Angels Exchange One Weaver for Another

Times Staff Writer

Maybe 25 years from now, when the Weavers get together for a family reunion, they'll be able to laugh about the day the Angels severed ties with Jeff Weaver to clear a permanent rotation spot for Jered Weaver, Jeff's younger brother.

But there was no joy in the Weaver household Friday when struggling starter Jeff Weaver was designated for assignment, giving the Angels 10 days to either trade or release him, and rookie Jered Weaver was recalled from triple-A Salt Lake.

"It's baseball, what do you expect?" Gail Weaver, the pitchers' mother, said by phone from her Simi Valley home. "I think we've seen it all now."

There have been other sibling switches -- when former Angels catcher Bengie Molina went on the disabled list in 2001, he was replaced by his brother Jose; when Cincinnati sent Bret Boone to triple A in 1997, the Reds recalled his brother Aaron.

But this one had more of a Cain-and-Abel feel, the demise of the elder Weaver breathing life into the career of the younger Weaver, who will have a few days to cope with the awkwardness of taking Jeff's spot before starting Monday night at Seattle.

"Jered's human -- he might be somewhat affected by it," General Manager Bill Stoneman said. "But they've been around pro baseball for a long time. If Jered's thinking about his brother now, I don't blame him, as long as baseball is on his mind Monday night."

Stoneman tried for weeks to trade Jeff Weaver but found little interest in a 29-year-old right-hander with a 3-10 record, 6.29 earned run average and $8.325-million contract. Agent Scott Boras, who represents Jeff and Jered, has a good idea why no deal was consummated.

"I'm hearing from all the teams that the price for Jeff in players was too much," Boras said. "I don't think teams have a problem with the money considering he's under 30, threw 220 innings two years in a row and pitched well the last month."

Jeff Weaver recovered from his horrid 1-7, 7.30-ERA start by going 2-2 with a 3.86 ERA in six games from May 24-June 21, but he was booed off the Angel Stadium mound and serenaded to chants of "Bring Back Jered!" Tuesday night, when he was pounded for six runs and nine hits in two innings of a 12-4 loss to Colorado.

Jered Weaver, the team's first-round pick in 2004, went 4-0 with a 1.37 ERA in four starts before being sent back to Salt Lake to clear room for ace Bartolo Colon on June 16, sparking a firestorm of criticism from Angels fans.

Two weeks later, the Angels, convinced Colon is recovered from an inflamed shoulder, confident left-hander Joe Saunders, who is 9-3 with a 2.34 ERA at Salt Lake, will provide depth in case of an injury, and desperate for any kind of move to spark their last-place team, decided to replace one Weaver with another.

"If you look at the whole of what we think is going to be our best rotation, Jered is a guy we feel is ready to be part of it," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "Jeff was throwing the ball well, and that gave us time to see if we could trade him and to see how Bart is. But to have Jered with the other four starters is our best look for now and in the future."

The Angels did not consider demoting Jeff to the bullpen "because I don't think there was a role for him there," Scioscia said. "He appreciated the fact that we didn't just bury him in the bullpen because that would have been the worst thing for Jeff."

Stoneman will have even less leverage in trade talks for Weaver, who is expected to draw interest from several National League clubs, including the Dodgers, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Cincinnati and San Diego. Texas or Boston might also have interest.

If Weaver is not traded, he will have to pass through waivers before being released. A team claiming Weaver would have to pick up the rest of his contract, taking the Angels off the hook for about $4.2 million.

But if Weaver clears waivers and becomes a free agent, the Angels will have to pay all but about $160,000 of the contract.

"We made an investment because we felt the young pitchers weren't quite ready," Angels Owner Arte Moreno said of Jeff Weaver, who was signed on the eve of spring training to a one-year deal. "You're not going to hit 100% on every investment you make."

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