When the news popped up on my iPad this morning that the Mariners signed Rickie Weeks to a one-year $2 million deal, I was shocked. First, I thought the M’s were pretty much done dealin’, but didn’t see another second baseman as a pressing need. Still wishing and hoping for a right handed alternative at first base, or a little more pitching depth, but the Weeks deal, was completely unforeseen.
For those not in the know, Weeks was a second baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers 2005-14. In the past couple of years Weeks struggled with injuries, leaving his production down. He’s a right handed hitter, with some thump and a little speed. His slash line in an injury shortened year was .274/.357/.452. He had a wRC+ of 127. Weeks has good thump against left handed pitching with a .506 slugging pct. in 2014. Weeks is not a good defensive second baseman, with a career -8.9 UZR.
So the big question is, what do the Mariners do with him? They have that Cano fellow inked in at second next year and many subsequent years. They also have a plethora of young, cheap, relatively undeveloped middle infielders with Brad Miller, Chris Taylor and down on the farm Ketel Marte.
What does this suggest about Willie Bloomquist, in his last year as Mariners Swiss Army Knife? Is he recovered from his serious knee injury? Weeks certainly isn’t here as insurance, because he’s signed to a major league contract and will take a spot on the 25-man roster. It also raises issues around the size of the bullpen. Much less likely to be eight men under Edgar’s Cantina today than yesterday. It may call into question whether the M’s can keep both Miller and Taylor with the big club.
But just checking the record, Weeks hasn’t played a bunch of positions. He’s a second baseman. Apparently when the Brewers brought up their new future second baseman, Scooter Gennett, and suggested Weeks learn to play the outfield, he was less than enthusiastic.
But that will likely not wash if Weeks is indeed coming to Seattle. Baseball is nothing if not a game of life lessons. Last year Ricky learned how to sit, when a younger, more talented player took his spot. The Mariners signed Weeks as a bat, not to play a specific position. That’s his new role, right-handed role player. Expect to see him take turns at first base and in left field against tough lefties to give Dustin Ackley and Logan Morrison a break.
Despite all the complications, and that this move seemed to come out of nowhere, I think I like it. This adds strength to a bench that has been laughably thin for a decade. Weeks is another right handed bat that reduces the M’s recent lefty imbalance. It seems like a good move.