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...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

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.

I didn't say anything about this at the time, but I have to admit this piece was just wonderful, revealing and human and sweet and vulnerable all at once.
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