The Mariners have arguably the best second baseman in the MLB right now. So it makes sense that they signed a player who’s exclusively played second base during his major league career. That sounds a lot like sarcasm. But what that is not, is sarcasm. This move makes some sense, and honestly it’s sort of genius.
Rickie Weeks isn’t a great fielder, and he never has been. He’s actually pretty not-great with his glove. Don’t worry, that’s not his thing. He’s been an elite hitter before, and more recently, he’s been a very not good hitter. Where does Rickie Weeks make his money? Getting on base, and hitting dingers. The strange thing about that is Rickie Weeks’ career slugging percentage hovers 13 points above Ichiro’s career mark. Weeks mashes lefties, and last year he slashed .256/.361/.504 against them, while holding a .381 wOBA and 142 wRC+. Just for kicks, he slashed .294/.351/.395 against righties, and also had a .333 wOBA and 109 wRC+ against them as well.
The Mariners are going to platoon a lot. That’s evident in their roster construction. But where does he fit into the equation? (I don’t know, you may be thinking. Why do you ask us so many rhetorical questions that are literally impossible for us to answer?)
Rickie Weeks isn’t going to play second base. Well, he is, but Robinson Cano will be making appearances there a lot – A LOT – more. We didn’t sign Rickie Weeks to sit on the bench and watch Robbie play awaiting an injury in hopes of playing. Rickie (we’re on a first name basis) will probably see some time at second base, and also at third base, first base, designated hitter, and in left field. The beautiful part about that is that a left handed hitter occupies the position of three of those four spot (LoMo, Seager, Ackley). Last year, Weeks declined to earn more playing time in the outfield after Scooter Gennett started stealing time from him. His tune on that has likely changed, and he’ll give plenty of players the chance to rest their legs. It’s a long season!
The acquisition of Weeks almost definitely has something to do with Willie Bloomquist. Bloomquist, if you remember, had microfracture surgery in August, and he’s 37 years old age. Not only is he possibly not ready and old, but he’s also not very good. Insert Rickie Weeks, who will be making $1M less than Willie Ballgame.
On December 9th, Jack Zduriencik said
“Right now, everything we’re being told is he’s on target and feeling really good,” Zduriencik said. “He should be ready for spring training. If that isn’t the case, we’d be in position where we could fill a need if we had to for a while, depending on his situation. But we’re expecting him to be ready to go.”
So from the Weeks signing, we can assume that Willie won’t be ready in time. Got it. Well, actually, that may not be the case. Because a little under a month ago, Bloomquist was supposedly running and on track (no terrible pun intended) for spring training.
We can presume that one of these is the case:
– Willie isn’t ready.
– Willie is good as gone.
– One of Brad Miller or Chris Taylor is not going to be on the opening day roster.
The Mariners are probably going to throw Willie on the disabled list for insurance. This will give them a little time to think about what they want to do with him, and see how Weeks plays. When he returns, he’ll probably, and hopefully, find himself out of a spot in favor of Miller, Taylor, and Weeks. I don’t mean to bash Willie, but there’s really no value in being below average at a bunch of spots. He’s not Mark McLemore.
I don’t expect Weeks to hit 29 dingers like he did in 2010. He’s not going to play 100 games, either. But what he provides is a compelling option at (presumably) multiple spots, and quality insurance. Insurance isn’t a sexy word, but it’s an important thing.
Last year, we didn’t have insurance at some spots and saw the likes of Stefen Romero, Cole Gillespie, Abraham Almonte, James Jones, Blake Beavan, Hector Noesi, Justin Smoak, Erasmo Ramirez and even Tom Wilhelmsen in a fuckin’ bullpen start. The hope is that we won’t have to see most of these players. A key focal point of this offseason was to bolster depth around the roster, and the product in which we now see is decent depth at virtually every spot. Jack Zduriencik was lucky that a ton of players stepped up last year (Young, Elias, Paxton, and many more), and now we won’t have to rely on young players to perform over their heads.
Hats off to Jack Zduriencik for getting creative with this move. This is the kind of savvy pickup that earned him the moniker “Trader Jack.”