COMMENTARY | Managers and front office executes will deny it to the grave -- how much money a player is making has an effect on their playing time and overall role on the team. It's difficult for those responsible to accept the fact that a mistake was made in devoting too much money to a certain player. Therefore, money trumps performance and clouds the decision making process.
The Milwaukee Brewers have found themselves in this position before with players like Bill Hall, Jeff Suppan, and if we go farther back, Jeffrey Hammonds (sorry, Brewer fans). Production comes nowhere near expectations, but because of that hovering sack of money, these players see the field far too often for just about everyone's liking.
Rickie Weeks is 30 years old. He's a career Brewer, making his first appearance for Milwaukee in 2003. He's only played more than 130 games in a season a whopping two times. When he's healthy, and this is a rarity, Weeks has normally been pretty effective throughout this career. But last season and through 19 games in 2013, Weeks has been healthy -- and not productive.
Weeks had his best season in 2010 where he played a career-high 160 games and hit .269 with 29 HRs and 83 RBIs. Although it was the first time Weeks made it past 129 games during his six-plus year career, the Brewers handsomely rewarded the second baseman with a four-year, $38 million extension.
Perhaps the Brewers made this deal with the idea that the franchise wouldn't have another big league-ready second baseman for another four or five years. Well, they were mistaken, because just two seasons later, a 22-year-old second baseman by the name of Scooter Gennett is making waves down in Triple-A Nashville.
He has made the jump to the next minor league stop every year, and now he is knocking on the door for a chance at The Show. Through 14 games, Gennett was hitting .366 with a .407 on-base percentage and eight runs scored. It may be a small sample size, and Gennett doesn't bring the same power to the plate as Weeks, but take a look at Weeks' numbers through 19 games:
.164 average, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 33.3 K%.
What that didn't include was Weeks' OBP (.274) and how many hard-hit balls have turned into outs, which is just plain unlucky. But Weeks has struck out 17 more times than he's walked, mainly while batting cleanup. While many hoped this was the source of his struggles, Weeks is 0-for-7 with four strike outs since being removed for the four-hole.
Now granted, Weeks has been bounced around a lot this season in the lineup, and that may be messing with his psyche. Still, the reason Ron Roenicke felt comfortable placing Weeks behind Ryan Braun in the lineup was because he's a veteran. Weeks sure didn't handle it like a veteran.
Meanwhile, Gennett is a career .300 hitter in the minor leagues. He's a left-handed bat, which would help break up a righty-heavy lineup in Milwaukee. While Gennett may not be a source of power, it's not as if the Brewers need any more big boppers in the lineup. They have Braun, Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Gomez, and soon enough, Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart will return.
One knock on Gennett is his glove, as he can be counted on for about 20 errors a season. While Weeks has never been known for flashing the leather himself, that's even more miscues than Weeks commits.
Is another year in the minors the right decision for Gennett's long-term future? Probably so, but what would be wrong with giving him a few uninterrupted weeks of starting experience at the big league level? Gennett has proved he can hit the cover off the baseball at any level -- except the Major Leagues.
The only issue with this proposition is what the Brewers do with Weeks. He's making $10 million in 2013, $11 million in 2014, and has an $11 million team option in 2015. That's a lot of dough, which makes it difficult to trade Weeks considering his production level and difficult to cut him considering how much he's owed.
But the Brewers don't have to cut him, or even attempt to trade him. They could site some sort of phantom injury, place him on the disabled list, and allow him to "rehab" in the minors. You could call it a variation of an extended spring training. Milwaukee doesn't have the luxury of sending him down for a stint to clear his mind because Weeks likely doesn't have any minor league options remaining and would have to clear waivers.
Of course, that might be tempting the baseball gods, especially considering Weeks' rich injury past.
Is a Weeks' minor league head-clearing mission and a Gennett call-up realistic right now? Once again, probably not, but it's something many Brewer fans would love to see, and might be what's best for the Brewers, at least momentarily.
A hot-hitting Weeks could be exactly what the Brewers need late in the season in order to push them into the playoffs, but come 2014, there is a distinct possibility that Milwaukee's double-play tandem has a new look.
Dave Radcliffe is a resident of a little known Milwaukee suburb who contains an unhealthy amount of knowledge about Wisconsin sports. He has contributed to JSOnline and as a featured columnist among other sites and publications.
You can follow Dave on Twitter @DaveRadcliffe_ .
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