Baseball Heaven Welcomes an Angel

Many Cardinal fans were looking to Heaven for help in the second half of the season. The answer to their prayers may be an Angel in the form of Jeff Weaver. Weaver makes his pitching debut on the mound tonight, for St. Louis, as the Cardinals take on the Braves on ESPN's Monday Night Game, with a special start time of 6:05 p.m. CT.

Jeff "Dream" Weaver is making his St. Louis Cardinals pitching debut in the three-game series opener vs. the Atlanta Braves tonight at Busch Stadium at 6:05 p.m. CT.

Weaver, a seven year major league veteran, was acquired in trade from LAA on 7/5, in exchange for minor league OF Terry Evans, was 3-10, 6.29 in 16 starts for the Angels with his last coming on 6/27.

Weaver is 4-0, 3.19 ERA career vs. the Atlanta Braves in five games, including a 1-0, 4.61 mark in two starts last season.

The newest addition to the Cardinals rotation owns a career mark of 81-97, 4.55 ERA, including a 14-win season for the Dodgers last year.

The 29 year old, 6'5, 200 pound right-hander is looking forward to starting with a clean slate with St. Louis and getting back on the mound after a couple of weeks on the sideline.

"My mechanics are fine," said Weaver, who has allowed opponents to hit .309 against him this year. "It just may be a situation where guys are getting on base and I'm trying to strike people out, avoiding contact instead of just making a quality pitch and getting a groundball."

"Those things are easily worked through, and with the defense that's here, there's no reason to feel that you've got to strike people out. It's going to be fun to let those guys play behind me, just throw my sinker, and let the defense work for me."

The Cardinals consider Weaver as a member of the rotation. This is not an experiment and Weaver doesn't have to earn the job, according to Manager Tony La Russa, who has made it very clear, "Weaver is in the rotation".

Weaver's career with the Angels ended when the club called up his 23-year-old brother, Jered, from Triple-A Salt Lake to replace him in the rotation and on the roster.

Jeff Weaver was designated for assignment by the Angels at the end of June after going 6-10 with a 6.29 ERA in 16 starts this season. He had signed a one-year, $8.3 million contract with Los Angeles as a free agent during the offseason.

Tony La Russa indicated that St. Louis had been interested in Weaver over the winter, but that $8.3 million dollar price tag, keep General Manager Walt Jocketty from pulling the trigger on a deal for Weaver until now.

The 6'5", 200 pound, right-hander has long been considered having the potential to be a number one starter, something that never developed.

The Cardinals are not counting on him to bump Chris Carpenter to be the new staff ace, but just to be a quality mid-rotation starter and that is something Weaver is very capable of doing.

He has a fastball that sits low 90's with good sinking action in addition to a good slider in the low 80s, with a 77-81 mph curve and good change.

The outlook on Weaver is that he always has had good stuff, he is healthy and is still young with a lot of Major League experience already to include playing in a World Series for the Yankeed in 2003 and in Division Series with the Yankees (02) and Dodgers (04). Weaver has the confidence of the Cardinals coaching staff and front office and could potentially be a member of the Cardinals rotation next season.

Weaver regained consistency with his fastball last season and he is very effective when he keeps his sinker down and uses both sides of the plate. The Cardinals have spent a lot of time watching game film on Weaver this season and while they won't disclose scouting reports, they are confident Weaver can be an effective member of their rotation.

The skuttlebutt is that Weaver had problems with his slider over a three game period and was getting behind and was having to try to strike out opposing batters most of the time and of course that will always lead to problems.

Weaver is known for wearing his emotions on his sleeve and at times can be his own worst enemy. A bad pitch or bad play behind him can often affect his performance.

With the Cardinals, you wouldn't expect a lot of bad plays being made behind him. Besides that, Weaver is surrounded by veterans like a Chris Carpenter, Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds, Albert Pujols & Jeff Suppan, that you would think that they will have a positive effect on Weaver, keeping him calm and focus.

My take on Weaver, after spending a little time with him in the clubhouse, is that he is maturing, he turns 30 soon and he is facing the second half of what has been a tough season so far for him, with the right mental attitude. Based on what the Cardinals have seen in game film, plus the right attitude, is all that pitching coach Dave Duncan will need to help turn Weaver around and make him a productive member of the rotation this season.

That is good news for the Cardinals and their fans, and maybe an Angel has been sent to St. Louis in an answer to their prayers.

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