Last month, I posted that Jamie Moyer had decided to pitch in the Winter Ball league despite being a 48 year old pitcher coming off of Tommy John surgery. Less than two weeks later, Moyer was shut down due another elbow injury that would likely require him to have a second Tommy John procedure. The writing appeared on the wall--Moyer was going to have to retire. Well, maybe that's not the case after all:
"My plans are to get healthy and continue pitching," Moyer said, adding that even if it's determined he needs Tommy John surgery, it "wouldn't change my plans."This guy just doesn't quit, does he? On one hand, I admire his tenacity. Moyer feels that he still has something to contribute at the Major League level, and he's not going to leave the game until he's completely emptied the tank. The odds are definitely stacked against him, but then again, it's always been that way for Moyer.
Every challenge he's faced, he's somehow managed to beat the odds. After being on five teams through his first ten seasons, Moyer finally achieved success at age 34 with the Mariners despite having an average fastball velocity that registered in the low-80s. As unlikely as his success was in 1997, it's what he did over the next 13 seasons that makes his story all the more improbable. Between 1997-2010, Moyer racked up a 195-125 record (including two 20 win seasons in 2001 and 2003), a 4.14 ERA (7% better than league average), a 2.35 K/BB ratio, and 34.3 WAR. While his performance dropped off after his peak (1997-2003), Moyer remainded a league average pitcher for the better part of the next five seasons, before settling in at the replacement level over the past two seasons. Overall, it's been a pretty impressive run for him.
That said, I can't help but feel sorry for him. Moyer's run as a useful Major League pitcher is over. His placement on the Phillies championship caliber roster in 2009 and 2010 was questionable at the time. Now, after one (and possibly a second) Tommy John surgery, it's not clear if he even deserves a roster spot on the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates. I hope Moyer hangs up the spikes. I prefer to remember him as the underdog that came out on top every time despite the odds.