Two years ago, the future seemed so bright for Jemile Weeks and the effect he would have on the Oakland Athletics baseball club.
In 2011, his rookie season, Weeks started 97 games at second base and finished the season with a .303 batting average, 34 extra base hits – including eight triples, the fourth-best mark in the American League – and 22 stolen bases. It was a forgettable year for the organization, but Weeks got valuable playing time and experience as a result.
His fielding left something to be desired (he led the AL in errors with 13), but the front office surely thought it was correctable, nothing a little coaching couldn’t fix, and the upside was evident as the A’s marketed him as the centerpiece of the franchise’s future.
Then came 2012. He came into the season with a firm grip on the starting job at second, but Weeks regressed to the point where he became a liability for a team that found itself in contention and couldn’t afford to wait around and see if he was going to figure it out.
The 25-year-old’s offensive woes were evident from the start, and at the halfway point of the season he was hitting a meager .222/.309/.309. His defensive stats suggested he needed to work on some things, and once shortstop Stephen Drew was acquired in a deal with the Diamondbacks, Weeks was relegated to the bench as Cliff Pennington got most of the playing time at second down the stretch.
Weeks came into spring training hoping to win back the job, but it was going to be tough with Scott Sizemore coming back from a torn ACL, as well as the offseason signings of infielders Jed Lowrie and Hiro Nakajima.
After Nakajima injured his hamstring in late March, he was sent to Triple A Sacramento to rehab and has been there ever since. Sizemore sadly re-tore his ACL after appearing in only two games, and Bob Melvin has stuck with Eric Sogard at second after he set himself apart in Spring Training
August 19, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics second baseman Jemile Weeks (19) celebrates in the dugout after scoring a run against the Cleveland Indians during the sixth inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
The advantage Sogard has been his consistent performances on defense, even though he may be a lackluster hitter. Many outside observers thought that Weeks would get called up at some point so the organization could get another look at him, even if it wasn’t on a full-time basis.
The recent call up of Grant Green has been ominous in that regard, and Weeks has been shifted around during his time with the River Cats, playing some shortstop and even center field as the organization tries to figure out exactly where they could squeeze him in.
Now that we’re up to speed on Weeks’ career with the Athletics, what exactly is in store for him in the near future?
It’s anyone’s guess what Billy Beane’s intentions are, but it’s hard to see Weeks getting on the field in Oakland anytime soon. If the front office was keen on getting him back in the Majors, they’d have done it by now, and the news from late June that he was available on the trade market led many to believe that he’d be shipped by the trade deadline. That’s still a possibility, but the A’s are going to want a considerable amount in return.
One thing’s for sure: Beane isn’t going to make a deal unless it’s the one he wants to make, because what’s the incentive to move him if you can stash him in Triple A and wait for him to improve his value?
Weeks is currently hitting .280/.399/.375 in Sacramento, not well enough to indicate he can switch clubs and immediately be plugged in to a Major League lineup with success. The fact that he’s being moved around on defense reeks of an effort by the front office to display his versatility to any clubs that might be interested, because he’s not going to be breaking into the outfield rotation with the A’s.
Jul 12, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics second baseman Eric Sogard (28) throws the ball to first base against the Boston Red Sox during the second inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
In short, it seems as if the writing is on the wall for Weeks and his future with the A’s. I could definitely be wrong about this, and I’ll be happy to eat my words if it turns out that the organization has something else in mind for him. However, it’s hard to see how he’s going to stick around unless there’s a marked improvement on his end and a perfect storm that opens up a spot for him in Oakland.
It’s unfortunate, because Weeks was a fan favorite in his time with the team and showed some flashes of what he could become, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that he’s not part of the A’s long term plans. It’s a hard truth of professional sports, how quickly a hot prospect can turn into yesterday’s news, but it’s not often a player that’s drafted by an organization ends up realizing his potential with that same club. Right now, it seems like it’d be better for his development if Weeks went to a team where he has a realistic chance of playing for at the Major League level.
A’s fans will not be happy if he moves on and finds success in the near future, but Oakland’s front office will measure it by what they’re able to get in return. It’ll be another example of Moneyball in motion, and after a decade of similar transactions, it’s a feeling that the fans should be familiar, and comfortable with. After all, who’s the last A’s player to leave town and do better?
But Weeks could still end up being a successful everyday player, so if you’re reading this Billy, how about shipping him to the National League?