With the Colorado Rockies (21-29) facing one of their slowest starts in franchise history, a tough decision was forced upon the club on Wednesday. 49-year-old starting pitcher Jamie Moyer was relieved of his duties after posting a 2-5 record with a 5.70 ERA.
The 24-year veteran has put together an unbelievable career that includes 269 victories, which ranks 35th in MLB history and a respectable ERA of 4.25. However, after starting 2012 with four consecutive solid starts, he has tumbled. Moyer has allowed 50 hits, 28 runs and nine home runs since April 29th with perhaps his worst effort coming four days ago in a home run derby outing against the Cincinnati Reds (seven runs allowed on four home runs).
Even with the obvious failure from Moyer on the mound, this wasn’t an easy decision. He brought experience and heart to a young Rockies team, and inspired many fans by setting the mark for oldest MLB pitcher to record a victory. There are very few men who love the game as much as Jamie Moyer and that was always evident in his preparation and effort.
But, set aside your sentiments for a moment and think about this move logistically. It is the perfect move for Colorado in every way. With the numbers I mentioned above, what exactly did Moyer bring to the table in terms of winning baseball games? Being a nice guy and a mentor can only go so far if you are not performing on the field. The Rockies are amongst the league’s worst teams, so a pitcher on the verge of retiring brings very little benefit.
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To understand why this move was absolutely necessary, think about it in a couple of ways. First, let’s pretend that Colorado continues this horrid season for a moment — again, we’re just pretending. Building for the future would be the biggest concern in that situation, and obviously Moyer is not a piece for the long-term. So, with him off the roster, the Rockies regain some flexibility in the young arms that they can use at the big league level. The season becomes less about success and more about providing the experience for the guys that will anchor the rotation for the next few years — Christian Friedrich, Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, ect.
Or, let’s say this current four-game winning streak isn’t fool’s gold and that the new version of the Blake Street Bombers are finally catching fire. In this situation it still makes sense to dispose of Moyer. Sure, you lose a veteran presence, but don’t forget that Jorge De La Rosa is making his way back to the MLB as we speak. Now, there’s no guarantee that he will be what he once was, but there’s simply no chance that he has an ERA above five; he’s an instant upgrade.
Basically, what I’m saying is that regardless of circumstance, Colorado had to make a move. Their pitching staff is currently ranked near the bottom of the league in every statistical category, which can be blamed in some ways on the work of Moyer. I understand that almost every guy on the staff has struggled, but most of the others have time to improve. In fact, they are projected to grow as the year progresses. Moyer, on the other hand, is digressing. Every sign points to a monumental collapse if the Rockies allow him to pitch an entire season at Coors Field.
This move isn’t all about negatives though. As I’ve mentioned, Colorado has to be ecstatic about the opportunity to try other arms in the starting rotation. And, conversely, Moyer (who claims he will not retire) now has a chance to start over with a new club. We all saw flashes of excellence from him in early April, so I don’t believe it’s silly to think that he could get another big league job. Truly, if he ends up in a large ballpark, I think he could be a very successful bottom of the rotation pitcher.
For now, Josh Outman will take over the spot of Moyer in the Rockies rotation. He has an ERA over nine in his eight appearances this season, but in the past he did have a lot of success in a starting role. His first opportunity will come Friday in a pivotal matchup with the division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers. But, if it doesn’t work out, I assure you that Colorado has plenty of other options to work with to find some stability on the hill.