IS GIVE WEEKS A CHANCE...
There was a long message on my voice mail when I finished blogging Sunday night. To summarize, my friend Darren spent three and half minutes telling me that he was pretty much sick and tired of watching Rick Weeks (And yes, he does make a point to refer to him as "Rick" and not "Rickie." But this comes from the same guy who once looked at me during home room and said, "Rose? We're not calling you 'Rose' anymore. From now on, you're Ironhead." And for the duration of the spring baseball season, I was indeed called Ironhead.) pathetically flail away at pitches. During his rant, he questioned whether or not a full time benching was in order for Mr. Weeks.
I will be the first to admit that watching Rickie at the plate has been rather painful this year. And if I was an opposing pitcher, there's no way I'd throw him anything over the plate once he had two strikes in the count. I also have no idea how much of this has to do with the wrist injury, so I'm not going to throw that out as an excuse.
But I will say this...
By the time his career has ended, Rickie Weeks will be one of the greatest offensive players to have ever donned a Brewers uniform.
Think Rickey Henderson. Or if you prefer modern day comparisons, think Soriano. Think Alex Rios. And now, don't laugh, but...think Barry Bonds. (I'm speaking, of course, of a young, skinny faster Barry Bonds, before massive head growth and back when he wore a Pirates uniform.) Yeah, Rickie has the potential to be that good.
I'm also a big believer that hitters don't work their way out of a slump by sitting on a bench. They need to see pitches; and in Rickie's case, he needs to start seeing strikes. In the same way Billy Hall broke out of his slump by taking some walks, Rickie needs to do the same. He also might need to take a couple called third strikes--as painful as that can be to watch--just to start really seeing the strike zone again. But, of course, he needs to be up at the plate for that to happen. Not on the bench.
Now you're not going to get me to say anything negative about Graffanino or Counsell because I think those two veterans will continue to prove vital for the Brewers success this season. And Ned should continue to find both guys at bats so they can stay fresh. But neither Counsel or Graffanino have the potential to carry a team like Rickie can. Neither have that same combination of bat speed, on base speed and raw power (a true Triple Threat, if you will) that can cause an opponent fits. And although the wrist itself may not be to blame for his most recent struggles, the fact that he missed the second half of last season might explain some of his problems. But like J.J. a couple of years ago, I fully expect Rickie to emerge in the second half of the season. And I think the Brewers will absolutely need a contributing Rickie Weeks (as well as Bill Hall) to fend off the charging Cubbies after the break.
Finally, as bad as Rickie has looked at times--and it has been bad, as evidenced by his .234 average--when we were at the game for our Bill Hall bobblehead, they flashed a stat that Rickie had reached base safely in 46 of his first 50 games. I was obviously surprised by that, almost as much as I was surprised to learn that Rickie is second on the team in walks, despite his time on the DL.
Believe me it's only a matter of time for Rickie to get hot. Look for it on the first homestand after the all-star break. Just don't give up on the kid yet. 'Cause as Ned will tell you--like Prince, J.J., Gallardo and Braun--he's a stud.
I was so disappointed in the Yi pick that I forgot to mention how thrilled I was for Alondo Tucker. The kid couldn't have possibly landed in a better situation. Mark it down, two years from now, you're going to be lying on your couch watching Sportscenter when a story airs focusing on how in the world so many teams passed on Alondo during the '07 draft. For anyone who has questioned Tuck's athleticism, now you'll see. The fact that he was drafted by the brain trust of the Suns organization is all the proof I need...
In case you missed it, my friend Brent sent me the Andrew Bogut quotes, sure to inspire some discussion in NBA locker rooms this fall...
The Sydney Morning Herald's David Sygall quotes the former top overall pick on life in the NBA. It's not pretty. One of the more memorable passages:
"The public's got it right, a lot of NBA stars are arrogant and like to spend lots of money and have lots of girlfriends and all that."
"The smarter guys don't do that. They like to live a regular life and want to retire and be set up. About 80 per cent of them go broke by the time they retire or come close to it."
"If you want to keep living that lifestyle when you're 40, but the millions have stopped coming in, you suddenly find your friends are gone and you've got nothing. It's a tough situation for some of those guys, especially the ones who come from the ghettos or tough upbringings."
"The funny thing is that we have compulsory tutoring each week where they teach you to manage your money and they tell you about all the things that can happen to you, people trying to take advantage of you, but it's amazing how many of the guys totally ignore it."
"I guess if you're a normal person and all of a sudden you're getting $10 million a year, it can go to your head. But I really think it's just the culture over there. I would never want my child to be brought up in an environment like that, where if you have money, you're supposed to flaunt it and make everyone jealous. The American attitude is 'We're the best'. That's why the NBA guys who come from other countries, the Europeans, all sort of stick together away from the game."
Look for the posters featuring "American" players performing serious facials on Bogut wherever NBA merchandise is sold...
Finally, a co-worker of mine who is much more upset about the Yi drafting (I'd call myself "disgruntled" over the move, Aaron is flat out pissed), sent me the following three team trade scenario in which the following players were obtained:
Bucks: Elton Brand, Raja Bell, Clippers 1st pick in '08
Clippers: Marion, Yi, Kurt Thomas (purely to balance the trade financially)
Suns: M. Redd, C. Maggette, B. Skinner (see above)
Although I love the idea of it, I don't think it would ever fly because Kohl wouldn't give up Redd with the chance of only getting one year of Elton Brand, who has a player option in '08. The trade also doesn't help the Suns get out of cap hell, but it's damn fun to pretend, isn't it? And you have to admit, it would be pretty exciting to see a line-up with Williams, R. Bell, Villanueva, Brand and Bogut with Simmons and C. Bell coming off the bench.
But best of all--it moves Yi out the door. So I challenge some of you to come up with trade scenarios to move Yi and post them as comments. If you're in the camp of keeping Yi, let me know that too.
Nothing better than pretending you're a GM...
Have a great Fourth.
God Bless America.
(And God Bless the Brewers.)