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.
Mets right-hander Matt Harvey is heading to the bullpen, according to comments made by club manager Mickey Callaway on Saturday. As predicted, Harvey doesn’t appear to be taking the news particularly well, going so far as to tell Callaway that the decision has him “at a 10 with being pissed off” and that he’s motivated to prove himself as a starter.
It’s been rough going for Harvey this spring. After missing significant time to a shoulder injury last season, the 29-year-old righty returned to the mound with a lot left to prove. He pitched to an 0-2 record in four starts, issuing 14 runs, four home runs and 17 strikeouts in 21 innings. It’s been a while since the Mets have seen anything better out of their starter — he hasn’t turned in a sub-4.00 ERA since 2015 and hasn’t pitched well enough to earn an All-Star berth since 2013 — and now it appears they’re at the end of their rope.
At this point, the Mets insist that the shift is a temporary one. While Callaway has helped successfully convert several starters to the bullpen, including Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco, that’s not the plan for this veteran right-hander. Instead, both the team and Harvey seem to view the change as a way to clear up any mental blocks Harvey may be encountering on the mound. “We know he’s healthy,” assistant GM John Ricco told reporters. “He’s feeling good. Then you get to, is this a little bit of a mental thing, a confidence thing? One of the things we talk about is getting him into the ‘pen, where he can have success in short spurts, get that confidence back and really let it go and get back to being a guy who can dominate the way he’s shown in the past.”
Harvey will be eligible to pitch out of the bullpen on Tuesday, when the Mets are scheduled to kick off their next road series against the Cardinals. As for his replacement, left-hander Jason Vargas will resume his role in the rotation when he comes off the disabled list next Saturday.