Welcome to Dirtbags Baseball blog! I was introduced to Long Beach State baseball in 2002 when my nephew, Neil Jamison, joined the team (and university) as a freshman. I started the blog in March of 2004, and generally discuss the team, current players and those that have moved on to professional baseball - as Neil has done in the San Diego Padres organization. Living in San Diego County, and with Neil moving to the next level, I won't be attending as many Dirtbags games. But, mostly from a distance, I'll remain a Dirtbags fan. I welcome tips on stories and information concerning the Dirtbags (current, past and future). I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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I'm late in getting this posted, but in case you missed it here's a piece on Jered Weaver from the Orange County Register (November 20, 2005) (hat tip to reader Rhonda):
Pitching defections could push Weaver By MARK WHICKER
The Angels are paying Jered Weaver big-league money. They might as well start collecting. At least that will be their rationalization, if they fail to sign free-agent starting pitchers Jarrod Washburn and Paul Byrd and provide Weaver a clear path to their 2006 rotation. And if that happens, Weaver is providing admirable cover for general manager Bill Stoneman. In his final start in the Arizona Fall League, Weaver strangled a lineup of Class-A and AA All-Stars with 10 strikeouts in five innings.
Watching was Marcel Lachemann, the ex-Angels manager who is serving as pitching coach for Team USA as it attempts to get through the first round of pre-Olympic qualifying. "He looked just like his brother," Lachemann said, referring to Dodgers right-hander - and incipient free agent - Jeff Weaver. "Jered's going to be our guy against Mexico." He certainly was. Weaver struck out the first six Mexicans he faced in Wednesday's second-round game. The U.S. was up, 4-2, when he left the game after four innings, and won, 5-4.
In both cases Weaver flashed the deception, the variety and the pointed control that made him the best pitcher in college baseball in 2004. The Angels, picking 12th in the first round, shook off all the red-slash warnings that appear whenever Scott Boras is representing a high college pick. They took Weaver, which seemed to indicate they were interested in signing him. They were, but not at the price Boras put on the sticker. While Boras likened Weaver to Mark Prior, whom the Cubs had taken on the second pick in 2002, Stoneman made an offer and moved about as much as Stone Mountain. Stoneman, in fact, proclaimed the deal dead in early March.
On May 30, Boras finally went to the mountain and agreed to a $4 million minor-league deal for Weaver. An hour later, and Weaver would have slid into the 2005 draft, with fewer teams willing to slow-dance with Boras. "It was a difficult time," Weaver said last week, after his AFL swansong. "I had never gone that long without pitching. I really had no idea what was going on. Every time you heard something it was different. "I worked out, sure, and I pitched in an independent league for a while, but I was off schedule. It was a time in which I could have been pitching somewhere. But I can't get caught up in the business end of it. I'm just glad it all got settled and now I feel like I've just about caught up."
Boras is perceived to have lost this round, which is a perception he likes about as much as losing itself. He still thinks the Angels were being self-destructive when they didn't sign Weaver expeditiously. "When this guy (Weaver) finished up at Long Beach State that spring, he was ready to pitch in the major leagues," Boras said. "He had great command of four pitches, and he had the velocity and the approach to help the Angels in the second half of that year. "I had a client (Craig Hansen of St. John's) who was drafted in the first round by the Red Sox this year, and they had him up at the end of the season and he was helping them. He has two pitches. Jered has four. But I think the Angels have realized that Jered is ready to help them now."
If they lose Washburn and Byrd to their competitors in free agency, the Angels might have little choice. That would leave Bartolo Colon, John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar and Ervin Santana in the rotation, and Weaver and left-hander Joe Saunders would presumably scrap for the fifth position.
...Is Weaver ready for this? "I feel pretty much like I did in college," Weaver said. "I basically was going through my own spring training during the summer. Then I hit that dead-arm stage that you always run into. Down the stretch I felt pretty sharp. Now I'm going to take a little time off and go back to Long Beach State and go over some things with (49ers pitching coach) Troy Buckley."
Weaver was 1-3 with a 5.47 ERA in the Fall League, which generally was a hitters' paradise. "He would make one mistake with his breaking ball and he'd pay for it," said Kernan Ronan, who was his pitching coach here and works with Angel minor-leaguers. "But based on the way he threw in his last outing, I'd say he's very close to the big leagues. That was the best he looked in terms of energy and aggressiveness." He was 3-3, 3.98 at Arkansas, the Angels' Double-A club, in late summer, and fanned 46 in 43 innings. All eyes will follow Weaver in spring training. He was supposed to be one of many Plan Bs for the Angels. Now he might be Plan A. Assuming there's a plan.