Friday, August 6, 2010

Jered Weaver's transformation

Back in the dark days of 2006, when the Angels had both Weaver brothers on the team, I noticed two things from the younger brother: brilliance and passion. But behind the passion lurked the same loathing that derailed Jeff's career for several years, with dirt-kicking, glove-yelling, and generally bad behavior on the mound in troublesome situations. It concerned me.

It continued to bother me throughout the 2007, 2008, and 2009 seasons. Despite pitching very well, Jered would have moments where you could see he was losing it, and it turned a "runners on first and third" situation into a "3 runs in, no men on" situation more than once. It reeked of Jeff Weaver. And it was reminiscent of John Lackey, who routinely stared down infielders after errors, or audibly cursed loud enough to require a bleep on the FSN cameras. Lackey and Jeff both loved to throw other players under the bus, and Jered was acquiring this undesirable trait.

Then Lackey left, his brother already gone for three seasons, and Jered found himself as the undisputed king of a deep-but-not-exceptional pitching staff, a staff of #3's. Something changed. The passion turned from unproductive yelling to fiery pitching, demanding another inning as he did tonight, nipping the corner with a fastball after a bad call, congratulating teammates when making tough plays, and shaking it off when they make bad ones. Weaver knows he's become a world class pitcher, and he knows that he can always get a strikeout when he absolutely needs one.

He's become a real pleasure to watch, and another reason to keep watching the Angels during this otherwise miserable season.

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