Jeff Weaver was a great feel-good story of 2009. He was a solid pitcher with the Dodgers for two years, 2004 and 2005, and then struggled pretty much ever since, until he came back to Chavez Ravine. He put up a combined 6.00 ERA from 2006 and 2008, never with a season ERA better than 5.76, including spending all of 2008 in Triple A. Heading into 2009, there wasn't much reason to think Weaver would contribute much to the Dodgers, but he proved to be a valuable swing man.
Weaver was called up from the minors last year on April 30, and ended up making 28 appearances, including seven starts, putting up a 3.65 ERA and a 4.07 FIP. He did have the highest walk rate of his career (3.76 walks per nine innings), but also put up his highest strikeout rate (7.29 K/9), a full strikeout per nine innings better than any other season. His best work came with the bases loaded, allowing just one single in 20 at-bats, allowing opponents to hit .050/.167/.050. The highlight of the season for Weaver was entering Game 1 of the NLDS with the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth inning, inducing a groundout, and preserving the 3-2 lead with another scoreless inning of work after that.
Weaver started against his brother Jered of the Angels last June 20, beating his younger sibling 6-4. Jered had the classic younger brother lament, saying after the game, "He's got the upper hand on me the past 26 years. We're going to laugh about it. It was fun. Hopefully, we don't have to go through it again."
Jeff Weaver returned to the Dodgers this offseason on another minor league deal, hoping for a repeat performance. With a week left in spring training, it appears Ramon Ortiz is this year's Weaver, who was last year's Chan Ho Park. The Dodgers seem to have a knack in recent years for coaxing solid seasons out of pitchers without a recent history of success.
Weaver was a Type A free agent after 2005, and after he signed with the Angels, the Dodgers received two compensatory draft picks, which became Bryan Morris and Preston Mattingly. After being traded by the Angels to the Cardinals in July 2006, Weaver put up a 2.43 ERA in five postseason starts, including winning the clinching Game 5 of the World Series against the Tigers.
Weaver signed a minor league deal that will pay him $800,000 if he makes the team, with up to $100,000 in incentives. He can become a free agent if he is not added to the active roster by Sunday, April 4.
|2010 Projections - Age 33 Season|
|Thanks to FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference.com|
With the delay of Ronald Belisario, injuries to Hong-Chih Kuo and Cory Wade, and demotions of James McDonald and Scott Elbert, I think Weaver still has a good shot at making the opening day bullpen, reprising his swing man role for a second straight season. I'll guess a 4.66 ERA and 1.411 WHIP in 56 innings.
What is your guess for Jeff Weaver in 2010? Give us a prediction of ERA, WHIP, and innings.