Moyer Comes Home

Welcome home, Jamie Moyer. 

As a youngster, he played sports at Souderton High School in Souderton, PA.  He won 16 games at St. Joseph’s University and had his baseball uniform number (10) retired there.  As a nine-year-old, he won the Phillies Home Run Derby championship.

A left-handed pitcher, his idol was Steve Carlton.

Now, 43 years of age and an 18-year major league veteran, Moyer is coming back home to step into the Phillies starting pitching rotation.  Say what you want about the National League wild card race, but there is a race and GM Pat Gillick took a step forward to make the Phillies better.

A rotation at the beginning of the season that had no left-handers, now has three in Moyer, Randy Wolf and Cole Hamels.  Add Brett Myers and Jon Lieber and suddenly the rotation has five big league starters.

Twice while he was a free agent, the Phillies tried to sign Moyer.  Each time he opted to stay in Seattle, where he and his family have deep roots.  Now, he’s back in his original roots.

A year ago, Moyer turned down a deal that would have sent him to the Astros because Houston wouldn’t talk beyond that season.  The Phillies negotiated a mutual option for 2007.

“I have an opportunity to go to a team in contention for the last five weeks of the season and hopefully beyond that.  That’s the exciting side of it.  The downside is leaving,” he told Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times. 

When asked what he would like to say to the city of Seattle, where he’s pitched since 1996, “I can do nothing but say thank you.  They’ve opened their arms, they’ve opened their hearts, they’ve supported our teams and we have a lot of friends outside of baseball.”

In case you aren’t aware, he’s an accomplished major league pitcher and an outstanding human being.  Three years ago, he won the Roberto Clemente Award.

When the deal was announced after Saturday night’s game, the Phillies players had pretty much left Citizens Bank Park.  There was a buzz in the clubhouse and among the writers on Sunday morning.

Moyer brings experience to a staff and a race, someone who has been there before.  He’s not going to blacken anyone’s eyes with his fast ball.  “He has never been a pitcher with a good heater,” said Dallas Green, who was the GM with the Cubs when they drafted him in the sixth round in 1984.  “He’s a breaking ball, change-up type of guy, who has command of those pitches. He also prepares for a start as well as anyone you will find.”

With the Mariners this season, Moyer was 6-12 but Seattle averaged just 3.52 runs in his starts, the second-lowest run support in the American Leagues.  He’s stepping the rotation of a team that leads the NL in runs scored. 

Back to the wild card race in the NL.  Yes, it is bunched.  That shouldn’t be looked as a negative. 

Just check history of the 1980 and 1983 Phillies pennant-winning seasons.  In ’80, there were two divisions, no wild card.  As September 1 rolled around, the Phillies were second among three bunched clubs, ½ game behind the Pirates.  In ’83, four teams were bunched with the Phillies trailing the Pirates by one game.  I don’t recall those division races being labeled negative.

During the 1980 World Championship season, a rookie named Marty Bystrom joined the rotation and went 5-0 in September.  He wore #50, same as Moyer.

Will history repeat?

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