Second-base drama brewing in Milwaukee?

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Tim Seeman
Friday, September 6, 2013

It's the dawning of a new NFL season, and all I want to write about is what the 60-79 Milwaukee Brewers are going to do at second base in the near-future. Go figure.

As bad as the Brewers have been this year, and as highly anticipated the pro football season always is, rookie Scooter Gennett has injected some intrigue into a baseball season that was lost long ago in Milwaukee.

For years and for whatever reason, there has been a voracious desire among Brewer fans to see Weeks replaced as Milwaukee's second baseman.

It could have to do with how often Weeks has been injured in his career: only twice has he played more than 130 games.

It could have to do with his penchant for striking out: he's gone down on strikes 1,029 times in 1,021 career games.

It could be his slow starts: Weeks batted below .200 in each of the last two Aprils and Mays.

Or it could have to do with his inconsistency in the field. It's hard to quantify fielding, but anecdotally, there have been plenty of “What was he thinking?” moments during the Rickie Weeks era.

Whatever the cause, the effect has been a rising chorus of fans fed up with Weeks' play and the franchise's willingness to keep putting him on the field. With a guy nicknamed Scooter reportedly ready for his major-league opportunity, people were ready to see somebody else on the right side of the second-base bag.

Gennett had his first shot in June, and things didn't go well for him. At first, he and Weeks became two parts of a righty-lefty platoon, which meant fewer opportunities to see and adjust to major-league pitching for Gennett.

He struggled, going 10-for-44 and striking out eight times during his first brief call-up. During this time, Weeks started to shake his early-season funk, perhaps thanks in part to the threat of losing his job. He hit five homers and had a .677 slugging percentage in June.

It was enough to stave off Gennett's push to become a regular Brewer, but another injury to Weeks—this time a torn hamstring suffered in Seattle—pressed the young infielder into action. And boy, has Scooter taken advantage of the opportunity.

Gennett's production in August—a .423 average and a .654 slugging percentage—has overwritten any memory of how badly he struggled during his first stint with the big club. He showed that he can hit at the highest level given regular playing time, which must have the Brewer brain trust wondering what to do at the position.

Weighing on that decision is how the front office feels about 2014. Will the Brewers be able to compete for a playoff spot with the players they have, or would they be better off to enter a full-fledged rebuilding effort?

In the former scenario, Weeks is probably the guy they want. He might not hit for a great average, but not many guys can generate the power he does as a second baseman. Gennett is the guy if rebuilding is the goal, and a keystone combo of him and Jean Segura would be a pretty good place to start.

I'm more inclined to let Weeks keep his spot for the time being. Depending on whether Ryan Braun returns to being Ryan Braun and whether 2013's stars—Segura, Carlos Gomez, and Jonathan Lucroy—can replicate their performances, the Brewers might be able to push for a playoff spot next year.

If not, Weeks would be an enticing trade chip next July for a contending team looking to add a right-handed hitter, and the Brewers would know they have a young guy in Gennett who could step in and get the job done.

What say you, Gazette readers? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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