The Milwaukee Brewers are mired in a Catch-22 with Rickie Weeks. The 30-year-old second baseman is flatlining on a club that was expected to contend heavily in the National League Central division. Instead, the Brewers are more than 10 games out of first place with a record of 16-24.
Concerning the Brew Crew's woes, there is plenty of blame to throw around.
Predictably, the bullpen has looked atrocious at times.
Ace Yovani Gallardo is struggling mightily, watching his strikeout rate dip to a career low while suffering through a 1.46 WHIP.
Starters Marco Estrada and Wily Peralta were expected to have large, positive roles with the staff this year. Instead, they have combined for a 6-6 record and 5.63 ERA.
Let's not forget the injured Corey Hart, who has yet to hit the diamond thus far.
The disappointment of the Brewers is amplified by the sluggish Weeks, though.
As most fans in Milwaukee know, Weeks is touting a .176 batting average. He has driven in only 10 runs while smacking three home runs. Weeks is also striking out in a career-high fashion.
Additionally, Weeks's fly-ball rate on batted balls has dipped to 23.4 percent, down from an average of 38.13 percent over the course of the previous four seasons.
So what should the Brewers do with Weeks?
Mind you, making a decision on Weeks is a difficult task for the frugal Brewers since he is the third highest-paid player on the club.
According to Spotrac, the Brewers second baseman will earn a total salary of $11 million this year. His salary will jump by $1 million in 2014 with a team option for 2015 worth $11.5 million. According to ESPN's Jack Moore, the Brewers can opt out of the contract prior to 2015 "if Weeks isn't a full-time player in 2013 and 2014."
Weeks' current contract came off of a career year in 2010, when he tallied 29 HR and 83 RBI. Since then, everything has been downhill. He currently possesses a wins above replacement (WAR) of -0.5. Since his peak WAR of 5.8 in 2010, his WAR has dropped an average of 2.1 points per season since.
Those familiar with MTV would agree that Weeks "catfished" the Brewers with the five-year contract he signed in 2011.
To compound matters, the Brewers are limited in their options.
Sure, they could platoon Weeks with utility infielder Jeff Bianchi, but Bianchi himself carries little swag at the plate.
The front office could turn inward and snag Scooter Gennett from Triple-A, but that would only initiate his service clock, something the organization wants to prevent. Gennett himself is proving to lack substantial power at the plate, accumulating zero home runs thus far in the minors.
Since the two aforementioned options are not viable, maybe Milwaukee will look at the available free agents.
According to MLB Trade Rumors, the most enticing free-agent second basemen include Ryan Theriot, Freddy Sanchez, Orlando Hudson and Adam Kennedy. No one can fault the Brewers for turning the other way in this circumstance.
At the end of the day, Milwaukee fans need to brace themselves for the worst and hope for the best. They are stuck with Weeks at second base.
It's unfortunate, too. Brewers fans are witnessing breakout seasons from Jean Segura and Carlos Gomez. Ryan Braun continues to produce at a lofty level while Aramis Ramirez remains one of the game's best corner infielders.
Weeks' lack of production is reflective of a season that has gone awry early on. No one can seriously believe Weeks will turn it around. He has been in decline since hitting his zenith in 2010. Therefore, fans in Milwaukee must continue to swallow those bitter pills as they watch a club with extensive potential continue to plummet in the NL Central.