For the first time since Ronald Reagan’s first term as president, spring training has opened without Jamie Moyer in somebody’s camp.
Every spring since 1984, Jamie Moyer was toeing the slab for a major or minor league squad. But at age 50, this might finally be the end of the road. Last year at this time, Moyer was considered an important component of the Colorado Rockies starting rotation. At first, Moyer pitched well in Denver; he became the oldest pitcher to post a major league win. Moyer posted a 2-5 mark with a 5.70 ERA in 10 starts before the Rockies designated him for assignment.
After Colorado, Moyer signed with the Baltimore Orioles, who assigned him to Triple-A Norfolk. The trouble came when after Moyer pitched well in the minors, it became clear the Orioles weren’t committed to calling up Moyer for their play-off run. steam),” said Moyer. That prompted Moyer to ask for his release, which the Orioles granted.
The next stop for the Moyer train was signing with the Toronto Blue Jays, who then assigned him to their Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas. Things didn’t go so well in Las Vegas; in two starts Moyer got lit up for He allowed 17 hits, including three home runs, in 11 innings. His stint in Las Vegas ended with Moyer tallying one win, one loss, and an 8.18 ERA. This time, Moyer didn’t have to ask for his release.
Just a few weeks after that, Moyer addressed the idea that he would retire.
“I’m not retired, I’m not retired. I’m just kind of laying in the weeds and just trying to figure out what’s going on,” Moyer said. “I’m just going to step back after the season and assess what’s going on, and see how I feel and go from there.”
As much as I would love to see it, I think this is the end of the line for Moyer’s career. Obviously, the first issue is that he is half a century old. Then there’s the fact he missed the entire 2011 season due to Tommy John surgery. I know tons of guys pitched for years after that operation, but none of those guys were already AARP members.
Having said that, let’s look at the options for yet another Moyer comeback.
First, he’s going to have to give up the idea of being a starter. Moyer simply doesn’t seem like he’s got six innings every fifth day for six months in him anymore. But Moyer himself doesn’t seem ready to change his role.
“I’m surely not a specialist,” Moyer said. “I’m not a closer. I’m not a setup guy. It’s either a long guy or a starter. What I’ve done most of my career is start. So if I have any value left, I think that’s where it might be. Winning games and contributing, I think, has always been my goal on a team. I’ve always enjoyed that. And that’s what I strive to do every time I go out to pitch.”
Then there’s the matter of finding a team where Moyer could still make a contribution.
Moyer thinks either the New York Mets or one of his former clubs, the Philadelphia Phillies, might be a fit. But that might not necessarily a two-way street.
“We’ve talked to the Mets over the winter,” said Moyer. “Talked to the Mets at times during the season. They just don’t seem to have any interest at this point in time. And the Phillies, when I was in my stint between Norfolk and the 51s, I happened to go through Philadelphia with our foundation and ran into (Phillies general manager) Ruben Amaro. He knew the whole situation. And I don’t think they really seemed to have a great deal of interest as well.”
Honestly, I’ve been making plenty of hay on the Moyer story. You can’t tell me there isn’t a ton of material in a 50-year old guy competing in professional baseball, if you’ve been a regular reader of this blog you already know that. It has been up-to-now a never-ending story of Moyer’s over-coming the elbow injury at age 48, the inevitable degradation of his stuff, the monkey-barring from team to team, all of which salted with a liberal dose of inspiration to all of us washed-up 40-something former jocks. As awesome as the story is, and despite what an affable fellow Moyer seems to be, the ugly reality is that Moyer is simply no longer a viable option for a Major League baseball pitching staff.
The one thing we must not forget about Moyer is that there was a time when he was a very solid major league pitcher. Forget that he was a “late bloomer,” Moyer blossomed in 1997 (at age 34) into a legitimate front-line pitcher, when he notched sub-4.00 ERA in the homer-happy American League while walking only 43 hitters in 188 2/3 innings.
That was just the start. This was just the start. After age 34, for the next 13 seasons Moyer racked up the majority of his career wins and strikeouts, the prime years being being 1997 top 2003. If you are one of those Sabremetrics geeks, you really appreciate what Moyer’s Wins Above Replacement number of 5.2 in 1998 and 6.2 in 1999. If you aren’t a Sabremetrician and are simply a traditional baseball numbers geek, then you will appreciate the fact that Moyer became a workhorse in those seasons by topping 228 innings. He also compensated for his lack of overpowering stuff with ninja-like control; in both those seasons Moyer walked less than 2 hitters per nine innings. It would be that control that kept Moyer on a major league roster for over a decade after that.
Nevertheless, what Moyer did after the age of 40 is staggering. Check out how many Hall-of-Famers are listed on that chart. Check out how many Hall-of-Famers Moyer outpaces. Check out this sample of ex-big leaguers with whom Moyer shares his birth year (1962): Oddibe McDowell, Danny Tartabull, Wally Joyner, Kevin Seitzer, Darren Daulton, and Darryl Strawberry. Moyer is 12 days older than Bo Jackson. How many of those guys have been on the retired guy circuit for at least a decade?
Other fun things one can do with Moyer’s career is to look at where he stacks up number-wise against the all-time leaders in particular categories, or to look at where he stacks up against Hall-of-Famers, or just to see some of the fun facts that surround his nearly three-decade long career in baseball.
Of all the facts this blog has published about Jamie Moyer, this one is clearly my favorite: Moyer is also the only player in baseball history with at least 40 hits, 20 runs scored, 10 runs batted in, and 500 home runs allowed.
But now that is all seems like it’s over, and since Dubsism has been your home for the Jamie Moyer Hall of Fame Campaign for nearly three years now, we prob ably have to ask this question for what may be the last time.