Between the time 49-year-old Jamie Moyer requested his release from the Baltimore Orioles and recently signed with the Toronto Blue Jays, there was some buzz that the former Phillie could return for one last hurrah. Moyer, of course, spent time with the Phillies between 2006-10, posting a 4.55 ERA. Moyer missed all of 2011 before signing with the Colorado Rockies in January. The veteran never found his groove, making ten starts to the tune of a 5.70 ERA before he was released.
Even when he was healthy, he was never all that productive. Sure, his 3.71 ERA in 2008 was great, but it was an obvious outlier as it was the first time since 2003 he had posted an ERA below 4.25. That ’08 season was sandwiched by a 5.01 ERA in ’07 and 4.94 in ’09. Moyer is, more than almost anyone else in baseball, very reliant on the defenders behind him converting batted balls into outs. Between 2007-12 among pitchers with at least 700 innings pitched (starting in at least 95% of appearances), only 12 pitchers have struck out fewer batters per nine innings than Moyer.
That is not a list of names that gets you excited about baseball. Perhaps most importantly, though, is that Moyer’s production is easily replicated by the veterans in Triple-A such as Scott Elarton, or the younger players like Tyler Cloyd and Austin Hyatt. Since you know what you’re going to get out of Moyer, why not roll the dice with someone who has paid his dues in the system? The best case scenario is that you get rewarded with a breakout like Kyle Kendrick in 2007; the worst case scenario is that you get a Moyer-esque performance anyway.
The other former Phillie that has appeared on the radar is Brad Lidge, recently designated for assignment by the Washington Nationals. As he often did with the Phillies, Lidge battled injuries and ineffectiveness in his short stint with the Nats, appearing in only 11 games and posting a 9.64 ERA. In his 9.1 innings, he struck out 10 but also walked 11. He has never been a maven of control, walking about 12 percent of the batters he faced while with the Phillies between 2008-11.
For as bad as the Phillies’ bullpen has been, the one thing they have been doing right is avoiding the free passes. Their combined 8.9 percent walk rate is tied with the San Francisco Giants for the fourth-lowest rate in the National League. As they also have the fourth-highest fly ball rate at 36.7 percent, adding Lidge’s lack of control to the mix would make for some disastrous scenarios (13 of the 23 home runs Phillies relievers have allowed have been with the bases empty). And, as with Moyer, Lidge doesn’t add anything that the Phillies can’t already get from within their Minor League system. Lidge’s high-strikeout, high-walk approach can be replicated by Phillippe Aumont, for instance.
Moyer and Lidge were certainly big pieces of the puzzle back in 2008 as they helped the Phillies end their 28-year playoff drought, but they both individually had fluky outstanding seasons that year. In the time since, they have shown that when they are able to consistently stay on the 25-man roster, they are merely replacement-level players. As old and injury-prone former Phillies come back through town looking for work, the only response necessary is a simple “no, thank you”.