In need of offense, A’s could turn to Jemile Weeks

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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.

Phillies walk off winners thanks to a poor decision by Marcell Ozuna

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The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.

In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.

On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.

Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.