Editors' Note: This is another in a series of FanPosts from those AN members looking towards a weekly front page writing gig. This note will appear above every FanPost for this purpose. Community: please provide feedback and/or recs where you see appropriate.
Thanks! - cuppingmaster
It goes without saying, Jemile Weeks was the face of the franchise and an immediate fan favorite. Throughout the 2012 season many fans called for Jemile to be in the lineup despite his struggles on the field. However, Weeks took a backseat in the hearts of A's fans once the team achieved a magical season. It is even hard to recall that he was part of the playoff roster. Looking back at his stats from the 2012 season it is hard to understand why he was even in Oakland for as long as he was. After all, he had a dreadful stat line of .221/.305/.304 in 444 AB's. While these numbers are painful to look at, let's remember that Weeks had a higher OBP (.305) than Josh Donaldson (.289), Derek Norris (.276), Adam Rosales (.297), Brandon Inge (.286), and Eric Sogard (.206). The only 2B,3B, or SS with a higher OBP was Stephen Drew. Furthermore, Weeks was also tied with Josh Reddick in this category. On Base Percentage does not mean everything, however OBP is very important when it comes to Weeks because when the guy is on base he is a threat to swipe a bag at any moment.
To fully understand what Jemile Weeks has done for the A's, I would like all A's fans reading this to do something that is very hard for them. I want you to forget the 2012 season completely... for just a minute. I would like to bring you back to the 2011 season. For the most part, 2011 was a year to forget for supporters of the Green and Gold. In spite of that, 2011 had 3 major highlights; the hiring of Bob Melvin as manager, the creation of alternate gold jerseys, and a speedy spark-plug of a second basemen by the name of Jemile Weeks. Number 19 was called up in the beginning of June. His promotion would eventually lead to the departure of Mark Ellis. For the A's to get rid of Ellis showed that they really thought they had something special in Weeks. Once Jemile was called up, he immediately proved to be a valuable, young star. In a lineup filled with names like Dejesus, Sweeney, and Kouzmanoff, Jemile stood out. After reviewing the A's statistics from the 2011 season, the stat that stood out the most was his batting average. Jemile posted a very respectable .303, which was the highest on the team by a huge margin. Our old friend Ryan Sweeney was second, as he finished at .265. Not only did Jemile hit, he hit for power. His .421 slugging percentage was third to Josh Willingham and Scott Sizemore. Jemile also went on to lead the team in triples (8) and he finished second in steals (22) even though he only played about half of the season. He ended his 2011 campaign on a hot streak, and A's fans everywhere were very excited to see him play a full season in 2012.
Coming in to 2012 the A's looked just like they always do; a whole lot of young, talented pitchers combined with an array of low-budget hitters. A's fans weren't sure what to think when the A's signed an unheard of Cuban defector to bat cleanup . Many fans were also unsure of who guys like Seth Smith and Josh Reddick even were. However, the one thing we were sure of is that we had a star lead-off hitter who would be a blast to watch. Unfortunately, 2012 hit Jemile Weeks like a sack of bricks. Jemile's average hung around .215-.230 throughout his year in Oakland. Bob Melvin, just like the rest of the fan base, kept on believing that he would eventually get it going. This of course, never happened, and towards the end of the season he received his demotion.
Fast forward to Spring Training 2013. By now the A's have acquired middle infielders Jed Lowrie and Hiroyuki Nakajima. Due to these additions, Weeks was the odd man out as he was sent back down to the River Cats. During the second week of the season it seemed as if Jemile had an opportunity once Sizemore was declared done for the year. The A's instead went with newly acquired, lifetime sub .200 hitter, Andy Parrino. This move likely did not sit too well with Weeks as he had been largely outperforming Parrino in AAA. But as expected, once Rosales finished his rehab assignment it was obvious that he would come up to replace Parrino. It was no surprise to anyone that Parrino was sent down for Rosales, but why is that? What exactly has Adam Rosales done prior to this year to earn a spot on the 25 man roster? In 2012 Rosales finished just above Weeks with a .222 batting average and behind him with an OBP of .297. These aren't exactly the numbers of a solidified major leaguer. However, Adam Rosales provides 2 skills that are valued by all: versatility and hustle. While Jemile most certainly hustles, he cannot play nearly as many positions as Rosales. Since Rosales made his trip back from rehab, he has performed very well. On the other hand, until last night Sogard has been cold at the plate as his average is in the .240's. While it's no doubt that offense has not been a problem, why not improve even more offensively? When considering who Weeks could replace on the A's roster, the first player that comes to mind is Nate Freiman. No disrespect to Freiman, but he is hitting just .148 this season, and he can only play 1 position. That makes him even less versatile than Weeks. Also, Rosales is plenty capable of backing up Brandon Moss at first base, as he's played a total of 30 career games with a Fld % of 1.000. When the A's face a tough lefty , Rosales would even make a better platoon option than Freiman. But why is Jemile Weeks more valuable than Nate Freiman? First off, he is an elite option to pinch run off the bench as well as pinch hit in a bunt situation. He's also a switch hitter, making him able to play no matter who is pitching. Freiman is also just a rookie, he may become very good one day, but the A's, for once, are a team focused on the "now." It's quite possible that the only thing holding the A's back is the fact that Freiman is a rule 5 player, and would be offered back to the Padres once removed from the 25 man roster. But do the A's plan to let him stay on the team for the whole season even if he doesn't succeed? Freiman is not the only player in Jemile's way. Nakajima will be in Sacramento soon. However, in my opinion, unless he plays well while on rehab, he does not deserve a roster spot.
Lastly, what exactly is the point of having Weeks in your minor league system? There is no more waiting for him to develop, why waste his time? It's certainly possible that he's being set up for a trade. Unfortunately, there is not a huge market for a guy who hit .221 with no power the previous year. So why not give him another chance? He has as much potential to be great as anyone on the team. I'm sure a large part of the Athletics thinking is that they just want to get him more at-bats rather than putting him in a back up role in Oakland. Of course Jemile struggled last year, but he looked great in Spring Training, and he' s been solid in Sacramento as he's currently posting a .317 batting average. His 2013 play has showed improvement and dedication to reaching his full potential. Let's not forget that the A's are already at a disadvantage with their lack of money, so there is not much room to take up a spot for a guy to develop (Freiman). The A's need to be focused on building a team that has the best chance to win now, not next year. I hope for the A's sake that they find a way for Jemile to make the 88 mile journey back to Oakland before it's too late.