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For Angels' Jered Weaver, it's not about the money

The ace has similar numbers to Philadelphia's Cole Hamels, who debuted the same year. Hamels could fetch at least $20 million per year in free agency; Weaver signed a deal last year for $17 million a year.

May 05, 2012|By Bill Shaikin
  • Jered Weaver is is 86-47 with a 3.24 ERA, 315 walks and 1,022 strikeouts since making his major league debut six years ago.
Jered Weaver is is 86-47 with a 3.24 ERA, 315 walks and 1,022 strikeouts since… (Jeff Gross / Getty Images )

No hits,no regrets

Philadelphia's Cole Hamels and the Angels' Jered Weaver were born a year apart, Hamels in San Diego and Weaver in Northridge. Each made his major league debut in May 2006.

The career numbers are strikingly similar. Hamels has pitched 1,194 innings, Weaver 1,176.

Hamels is 77-55 with a 3.38 earned-run average, 297 walks and 1,127 strikeouts. Weaver is 86-47 with a 3.24 ERA, 315 walks and 1,022 strikeouts.

Yet one number will be dramatically different, the number following the dollar sign.

Hamels, headed for free agency this fall, is expected to sign for at least $20 million per year. Weaver would have been headed for free agency this fall had he not extended his contract with the Angels for five years, at $17 million per year.

If Hamels gets six years at $20 million each, Weaver could have left $35 million on the table — maybe more, given that he has not been on the disabled list in five years.

That is what made Weaver's no-hitter last week so special. His mom and dad were there, right behind home plate, just like Little League. His wife was there too, and he had a goofy grin for all of them.

"This is awesome," Weaver said after the game. "This is why I stayed here, for you guys."

Weaver's agent, Scott Boras, had explained the riches that would await in free agency. Weaver told Boras to get the best deal he could with the Angels, and to get the deal done.

"How much more do you need?" Weaver said when he signed that $85-million deal last year. "Could have got more, whatever. Who cares?"

Next save:His career

They still called themselves the California Angels, and they still called their ballpark Anaheim Stadium. On May 24, 1995, Chuck Finley struck out 15 and earned the 100th victory of his career.

Any Angels fan that kept the ticket stub from that game has a treasure on his or her hands. The New York Yankees were in town, and their starting pitcher was making his major league debut.

The name of the kid? Mariano Rivera.

Rivera did not distinguish himself that night. The Angels dismissed him in the fourth inning, but not before he gave up five runs and eight hits, one a home run by Jim Edmonds. (Win a bet with that one: Who hit the first homer off Rivera?)

The Yankees gave Rivera nine more starts that year, then put him in the bullpen.

The rest is history. His career might not be.

Rivera, 42, tore a knee ligament Thursday, but the greatest relief pitcher in baseball history vowed to pitch again, to retire on his own terms rather than limp into retirement.

"I'm coming back," Rivera told reporters. "Write it down in big letters. I'm not going out like this."

The best show in baseball might be in the Bronx in October, when anticipation builds and "Enter Sandman" booms across Yankee Stadium as Rivera prepares to protect a Yankees lead. His postseason ERA: 0.70, the lowest of any player with at least 30 innings pitched.

Rivera is one of three players with at least 50 postseason innings pitched and an ERA under 1.00. The others, according to Sandy Koufax and Christy Mathewson.

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