While I love the confidence, I am concerned by the fact that Jemile Weeks’ demotion to Triple-A does not appear to have been a humbling experience for the young “star” in any sense of the term.
Perhaps at the ancient old age of 30 years old, I’m just too far disconnected from the thinking of the 25-year old Weeks? Maybe I just can’t connect with those a mere five years younger than me and connect with the thought process of MLB “youth” and he truly does understand that his spot on this roster and in the league are not guaranteed. Could a talent gap be the problem? I never had Weeks’ ability, therefore I can’t understand his confidence in his own abilities? Okay, I’d give Weeks that one, he’s definitely more capable than I ever could have hoped to have been on a diamond, but the point remains, I wanted this news, something I personally viewed as necessary given his play this season, to be a wake up call for him. I hoped that he would understand that tomorrow is not promised to him in the Majors and he needs to work and come back and prove himself.
While I could be misinterpreting him, I think I hoped wrong.
Following the news, Weeks answered questions for MLB.com’s Jane Lee and while he did acknowledge that he could have done more this season, he still proclaimed himself a “star. Period.”
No confidence lost. Weeks says, “I’m a star. Period.”
— Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) August 21, 2012
I’m glad the confidence is there Jemile, but could you maybe tone it down a bit considering you hit a very pathetic .220/.305/.302 this season? Or perhaps because statistically you were the second worst defensive second baseman in the American League (amongst qualifying second basemen) according to Fangraphs.com.
I mean, the A’s traded for a shortstop, and rather than cutting ties with the incumbent shortstop who is actually hitting worse than you, they demoted you and moved him to second because of his defensive ability. That’s saying something!
My concern goes beyond Weeks’ “I’m a star.Period.” quote. You see, Weeks continued to justify his play this season in his interview with Jane Lee.
In her blog, Lee has the quotes she received from her interview with Weeks:
“For some reason I feel like I was prepared for the news. It’s disappointing, because I know I could have done more as a player, but I’m still happy with the way I took the decline in my average. I still feel like I did a lot of things I wanted to do, and I worked hard. The vision I had before the season, I’ve improved on what I wanted to improve from last year. I felt like I did that. The hitting part just wasn’t there, and that’s probably more of the reason why I’m going down.”
(What, in particular, was missing from offensive game?)
“Just consistency. I think there’s been times in big games where I’ve gotten hits, times where I’m put together two or three hits, but it just hasn’t been consistent. Until that consistency comes, you’re in jeopardy of this happening. It’s the game. It’s anybody’s job.”
(On a possible return on Sept. 1)
“I didn’t get any word, but I would hope. Even going down there, I would hope I’m still something the team feels they can still use and needs. But at the end of the day, I’m going to be a star in this game, man. You gotta have your ups and downs. It just makes the story so much sweeter when you come back. I don’t wanna expound too much on it, but you’re looking at a star, period.”
(So the confidence is still there?)
“It’s already there. I improved on what I needed to improve on this year, declined on what I didn’t think I would decline on, so now one good year of hitting, some things down, one bad year of hitting, some things up, next year you do the math.”
(Do you reconstruct?)
“There’s not much to reconstruct. This game’s a lot mental. My tools have always been there, my ability to do what I’ve been doing has been there. This game is just mental, and so you have to go down there and keep that confidence and build a commitment to do what you can do to be successful.”
What I find particularly concerning is that he says he accomplished a lot of what he wanted this season and that he does not see a need to reconstruct his approach.
As previously stated, he ranked among the bottom of second basemen (in both leagues) in both offensive and defensive categories. Yes, he did put together a few good games here and there as he stated, but the overwhelming majority of the time he came up flat.
He doesn’t believe he needs to make adjustments? Hoe about adjusting his swing and putting the ball on the ground! Use his speed to his advantage and stop swinging for the fences. His success this season came when he approached his at-bats as a contact hitter. He let those four career home runs of his alter his approach and look what happened. His batting average plummeted from .303 last season to .220 this year. He needs to reconstruct his approach and start slapping the ball over the infield’s heads and in front of the outfielders. Beat out infield hits. Singles Jemile! Forget trying to go gap-to-gap and out of the yard. Steal his way to second and third base. That’s his game. That’s his ticket back to the Majors and to a productive career that will earn him the label “star.”
Weeks’ own manager, while he still believes in his talent (and so do I and the fans for that matter), thinks he needs to work on his game. Why doesn’t Weeks see this?
Manager Bob Melvin told reporters, “He’s got to get on base a little bit more and just work on everything. For a guy that hit .300 last year, and a lot is expected of you and he expects a lot of himself, it’s difficult every day to try to get through (struggles).”
So yes, in a pennant race, sending Weeks down to get the work was the right call. He doesn’t appear to be sulking, which is a good thing. He has the confidence that he his stay in the minors will be short lived, also a good thing. He lacks the humility to realize that he has things to work on though and calling himself a “star” despite his pathetic season screams of arrogance.
After being hyped last season and then labeled “untouchable” by a general manager that never labels a player as such and a franchise cornerstone by the A’s this offseason, it’s easy to see why Weeks thinks so highly of himself and has a skewed perception of his own contributions and abilities.
Here’s to hoping Weeks goes down, puts it all together, comes back and proves he is a star and not just another cocky athlete disconnected from reality. Here’s also to hoping that he proves the A’s were right in labeling him untouchable and as a cornerstone of their franchise.
And if he continues refusing to acknowledge his shortcomings and work on them, then here’s to hoping he has enough trade value remaining for Billy Beane to pluck a serviceable roster piece for the 2013 season during the offseason from some team willing to gamble on Weeks “star” talent.