Saturday, March 12, 2011
Spiegel's Favorite Players:Jeff Weaver
Jeff Weaver is one of my favorite all-time Dodgers. He is in my top 10 at least. I'll pause for laughter.....Ok, you may be done chuckling right about now. Every now and then a player arrives on your team that may not be on of the best players but, for whatever reason, he becomes one of your guys. The guy you root for the loudest when the rest of the stadium sighs or groans. Well, Weaver is that guy for me.
He arrived on the Dodgers in 2004 in the Kevin Brown trade. I didn't know much about him since he played his career in the AL up until that point. The main thing that I knew about him was that he struggled as a Yankee. Nonetheless I was happy that the Dodgers rid themselves of Kevin Brown and actually got a live body in return. When Weaver came to the Dodgers, I found out that he grew up in the San Fernando Valley and was a Dodger fan as a kid. This is when I started to like the guy. I always felt that when a player who grew up a fan of a particular team, that when he gets to put on the uni of his beloved team, that he gets some extra super powers. Almost like, he'll try harder and work out more because he gets to play in his hometown. This is what happened to Weaver. He was a below average pitcher for much of his career until he put on the Dodger blue. Then, he at least became and average pitcher.
In 2004, Weaver put up an ERA of 4.01 and chewed up 220 innings. This helped the Dodgers win the 2004 NL West crown. During the 04 season he ran the bases hard and didn't just giveaway at-bats like a lot of pitchers do. Pitchers not taking base running and hitting seriously is a pet peeve of mine. Maybe that will be a future post. In 2005, his ERA rose slightly to 4.22 but he was able to pitch a couple shut outs and have a WHIP of 1.17. I blame his higher ERA on the atrocious team that was behind him. The 2005 Dodgers were a joke but, Weaver kept my interest in the team because he was my boy. He actually won 14 games playing with a bunch of stiffs that year.
After the 2005 season, Weaver got a little greedy and wanted a big money contract from the Dodgers. His agent was/is Scott Boras, so, what do you expect. I was hoping the Dodgers would come up with an agreement with him. But, that didn't happen. Weaver also lucked out by not finding many suitors willing to pay him the money he was asking for. He ended up in Anaheim and then St.Louis. He pitched poorly that year, which I credit to karma for being greedy. He did win a ring while on the Cardinals rotation that year, so we'll actually give karma half credit on this one. In 2007, Weaver ended up in Seattle. Which is great for a pitcher. There ballpark is huge! But, good ol' Weaver put up an ERA over 6.00. I still followed his career even after he left the Dodgers so, I thought it was all over for him.
After spending 2008 in the minors, Weaver got a spring training invite with the Dodgers in 2009. Yeah! He made the squad out of spring camp and resurrected his career as a spot starter/swing man/bullpen dude. I was so happy. My boy came back full circle and played well. He even made the team out of camp again in 2010. He battled some injuries in 2010 and wasn't as effective as he was in 09. He still played really hard and pitched in any situation that Joe Torre asked of him.
I used to joke with my Dodger buddies that Weaver should play left field in order to get more at-bats. I was a Jeff Weaver Super Fan! He isn't on the Dodgers this year. Boo! I blame Frank McCourt for that. Last time I checked Weaver is still looking for work. But, he is still one of my all time favorite Dodgers. I have an autographed photo of Weaver and I sitting on a table in my parents hallway. The time Weaver spent as a Dodger is a time that I will cherish. I may be the only Dodger fan that has spoken those words before.
What player have you guys liked despite him not being the "star" of your team? Maybe a beloved 4th outfielder or a middle reliever? Let me know and also any Jeff Weaver cards that you wanna trade can be sent my way. Thanks!