Count previous skeptic Pat Gillick, of all people, among those who think the Phils have a chance to reach the post-season.
Gillick was baseball’s biggest seller in July, a status that all but announced to everyone concerned that the Phils’ GM considered this year was all over but the shouting. Someone forgot to remind the players who remained, however, and ever since the surprising and energetic Phillies have been winning and in the process propelled themselves into the thick of the NL Wild Card Chase. As many have pointed out, the Phils remaining schedule is entirely against clubs with losing records save a single series with the Mets. The same folks have also noted the Phils have a losing record as well. Clearly, it is going to pay to be first among the least.
Gillick made a surprise late-season acquisition over the weekend, acquiring 43-year old southpaw Jamie Moyer to help the Phils bolster their starting rotation. It would be hard to say whether Moyer is fortifying the middle or back end of said rotation since that pecking order seems to be in perpetual flux. For the record, Moyer takes the place of rookie Scott Mathieson, who all agree has a bright future but is not yet ready for prime time. In reality, Moyer is really taking the place of Cory Lidle, traded along with Bobby Abreu to the Yankees.
Moyer’s name never appears in print at this stage of his career without the modifier “crafty” attached to it. If his assortment of off-speed junk works well on first encounter with National League hitters, the move was a good one. Whatever the outcome, he didn’t cost much; moreover, he wanted to come to Philadelphia. That’s a rarity these days.
Moyer joins a staff that includes a suddenly ineffective Brett Myers, a still rehabilitating (and it showed yesterday against Washington) Randy Wolf, veteran Jon Lieber, who is putting on his usual late season rush, and nominal staff ace Cole Hamels. Of all of them, Brett Myers may be the least reliable at this juncture.
Myers is running out of second and third chances as well as gas. This has been his wont over the years and, his protests notwithstanding, his stamina and conditioning are unacceptable for a big leaguer, especially one who had some time off recently following his assault of his wife in Boston.
Myers has struggled through two disastrous consecutive outings during which he surrendered home runs to five of the six batters he faced between the end of one start and the beginning of another. It should be clear to the Phillies he is never going to be the ace they envisioned. Stuff is not enough to get by in the big leagues and though everyone connected with this organization loves to point out how good his is, the sooner the Phillies admit to themselves he doesn’t have what it takes upstairs the sooner they can begin working out a trade to bring an established quality big leaguer in return.
In a perpetually pitching-starved world, Myers certainly remains good enough to fetch the right-handed bat the Phils need to provide some protection for their left-handed bats in the middle of the lineup, especially Ryan Howard. As always, the questions is whether to trade Myers now to a club that is in the pennant race or wait until the off-season?
Whatever they decide, the Phillies don't need prospects in return. They have too many holes to fill and too few commodities other team's want. Brett Myers represents one of the few valuable commodities the Phillies should be willing to part with. Much as they would like to have his youth and his stuff in their starting rotation for years to come, they have to face reality. Myers isn't going to produce in a Phillies' uniform. The bet here is they will hold onto to him until the Wild Card chase plays out. After that, regardless of the outcome, they should move Myers.