Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks was finally coming out of his shell and realizing his potential before sustaining a season-ending wrist injury during his first at-bat Sunday against the Cardinals.
It is a devastating blow to the Crew, who finally were seeing Weeks blossom into the five-tool leadoff hitter his power-and-speed pedigree promised since he was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2003 draft.
So what does the Crew do from here?
It is a two-part question: 1) Who will play second? 2) Who will bat leadoff?
The first part is the trickiest. Short-term, Craig Counsell will likely get the bulk of the starts, but that could change quickly. Youngster Casey McGehee could see some time, but that isn't very likely. The most intriguing move would be for top prospect Alcides Escobar to come up and play second. However, Escobar is a shortstop at Triple-A Nashville who is stellar defensively and very promising offensively, but maybe not quite ready for prime time. Triple-A second baseman Hernan Iribarren is another possibility.
With the presence of third base prospect Mat Gamel on the major-league roster, the potential also exists for Bill Hall to shift positions yet again. It would depend on how Gamel plays defensively and how comfortable manager Ken Macha is with a revolving door at second base.
Still one more option is for general manager Doug Melvin to go out and scoop someone off the trade market. A favorite from this corner of the universe is Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts, who would solve both problems because he can bat leadoff. However, Roberts just signed a nice, long-term deal (four years, $40 million) that would probably make that acquisition unlikely for the Crew.
The Brewers did sign Frank Catalanotto to a minor-league deal last week and the veteran infielder could get the call to join the team immediately and restock the infield depth lost with Weeks' injury.
The leadoff spot might be a little easier to fill. Right fielder Corey Hart has the skills to bat in the No. 1 spot, possessing enough speed and improving his plate discipline. Counsell's bat has come around this season after adjusting his distinct batting stance. Catcher Jason Kendall can make contact, but doesn't provide much of a threat offensively.
This injury is quite the blow to Weeks, who was starting to flourish under the tutelage of bench coach Willie Randolph. Weeks was coming around defensively, which seemed to free his mind up and allowed his offense to come up.
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Written by Steve Drumwright