COMMENTARY | The hits just keep on coming for the Milwaukee Brewers, and not the good kind.
Second baseman Rickie Weeks learned August 10 that he would miss the remainder of the 2013 season to undergo surgery on his torn hamstring. The injury was a freak occurrence, as Weeks jumped to avoid his own bat while running down the first-base line and came down awkwardly.
Weeks becomes the latest Brewer to endure a season-ending injury, and now Milwaukee is missing half of its usual starting position players.
That goes a long way in explaining why the Brewers are 16 games below .500 and sport the fourth-worst record in Major League Baseball. While there is obvious disappointment in already being out of playoff contention, the Brewers will try their hardest to make the most out of this mess.
So will Scooter Gennett.
Gennett will try to be the latest Brewer to take advantage of unexpected playing time, and this time it appears he's here for good. After being called up to be Milwaukee's 26th man for a doubleheader on July 30, Gennett was optioned and recalled the same day when Yovani Gallardo went on the disabled list. This time, Gennett spent two days at Triple-A Nashville before getting the call again.
He's been the equivalent of a human yo-yo -- a yo-yo that has finally come to rest.
While Weeks' injury is certainly disappointing, it's not that disappointing. In 104 games this season, Weeks had a .209/.306/.357 split with 10 HRs and 24 RBIs. That line includes a month of June in which he hit .355. Other than that, Weeks didn't crack the Mendoza Line in any other month.
For as much as fans called for Gennett's arrival in Milwaukee, the decision to play the 23-year-old earlier in the season met some criticism. Many believe Gennett doesn't bring the same intangibles as Weeks, such as power, defense and the ability to get on base. But the Brewers' hand was forced when Weeks got off to a painfully slow start for the second consecutive season.
In Gennett's first stint with the Brewers when he platooned with Weeks at second base, he went .214/.250/.357, but since July 30, Gennett is hitting .381. With Gennett being a left-handed swinger, it will likely be Jeff Bianchi getting the call against lefties, but Gennett will be getting a majority of the starts at second base the rest of the way.
On the first go-around, Gennett felt the pressure to outclass Weeks, but that pressure is no more, and the jitters dating back to his first appearances with Milwaukee should be gone. Outfielder Caleb Gindl admitted those same jitters probed his mind, but in his second stint with the Brewers, Gindl is hitting .304 and has begun to earn a majority of the starts in left field.
What the final two months of the season have become for Gennett is essentially a tryout for the 2014 season.
In the past, Weeks was able to put up All-Star-caliber numbers, but the issue has been his health. That problem has arisen yet again, only the soon-to-be 31-year-old has seen his production diminish even when healthy.
Weeks is due $12 million next season with an option for 2015. The only issue for the Brewers is that it's a player option, one that Weeks would surely pick up, considering it's worth $11.5 million.
If Gennett is able to keep up his strong play -- albeit it's been a small sample size -- Milwaukee will have a difficult decision to make during the offseason. Will it look to trade or possibly even release Weeks? Will it put both Gennett and Weeks on the roster in 2014 and give Gennett a majority of the playing time?
The trade value of Weeks is at an all-time low -- a player that will be owed $23.5 million coming off injury that has combined to hit .222 over the last two seasons. The best option for the Brewers may be just to ride it out with Weeks, but that doesn't mean he has to be the man at second base, especially if Gennett is able to prove his worth over the remainder of the 2013 season.
Gennett and Weeks are two very different players, but Weeks was revered for taking his walks, getting on base and being productive. He simply wasn't doing any of that this season, and while Gennett isn't going to hit the cover off the ball or display much patience at the plate, he can hit.
How well he can hit, field his position and improve his pitch selection over the final 44 games of the season should go a long way in determining his role in 2014.
Dave Radcliffe is a resident of a little known Milwaukee suburb who is an avid follower of Wisconsin sports. He has contributed to JSOnline, as a featured columnist on other sites and publications, and been a guest on multiple sports talk radio shows.
You can get the discussion going and follow Dave on Twitter @DaveRadcliffe_.
- Sports & Recreation
- Milwaukee Brewers
- Rickie Weeks