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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I can't believe I'm saying this...

...but your team needs to take a chance on Jeff Weaver.

I know he looks like an unbelievable douchebag, he's played on seven teams in the last six years, and he began last season by going 0-6 with a 14.32 ERA, a run of previously unparalleled ineptitude to begin a season.

However, while his haircuts and his gold chains do suggest that he's something of a moron, there doesn't seem to be any reason to believe that he is a clubhouse cancer.

For a veteran free agent pitcher, he will come cheap. The last two seasons he signed one-year contracts for around $8.25 Million, and he could be willing to sign for less in 2008. When you consider that many expect Carlos Silva to get four years and $40 Million, Weaver begins to look like a bargain. Silva has won 47 games over the last four seasons. Weaver: 42.

Most importantly, however, for teams looking to rebuild their rotations in a year when the free agent class of starters is extraordinarily weak, Weaver represents a pitcher who could provide stretches of greatness. From June 9th to August 23rd, a string of 14 starts, during which the Mariners were still in the thick of the pennant race, Weaver went 6-4 with a 3.38 ERA . Not only that, but he pitched two shutouts during that span and pitched into the 8th six times. Silva pitched into the 8th only five times all season. And, of course, there was Weaver's outstanding postseason performance with the Cardinals in 2006, when he had a 2.43 ERA in 30 innings and a 7.00 K/BB in two World Series outings.

They will undoubtedly be maligned by some of their own fans when they do it, but a team with aspirations to contend will take a chance on Weaver in '08. The perfect fit is somebody with an outstanding pitching coach and a relatively big ballpark, as well as a reason to resort to desperate measures with their rotation. Sounds like Atlanta to me. Bobby Cox and his staff have a history of resurrecting the careers of veteran cast-offs and, of course, the legendary Leo Mazzone is currently unemployed. He might end up back in his old stomping grounds.

Weaver could also return to St. Louis, where he had considerable success working under La Russa and Dave Duncan. The Cardinals will need to assemble a rotation behind Adam Wainwright (with Cris Carpenter likely out for all of '08) and currently they have nothing but spare parts and lots of question marks (Mark Mulder, Anthony Reyes, Braden Looper, Joel Pineiro, etc.). This has been Duncan's specialty in the past, but he needs a few more pieces to choose from.

Expect Weaver to return to the NL, in any case, where he has a career winning record. Some other possibilities include Milwaukee, San Diego, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Arizona.

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