Watching Jeff DaVanon

Watching Jeff DaVanon

A weblog devoted to #55 of the Anaheim Angels, Jeff DaVanon. How is he doing? Is he getting his due respect yet? Let's watch and see...

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The man behind the plate

Since I have a certain wealth of knowledge about Josh Paul stored up in my head, this seems as a good a time as any to post it.

Josh was born and raised in Chicagoland. Mostly in the northern suburbs (born in Evanston, high school in Buffalo Grove). Despite the geography, which should have caused him to have cubbie blue blood, he grew up a Sox fan, only going to Sox games. This sox love was passed on by his father.

Josh in Sox

He went to Vanderbilt, where he was named a second team all-american. At Vanderbilt, Josh was friends with pitcher Mark Hindy. Hindy worked at the World Trade Center and was killed on September 11th, 2001. When baseball resumed following the tragedy, Josh was up with the White Sox and played in New York wearing #41 on his chest protector in honor of his friend-- he batted in the go-ahead RBIs. He also wrote an article for the Chicago Sun-Times (I think, it might have been a smaller local paper) about his friend and how the loss had changed him. He married his lovely wife, Kelly, in November of that year.

Josh spent close to 6 years in the White Sox organization, up and down, injured and fine, battling it out for a spot on the roster and a chance to live out his dream each day. He also served as the Player's Rep for the team (a job that would later be held by ex-Angel Scott Schoeneweis, and the short-lived nature of both player's Sox careers would reportedly make it tough to find a player willing to hold the position this year).

In mid-June 2003, after having been up again for a few weeks, Josh was designated for assignment and he elected for free agency. He signed with the Cubs minor-league AAA club in Iowa. He came up to Wrigley when the roster expanded on Sept 1 and batted .000 in 3 games with the Cubs. Then he came out west after being signed by the Angels. He is the only ex-Cub we carry. The Sox have zero Cubs. The Cub factor isn't supposed to effect anything other than the World Series though.

Last year, he was the only Angels player to go to arbitration on his contract. I've always thought he did it because he wanted to see what it was like so he would have that experience. He has also served as the Player rep, like he did in Chicago.

As the Angels 3rd catcher, he's been more than an ocassional player and pinch hitter. He's what Rex Hudler calls "a character guy", one of the people who keeps the atmosphere in the clubhouse light and helps bond the disparate sections of the team together. He's regarded as one of the smartest catchers out there, and is apparantly writing a book on pitch selection. Paul Byrd was so impressed by Josh during spring training, and the two worked together so well that Josh was the starting catcher during Byrd's first few Angels starts.

Carrying Josh on the roster is in many ways, I think, like carrying an extra coach. If he isn't on the team next year, or maybe the year after, don't be surprised if he joins the staff in another capacity. And he is one of those players who will be remembered more for what he does after he stops playing the game, than for what he did while he played. If he doesn't go the managing route, he'll be a heck of an announcer. Maybe he'll even do both a la Joe Torre. The Angels have been lucky to have Josh on their team team these last two seasons, and if our luck holds, we'll have him in the organization for years to come.

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