Time to Move Weeks to CF

October 15, 2008 at 10:24 am 3 comments


The Milwaukee Brewers are faced with a lot of tough decisions this offseason. They have to figure how to replace C.C. Sabathia and Ben Sheets in their rotation if they don’t re-sign either one, they have to decide on Mike Cameron’s option, they must decide if they are going to shop Prince Fielder and/or J.J. Hardy, but the one I will focus on is Rickie Weeks because I think what they do with him will decide how the rest of their offseason follows.

Rickie Weeks was on most people’s 2008 breakout candidate lists this past season (including mine) but all we saw was a decline in his performance both at the plate and in the field.

Scouts rave about Weeks’ potential at the plate and as an athlete all together. He is very advanced in his approach at the plate and he has great speed, great bat speed, and good power. But he can’t seem to hit anything on the outer half of the plate, fastballs or breaking balls, up in the zone or down. He is also prone to the error in the field and his throwing problems have gotten worse. So is what we see what we get? I refuse to believe so.

So what do they Brewers do about Rickie Weeks? They can’t trade him now becuase they would be getting 50 cents on the dollar at best. If I were the Brewers I would move Weeks to centerfield.

According to Buster Olney at ESPN.com the Brewers have five days after the World Series to tell Mike Cameron whether they’re picking up his $10M option (with a $750K buyout. Cameron will be 36 in January and hit .243/.331/.477 with 25 doubles, 25 homers, 69 runs, 70 RBI, 17 steals, and a 54/142 BB/K rate in 444 at-bats. Cameron also played well above average defense in center so most would think the option is a must to pick up. I don’t. Here is the money that would be coming off the books for the Brewers this offseason if I ran them:

Mike Cameron – 7.0M (10.0M club option with 0.75M buyout)
Eric Gagne – 10.0M (free agent)
Ben Sheets – 11.0M (free agent)
Chris Capuano – 3.75M (arb eligible/non-tender candidate)
Guillermo Mota – 3.2M (free agent)
Craig Counsell – 2.8M ($3.4M with 0.4M buyout)
Brian Shouse – 2.0M (arb eligible/non-tender candidate)

Essentially that would be 39.75M not including the money they had to pay Sabathia and Ray Durham for less than half a year’s service. Some of that money will spent on options (Solomon Torres, Jason Kendall), salary raises, and arbitration. It should still leave them with a good chunk of change to spend which they will surely use on pitching.

It makes sense for the Brewers to make this move. The money they will save can be spent on pitching which is much needed and they can fill other roles through their minor league system or through cheap free agents (like they did with Russell Branyan this year). With Weeks’ athleticism he could be an above average centerfielder in no time while providing a better bat (potentially, that is), more patience, and more speed than Cameron at nearly a tenth of the price.

Moving Weeks to CF will leave 2B open and the Brewers can fill that void by moving Hardy to 2nd and letting Alcides Escobar play SS or by moving Escobar to 2B and leaving Hardy at SS (I prefer the former). Bill Hall is also a candidate at 2B if the Brewers think rookie Mat Gamel can handle 3B.

If I managed the Brewers this is how my lineup would look:

1. Weeks – CF
2. Hardy – 2B
3. Braun – LF
4. Fielder – 1B
5. Hart – RF
6. Hall/Branyan – 3B
7. Escobar – SS
8. Kendall – C

I would platoon Bill Hall with Russell Branyan (he would need to be re-signed which is a no-brainer for me) at 3B if I ran the team. But if they don’t re-sign Branyan then Mat Gamel would be my choice to prove he doesn’t belong. If Gamel isn’t ready then some time in Triple-A won’t hurt because I don’t think his defense is ready. Hall should be the super-sub guy who can fill in at every position other than catcher and first.

Moving Weeks to CF gives the Brewers a ton of options and makes a ton of sense, especially with money coming off the books this offseason. It gives them more options than if they decide to keep his weak defense at 2B and spend $10M on keeping Cameron in center, money that should go to pitching.

-Jonathan C. Mitchell

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. erik  |  October 15, 2008 at 11:35 am

    I think the Brewers are going to give up on Weeks. I think of the prized prospects he is the one that hasn’t panned out. (Hardy has hit, Braun has worked out, Fielder has as well) Weeks has speed but he is undisciplined, injury prone and ready to move on. Maybe send him to the Mets for Castillo’s contract. Or Maybe deal to someone in the AL (Yankee’s for Cano and a SP). I think he’ll be moved.

  • 2. CH  |  October 16, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    The Brewers are going to explore many different options with Weeks. Rickie has shown potential and through brief period has shown some maturation. The re-addition of Robin Yount helped both Weeks and Hardy immensely. Hardy began his mid-season tear after visiting with Yount in AZ and both he and Weeks played incredibly well when he was added as the bench coach. If the Brewers are able to keep Yount on I expect continued improvement for each. Centerfield may be a good option for Weeks, he can platoon with Gwynn Jr. until he feels more comfortable out there. Both Hall and Braun made the move. Hall played very well there two years ago and Braun looked confident out in left last year. My question would be, Why let go of Shouse??? Over the past three years he has been great against lefties and for most of the year he represented the only left hander in the pen. It would be nice if we could lose Suppan’s contract as well. He is a workhorse but over 8 million for a .500 starter and almost 5.0 era is rough. After the most exciting season in 26 years it seems us Brewer fans are in store for an interesting off-season as well

  • 3. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  October 16, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Erik – There is no way they can give up on him. He is still affordable and his potential is worth at least another year. I also don’t think he can stay at 2B which is a major reason he needs to move to CF where he has a chance to flourish thanks to his athleticism.

    CH – Thanks for the comment. I just htink Shouse can be replaced and 45-50 innings for what will be at least $3M for a guy who only gets lefties out (and not by strike out) might be a bit high but you have a point because who will they use to get lefties out? I also agree that Suppan has to go but no one will take on that contract. The Brew Crew have a lot of decisions to make and I think moving Weeks to CF will make their other decisions easier.


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