Checking in with Brett Myers

Brett Myers is forever emblazoned in Phillies history as the pitcher who took a line drive off of his coconut and pitched a complete game anyway got the final out of the regular season in 2007, clinching the team’s first post-season berth since 1993. His tenure in Philadelphia was a rocky ride from the expectations as a first-round draft pick in 1999 (in the same class as Josh Beckett, Ben Sheets, and Barry Zito), to out-dueling Mark Prior in his Major League debut in 2002, to the domestic abuse incident in June 2006, to a switch from starter to closer and a shoulder injury in ’07, to a torn labrum in ’09, to his first taste of free agency during last off-season.

Myers’ pitching career as a Phillie is best summed up as “what could have been”. There was never any doubt that he had the stuff to be one of the dominant pitchers in baseball, but he was never able to put it together after a terrific 2005 season. He had displayed good stuff and more importantly good control during his four-year stint in the Minors from ages 18 to 21. However, in his first three years in the Majors, his strikeout rate left a lot to be desired and he had trouble finding the plate at times.

In 2005, he led an otherwise uninspiring starting rotation in ERA and found a way to miss bats when he added a cutter to his repertoire. He averaged under six strikeouts per nine innings in ’04; that number ballooned to 8.7 in ’05. Additionally, he finally fell under three walks per nine. His 3.43 SIERA was 11th-best in the Majors among pitchers who accrued at least 150 innings of work. Phillies fans were envisioning a one-two punch of Myers and mega-prospect Cole Hamels for years to come.

While Myers kept the success going in 2006, a shaky first three starts of the ’07 season and the health of Tom Gordon led the Phillies to convert Myers into a set-up guy and eventually a closer. He thrived out of the bullpen, compiling a 2.61 ERA while converting six saves and three holds in 18 appearances before a late May shoulder injury sidelined him for two months. He returned at the end of July and it was as if nothing had changed. He made 30 more appearances, compiling a 3.03 ERA and converting 15 saves. The season culminated in storybook fashion when Myers threw his signature knee-buckling curve to freeze Wily Mo Pena for the last out of Game #162. Myers tossed his glove as high into the air as he could, for the Phillies were going to the playoffs.

The Phillies were quickly dispatched by the eventual NL Champion Colorado Rockies in the Division Series, but the Phillies would make a return to the post-season. Myers did not play an integral role in the team’s regular season success, but he made a name for himself in the playoffs for peculiar reasons. Against the vaunted C.C. Sabathia of the Milwaukee Brewers, Myers saw a whopping 19 pitches in two at-bats. In the first at-bat, he drew a nine-pitch walk and was on base when Shane Victorino hit his never-to-be-forgotten grand slam over the left field fence. Myers flied out to right-center but not before forcing Sabathia to toss another ten pitches. In two at-bats, Myers by himself had forced Sabathia to throw what is about 20% of a typical pitcher’s workload.

Myers’ offensive prowess was on display in the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers as well. Against Chad Billingsley, Myers collected two hits in two at-bats and drove in three runs against the young right-hander. In his third at-bat against James McDonald, Myers weakly dribbled the ball down the third base line for his third hit of the game. In what would be his last hurrah as a Phillie, Myers tossed a quality start in Game 2 of the World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays.

2009 would prove to be a struggle as Myers battled injuries and ineffectiveness. In his ten starts before hitting the disabled list, Myers could only muster a 4.66 ERA. However, he worked extremely hard to return to full health and threw out of the bullpen in the final month of the season to mixed reviews. He also made two post-season appearances but was ineffective. Given his age, price, and history of inconsistency, the Phillies decided to part ways with Myers after the ’09 season.

Current Astros GM and former Phillies GM Ed Wade picked up Myers on a one-year deal. The 29-year-old right-hander has been one of the very few bright spots on a depressing Houston roster. Myers currently sports a 3.67 ERA and, while he doesn’t have the strikeout stuff he used to have with the Phillies, he has been inducing ground balls at a more frequent rate — not a bad idea with the Crawford Boxes within arm’s reach. He has been a workhorse for the Astros, averaging nearly seven innings per start. It is quite depressing to think about just how bad the 14-26 Astros would be without Myers.

Back in January, I wrote about why, despite Myers’ domestic abuse incident and public tirades, I would be rooting for Brett in his new hometown of Houston. I’m glad to report that he’s doing just fine. And hey, since there has been talk about the Astros cutting salary in the form of trading Roy Oswalt and/or Lance Berkman, maybe the Phillies could re-acquire Myers. He is earning only $3.1 million on the season, which would mean that he would cost between $1-2 million for the remainder of 2010. He also has a cheap $2 million mutual option for 2011. Myers would also be cheap in the terms of talent relinquished in a trade, since the Astros will need to require Myers’ new suitor to take on salary.

Leave a Reply

*

10 comments

  1. Dash Treyhorn

    May 20, 2010 12:01 PM

    Nice work, Bill.

    I wouldn’t say that Brett didn’t play an integral role in the 2008 team’s regular season success, though. His horrific first half tends to take center stage, but after he returned from his stint in the minors, he went 7-4 with a 3.06 ERA and was toe-to-toe with Hamels.

    One start that stands out was the four-game finale at home against the Milwaukee Brewers, who held a one game lead in the WC. Myers took the hill on three days rest and proceeded to throw a complete game in just 95 pitches to complete the sweep and move the Phils into a tie with the Brew-Crew for the WC.

    That having been said, I’m glad that see Brett succeeding on a team that is otherwise abysmal. Hopefully the trade deadline sees Brett playing for a team that has a shot at the playoffs.

  2. E

    May 20, 2010 12:35 PM

    This doesn’t belong here, but is too funny not to post.

    Amongst the whole Hanley Saga, I’ve come across several philly fans who have said something along the lines of :

    ” See this is why sabr people don’t understand baseball. no one in their right mind would take hanley over rollins, I don’t care what the stats say. Hanley is a guy who ruins teams. There is no stats for all the little things Rollins brings, and Hanley does not.”

  3. David

    May 20, 2010 04:28 PM

    @ E

    Hanley’s recent antics help make my “Utley winning MVP” at 20:1 wager on BoDog a whole lot stronger. Right or wrong, voters won’t give Hanley the time of day this season.

    Now if only Pujols could sprain an ankle, I might be in business…

    Bill, are you assuming that Ed Wade won’t be a buyer at the trade deadline? He’s just one Turk Wendell away from a playoff run.

  4. E

    May 20, 2010 06:05 PM

    David,

    Joey Votto has to be the favorite as of now. Dude has been mashing.I hope Utley gets his though, he has been buried under howard and rollins long enough. I think his lack of awards is going to seriously hurt his HOF status.I hope not though.

    Reminds me on Mark Ellis. Been an awesome 2b for so many years, but no GG to boot. A true shame.

  5. Jack

    May 21, 2010 05:56 AM

    @E:
    “I hope Utley gets his though, he has been buried under howard and rollins long enough. I think his lack of awards is going to seriously hurt his HOF status.I hope not though.

    Reminds me on Mark Ellis. Been an awesome 2b for so many years, but no GG to boot. A true shame.”

    What on earth are you talking about E? Utley has received votes for MVP every year since ’05, he’s been an All-Star every year since ’06 and he’s won the Silver Slugger every year since ’06. This doesn’t include all of the “non-official” awards like Sporting News Top 10 player, etc.

    As for his HOF status he “only” needs to do what he’s been doing for the next 5 years what’s he’s been doing for the last 5 years: putting up >.900 OPS numbers year after year.

    There are only two people right now in the history of MLB who played 900+ games at 2b and have a career OPS over .900. One of them is named Rogers Hornsby, the other is named Chase Utley.

    HOF debate over.

  6. e

    May 21, 2010 10:48 AM

    Jack,

    you think HOF voters use OPS over MVP awards?

  7. Jack

    May 21, 2010 11:27 AM

    @e:
    You’re right, but here’s my (hopeful) take:
    First, whether Utley ever gets an MVP, so many mainstream sportwriters will have voted for him to win awards over the years (Silver Slugger, MVP votes, perhaps even a Gold Glove someday) that it’ll make up for the lack of winning the MVP outright.

    Second, I think things are beginning to change. I don’t know whether the Bill Conlins of this world are retiring/dying off or more sportswriters are starting to come around or a combination of both, but views are changing. For example, Grienke and Lincecum won CYs last year despite the fact that other pitchers had more wins and pitched for playoff teams. Also more sportswriters seem to be referring to saber stuff more often in their articles.

    Third, thanks to the vast resources of the Internet, it is now easier for Phillies fans to find out where HOF voters live. But hopefully, they’ll do the right thing on their own.

  8. shane

    May 23, 2010 10:27 AM

    isn’t it a little early to talk about chase utley being in the hall? his career isn’t even 4000 at bats old yet…

  9. gambling systems

    July 10, 2010 01:25 AM

    Good info man. I love casino gambling but never bet more than I can afford to lose. I like using systems.

Next ArticleThe Big Truck Gets Big Outs