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leave it to weaver

thanks to Hardcore Legend, VEB has the first images of jeff weaver in his new uniform; you gotta check these out. scott boras has already contacted the site looking for copies . . .

so which inning do you think tipped the scales --- the 1st or the 4th? i figure it had to have been the 1st; by the 4th inning, the depths of stl's desperation would have been so plain that anaheim would have been demanding rasmus hawksworth and jaime garcia for weaver. . . . . among its many virtues, this transaction has diverted ev'yone's attention from another unwatchable loss. i'd have traded away terry evans for that alone. weaver is merely gravy.

and a potentially savory broth, at that. his acquisition is pure upside -- absolutely no chance this comes back to bite the cardinals. if weaver gets it back together, the cards roll into the playoffs with a competitive pitching rotation; if he doesn't, they are no worse off than before -- and still have the same fallbacks (chiefly wainwright) that are available currently. way to go, walter.

and way to go terry evans, whose great, out-of-nowhere half-season spared the organization from having to part with a more central prospect. evans may someday wear a major-league uniform; i hope it happens for him. but i'm not worried that the cards have traded away a future star.

i briefly noted some of jeff weaver's selling points a few days ago; they include

  • a pattern of improved performance after the all-star break
  • a good quality-start pct in 2004-05, and a q.s. pct no worse than ponson/marquis/suppan in 2006
  • a 3:1 strikeout-walk ratio
  • 27 wins and a better-than-league-avg era over the past two years
and then there's the fact that weaver is returning to the weaker league, where he has enjoyed his greatest success. i took a quick look at guys who moved from the al to the nl at midseason and made at least 10 starts in each league, to see if we have any reason to expect some kind of bump. since 2001, there are only seven guys who fit this description; six of them lowered their era after switching leagues:
player ip h w so w-l era whip
05 r drese: tex 70 96 24 20 4-6 6.46 1.714
05 r drese: was 60 66 22 26 3-6 4.98 1.467
05 p astacio: tex 67 79 11 45 2-8 6.04 1.343
05 p astacio: sd 60 54 26 33 4-2 3.17 1.333
03 s ponson: bal 148 147 43 100 14-6 3.77 1.284
03 s ponson: sf 68 64 18 34 3-6 3.71 1.206
02 b colon: cle 116 104 31 75 10-4 2.55 1.164
02 b colon: mtl 117 115 39 74 10-4 3.31 1.316
02 c finley: cle 105 114 48 91 4-11 4.44 1.543
02 c finley: stl 85 69 30 83 7-4 3.80 1.165
01 j baldwin: cws 95 109 38 42 7-5 4.61 1.547
01 j baldwin: lad 79 82 25 53 3-6 4.20 1.354
01 t okha: bos 52 69 19 37 2-5 6.19 1.692
01 t okha: mtl 55 65 10 31 1-4 4.77 1.364
TOTAL AL 653 718 214 410 43-46 4.51 1.43
TOTAL NL 524 515 170 334 31-32 3.90 1.31

it's a small sample size and an unscientific look at the numbers, which are not park-adjusted; i wouldn't place too much weight on them. but to the extent these precedents suggest anything, they suggest that yes, pitchers like weaver often do pitch better after crossing over to the national league at midseason. take it for what it's worth, a mildly upbeat note.

i'll stick to the hopeful best-case i outlined last friday: "it does not strain the imagination to suggest that weaver might come in here, make 16 starts, turn in 9 or 10 quality starts and win 7 games." none of the cardinals' competitors in the division is likely to add a better pitcher than that; in what currently looms as a tight three- or four-way race for the division, weaver has a chance to make a real difference.

his arrival may also give the cardinals some maneuvering room for another trade; maybe some fringe a.l. contender has talked themselves into thinking that jason marquis' 10 wins are not a fluke and would offer a slightly-below-avg outfield bat in exchange. as the trade deadline gets closer and mark mulder's prognosis becomes more certain, weaver's presence will give the cards a little more flexibility than they had this time yesterday.

more on the trade at get up baby, cardinals diaspora, 26th man, the birdwatch, and reverend redbird.