Wednesday night, the Brewers beat the Cubs to take sole possession of first place in the NL Central with a mere 57 games to go. It should have been a joyous night for Milwaukee, but the victory was clearly secondary to the loss of All-Star second baseman Rickie Weeks, who severely rolled his ankle running out a ground ball in the top of the second inning.
It’s difficult to overstate Weeks’s impact on this Brewers team. Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder garner the national attention and put up the gaudy numbers, but good luck finding a second baseman with the pop Rickie Weeks has shown over the last two years. To post a .272/.360/.473 as the rest of the league flounders at the plate and to do so at a premium defensive position? Weeks has become a star player.
If the first four months of the season have made anything apparent, it’s that this Milwaukee Brewers roster doesn’t have much margin for error. The Brewers have struggled to hold on to the division lead despite an injury-ridden Cardinals roster and a Reds roster completely bereft of pitching.
Now, with Weeks gone, what little margin for error previously existed is gone. The entire roster has to step up — whether it’s Zack Greinke continuing his July domination to Yovani Gallardo regaining his form to Yuniesky Betancourt continuing to impersonate a major league hitter. From Casey McGehee to Josh Wilson to whoever comes up from the minors to replace Rickie Weeks, the Brewers need the absolute best out of this roster.
And that extends to management and the front office. Ron Roenicke cannot afford to make mistakes with his bullpen and bench. Doug Melvin has to make the prudent move — at this point, absolutely must acquire infield depth. He has to bring up the quality guy from the minor leagues. Perhaps just as difficult, he must make the tough decision and let Craig Counsell go — as sad as it is, one of baseball’s stalwarts is just done.
We won’t know exactly how long the Brewers will miss Weeks until his MRI results are back sometime on Thursday, but whether he’s out the requisite 15 DL days or until October, Milwaukee can afford little less than perfection out of the remaining roster pieces. With the farm system blown up to create this season’s squad, it may not be exaggeration to call the next two months the most important in Brewers franchise history; panic aside, they are near the top of the list.
Time to step up.