 2015 4:19 pm

    Why did this signing bring to my mind the Bill Hall acquisition?

  16. ck on February 12th, 2015 4:38 pm

    I don’t know who will end up on the bench, but I hope it (bench)will include a pinch-hitter with power, and a pinch-runner with money bag skills, so that the M’s can win a few come from behind close games. I don’t like this move today, because this ‘addition’ might cost more value lost through ‘subtraction.’

  17. ivan on February 12th, 2015 6:05 pm

    All Weeks has to be is better than Bloomquist, who is neither a power hitter nor a pinch-runner with money bag skills. I hope you’re not suggesting that you would rather have James Jones on the roster than Rickie Weeks.

  18. Shoeless Jose on February 12th, 2015 6:38 pm

    If one of Miller/Taylor starts the season in Tacoma, who is the backup SS if the one in Seattle can’t play for any reason? Sure, if it’s a home game the replacement is just a commute up I-5, but in a road game (or if the Rainiers are on the road) do you want Bloomquist playing short? And that’s assuming Bloomquist is even able to get on the field at the start of the season.

  19. Section329 on February 12th, 2015 7:34 pm

    Liam has it right. Thanks for the chuckle!

  20. Woodcutta on February 13th, 2015 2:37 am

    “…better than Bloomquist” is a pretty low bar. I sure hope Weeks is more than that if he is on the 25-man roster.

  21. maqman on February 13th, 2015 2:59 am

    GMZ has a weakness for former Brewers that he knew from his time there, as with Hart. This move will probably be as ineffective. I believe if they cut him before the season starts they only have to pay him 30% of his contract but $600,000 is pretty expensive insurance.
    Now they have signed Rafael Perez to a minor league deal they have 7 left-handed bullpen candidates. Evidently Jack thinks their is strength in numbers.

  22. ivan on February 13th, 2015 6:12 am

    ““…better than Bloomquist” is a pretty low bar. I sure hope Weeks is more than that if he is on the 25-man roster.”

    Well sure, so do I. But in terms of who gets a roster spot and who doesn’t, that probably IS the bar. My best guess is that they’ll invent some reason to put Willie on the 60-day.

    I’m not expecting much from Weeks. Like I said before, until I see otherwise, this looks like another Bill Hall pickup. I would prefer to be pleasantly surprised. But like I thought Hall was, I think Weeks is worth the flyer.

  23. Longgeorge1 on February 13th, 2015 11:21 am

    Z is more confusing than my girlfriend.

  24. heyoka on February 14th, 2015 8:04 pm

    The title of this post:
    Take out any word and it’s entertaining.

  25. MrGenre on February 16th, 2015 9:05 am

    Hey Jeff, I know there’s probably nobody else who cares about this, and that’s fine. I’m certain I’ll get mocked for even bringing it up, but when you guys keep using language in your articles (this time prominently), it means I can’t share it with my kids.

    Yes, they will have to face it someday in school, yes I can’t hide it from them forever, but part of being a father means being a good example to them, and it’s getting harder and harder to find sports blogs that don’t lean so heavily on the f-word. I don’t remember running into this issue years ago on this blog, but it was certainly prevalent this season.

    Mock me if you must for even bringing this up, guys. I can take it. But not all of us are in college anymore.

    Additionally, if you feel it’s an important part of the humor/credibility/1st amendment to swear to get your point about baseball across, I can respect that. I’m not looking to change your writing style. I just want to know if I’m the only one, and I’ll get out of dodge.

    Thanks, guys! Go, M’s!

  26. LongDistance on February 17th, 2015 11:34 pm


    Oh, fudge.

    Back in 2011 you posted this concerning Michael Saunders:

    “This reporter concludes that Saunders needs to stop making excuses and hit the frickin’ baseball.”

    I couldn’t find “frickin'” in the dictionary. Could you tell me what exact word you meant by that word?

  27. stevemotivateir on February 18th, 2015 9:10 am


    Finding that kind of language in the articles isn’t the same as finding it in the comments. Fans can read the articles without having to look at anything else.

  28. seattleslew on February 18th, 2015 4:58 pm

    I agree. I don’t mind the language, but USSM is read and referenced by a lot of people. It’s on the internet, it’s a blog, a respected blog. Comments don’t matter, but the articles do. With that in mind, it’s best for everyone to keep it professional.

  29. Liam on February 18th, 2015 5:49 pm

    The Seattle PI, who repost all the articles from here to their own site, have renamed it to “Let’s Now Care About Rickie Weeks”

  30. LongDistance on February 18th, 2015 10:29 pm

    I agree about the general public posts. They present mainly analysis and information. The commentary, however, often carries fan reaction that swings from analytical to emotional. Especially game day threads where, let’s face it, for certain face-palm moments, profanity is about the only thing that fits the occasion. As for self censorship the U.S.S. Mariner are good enough for me.

    As for language, nothing that is’nt just gratuitous or puerile bothers me. But when it is …

    Grand Theft Auto, for example, made a very brief appearance in our house. A Christmas gift from someone not too savvy about video games (grandma). And got dumped.

  31. MrGenre on February 19th, 2015 7:56 am

    Thanks, guys! Appreciate the feedback.

  32. smb on February 21st, 2015 2:51 pm

    Ditto MrZDevotee on the hilarity of “I don’t even know if they own their own bats.” Made me smile and I have now been sick with flu or cold for 22 consecutive days. Well done and thanks, Mr. Sullivan!

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