Sep 29, 2009, 5:36 PM EDT
While the subject had died down during the last couple of years, the idea of putting Rickie Weeks in the outfield is again being kicked around in Milwaukee, this time because of Felipe Lopez’s stellar performance since arriving in a July trade.
Not surprisingly, Weeks is still completely against a possible move to center field.
“I would never go out there,” Weeks said. “I’ve talked to (general manager) Doug (Melvin) about it and it’s squashed, and that’s all that matters.”
Melvin, for the record, said he talked to Weeks’ agent about the possibility recently, though not the player.
“It’s never been put forward to him as, ‘Would you do this?'” Melvin said. “I talked to him about playing the outfield in general. He played the outfield in high school and in college, but he moved (to second) in college.”
Three years ago, the idea made plenty of sense. Weeks was a terrible second baseman when he entered the league. He was about as error-prone as anyone at the position, and while his outstanding speed should have led to great range, his poor footwork most nullified it.
Weeks, though, has gotten a whole lot better, to the point that UZR has rated him as almost exactly average over the last three years. I’d put him a little below, mostly because of some lingering awkwardness when turning the double play, but he is perfectly acceptable.
Could he be above average in center field? Possibly, though it’d surely take time. Weeks still has well above average speed, though injuries have taken a bit of a toll there. Since the learning curve would be steep, the Brewers would almost surely be better off with Weeks at second and Mike Cameron in center next year than with Lopez at second in center.
Still, a switch might still pay off for the long haul. Second basemen have a long and proud tradition of fading in their early-30s. Those blind double-play turns make the position more dangerous to play than any besides catcher, and Weeks has had big problems staying healthy. It’s quite likely that he’d have a longer career in center than at second and earn more money in the process.
The Brewers certainly will go along with his wishes. They’ll probably let Lopez go this winter and attempt to re-sign Cameron for a year or two. The idea of trading Weeks, who is a free agent after 2011, and re-signing Lopez figures to be broached. However, Lopez will want significantly more than the $3.5 million or so that Weeks figures to make in arbitration and it seems unlikely that Weeks will bring back a quality starting pitcher when he’s coming off wrist surgery.
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