The soon-to-be 44-year-old left-hander will receive $10.5 million plus bonuses over the next two seasons, the Phillies confirmed. The signing means they are one pitcher away from filling out their starting rotation.
Jamie Moyer was one of the few Pat Gillick acquisitions who panned out. Now, we’ll have two full seasons to scrutinize it.
This is a good extension, not a great extension considering the advanced age and the team's recent history of overestimating the health of older pitchers (Rhodes, Gordon). It's also a precautionary step considering how few choices are available through free agency and historically by way of winter trades. The length isn't all that bothersome. A year from now, Moyer could be ready to walk away from the game, plus, we're still getting used to the idea of not having a "no-trade" attached to every deal, so the door is also open in that regard.
Health-wise, what can you say? He’s a relic who doesn’t throw heat and relies entirely on location and guile. I’ve resigned to the fact that every make and model pitcher will surrender home runs at Citizen’s Bank Park: young; old; flyball; groundball. It never seems to matter. At least with Moyer, a notorious flyball pitcher, he knows how to shake it off.
He showed no signs of wear on his 78-mph fastball and was quite good against the National League, going 5-2 with a 4.02 ERA. A look inside the NL East ... the Mets are the division’s best team, but have some issues with left-handers. The Marlins are rising, but are still young and impatient hitters. Atlanta’s lineup looked as clueless as any last season. And the Nationals are retooling and will have an entirely new coaching staff. There’s no reason to believe Moyer can’t have sustained success, as even more teams have never faced him. And if the Phillies are serious about starting fast this time, this is a guy you want on your side, not some mystery like Justin Germano.
Economically, as some of you have already mentioned, $5 million for 200 good innings is something of a bargain considering today’s market. The Phillies can now focus on other needs, including the bullpen, where it will pay to take more time and leave no stone unturned. A chance to lock in now and shore up four-of-five spots in the rotation was a safe choice, rather than test free agency, which Gillick has already said he will not do. Whether or not it’s a championship choice remains to be seen.
Pitching aside, veteran presence is at a premium, and that’s what makes this move a success . It’s obviously important to Gillick, who’s now forming the team on that guiding principle. The Phillies haven’t had anyone quite like Moyer in many years, someone to council young pitchers like Cole Hamels. Moyer can set a good physical and mental example for others who are often lacking in those departments. For too many years, the Phillies have leaned on pitching coaches to mentor the young guys, while teams like the Mets and Braves also have smart veteran pitchers. The number of pitchers who’ve had better success elsewhere would certainly reflect that. Young pitchers like Hamels want to learn from the best, and the best is not Rich Dubee. Hamels has the physical gifts, and the toughness. Moyer can show him the rest.
Frankly, a player of Moyer's model quality can show this team a lot of things.
Career facts: Moyer went a combined 11-14 with a 4.30 ERA in 33 starts for Seattle and Philadelphia this past season. The 2006 season marked Moyer’s sixth straight year with at least 200.0 innings and his eighth in the last nine years. For the Phillies, he pitched at least 6.0 innings in seven of his eight starts. Overall, he pitched at least 6.0 innings in 27 of his 33 starts in 2006. He has a career record of 216-166 with a 4.17 ERA for the Cubs (1986-88), Rangers (1989-90), Cardinals (1991), Orioles (1993-95), Red Sox (1995-96), Mariners (1996-2006) and Phillies (2006). Among active pitchers, he ranks 7th in wins, 5th in starts (518) and innings (3,351.0) and 10th in strikeouts (1,992).