August 22, 2011

Jered Weaver continues to exceed expectations

I wanted this in the worst way; to see Jered Weaver in an Angels uniform beyond 2012 and thankfully, my wish has come true. Reports have Weaver signing a five-year $85 million extension with the Angels.

From the moment he was drafted in 2004 with the 12th overall pick by the Angels, Weaver has been battling naysayers. First, some predicted he wouldn’t be drafted in the first round because he was being represented by Scott Boras and his asking price would be too high.

Kevin Towers (who was the GM of the Padres that year) said, "We just didn't feel that Stephen Drew and Jered Weaver were worth the amount that Scott Boras was going to ask for them," Towers told XPRS, the Padres' flagship radio station.

Towers selected Matt Bush as the #1 overall pick. Matt Who? Exactly.

A lot of scouts downplayed his collegiate accomplishments (which were incredible) and many projected him to be nothing more than a #3 or #4 starter. Some projected injuries because of the way he threw across his body. Some thought he was just a lesser version of his brother Jeff.

John Manual from Baseball America said this:

1) His fastball is his only plus pitch according to most scouts. 2) His delivery creates deception but also precludes, in many scouts' minds, the development of an above-average breaking ball, especially precluding tilt (i.e., his breaking ball is a one-plane pitch, not two). 3) His bonus demands seem excessive. He's performed like Mark Prior, but his stuff should not command a Prior-like $10.5 million MLB contract in the mind of most clubs. We're hearing Weaver could slip out of the first 10 picks based on his perceived bonus demands.”

Even after an amazing debut in 2006, writers like Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus downplayed his abilities. He said, “…I've often professed the belief that Weaver is really pretty much his brother, a very solid, very valuable No. 3 or 4 starter who can eat a lot of innings and keep a team in the ballgame.” Goldstein also admitted that he “could be wrong” about Weaver in the same piece. That being said, Goldstein has been very outspoken about Weaver and he hasn't necessarily been positive about his assessment.

The list of naysayers is long and if I devoted enough time and energy to the process – I could fill this blog with page after page of stuff from people who have continually failed to give Jered Weaver the credit he deserves.

When John Lackey left for Boston, some questioned whether or not he could fill the void and become the “lead dog. I think that discussion has been put to rest. There's no question that Weaver is a top of the rotation guy; whereas, there was always a little doubt with Lackey.

Even as free agency started to near – many predicted he would become too expensive for the Angels.

Along the way, I even tempered my expectations after reading so many so-called expert opinions on all things Weaver.

And yet - here we are. Weaver is in the midst of a tremendous CY Young-like season and a fresh, new five-year $85 million contract. Not only has Weaver exceeded expectations on every level; he’s blown the doors off.

Boo-ya.

And yet… some folks still refuse to give him his due. Keith Law was asked recently who he preferred between Weaver and Justin Verlander. Law replied – Verlander and it’s not even close. Typical. I can understand how some people would prefer Verlander, but to say “it’s not even close” blows my mind.

How good is Jered Weaver?

Jered made his major league debut in 2006 along with 135 other pitchers (both starters and relievers). Of that group, he has won more games than anyone else (78). It’s a list that includes Jon Lester (Red Sox), Cole Hamels (Phillies), Chad Billingsley (Dodgers), James Shields (Rays), Ubaldo Jiminez (Indians), and Fausto Carmona (Indians). None of those mentioned have a lower career ERA than Weaver (3.30 which is even lower than Justin Verlander’s 3.57, who debuted in 2005). For a complete comparison of pitchers who made their debut in 2006, check out Baseball-Reference.com

Now before anyone gets too excited, I know full well that “wins” are not the best measure of a pitcher’s abilities. I’m also not saying that Jered Weaver is the best pitcher in the game today.

All I’m saying is that he deserves to be in the discussion and regardless of all that; I’m more than excited that he’s going to be a member of my favorite team for years to come.

By the way – a few folks have always been in Weaver’s camp.

In 2006 Rich Lederer wrote a piece called “Shhh! Jered Weaver is pretty good." By the way, Lederer's piece is pretty good as well. In fact, after going back and reading several pieces by Lederer, I'm a big fan.

AngelsWin’s Chuck Richter got it right back in 2004 with his analysis. Richter is a huge Angels fan and has an amazing Angels fan site, so his take was almost expected.

In any case...

This is a happy day; a downright joyous day to say the least. The Angels are fresh off a sweep of the Orioles; find themselves just four games behind the Texas Rangers and Jered Weaver is under contract through 2016.

I guess this signing also puts my question about the Angels finances in a different perspective as well. Nice move Angels. Well done and thank you very much.

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