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Jeff Weaver High On Life, Marijuana

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After all, it must take some combination of balls, overconfidence, and lack of sobriety to willingly move from a world champion to a perennial floormat, right?

Not so much, really, at least when you consider Weaver's motive - failing to get the big free agent contract he was hoping for after his October heroics, he appears to be settling for a short(er) deal so he can improve his performance and re-enter the market with a more promising recent history. That's where Seattle comes in. What better place for a pitcher to resuscitate his perceived value? In this ballpark, with this defense and this rotation, he's virtually guaranteed to come out looking rosy to other GM's with a pitching need. Nothing ace-like, mind you, but he's not going to be posting any more 5.76 ERA's any time soon. With the big money never materializing, this is a pretty good fallback career move for Weaver to make.

So, yeah, feel free to ignore the countless "I wanted to be in Seattle all along, this is a team that can compete" quotes you're going to be reading in the coming days/weeks; Weaver's just using the Mariners to help himself, and if they happen to play well while he's around, great. There's zero sense of loyalty here. And while that may seem like a shot, I'm fine with it - Weaver needs the Mariners and the Mariners need Weaver, so as long as he contributes for the duration of his contract, I couldn't care less what he plans to do later. It's not like he's a critical building block for the future. He's just a durable fifth starter who can help the club for a year or two before moving on and getting replaced by someone else of similar ability.

Dave's already done the number-crunching, so I'll direct you there for most of the math. In short, what it comes down to is that Weaver's a win or two better than Cha Baek over the course of a full year, and as has been the case for the past several seasons, a win or two in this division is pretty important. On top of that, getting from 80 wins to 90 wins is the most difficult upgrade for any team to make, and the Mariners are about to accomplish a fraction of that without really having to sacrifice anything. They're still not the best team in the AL West, but they need fewer things to bounce their way to look like they are now than they did a day ago. If that makes any sense.

It's bad news for Cha Baek, Jorge Campillo, Jake Woods, and the rest of the fifth-starter hopefuls, but it's good news for us, since Weaver provides the double bonus of making the Mariners better while also being able to keep the clubhouse more 'relaxed' during the tough times in the season. And the easy times. And all the times in between. He knows a guy. Expect at least a ten-fold increase in Ibanezesque "flu-like symptoms." And hey, it'll be hard for Willie Ballgame to pick up another 250 at bats if he's constantly ripped off his ass. The upside is limitless.

Note that I have no idea what his contract looks like. Ideally it's one year with a vesting option, so the only way Weaver returns for an expensive 2008 is if he does well in 2007. If it's two years guaranteed, then this doesn't give me as many happy vibes. Stay tuned.