In an off-the-cuff statement that lasted several minutes while sitting in the stands at Wrigley Field, the veteran lefthander said he felt “a little disheartened” and “a little bit like I’ve been mis-led” after the Phillies informed him that they were giving his spot in the rotation to Pedro Martinez.
“I most certainly do not want to be a distraction,” Moyer said. “I’m not happy with the decision the Phillies have made.”
With a 5.47 ERA and 1.508 WHIP through two-thirds of the season, should Moyer be surprised that he lost his spot in the rotation? Probably not.
Is the Phillies’ brass justified in demoting Moyer? Absolutely.
Is Moyer’s anger justified? Yes.
Aside from being the oldest player in Major League Baseball, and being a famously great teammate and pseudo-coach, Moyer is at the root of it all a human being. Any man who is told that he’s not good enough to do his job anymore should and most likely does feel emasculated. It’s not a stats thing. If Moyer studied his Baseball Reference page for a couple minutes, he’d probably agree with Ruben Amaro. But it doesn’t mean Moyer should lay down and take it.
As explained at The Good Phight, there are some economic factors that went into the decision-making as well. Moyer stands to make $250,000 for every successive ten innings he accumulates starting at 150, and he’s at 123 now. He has averaged about five and two-thirds innings per start, so he’d need about five more starts to reach the 150-inning mark. With this demotion, it’s highly unlikely — barring injuries or absolutely, stunningly-awful performances from Pedro Martinez — that he reaches those markers.
Now, by defending Moyer’s anger, I’m not criticizing Amaro’s decision. It was the right decision to make, aside from using a platoon with the #5 spot in the rotation, as I suggested at Baseball Daily Digest. Performance-wise and economics-wise, it puts the team in a better position to win.
In Boston, we saw a similar reaction to a veteran player getting pushed out of his role when the Red Sox released John Smoltz. Upon hearing the news, Smoltz apparently left the team without even clearing his locker. If Moyer and Smoltz weren’t upset, you’d have to call into question their spirit of competition; if they didn’t care, then what motivation was there prior?
I’m expecting this event to polarize Phillies fans and analysts alike, and that’s not going to be fun to read, listen, or watch because both sides are right.