A number three starter will look good in Cardinals red.
The flowing Thor locks? Maybe not. But this trade, on the surface, appears to be vintage Jocketty. He bought low–as I posted yesterday, the Angels wanted Lastings Milledge a week and a half ago–and sold high, trading a guy with an uncertain future and exactly half a season of decent play to his credit. Walt Jocketty’s legendary mind-control power has showed itself once more; as Valatan commented on yesterday’s post shortly after the deal was consumated: “God, if I were the Mets’ GM I would never talk to Stoneman again.”
So about this guy. Jeffy W. was the Detroit Tigers’ first round pick in 1998, a highly polished college type with great-looking stuff. It was an extremely deep draft; Weaver went behind Pat Burrell, JD Drew, Austin Kearns, and Felipe Lopez (as well as… Corey Patterson), and was picked in front of Brad Lidge, CC Sabathia, Brad Wilkerson and Aaron Rowand, among others. He made five A ball starts that year, striking out 33, walking 1 and allowing 14 hits in 25 innings. He made his major league debut in April the next year. Before we continue, some of the relevant numbers:
AGE ERA IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 K:BB 22 5.55 163.6 6.27 3.08 1.48 2.03 23 4.32 200.0 6.12 2.34 1.17 2.61 24 4.08 229.3 5.97 2.67 0.75 2.24 25 3.18 121.6 5.55 2.44 0.30 2.28 25 4.04 78.0 6.58 1.73 1.38 3.80 26 5.99 159.3 5.25 2.65 0.90 1.98 27 4.01 220.0 6.26 2.74 0.78 2.28 28 4.22 224.0 6.31 1.73 1.41 3.65 29 6.29 88.6 6.29 2.13 1.83 2.95
The big changing point–both in baseball’s perception of him and his numbers–is when he was traded to the Yankees. Up to that point, he was considered a rising star, a future 20-game winner. Everything he threw crackled with movement, darted out of the strike zone. Baseball Prospectus–rarely fans of young pitchers–threw around “superstar” and “absolutely electric stuff” in consecutive years when discussing him. His latest breakout–the 3.18 ERA he had for Detroit that year–was built on an unsustainably low home run rate, but it was the kind of pitching expected of him all along.
And then, at 26, he collapsed. His status in the rotation was uncertain leading into the season, and he did nothing to solidify it; his strikeout rate continued to fall, and his home run rate hit an all-time high. Nobody in the Bronx was heartbroken when he headlined the package the Yankees sent to the Dodgers for Kevin Brown.
And now? Who knows. He spent his two years in LA as an innings-eater–basically the last thing people expected of him, back in 1999. Not only that, but he did it two different ways; in 2004 he walked as many people as he had in New York but brought his home runs back to his usual low levels, while in 2005 he became a control pitcher who allowed a ton of home runs. In 2006, as has been repeated ad infinitum, he’s allowed home runs on a startling number of his fly balls: 16.8%, which continues his disturbing trend from 2005. He’s gotten fewer groundballs, too; I’m sure Duncan is salivating at the prospect of working with a guy who once was considered an ace on the basis of not allowing any home runs.
Great, great trade for the Cardinals; Weaver has an outside shot at being very good, and a good chance of being solid.