Saturday, August 19, 2006

Pitchers Come, Pitchers Should Go

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.


Anonymous J. Weitzel said...

Tired legs. That's the latest Myers excuse, if you haven't seen it. Yep. I guess when you've exhausted every excuse in the book (cold nights, hot nights, humid nights, un-mudded baseballs, umpires, the porch in left field, Bobby Abreu's glove and Chris Coste) it doesn't hurt to go with a pair of knackered and bent 26-year-old legs.

2:13 PM  
Blogger Tom Goodman said...

One guy who definitely seems to be tired (though he would never show it) is Chase Utley. Chase wore down at the end of last season, too. I notice Charlie is taking him out of any games where the Phils have a big lead late (though he was needed yesterday as it turned out). He is slumping, too, but Chase can be a streaky hitter. It's hard to take out your best overall player at this stage of the season where the Phils still have a chance, but he sure looks like he could use a day off.

2:53 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

I don't see any way Myers passes through waivers at this point. Thus, Gillick will have to wait until the offseason to make any attempt to move him. I believe I read this on here or another blog, but perhaps packaging him with Burrell would do the trick to be rid of them both. Wishful thinking, maybe?

2:54 PM  
Anonymous J. Weitzel said...

He does look tired. He should be. His season started in March during the WBC.

Nobody busts it harder than Chase, and the weight of the hitting streak undoubtedly has taken a toll. Unpopular as it might be, I would like to see Utley get at least one game off during this next series with Chicago. A four-game series on the road is a bear.

3:08 PM  
Anonymous Dick Richards said...

I think the jury is still out on Myers. Remember how when he first arrived in the bigs people compared both his stuff and his attitude to Schilling's? Remember also that Schill was pretty much of a pompous ass about taking his work seriously until Roger Clemens called him out and Johnny Podres showed him how to pitch? I think Myers could use a dose of the Clemens/Podres medicine.

P.S. I know, I know...Schill is still a pompous ass, but he does take his work seriously.

5:28 PM  
Blogger Tom Goodman said...

Dick: Schilling is worse than a pompous ass in my opinion. The trouble is that Myers has clearly never taken his job seriously. He was overweight last year by his own admission and now has some other excuses to offer - legs -- this season. He looks out of shape and pitches like a guy whose mechanics are being directly affected by his girth and lack of stamina. If he isn't even going to put in the work to remain physically prepared and if he clearly doesn't have the mental makeup (he isn't smart about anything I can determine), what are we left with? A guy who tries to get by on stuff...and does...every now and then.

5:32 PM  
Blogger Corey & Carson said...

I've read John Kruk's "I'm ain't no athlete lady" and he flaty points out that Schilling was a dipshit. He may be a great pitcher, but he's a dick. Myers may be just like him in that regard, but to trade him is a bit off in my opinion. With the state of pitching in MLB today and the price it costs to get a pitcher of Myers caliber, I can't believe I'd be trading him!

7:50 PM  
Anonymous RickSchuBlues said...

"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."

Well, there is hope. They did trade Padilla, after all. It just takes them a little while to admit they're wrong about a player.

Tom, I hope more than anything that you're right. As I said on BL, I'd rather see Burrell spend the rest of his career with the Phillies than have Myers spend one more year with them. Schilling at least worked hard to make himself successful. Brett Myers is lazy and repugnant.

8:57 PM  

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