The Seattle Mariners got a bit of good news today that they may not have been expecting: Justin Ruggiano cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to AAA Tacoma. That’s neat, since Ruggiano’s not a bad player and could certainly help the team down the line if need be. They celebrated by doing something they should have done the day they cut Ruggiano: by designating Rickie Weeks for assignment.
This was an easy move to see coming, if only because everyone thought it was going to happen a couple weeks ago. The team needed to let somebody go, and Weeks had been the team’s worst non-Dustin Ackley player. Instead they chose Ruggiano, who was having a decent year while being exactly the player he was expected to be. With Danny Farquhar needed to shore up the bullpen, Weeks is now on his way out.
Weeks, you remember, sat on the free agent market throughout most of the winter despite many teams with potential needs for him. He ended up signing with a team that had absolutely no need for a second baseman, which was to that point the only position Weeks had ever played. But he didn’t sign on to displace Robinson Cano – he came to Seattle to become a left fielder.
The idea of Weeks as a bench bat was appealing, given his .274/.357/.452 line with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2014. He was above-average against righties and terrific against lefties, totalling over 100 plate appearances against pitchers of each handedness. He seemed like a nice pickup for a team that needed a bat off the bench. The Mariners plan for him seemed alright.
Except that it was conditional on him successfully learning the outfield at age 32. It also hinged on his ability to sustain his 2014 uptick, which came on the back of a .355 BABIP and followed two subpar campaigns. After 95 punchless plate appearances and awful defense, the Mariners were sufficiently displeased with what they had. And so they cut him loose.
It’s sad, in that this might be the end of the rope for Weeks. It’s sad, because we wanted this to work out. If this had worked out the Mariners would be up one positive contributor, instead of having given some playing time to a guy who straight up sucked. Weeks didn’t take up a lot of space on this roster, but what he did with his limited time was pretty staggering – .167/.253/.250, -0.7 WAR. Same WAR as Ackley, but in 56 less plate appearances.
Just another case of the M’s hitching their hopes to an over-the-hill ex-star, one might say. Except that nobody was hitching anything to Weeks – rather, there was just some hope that he could maybe provide some value in a reserve role. If not, he came cheap enough that it wouldn’t hurt to get rid of him. They tried him out, he sucked, and so they let him go. Worked according to plan, if you choose to see it that way.
One could rightfully observe that if Ruggiano was able to successfully sneak through waivers, then perhaps the same could be done for Weeks. Weeks, after all, was much worse, and has a less consistent track record. But the Mariners might not want Weeks at this point, even as a Tacoma Rainier. He showed them that he can’t even fake it in the outfield, and if there’s anything this team doesn’t need it’s another DH.
The best-case scenario is that Weeks clears, goes to Tacoma, hits the ball hard, starts running hard and accurate routes for batted balls, is called back up this summer, and hits a walk-off grand slam in game seven of the World Series. The realistic scenario is that he is released, signs a minor league deal with someone, and is done for good shortly thereafter. We want there to be signs of life – two home runs on the year! – but odds are Weeks isn’t going to help major league teams win games anymore. Which is okay, since he had himself a nice career.
So long, probably, Rickie Weeks. I enjoyed him from afar during his time with the Brewers, and then had the expressedly Marinersian pleasure of watching him stink to the extreme in Seattle. It’s a song and dance we’ve seen before and surely will sit through again. Meanwhile, Willie Bloomquist lives to see another day. Did he seriously just get another start at shortstop??