The surgery will sideline Weeks for at least four to six months, said general manager Doug Melvin, who will almost certainly look to the trade market for help and perhaps even to see what's left in free agency.
"It's just very, very disappointing for [Weeks] personally, putting the team aside," Melvin said. "I have a lot of favorite players, and he's one of them for me, just because how he goes about his business."
Weeks was good at his business this season, a bona fide All-Star candidate who was batting .272 with a .340 on-base percentage. Entering Monday night's game in St. Louis, he was tied with first baseman Prince Fielder for the team lead with nine home runs, and he was tied with Corey Hart for the lead in runs scored with 28. Among National League second basemen, only the Phillies' Chase Utley had more home runs (10), and Weeks was fourth in RBIs to Utley and the Dodgers' Orlando Hudson (25 apiece) and the Reds' Brandon Phillips (27).
Now, the Brewers will have to replace that production. The team will place Weeks on the disabled list on Tuesday before the start of a series in Houston, and it was not known Monday who would take Weeks' spot on the 25-man roster.
The most likely candidate is Triple-A Nashville second baseman Hernan Iribarren, who was out of the lineup for Monday's game, but he did appear as a pinch-hitter in a win over Las Vegas.
"I was enjoying myself watching him play," Brewers manager Ken Macha said. "That's one tough guy. He's a grinder. He runs all the balls out, he's very intense. Thick skin, mentally tough, it's a shame we lose him. That's the sad side of the story.
"But nobody is going to feel sorry for you. We'll plug somebody in there, and hopefully, we get contributions from the other guys and continue to play like we have been."
Craig Counsell, a left-handed hitter, started at second base on Monday against Cardinals right-hander Kyle Lohse, and righty hitter Casey McGehee is expected to start on Tuesday and Wednesday against the Astros' left-handed starters. Melvin said that prospect Alcides Escobar, a top-flight defensive shortstop, would begin playing some second base at Triple-A Nashville, "just in case something else happens."
Escobar, hitting .268 this season, was not among the candidates being considered for an immediate promotion.
"Not right now, no," Melvin said.
Weeks' quality start had quieted some of the critics who have hounded him since the Brewers made him the second overall pick in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft. Weeks has worked extensively since then to improve his defense, and this season, he was putting up offensive numbers that had Macha considering whether to move Weeks from leadoff into a run-producing spot in the batting order.
The fans at Miller Park had been getting behind Weeks this season, giving him a standing ovation during the team's last homestand when Weeks finished a double shy of the cycle
. Weeks' teammates, many of them former Minor League teammates in Milwaukee's farm system, had been doing the same.
"In the Minor Leagues coming up, we always saw that he had one of the quicker bats ever in baseball," Hart said just last week. "We just kind of figured that when he figures things out and gets in that groove, he could be one of the better guys in the leagues. He has the capability of being a 40-homer guy when he puts it together.
"It's good to see. He's had some negativity in the past, and to be able to shine like he is now is encouraging."
Now, Weeks will have to wait until 2010 to shine again.
"I just told him it was very unfortunate, you were becoming the player we all believed you could be," Melvin said. "Rickie always believed he could put up the numbers he was putting up. He was on pace for 100 runs and 100 RBIs. ... I told him, 'You still have a long career ahead of you.' It's just unfortunate that it came when he was putting it together."