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...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


I happen to like Arizona. We've liked going there for spring training so much that it's our first choice for a place to relocate to. Jeff also lives in Scottsdale, so that would be nice for him.

Also, the AL-West should be playing the NL-West in inter-league this year.

But we'll all have to wait and see where Jeff actually lands.

I'll tell you one thing, there is a whole lot of Jeff Google action going on.

Monday, December 19, 2005

JP lives to fight another day

Josh Paul and Joe Maddon will get to spend another year together discussing literature and pitch selection, as 6-4-2 tells us that JP has indeed been traded to Tampa Bay. Yay Josh!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Yet again with the OT

So via Matt Welch (who I've read and admired for many years, but never linked to here because I don't really consider him a baseball blogger) I learned the sad news that the Marquis de Sade, our favorite bar/joint in Prague, is no more.

Truthfully, it was my second-favorite. But my favorite place closed down in 1998, so we were left with the Marquis.

Keith and I actually met and first dated when we were both studying in Prague for a summer in the 90's. The Marquis was ground zero for expats making their way through post-communist Prague. Jo's might have gotten better "Let's Go" guide coverage, but the Marquis had a better location, and was the place to go, be seen, and get sloshed with no pesky dancing involved. It was also the place where a lost, drunk, and very confused businessman tried to find out how much I charged. A really strange mistake to make, and one that usually only happens if you are a young woman alone and provocatively dressed in some crappy bar on Vaclav square. I was young and alone, and in a crappy bar, but he missed the rest of the details. Idiot.

Later, when Keith and I were married and on our honeymoon (in Prague) we included a stop at the Marquis on our nostalgia-inspired tour of old Prague haunts. On this auspicious night a familiar-looking guy asked if he could steal the extra chair at our table. We agreed, and I spent a good half-hour trying to figure out where I knew him from. I was getting up the courage to ask if he'd been in the Kafka play I'd worked on years earlier, when I realized the guy was Heath Ledger (back when I was probably one of 20 people with any concept of the name "Heath Ledger" occupying space in my brain).

And just last year, when I couldn't make it to Croatia to visit a friend and be in Berlin in time for my conference, I had my friend meet me in Prague for a few days instead. We stopped in at the Marquis de Sade. It was looking quite sad, the sofas fraying, the air of desperation more noticeable. The moment had clearly passed by. We didn't stay long, and headed over to U Maleho Glena, not really a bar, but our new favorite place in Prague all the same.

Prague is good at recycling. We were confused on our honeymoon when we went to the place we had always known as the Chapeau Rouge (the Red Hat) to find instead a place whose t-shirts declared it to be the Chateau Rouge (the Red House). We finally realized that some enterprising individual must have decided to deliberately take over the location and change the name to something so similar as to be completely interchangeable with the original name. So I suspect that one day soon the old Marquis de Sade location will host a bar named just "the Marquis" or maybe "Marat." Who knows?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

monumentally off-topic

This was just so cool I had to post about it.

Narwhals seriously freak me out. I think they are cool, but there was a specimen in the Field museum in Chicago, displayed behind glass in a large foyer, or maybe even an area with tables where children on field trips eat their bag lunches. As a girl on such a field trip, I remember staring at it, fascinated and also scared to death. What was this whale doing with a unicorn horn? And what did it kill with it? It has never made sense.

But scientists have made some new discoveries regarding the Narwhal's long tooth/tusk. It turns out it contains nerve endings, and may be used as a sophisticated sensing device. Read more at the New York Times.

Robin has a question

Robin left a question in the comments:

"What is DFA'd? what happened to Jeff and Josh Paull? There is nothing on the Angels' website about Jeff. I think he's a great player and if he gets to start every game on another team he will probably do really really well. What happened?"
There are parts of that I can easily answer, and parts that we must simply chalk up to the mystery of life...

DFA'd is "designated for assignment" it sounds suspiciously like "GTFO" because they are the same thing. Players like Jeff and Josh, who do not yet qualify for free agency, are not "released" but are "designated for assignment." As I understand this, in theory, every other team now has the opportunity to pick up Jeff and/or Josh on waivers, or the Angels have 10 days to trade them. If every team passes on a player, then the player puts "nobody likes me everybody hates me, I think I'll go eat worms" on repeat and contemplates putting their head in the oven. Or, the next time they pass a used car lot they slow down, decide the waving flags and crazy deals are every-so-slightly reminiscent of the stadium, and launch a new career for themselves. In reality, if they clear waivers, are not used as part of a trade, and do not wish to accept (or are not offered) a minor league contract with the Angels, then they are free agents, or used car dealers-in-training. Or, the team they were with invites them to spring training, or someone else invites them to spring training, and through moxie and the benevolence of the Arizona atmosphere, they live to fight another day, month, or season.

Unfortunately, Jeff didn't really make a strong case for the whole "if he started on another team he'd do really well" argument this year. One that I, truth be told, still secretly believe in. But this belief is like a thirteen year old believing in Santa Clause, you can think it to yourself in the magical and secure darkness of your barbie-lined, frilly, canopied bedroom, but you simply mustn't declare your belief in public. Certainly not in front of boys. Never in front of boys. They won't understand and will mock you. OK? Sometimes I mock myself for believing it. I'm a very self-loathing fangirl. (spellcheck has suggested that I meant "fingerling" not "fangirl" -- way to make me feel dirty spellcheck.)

"What happened?" is perhaps the million-dollar question. OK, just under a million dollars. Jeff was easy to justify and keep around when he was making scale, the standard amount all players make based on number of years of service. He was producing, reliable in specific situations, hitting for a certain amount of power, and doing OK. He was making $325,000 or something. This year, his salary was much more than that. Just under a million, if memory serves. He was worth it at the time the salary was offered and accepted, had earned it with the contributions he had already made to the team. But much like you or I might fix our own leaky faucets if we are paying $300 a month in rent and be happy about it, but would expect our landlord to fix the damn things if we are paying $3,000, Jeff's bigger salary also made him a bigger target. He didn't step up and into the DH role as we all had hoped. In fact, he was useful only as a pinch-runner and sometimes as a pinch-walker (since to call him a hitter is a misnomer).

He just didn't have a good year, and he really needed to have a good year. The Angels needed to make some room on the roster, and Jeff and Josh weren't going to be part of any trades (although there were whispers that JP would be off to Tampa Bay). They were expendable, solid players, both with maybe one or two really good years ahead of them if the stars were aligned, but probably with their best years already behind them. There was also every chance that both of them would clear waivers and could be invited to spring training, but if they didn't, no great catastrophe. Jeff has officially lost his job (what job he had) to Juan, and Josh's days were always going to be limited once B.Mo's reign had come and gone.

If you want a new Jeff, there is Mathis. If you want a new Josh, there's, um... there must be one somewhere. It's the circle of life baby, the circle of baseball. Every year there is a new crop of kids and you just have to wait and see what happens.

There is a lesson in all this, and it's a lesson I should have learned back in the day in 4-H. Don't get attached, don't name the livestock, because eventually they'll be slaughtered and you'll be sorry when mom serves up the steak.

But Jeff was special, and so was Josh, special to me and to others for reasons that are complex and yet utterly simplistic, and totally beyond rational explanation and pardon me if I'm just not in the mood for steak these next few days.

Friday, December 09, 2005

A dark day

The past day (24 hours plus a smidge) has been a bit traumatic in my little world.

Jeff and Josh Paul were both DFA'd. *sniff* *sniff* OK, I've shed my single tiny, tear for each of them. And I wish them both well in their post-Halo careers.

and Gary Barnett was run out of town in Colorado.

I crossed paths with Gary and his family many times during our shared Northwestern years, and I always found him to be a bright person, a supportive friend and coach, and a skilled public figure (that sounds like a back-handed compliment, but he was good at returning the attention of strangers, and gracious in every situation, as well as a good speaker and interview.)

I knew his son well, and his daughter in passing. I'm not sure how appropriate it is to judge a parent by the children they raise, but both the son and daughter were bright, caring people. That is such a generic description, but they were model children, and not in a stepford way, but in that way where they are both generic-ly boring and singularly astounding. Golden and human and humble and everything you look for in friends, co-workers, teammates.

The controversy at Colorado about the treatment of his female player should have been a deal-breaker for me. I really can't stand discrimination, and as a woman and a former athlete I find that situation was, at best, handled poorly. But since I have seen Gary with his daughter, and spoken with him about the points where athletic integration could be possible (mostly as it relates to hockey, since that was my sport), I cannot bring myself to damn him.


via the blog for Freakanomics, we get this interview with Joe Maddon about what he is reading (best part, it was suggested by Josh Paul):

Q: Are you doodling lineups, doodling rotations—

JOE MADDON: You know what? No, not yet. We’re talking about that on the way over here. Remember the book “Blink,” you guys read “Blink” yet? Got to read “Blink”. Anyway, it’s about thick slices and thin slices. Put all this stuff in the back of your brain. Kind of like cooking in that stew pot. So all I’ve been doing is like gathering portions for the pot right now. As we get closer to this moment, we’ll start doing the doodling kind of stuff, putting it on paper. Right now it’s all just in the pot and just trying to gather as much information as I possibly can, listening to as many people as I can and think when it comes down to it all of a sudden, boom, all these answers present themselves to you if you really do the homework. That’s like how I want to approach it. You have things up in the air, there’s going to be a little bit of uncertainty, yes.

Q: “Blink,” who is that by?

JOE MADDON: Malcolm Gladwell, I think is the name.

Q: He’s from New York.

JOE MADDON: The thick slicing is basically the gathering of all the information, you got it in your mind. When it comes down this making a decision a lot of times you [inaudible]...that you believe to be a first impression by the seat of your pants but it isn’t. I really gathered all this stuff and basically reacted to the moment. If you can think in the moment it’s always a better way to do it. Obviously you talk about the season.

Josh Paul [a catcher for the team] recommended it to me and whenever JP recommends a book, I read it. He was absolutely right about this thing. It should be required reading for all coaches, I think, and a lot of players.

Q: Are you going to require your coaches to read it?

JOE MADDON: Some of the guys are really not readers, you know. Maybe I’ll get them a DVD.

Q: Get it on tape.

JOE MADDON: Pop this in your car on the way to the ballpark. That kind of thing. Yeah. I did tell [3rd base coach Tom] Foley to read it.


I love Blink, which covers the nascent field of decision-making in a very accessible way. It is by Malcolm Gladwell, who also contributed the concept of the "tipping point" to the world. Blink is a breezy read, and presents slices of a lot of different research in an anecdotal style.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The day

Dear Jeff,

Happy Birthday!!!!

We couldn't think of anything to get you, so we are designating you for assignment.

Many Happy Returns!!


Your friends at the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

I actually put Jeff's birthday on my calendar so I wouldn't forget it this year. Looks like that wasn't required.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Hat Trick

Argh! First Turnbow, then Jenks, and now... Via Pearly Gates, it appears yet another former closer in the Angel farm system is flourishing after being released from under the halo.

Right-handed reliever Joel Peralta, acquired on waivers from the Angels, continues to sparkle in the Dominican Winter League. He has allowed just three earned runs in 15 innings in 17 appearances for Gigantes. He also has 10 strikeouts and two walks.

At least he throws for the Royals, so it will be highly unlikely we'll see him on the mound in next year's World Series.

Carrasco is the Bee in Stoneman's Bonnet

Alas, the pursuit of Paul Byrd has ended....sniff Carrasco will have the inside track on the fifth spot in next year's starting rotation. Rob, Chronicles, Richard, and everyone around the Haloshere are all as dumbfounded as I.

Hopefully, at next week's swap meet in Texas, Stoneman will keep his head on and won't give away the farm for a few magic beans.