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ANGELS NOTEBOOK: WEBER HOPING FOR STABILITY.

Byline: Gabe Lacques Staff Writer

ANAHEIM - Stability never has been Ben Weber's strong suit, as evidenced by a baseball resume that includes stops in Salinas and Taiwan. In three-plus years with the Angels, however, he's found a place to call home while being a key component of one of baseball's best bullpens.

Weber would prefer that stability last into 2004 and beyond. But he's also aware he could have just nine games left with the Angels, beginning tonight in Texas.

Weber is eligible for arbitration in the offseason, and history suggests the Angels won't offer him arbitration, a path they chose with Mark Petkovsek and Al Levine in recent years.

The Angels will face several delicate offseason decisions and offering arbitration to Weber, who likely would get a salary of more than $1 million, might not be in their best interests.

Weber has a 2.72 ERA in a team-high 60 appearances, but with Troy Percival, Brendan Donnelly and Francisco Rodriguez, the bullpen is deep. It's also a tightly knit group, another reason Weber would like to stay around.

``You stay somewhere three years, you start liking people,'' Weber said. ``I'd hate to go somewhere else. I'd like to be part of the best bullpen in the game. But from a business standpoint, if someone can do it cheaper, I can't blame 'em.

``And Turnbow's good, man.''

Turnbow is Derrick Turnbow, the Angels' 25-year-old September call-up who has lit up radar guns since his recall this month. Turnbow, who spent the 2000 season on the Angels' roster as a Rule V draft pick, underwent three surgeries in 2001-02 to stabilize his broken right arm. But this month, he's reached 96-98 mph with his fastball and recently showed he could pitch on consecutive days.

In 11 innings, Turnbow has a 0.79 ERA, 10 strikeouts and has held hitters to a .184 average. He will be out of options next season.

``Obviously, he's looked real good,'' general manager Bill Stoneman said.

The Angels are expected to let Gary Glover go without offering him arbitration, but Weber's future will be more complex. If the Angels land a starting pitcher in the offseason, younger, cheaper Scot Shields will return to the bullpen.

They've also been without a left-hander in the bullpen since trading Scott Schoeneweis on July 29, but Stoneman said the team won't necessarily look to add a lefty in the offseason, especially with Rodriguez (.143 average against) and Donnelly (.206) strong against lefties.

``Traditionalists say you want a lefty to face a lefty hitter, and it's always good to have a few of 'em,'' Stoneman said. ``But what it boils down to is, can your pitchers get lefties out or righties out? It's a qualitative thing. It's not whether a guy's throwing with one arm or the other.''

That might bode well for Weber's future here, because if they add a lefty, Shields returns to the bullpen and Turnbow makes the team, keeping Weber would require the Angels to carry 12 pitchers, a long shot with Bengie Molina, Darin Erstad and Troy Glaus coming off serious injuries.

One thing in Weber's favor is his track record. He was 7-2 with a 2.54 ERA last season and ably filled in twice as Percival, the closer, was on the disabled list. The Angels also could offer Weber arbitration and then trade him.

``You hate to see the best bullpen in baseball get broken up,'' starter Jarrod Washburn said. `` But sometimes business decisions say otherwise.''

Weber certainly hopes not.

``I think they'll sign me back,'' he said, ``but I've been wrong before. I don't see why they would want to mess up one of the biggest stabilities in baseball. I'd like to think I've done my part in that.''

Gabe Lacques, (626) 962-8811

gabe.lacques(at)sgvn.com

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BEN WEBER

Reliever has been effective for the Angels, but his future in Anaheim is uncertain.

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ANGELS vs. TEXAS

- Gabe Lacques
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Date:Sep 19, 2003
Words:662
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