Less than 168 hours from now, the MLB regular season will be under way as the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros will have kicked things off next Sunday night. With the season drawing near, it comes time that teams have to make difficult roster decisions. Today was one of those days for the Oakland Athletics as Jemile Weeks was sent down and assigned to minor league camp for the duration of Spring Training.
Much of the conversation throughout the latter portion of the offseason and Spring Training has surrounded the middle infield situation. Presumably Hiroyuki Nakajima was going to be the everyday shortstop, and a combination of Jed Lowrie, Scott Sizemore, and Jemile Weeks would fulfill the duties at second base. With the strong play of Jed Lowrie, and the struggles of Nakajima at the plate, to go along with the demotion of Jemile Weeks, and Scott Sizemore still working to get his timing back after missing all of last year, only one member of the group seems to have solidified himself as part of the everyday lineup, that one being Lowrie.
The biggest reason Weeks is being sent down though is Eric Sogard. It seemed as if he had forced his way into the conversation for playing time in the infield, and the fact that he’s apparently leapfrogged Weeks in the organizational depth chart speaks volumes about how the organization views his spring performance. I recall the words of Bob Melvin during our visit with him at the BlogFest event back in January, when asked about the competition for the second base job between Weeks and Sizemore, he told us they would definitely use Spring Training numbers to evaluate performance because “what else do we have to go on?”
Clearly Sogard’s torrid spring has made an impression on the decision makers with the Athletics, and at this point I would be shocked if he didn’t find his way onto the Opening Day roster, and perhaps even in the Opening Day lineup.
As for Weeks though, the Athletics are pretty clearly intent on making him prove his worth to the team. At this point though, the battle may be so far uphill that Weeks ultimate future may end up being with another organization. He still will have options beyond this season though, so the A’s won’t be forced to make a decision that could lead him to no longer being part of the organization until 2 years from now if they use his option next year also. Their hope may be to have Weeks get everyday at bats in Triple A, and hopefully perform well in order to increase his value on the trade market so he could be used to address needs of the team as the season wears on.
It’s unfortunate that Weeks didn’t become the cornerstone player it appeared he was poised to be in 2012, but that’s what happens when a player like him hits a couple home runs. He tried to lift the ball too much, and his lack of power meant many lazy fly balls coming off his bat. If Weeks gets himself back to what made him successful in 2011, he may still have a future, otherwise he may find himself struggling just to make a major league roster in the years to come.