The internet will be inundated with Mariners fanboys ejaculating unbridled excitement over the likes of one Rickie Weeks in the coming hours. I’m not content to sit idly by and accept irrational positivity in the midst of shoulder-shrugging circumstances, so here comes a massive, throbbing counterpoint to help keep you sober in spite of the slobbering, panting statheads working to do otherwise.
First of all, if you haven’t heard the news (and god forbid you’re getting your news from these pages), your Seattle Mariners went and signed the aforementioned Weeks to a one-year, $2 million deal on Wednesday. Weeks, formerly of the Milwaukee Brewers, is a one-time All-Star who used to be among the game’s brightest young stars before a dramatic decline in 2012. The second baseman’s career was on life support through 2013, but a platoon role a season ago helped rejuvenate Weeks’ once-powerful right-handed bat.
Producing decent numbers (.274/.357/.452/.809, eight HR, 29 RBI) in a limited role (just 286 plate appearances), Weeks warranted some consideration in free agency this offseason. The Mariners, looking to bulk up their bench for what should be a season full of hope and anticipation, apparently felt Weeks was exactly the type of player who could fit in with their ballclub.
Now before we go any further, let me remind you that the player we’re discussing is currently 32 years old, hit .230 in his last season as a full-time starter (2012), and will undoubtedly be pegged for a backup role with Seattle should he survive Spring Training. That’s the backdrop we’re dealing with here.
Let’s be clear. This isn’t the next Robinson Cano we’re talking about. It’s Rickie Fuckin’ Weeks. The dude might as well be a dill pickle on your plate at lunch. You don’t need that pickle. Hell, you could probably do without the sodium. But if the pickle’s there, you might absent-mindedly eat it without so much as a second thought. Fact is, you can take a pickle or leave a pickle. What purpose do pickles really serve, anyway? They’re just there. Rickie Weeks is a pickle.
And that’s the problem. No one needs a goddamn pickle. Fuck pickles. They’re a dime a dozen. But in the ensuing minutes, hours, days, weeks (pun intended, screw it), and months, a handful of writers who’d stick their weiners in a blender if it meant a better BABIP will try to convince you that Rickie Weeks is more than a pickle, that his numbers of a year ago (but not the previous two years before that, naturally) belie his pickleness, you see, because just look what he did against left-handed pitching!
Weeks was above-average against southpaws last season, yes. But in 2012 and 2013? Shitty against righties and lefties, both. And all the while he was doing this in the National League in a hitters’ park — while playing just one position in the field, second base, in fact. So what are the Mariners really getting by investing, however minimally, in a guy who has never played a utility role, is generally considered a defensive liability at his lone position, and who hasn’t hit worth a damn in two out of the last three years?
Seattle already has uber-utility man Willie Bloomquist (aka Willie Ballgame, aka Willie Fuckin’ Ballgame) under contract for 2015. Bloomquist is coming off microfracture knee surgery — never an easy comeback — and may not be fully healthy by the start of the season, so early speculation is that Weeks may serve as an insurance plan (or, possibly, replacement plan) if Willie B. can’t go.
But is that really logical? Again, designated hitter excluded, Weeks has never played another position besides second base. And if that weren’t enough, the man declined to even take a shot at the outfield last year. So tell me again, what are the M’s getting in return from this wild stab of an investment? An aging “utility” player who plays one position, who might hit a little bit if last season really did signal a turnaround? That doesn’t sound super promising.
If this were a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training, I could buy it. But it’s not. It’s a guaranteed major league deal in the same vein as similar deals given to Jason Bay and Corey Hart in the previous two seasons. Neither of those deals panned out, and it remains to be seen if this one will follow suit. As Bay and Hart (and many other Mariner signees over the past decade) have proven, just because a guy could play at one point in time doesn’t mean he can play now.
The Mariners have been trending in the right direction since landing Robinson Cano over a year ago. Almost every move since has earned the approval of onlookers that have watched General Manager Jack Zduriencik attempt to resurrect both his career and his reputation.
This, however, feels like a step backwards. This is a guy being inked to a deal because of a past history with Zduriencik, who selected Weeks second overall in the 2003 draft. This is a move that the 2010, 2011, or 2012 Mariners might make. Not these new Mariners, led by the new Jack Zduriencik, destined for a berth in the 2015 postseason.
The one commonality everyone will be able to agree upon is that regardless of whether Rickie Weeks flounders or flourishes in Seattle, he won’t be counted on to be a major producer. That in and of itself is good news.
But there are a pair of things many of us won’t be able to tolerate in the wake of this deal. One, witnessing seemingly knowledgeable baseball aficianados work themselves into an irrational lather of frothy enthusiasm for a guy of Weeks’ caliber. And two, watching those same gurus of the game proclaim that this move, compared to similar moves that could be made instead, actually benefits the 2015 Seattle Mariners.
I’ll buy into this year’s Mariners wholeheartedly. But Rickie Weeks? We don’t need a pickle.