Over the next few weeks, Phillies Nation will break down each player on the Phillies roster and grade their 2009 season on a very unofficial 1-10 scale. The players will be chosen in no particular order.
It was this time a year ago when a quandary was born. Give a 45-year old, soft-tossing lefty a two-year deal, or risk the idea of him walking and latching on somewhere else. The Phillies chose the former, and are now dealing with what looks like a bit of a mistake.
In 2008, Jamie Moyer, now 46, led the Phillies in wins with 16 and his ERA sunk like a rock to uncharted depths for a man of his age; 3.71. His ERA hadn’t been that low since 2003, the same season he won 21 games. Could he do it again?
Didn’t work out that way in 2009. Moyer finished with a team high 12 wins (tied with J.A. Happ and Joe Blanton) but his ERA was shade under five. That ERA is somewhat misleading, as he lowered it late in the year as a spot starter and relief pitcher. In the process, he allowed seven home runs more in ’09 than the previous season (20 to 27) and did so in 34 less innings.
Bullpen killer is the proper term to use here. Moyer went seven or more innings just four times. He gave up four or more earned runs in a game, count ‘em, 13 times. Yeeesh. Clearly, age caught up to the iron man, and fortunately for the Phillies, it did not harm them too badly. Sure, they will have to pay Moyer $6.5 million in 2010 as part of that two year, $13 million deal he signed this time last year.
You have to give Moyer props for what he has accomplished here. Coming in as a trade deadline pick-up in 2006, it seemed as though the man would never age. He started eight games that year, winning five of them. In the process, his hometown was behind him, rooting on the native son. The 2007 season didn’t go swimmingly, but he proved durable and won 14 games. His 2008 performance then pushed the Phillies into a hard decision. They made the wrong one, but it was hard not to. Jamie Moyer proved his worth for so long, and it could be that the franchise felt they needed him around, not just as a fifth starter, but as a player-coach; one that could help the likes of Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ, and just about anyone that would listen.
In that regard, it’s hard to fault the Phils for the contract extension. Next season, however, Moyer could find himself in the unemployment line. Is it the right move to see if he can get that mojo back? Or is it too late?
Moyer is clearly past his prime, and it’s unlikely he regains the magic of 2008. He seemed unhappy in the bullpen, and there is a chance someone picks him up as a fifth starter, but for the Phillies, it doesn’t appear he fits very well into future plans beyond Spring Training. Given the contract situation and his desire to continue to play, he deserves a shot in Clearwater.
If it is truly the end of the line for Moyer in Philly, it was a hell of a run, to say the least. Not many players get to play in the Major Leagues for a decade, let alone two. They certainly don’t get to play until they’re 46; but Jamie Moyer has done it. Will he do it for one more season here? It’s unlikely, but you can never say never because Moyer is a bulldog. As for 2009, I’m sure he’d rather forget it altogether.
2009 numbers: 30 games, 25 starts, 12-10, 4.90 ERA, 94 K/43 BB, 27 HR, 1.36 WHIP, .279 BAA
GRADE: 4/10: It was not a great year for Moyer as he struggled out of the gate. He did well at times later in the year, mostly spot starting, however, when he does not hit his spots or get the edges of the plate, it tends to be a long game. Moyer had several of those in ’09.
Pat Gallen can be reached via email at Pat@Philliesnation.com