Three years after being taken in the first round by the A’s out of the University of Miami, second baseman Jemile Weeks seems to be nearing the majors. Rickie’s little brother is hitting a cool .327/.427/.482 with two homers, 14 RBI and six steals in 110 at-bats for Triple-A Sacramento. A switch-hitter, he’s batting .324 against lefties and .329 versus righties.
The A’s weren’t expecting to need a replacement at second base this year after spending more than they likely needed to in picking up Mark Ellis’ $6 million option for 2011. Ellis, always a rock-solid performer when healthy, was coming off a fine .291/.358/.381 season in 2010.
Second basemen, though, do have a history of losing it early, and Ellis is a 33-year-old with a lengthy injury history (he’s played in 130 games just twice as a major leaguer). His ugly .194/.221/.269 start in 134 at-bats this season might be more than just an extended slump. And it’s not only the batting average: with no homers, six RBI and a measly four walks on the season, he’s done nothing at all to help the A’s offensively.
Ellis is still a fine defender and the A’s would be downgrading there if they went to Weeks, but it might be worth it to make the switch anyway. Weeks doesn’t have his brother’s power, but he’s not punchless either and that he walks almost as much as he strikes out should give him a nice on-base percentage.
Considering that the A’s have actually slipped behind the Mariners in runs per game, leaving them only ahead of the Twins in the AL, they don’t have much to lose by giving Weeks a try.
It was only a matter of time before Mike Trout courted another all-time record, and on Saturday, he found himself in elite company with his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He put the Angels on the board with a 429-foot blast in the first inning, depositing an 0-1 fastball from the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman into the left field bleachers:
In the third inning, with the Angels up 2-1, Trout returned to tack on another insurance run. He targeted Gausman’s slider for his second solo shot of the evening and cleared the center field fence with a 418-footer to bring his total to 26 home runs on the year.
Trout has mashed at a staggering .339/.471/.596 clip since his return from the disabled list last month, and Saturday’s totals helped mark his sixth consecutive season with at least 25 home runs. That’s a record few have matched before their age-26 season; in fact, only Hall of Fame sluggers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson have ever pulled it off.
Assuming he continues to rake in hits and plate appearances over the last six weeks of the regular season — and there’s nothing to indicate that he won’t — Trout is in line to join elite company of a different kind. The 26-year-old entered Saturday’s game with a 206 OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging). According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, that means Trout’s hitting at a better clip than the average Major League player by a full 106 percent. Should he finish the year with a 200 OPS+ and 502 plate appearances or better, he’ll be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds obliterated the competition with his 263 OPS+ in 2004.
The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Tom Koehler from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-hander Osman Gutierrez and cash considerations, the clubs announced Saturday. Koehler is in his sixth year with the Marlins and stands to make $5.75 million in 2017. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2018 and is set to enter free agency by 2019.
The 31-year-old right-hander struggled to a 7.92 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 55 2/3 innings with Miami in 2017. He was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in late July, where he rebounded with a 1-1 record in seven starts and whittled his ERA down to a 1.67 mark. The Blue Jays have yet to establish Koehler’s role within their organization, but are hoping to see a turnaround from the righty when he breaks back into the big leagues.
Gutierrez, 22, was assigned to Single-A Greensboro on Saturday. He has yet to find his footing in the minors, and exited a 78-inning stint with Single-A Lansing after racking up a career-worst 7.85 ERA and 8.2 SO/9. His lack of control is particularly alarming, with a 6.2 BB/9 that dwarfs the 2.0+ BB/9 of seasons past, but he still has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics before reaching the Show.