Sunday, May 10, 2009

I Have A Man Crush On....... Jeff Weaver?

Yeah, you read that correctly. I'm talking about Jeff Weaver. The same Jeff Weaver that was demoted by the Angels in favor of his kid brother, the same Jeff Weaver that was all but run out of baseball after posting an ERA over 6.00 with Seattle in 2007.

But here is the thing. Weaver was always a much better pitcher in the National League. Insert your "The NL is the AL's bitch joke here", I get it, the hitters in the AL are better. There is the DH, the National League just isn't as good. But the crazy thing about pitching for, you know, a National League team, like say, the Dodgers... Most of your games come against National League opponents. Crazy concept ehh? Weaver was very good for the Dodgers in a 2 year stint from 2004-5, making 34 starts each year and averaging 222 IP per season all while posting an ERA right around 4.00. Now you're telling me you wouldn't be happy with numbers like that from your 3rd or 4th starter?

Weaver was also outstanding in the playoffs for St. Louis in 2006, starting 5 games and winning 3, including the World Series clincher, all while posting an ERA under 3.00. He of course used the momentum from that postseason to sign his contract with the Mariners but I never said the guy made great choices, just that he could be a very solid pitcher in the right situation.

What Weaver brings to the Dodgers is a little of what Derrick Lowe took with him. A veteran who will take the ball every 5 days, keep his team in ballgames and most importantly, eat innings. Lowe didn't just take an outstanding ERA with him to Atlanta. He also took an almost guaranteed 220 IP with him. Those are tough shoes to fill for a youngster, even one as talented as Clayton Kershaw.

Now it just occurred to me that as I type this, Weaver is slated to face reigning Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum tomorrow in the rubber game of a 3 game series at Dodger Stadium. So there is a chance that I am going to look like a fool for posting this article now. But the fact is, I have always liked Jeff Weaver. I was bummed when he left and disappointed when I saw him struggle with the Angels and then the Mariners. He always came across as a good guy and his performance for the 2004 and 2005 Dodgers was vastly underrated. I have often wondered how his career might be different if he had accepted arbitration from the Dodgers in the 2005 offseason.

In the dark cloud that has surrounded the Dodgers the past few days they really needed a few rays of sunshine. Eric Stults provided a few on Saturday afternoon and the re-emergence of Weaver has created even more. So however long it lasts, I'm going along for the ride. Welcome back, Jeff. Welcome back...

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