Tag: Rickie Weeks

10 MLB Players Heading into Make-or-Break Seasons

Not every MLB player is looking forward to 2014. For some, the new season represents a pivotal juncture in their respective careers.

This is of course called a “make-or-break season.” While some players like Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Ryan Howard appear to be albatrosses, their contractual security is paramount to their 2014 production.

By comparison, a player like Rickie Weeks desperately needs to find his stroke in 2014. After posting a .209 batting average with an 80 OPS+ in 2013, the once elite second baseman is already playing caddy to farmhand Scooter Gennett.

And if Weeks continues to hit below the league average, the 31-year-old will not find a starting job in 2015.

Read on to see the 10 MLB players heading into make-or-break seasons.


All statistics sourced from Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs.com.

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Milwaukee Brewers: Like It or Not, Rickie Weeks Is Here to Stay

The Milwaukee Brewers are mired in a Catch-22 with Rickie Weeks. The 30-year-old second baseman is flatlining on a club that was expected to contend heavily in the National League Central division. Instead, the Brewers are more than 10 games out of first place with a record of 16-24.

Concerning the Brew Crew’s woes, there is plenty of blame to throw around.

Predictably, the bullpen has looked atrocious at times.

Ace Yovani Gallardo is struggling mightily, watching his strikeout rate dip to a career low while suffering through a 1.46 WHIP.

Starters Marco Estrada and Wily Peralta were expected to have large, positive roles with the staff this year. Instead, they have combined for a 6-6 record and 5.63 ERA.

Let’s not forget the injured Corey Hart, who has yet to hit the diamond thus far.

The disappointment of the Brewers is amplified by the sluggish Weeks, though.

As most fans in Milwaukee know, Weeks is touting a .176 batting average. He has driven in only 10 runs while smacking three home runs. Weeks is also striking out in a career-high fashion. 

Additionally, Weeks’s fly-ball rate on batted balls has dipped to 23.4 percent, down from an average of 38.13 percent over the course of the previous four seasons. 

So what should the Brewers do with Weeks?

Mind you, making a decision on Weeks is a difficult task for the frugal Brewers since he is the third highest-paid player on the club.

According to Spotrac, the Brewers second baseman will earn a total salary of $11 million this year. His salary will jump by $1 million in 2014 with a team option for 2015 worth $11.5 million. According to ESPN’s Jack Moore, the Brewers can opt out of the contract prior to 2015 “if Weeks isn’t a full-time player in 2013 and 2014.”

Weeks’ current contract came off of a career year in 2010, when he tallied 29 HR and 83 RBI. Since then, everything has been downhill. He currently possesses a wins above replacement (WAR) of -0.5. Since his peak WAR of 5.8 in 2010, his WAR has dropped an average of 2.1 points per season since. 

Those familiar with MTV would agree that Weeks “catfished” the Brewers with the five-year contract he signed in 2011.

To compound matters, the Brewers are limited in their options.

Sure, they could platoon Weeks with utility infielder Jeff Bianchi, but Bianchi himself carries little swag at the plate. 

The front office could turn inward and snag Scooter Gennett from Triple-A, but that would only initiate his service clock, something the organization wants to prevent. Gennett himself is proving to lack substantial power at the plate, accumulating zero home runs thus far in the minors.

Since the two aforementioned options are not viable, maybe Milwaukee will look at the available free agents.

According to MLB Trade Rumors, the most enticing free-agent second basemen include Ryan Theriot, Freddy Sanchez, Orlando Hudson and Adam Kennedy. No one can fault the Brewers for turning the other way in this circumstance.

At the end of the day, Milwaukee fans need to brace themselves for the worst and hope for the best. They are stuck with Weeks at second base. 

It’s unfortunate, too. Brewers fans are witnessing breakout seasons from Jean Segura and Carlos Gomez. Ryan Braun continues to produce at a lofty level while Aramis Ramirez remains one of the game’s best corner infielders.

Weeks’ lack of production is reflective of a season that has gone awry early on. No one can seriously believe Weeks will turn it around. He has been in decline since hitting his zenith in 2010. Therefore, fans in Milwaukee must continue to swallow those bitter pills as they watch a club with extensive potential continue to plummet in the NL Central.

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Fantasy Baseball 2012: Top 30 Second Basemen

It would be misleading to characterize second base as a position of scarcity in 2012.

Yes, there are no certifiable facsimiles of Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, Dustin Pedroia, Rickie Weeks, Chase Utley, Ben Zobrist, Brandon Phillips or Dan Uggla after the first 60 picks of a 12-team, mixed-league draft.

But the entire Top 30 list is also chock-full of 25-and-under potential dynamos (Dustin Ackley, Jemile Weeks, Jason Kipnis, Jose Altuve, Gordon Beckham) and veteran stalwarts (Aaron Hill, Neil Walker, Kelly Johnson, Marco Scutaro, Sean Rodriguez) who are still in their prime years—and could break out with just a little good fortune, here and there.

1. Robinson Cano, Yankees 
Skinny: A lead-pipe cinch for 25 HRs/100 runs/105 RBIs/.305 BA over the next five seasons.

2. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
Skinny: The reasonable choice for fantasy owners who value power, speed AND high batting average.

3. Ian Kinsler, Rangers
Skinny: My personal favorite for this position—and that was before he racked up 121 runs last season.

4. Dan Uggla, Braves
Skinny: Fantasy owners in Round 4 are praying for 30 homers…and anything above .260 in hitting. 

5. Rickie Weeks, Brewers
Skinny: Let’s assume his 2010 numbers (29 HRs/83 RBIs/11 steals) are a baseline measure of production.

6. Chase Utley, Phillies
Skinny: A reputation pick here, and one that might look ambitious with Ryan Howard sidelined for a while.

7. Ben Zobrist, Rays
Skinny: The quietest 20-HR/100-run/20-steal potential of all middle infielders…and Big Z has OF eligibility.

8. Brandon Phillips, Reds
Skinny: A top-7 candidate for all five categories. Just don’t expect career marks in HRs or RBIs.

9. Ryan Roberts, Diamondbacks
Skinny: Don’t be surprised if Roberts passes the 20-20 threshold at age 31. A great addition at Round 12.

10. Dustin Ackley, Mariners
Skinny: Ackley, who possesses the highest upside of anyone outside the top 8, has 15-40-.310 potential.

11. Howard Kendrick, Angels
Skinny: A slightly unfair ranking, given his solid 2011 campaign. Needs to crack 70 RBIs this season.

12. Jason Kipnis, Indians
Skinny: Kipnis is more Pedroia or Phillips than Uggla or Utley. Either way, he’s a long-term keeper.

13. Jemile Weeks, Athletics
Skinny: A dark-horse candidate for 85 runs/.310 average at age 25. Power numbers may never be there.

14. Marco Scutaro, Rockies
Skinny: Scutaro’s value will get a nice bounce around April 10, when he secures 2B/SS eligibility.

15. Neil Walker, Pirates
Skinny: The wild swings in batting average and run production can be frustrating. Don’t reach on Draft Day. 

16. Kelly Johnson, Blue Jays
Skinny: Two full seasons of middling batting average have diluted Johnson’s respectable power potential.

17. Gordon Beckham, White Sox
Skinny: Beckham has too many physical gifts to be this average in his prime. A solid late-round flier.

18. Aaron Hill, Diamondbacks
Skinny: Went on a hitting tear last year after being traded…but the odds of batting .300 for the season are long.

19. Danny Espinosa, Nationals
Skinny: Anything above a pedestrian batting average would boost him into the top 15—he’s that close.

20. Sean Rodriguez, Rays
Skinny: The 2B-SS-3B versatility opens doors for S-Rod. Can he be a steady 15-15 producer?

21. Jose Altuve, Astros
Skinny: A late-season find for the anemic Astros in 2011. Can he amass 30-35 steals in Year 2 of his development?

22. Ryan Raburn, Tigers
Skinny: Raburn needs a hot start to ward off slick fielders Brandon Inge and Ramon Santiago at the 4-spot.

23. Johnny Giavotella, Royals
Skinny: Could make a modest leap in this countdown with a productive spring. Intriguing prospect.

24. Daniel Murphy, Mets
Skinny: An under-the-radar talent who’ll bring modest value to all five categories—especially hitting.

25. Omar Infante, Marlins
Skinny: Expect a noticeable bump in runs…and then hope the versatile Infante flirts with .300 again.

26. Brian Roberts, Orioles
Skinny: In the realm of minor miracles, I’d be thrilled with 10 HRs, 75 runs and 20 steals.

27. Mark Ellis, Dodgers
Skinny: Ellis has 15-15 potential in the Senior Circuit, even at the ripened age of 34.

28. Orlando Hudson, Padres
Skinny: A nice deep-sleeper option for steals and runs—if the Padres get aggressive on the basepaths.

29. Mike Aviles, Red Sox
Skinny: The preferred fantasy placeholder over Nick Punto, while Jose Iglesias gets more seasoning in the minors.

30a. Darwin Barney, Cubs
Skinny: A last-round sleeper for the 2B/SS slot in NL-only and 14-team mixed leagues.

30b. Justin Turner, Mets
Skinny: Good minor-league numbers suggest a mini-breakout in the bigs. Could rise up the ranks during Grapefruit League play.

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The Milwaukee Brewers Are Going to Be Just Fine Without Prince Fielder

Life moves on.

I’ve now had a month to come to terms with the heartbreaking end to what was arguably the best season in franchise history for Milwaukee. I have come to terms with the fact that the Brewers have a lot of work to do if they want to win 96 games next season, that we are losing one of our best coaches to one of our bitter rivals and perhaps most importantly, I have come to terms with the probability Prince Fielder will not be wearing a Brewers uniform in 2012.

Sure, there is still a possibility that Prince can return next year, especially with what appears to be a very small market for his services, but it is becoming apparent that Mark Attanasio, Doug Melvin, and the rest of the Brewers brass are making plans to build a team without Prince Fielder for the first time since 2006.

It is a bitter pill to swallow, and the task the Brewers face heading into the offseason may seem insurmountable on the surface.

We’re losing one of the most feared hitters in baseball, and on top of replacing his production, the Brewers must now figure out how to protect Ryan Braun so his production can remain prolific.

For a week now, I have been trying to figure out an article about how to replace Prince Fielder. Initially, I was going to write about five potential players that could fill his hole at first base, but to say that one player will replace the production and the presence of Prince Fielder is ludicrous.

I also tried writing a five step process that could help the Brewers replace Prince, but even that just didn’t seem to do the trick.



The simple fact of the matter is that the Brewers simply cannot replace Prince Fielder… and I have come to terms with that.

Signing Jose Reyes, Aramis Ramirez or any other big name free agent would not be enough. Both of those players would be great additions to the Brewers, but realistically, neither will happen. Even if they did, Prince’s presence would still be sorely missed.

The good news is that even without Fielder in the clubhouse in 2012, the Brewers are going to be just fine.

Sure, there is a lot of work to be done this offseason. With no organizational shortstop ready to move to the big leagues, and no major league shortstop currently on the roster, the Brewers must make a move to fill the most difficult position in the infield.

Whether that’s a big ticket guy like Jose Reyes or Jimmy Rollins, a reliable veteran like Clint Barmes or Rafael Furcal or even bringing back Yuniesky Betancourt, the decision must be made soon to provide some sense of stability to this team.

Finances are an issue for this team, but the big men in the office for the Brewers have made it clear that they are not afraid to spend some money to make this team competitive.The trick for the Brewers this offseason is not going to be dumping a ton of money into big ticket free agents.

Most people talk as if Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun are the only superstars on this team. Even with Fielder gone, the Brewers still have Rickie Weeks (providing he has an injury free year) and Corey Hart, both of whom are coming off great seasons and  have the potential to be superstars.



Mat Gamel has given us back to back great seasons in AAA, and it is time to give him a chance. Some people try to argue that he has been given a chance, but let’s get real… he’s had under 200 at bats in the majors, and has not been given a chance to compete every day. If coached properly, he could give the Brewers 20+ homers and 80+ RBIs, as well as solid defense.

Casey McGehee is coming off a horrible season, but he has every chance to bounce back—if he can get back to the way he played in 2010, that will be another great bat. If he doesn’t, young Taylor Green has proven that he is capable of great play in the majors.

And of course, the pitching. The whole starting rotation will be back (and possibly extended), and while the bullpen will need work with three of the best arms possibly leaving, I have great faith that the Brewers will be able to make the bullpen a strong point again next season.

John Axford is anchoring the pen as the closer, and anytime you have a shutdown pitcher like Axford (2011: 1.95 ERA, 46 SVs, 73.2 IP, 86 Ks) finishing games, you are in good shape.

The Brewers do not need to try to “replace” Prince Fielder’s insane production. It would be a waste of time, effort and very likely, a colossal waste of money.

What the Brewers need to do is focus on building a team that plays better defense, has speed on the bases, gets through the game without giving up big innings and gets on base.Those are goals that are possible without Fielder, and if the Brewers do that they will be in great shape going into 2012.


Projected 2012 opening day line-up (2011 stats)

1 – Corey Hart (.285, 26 HR, 63 RBI)

2 – Nyjer Morgan (.304, 4 HR, 37 RBI)

3 – Ryan Braun (.332, 33 HR, 111 RBI)

4 – Rickie Weeks (.269, 20 HR, 49 RBI)

5 – Casey McGehee (.223, 13 HR, 67 RBI)

6 – Mat Gamel (.310, 28 HR, 96 RBI) – AAA stats

7 – Clint Barmes (.244, 12 HR, 39 RBI)

8 – Jonathan Lucroy (.265, 12 HR, 58 RBI)

9 – Yovani Gallardo/Starting pitcher

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2011 Fantasy Baseball: Rickie Weeks Will Be a Bust

Rickie Weeks dominated in 2010. His final stats of 112/29/83/11 and triple slash line of .269/.366/.464 were impressive to say the least.

According to Fangraphs, Rickie’s 6.1 WAR ranked him behind only Robinson Cano for qualified second basemen in 2010. So what makes me think he is a bust?

From 2003-2009, Rickie Weeks had averaged a .300 BABIP with a .247 AVG. Last year, he cashed in on a .332 BABIP for a .269 AVG. The .332 BABIP was unsupported by his 15.4 percent line-drive rate.

Prior to 2010, Rickie Weeks had never hit more than 16 home runs and his HR/FB rate was 12.5 percent. In 2010, he posted a HR/FB rate of 17.3 percent which is Dan Uggla and Alex Rodriguez territory. Rickie Weeks will not hit 29 home runs again.

Since he strikes out at such an alarming rate (28.3 percent in 2010), driving in 83 RBI from the leadoff spot in a NL lineup will be very difficult to replicate and scoring 112 runs won’t be any picnic either.

According to Hittracker, Rickie Weeks hit 11 “Just Enough” home runs last year compared to only four “No Doubts”. The nine other NL players who hit four “No Doubts” were, Colby Rasmus, Brian McCann, Hanley Ramirez, Geovany Soto, Will Venable, Brandon Phillips, Pedro Alvarez, Marlon Byrd, and Juan Uribe.

Of those nine players, not a single batter was lucky enough to hit as many “Just Enoughs” than Rickie Weeks. For comparison, the average number of  “Just Enoughs” for the nine players mentioned was 6.77.

Injuries have plagued Rickie Weeks throughout his career.

The only year he surpassed 475 official at bats was 2010. In 2006, he suffered a season-ending wrist injury. In 2007, he hit the DL for another wrist injury. In 2008, he landed on the DL for a left knee injury, and, in 2009, he had a long stint on the DL for another wrist injury.  

Keep in mind that these are only the DL stints. He has also missed games for minor issues such as a stomach virus, a thumb injury and index finger injury. Do you really think he would have played 160 games in 2010 if it wasn’t a contract year?

According to MockDraftCentral, Rickie’s current ADP is 40.5. Rickie Weeks was the 38th ranked player in Yahoo last year. 

By drafting him at pick 40, you are projecting him to repeat 2010!

He is being taken before Justin Upton (41.4), Andrew McCutchen (43.9), Adam Dunn (46), Buster Posey (45.1), Justin Morneau (50.2) and all but four starting pitchers.

For some reason, he is being drafted before other second basemen such as Dan Uggla (51.7) and Ian Kinsler (50.5).

Some second basemen I like to provide great value in mid-late rounds are, Brian Roberts (135.3), Aaron Hill (172.4), Gordon Beckham (221), Neil Walker (335.1) and Danny Espinosa (381.3).

Projection: .251 AVG, 89 R, 17 HR, 59 RBI, 13 SB

Previous Bust Selections: Derek Jeter, Jayson Werth

Brian “Killboy” Kilpatrick is a Senior Writer for 4thandHome.com where this, and other work, can be found. Additionally, he is co-host of The 4th and Home Show on Blog Talk Radio.


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Milwaukee Brewers: Five Variables Will Determine the Fate of Their 2011 Season

The Milwaukee Brewers enter the 2011 season with high hopes and expectations of contending in the National League Central.

The Brewers have gone all in this year. They held onto first baseman Prince Fielder, who will be a free agent after the season, and made a splash with offseason acquisitions such as Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum and Takashi Saito.

Fans can count on some things from the Brewers in 2011. Fielder, Ryan Braun, and Corey Hart will provide steady offensive production. The catcher position will once again be the weakest link in an otherwise potent offense. The sausage races will continue to be a popular attraction at Miller Park.

However, several key factors will determine the fate of the Brewers’ season. Read on to find out what needs to happen for the Brewers to make a deep postseason run.

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2011 Fantasy Projections, No. 52: Brewers’ Rickie Weeks, Draft With Caution

Our 2011 fantasy baseball projections will be released one-by-one until the top 100 players have been revealed. These rankings consider past achievements, current performance and expected future results based on standard 5×5 H2H settings.

After failing to deliver a full season since his major league debut in 2005 due to injuries and general suckiness, Rickie Weeks finally broke out last season, posting a dynamic stat line of 112 R, 29 HR, 83 RBI, 11 SB and a .269 BA at the second base position.

Atop a potent Milwaukee Brewers lineup, Weeks led the league in plate appearances (754), while only Albert Pujols and Mark Teixeira scored more runs than Weeks. Among qualifying two-baggers, Weeks tied Robinson Cano for the lead in HR, and only Cano and Dan Uggla posted more RBI.

There are, however, some red flags. Weeks had the 11th-highest strikeout rate in 2010 (28.3 percent), and his contact rate (75.0 percent) was 17th-worst among qualified batters.

Weeks’ injuries also cannot be ignored. According to Baseball Injury Tool, Weeks spent time on the DL in the four seasons prior to 2010.

  • 2006: Missed 69 days, torn tendon in his right wrist
  • 2007: Missed 19 days, right wrist inflammation
  • 2008: Missed 15 days, left knee sprain
  • 2009: Missed 140 days, torn tendon in right sheath (wrist)

Keep this risk in mind when drafting Weeks.

Even so, Weeks is capable of damaging numbers at second base. Given only his second season with 500-plus at-bats (a big if), the 28-year-old could prove to be a valuable fantasy asset batting in front of Corey Hart, Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Casey McGehee.

2010 stats 754 112 29 83 11 .269
3-year average 492 76 17 51 11 .256
2011 FBI Forecast 665 95 26 70 10 .263



Latest from Fantasy Baseball Insiders:

Fantasy Baseball Insiders’ 2011 Big Board:

MLB Trades: Fantasy Impact:

Previous articles from Fantasy Baseball Insiders:

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Albert Pujols: Would Phat Albert Ever Really Leave St. Louis?

Albert Pujols contract is up at the end of the year.  Oh, did you already know that?

Everyone in the baseball universe already knows that, of course, and we’ve got 19 days and counting left before his self-imposed deadline to reach an agreement with the Cardinals on an extension.  The two sides aren’t releasing much info on the progress of talks (to each side’s credit), but indications are that they’re still not especially close on their numbers.

If Pujols becomes a free agent in nine months, where could he go?  He’s been a model citizen in St. Louis, and is more the face of their franchise than any other player in any city.  He’s never played anywhere else, and he’s certainly seen how the LeBron drama played out last summer, with all the bad press he got for leaving Cleveland.  I can’t help but think that even if this reaches that point, he’d come back into the fold with the Cardinals.

Unlike LeBron in Cleveland, Pujols knows that the Cardinals are capable of putting together a team that can win it all, especially since they already did back in 2006.  With Matt Holliday locked up for another six years, he’s also got great lineup protection already in place for the long haul.  Fans of other teams can dream about him jumping ship to a rival (like the Chicago Cubs), but once they get the final questions ironed out, expect to see Pujols mashing in middle America for a long time to come.

MLB Spring Training: Joe Nathan, Chipper Jones Look to Return From Injuries

MLB Spring Training is now just a few weeks away, and two of the biggest names looking to rebound from lost seasons in 2010 are Joe Nathan and Chipper Jones.

Nathan missed the entire season after blowing out his arm early last Spring Training and having Tommy John surgery.  But prior to that, he had been one of the best and most consistent closers in baseball.  He’s looking to regain that form in 2011.  As reported on TwinCities.com, Nathan expects to be ready to throw with no restrictions when pitchers and catchers report on February 17th.  His return to full strength is a key for a Twins team that lost a number of relievers this offseason.

Meanwhile, Chipper Jones has also quietly been rehabbing in his attempt to return from suffering a torn ACL last August.  He had previously been contemplating retirement, walking away into the sunset with the only Major League manager he had ever known, Bobby Cox.  But the injury was one factor that convinced him to give it one more go.  As reported by MLB.com, he’s battled some tendinitis recently, but has had no other setbacks, and is also planning on being ready to go in a few weeks.  With a more potent Braves lineup around him, like offseason acquisition Dan Uggla, Jones’ ability to get back in the swing of things is one of the team’s major question marks.

But if he is healthy, he’ll be another reason why the Braves can again contend this year.

Vladimir Guerrero: Does the Impaler Have Any Options Left At This Point?

Vladimir Guerrero joining the Baltimore Orioles is something that seems inevitable, but nonetheless, it hasn’t happened yet.

The O’s are still the only team confirmed to have offered Vladdy a contract, supposedly a one year deal for between $3 to $5 million.  The holdup is that Guerrero is looking for something more along the lines of $8 million.  Even that is a far cry from the 2 year deal for $16 million that he was said to be seeking at the beginning of the offseason.

The problem for Vlad seems to be that he’s past his sell by date.  Most other AL teams in need of a DH have found their solution for 2011.  Minnesota kept Jim Thome.  The Yankees signed Andruw Jones.  The Rangers are using Michael Young after Adrian Beltre supplanted him at third base.  The Rays took a chance on Manny Ramirez.  The A’s signed Hideki Matsui.  The Angels committed significant money to bring in Vernon Wells.

So while he’s certainly still a feared hitter, whatever market he once had has dried up.  His camp has tried to make the Orioles outbid themselves by floating a rumor of a better offer being out there, but that offer has never materialized, and the O’s seem to be standing firm.  Maybe he just doesn’t like Baltimore?

He’s still got a gun for an arm, but his dwindling mobility have limited his value.  Whenever he finally swallows his pride and goes to Baltimore, expect another big year from a seriously ticked off (read: motivated) Guerrero.

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