Farewell, Jamie Moyer

As recently as five weeks ago, Moyer was the most accomplished starter in the worst rotation in Major League Baseball.  On Friday, he was deemed an unnecessary burden for the worst rotation in Major League Baseball and was designated for assignment. On Sunday, the 49 year old left-hander was officially released.

When the Rockies signed Moyer to a free agent contract this past offseason, I was a strange combination mystified and excited.  I remembered Moyer as a piece of one of the worst trades in Cubs history (Rafael Palmeiro, Moyer, et al to the Texas Rangers for The Wild Thing prior to the 1989 season), and as one of the game’s best pitchers in his time with the Seattle Mariners.  The acquisition of Moyer seemed like a low-risk signing that could help the Rockies bridge the gap until their prospects were ready to assume the full burden of carrying the rotation.

The prospects are not ready, and Moyer is gone.

Moyer’s numbers with the Rockies were, at best, underwhelming.  He carried a 2 – 5 record and a 5.70 earned-run average.  His presence in the clubhouse seemed helpful in theory, but in practice, left no discernable mark on the team’s pitching performance.  In the interim, he managed to become the oldest pitcher in modern league history to win a game, on two separate occasions.  Thanks for the memories, Jamie.

If Moyer cannot start for the Rockies, I cannot imagine that he will land in a Major League rotation for more than a spot start or injury replacement situation.  Moyer’s exit from the Rockies almost surely will signal the end of his major league career.  My first consideration after hearing the news of Moyer’s release, and pending retirement, was his Hall of Fame credentials.

After all, Moyer has amassed 269 wins in his career.  While short of the 300-win Hall of Fame guarantee, Moyer will undoubtedly retire in the top five winners in the next twenty years.  He started over 630 games, and his 25-year career features time with some of my generation’s finest teams (early 2000’s Mariners and late 2000’s Phillies).  Perhaps the most amazing element of Moyer’s credentials was his ability to thrive as a soft-ball tosser in the game’s steroid era.  From 1997 (his first full year in Seattle) through 2003, Moyer amassed 113 wins, including two 20-win seasons and three years where he finished in the top 6 of the Cy Young Award balloting.

Unfortunately for Moyer’s Hall of Fame campaign, he will have to overcome a pedestrian 4.25 career earned-run average and average numbers in strikeouts.  He was never dominant in the traditional sense, and will have to compete with other pitchers of his era (Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and Greg Maddux) who were.  While he should be remembered as one of the best pitchers of his generation — and he most certainly was that — Moyer will likely suffer the fate of the dozens who have been subjected to the Hall of the Very Good, and will be remembered for his longevity, resiliency, and good nature.

Happy trails, Mr. Moyer.

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