Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Fantasy Frustrations: The Rickie Weeks Story

Roughly 7 minutes into day three of the Winter Meetings in Florida, the Brewers have announced that
Scooter Gennett will be the primary second basemen heading into the 2014 season, which puts their former second baseman, Rickie Weeks, firmly on the bench. From a managerial standpoint, it sounds like a solid decision. Gennett projects as an average infielder with not much pop, an average slash line, and average defense. Don't let his stats fool you last year as his .324 mark was heavily inflated by his .380 BABIP and his .155 ISO was his highest mark since A ball. Gennett won't be much, do much, or look attractive, but that's what this Brewers team needs. Just to get through 2014.

Weeks on the other hand is a tough story in general. Rickie is owed $11 million next year and currently has a seat on the bench with his name on it. So obviously, the Brewers have started to reach out to needy teams who might want to take a flier on an injury riddled, aging second basemen that "could" bounce back. But will he? A lot of it depends on health. Most of his value lies in his bat (he led the league 4 years in a row in errors at second), but injuries the past two seasons has zapped that. A lingering wrist injury to start the year last year saw his home run total last year dip to 10, while the three seasons before had him hitting 21, 20, and 29 bombs. Wrist injuries are extremely tricky to deal with as they often kill power, but aren't severe enough to end your season. The Yankees did the smart thing last year with Tex as they recognized that and shut him down after a few weeks before this value dropped.

In 2013, Weeks' triple slash line was atrocious at .209/.306/.357, but like I mentioned, I am leaning towards a lingering injury playing a major part in this. His BB% and K% remained the same (so he was seeing pitches like normal), but with the wrist issue his ISO dropped to .149. A LOSS OF POWER! A major one actually as this was the lowest since 2006, and if you look a little deeper, his numbers can explain this a little further. His line drive rate was a tad higher this year at 18%, but if you aren't hitting for as much power, those line drives will typically turn into softer outs. This is demonstrated in a very low BABIP at .268, which is about 20 points lower than his career average. Lower BABIP leads to a lower average, which leads to less time on base and a lower OBP. So there you go, Rickie's linger wrist issues and a shortened season due to the hamstring tear can plausibly explain his awful slash line. what? Who wants to take on an old, expensive, glass second basemen? Well, maybe more teams than you think. Since his option for 2015 is a team option, that more than likely won't be picked up, this would essentially be a rental situation. Trading for Rickie Weeks who carries a 1 yr / $11 million deal is an attractive thought, and I think I have identified a few suitors.

New York Yankees

This would be my top choice of trade destination for Weeks. The Yankees could take on all $11 million, or almost all of it, in the deal and give up a mediocre prospect. He immediately slots in at second base and gives the lineup a little more thump. The Yanks just signed Kelly Johnson who could spell him at second for a game or two each week to preserve his health. I wouldn't be surprised to see Cashman give Milwaukee a call just to kick the tires.

Kansas City Royals

I'm not going to lie, a little piece of me died inside upon Chris Getz getting DFA'd. I love Chris Getz, but he is terrible, which is why the Royals are currently looking for a second basemen. While the Royals do not have a lot of money to spend, they do have a couple of decent lower level prospects, or back end MLB ready arms, that they could give up to have Milwaukee eat some of the cost. If they could get the Brewers to take on about half of the contract, taking a flier on Weeks at 1 yr / $6 million would be a steal. Then, if things didn't work out, and they normally don't in KC, flip him at the deadline.

Colorado Rockies

DARK HORSE! Second base was a revolving door in Colorado last year, and while they have some internal options, the Rockies seem to prefer proven products over young talent (Aka signing Latroy Hawkins while they have Rex Brothers). Colorado recently freed up a little money with the Fowler trade and could
swoop in to take on Weeks' deal full on. Rickie's power in Colorado? Nice.

In the end, I don't think there is anyway that the Brewers keep Weeks this year. There is no way they can pay a bench player $11 million, and since this is a rebuilding year anyways, they will hand the job to Gennett to see if he can do anything with it. Depending on what park he plays in and how his hamstring is healing, Weeks could be an attractive fantasy baseball option in fantasy drafts next year, so keep an eye on this potential sleeper.

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