Rockies designate lefty Moyer for assignment
At 49 years old, 25-year veteran hurler could be facing retirement
DENVER -- Feeling 49-year-old Jamie Moyer could no longer fool hitters with his change-of-speed pitches, Rockies manager Jim Tracy announced on Wednesday that Moyer was being designated for assignment.But as he has so many times over a career that began June 16, 1986, Moyer believes he still can pitch. Moyer said he will attend his son's high school graduation on Saturday, then watch him play in a California state high school tournament game. But what isn't on Moyer's agenda is retirement. The Rockies have 10 days to trade or release Moyer. The message that Moyer wants teams to know is that he is available, and he believes he still has more to offer after 638 starts and 269 wins. Moyer was 2-5 with a 5.70 ERA in 10 starts with the Rockies. "With any pitcher, consistency is the most important thing," Moyer said. "I haven't done that at this point, but I believe that I can find that." But the Rockies, who called up right-hander Carlos Torres from Triple-A Colorado Springs and are likely to start him in Moyer's place on Friday, couldn't wait. The Rockies went into Wednesday night's game against the Astros 19-29, fourth in the National League West and 12½ games behind the first-place Dodgers. Moyer missed last year with Tommy John surgery on his left elbow and spent the season working as an analyst for ESPN. When he decided to rehab his elbow, he made it known he wanted to pitch again. The Rockies signed him to a Minor League contract, and he made the squad out of Spring Training. Moyer's two wins put him in the record book as the oldest pitcher in Major League history to earn a victory. His win over the D-backs on May 16 came at age 49 and 180 days.
But he yielded nine hits, a monster Giancarlo Stanton home run and six walks against the Marlins in his next start. On Sunday, he was touched for four home runs and seven runs in five innings in a loss to the Reds."He was up against the odds as of late," Tracy said. "There is no difference in the man, there's no difference in his will to compete. There is a difference in that the 82 or 83 mph that he had as a fastball had started to come back and get closer and closer to where some of his off-speed pitches were. There's very little variance between pitches. "I saw more seasoned Major League hitters that stood at home plate and were just looking for the ball. There was not a real concern anymore, from the standpoint of the variance of speeds." The Rockies placed Moyer between veteran Jeremy Guthrie and second-year man Juan Nicasio in their rotation, believing the pair would offer a buffer if Moyer didn't eat up large inning totals.
But Guthrie missed time with a shoulder injury and hasn't provided the innings the Rockies want and Nicasio, whose rookie year last season was ended early with a frightening neck injury, has struggled for consistency.
Add to that the injury that has kept Jhoulys Chacin out since May 1 and the youthful struggles of the rest of the staff, and the Rockies have a rotation that has been a major weakness.Offensively, the Rockies' lineup has put them in position to win, but no lineup can make up for the pitching. So something had to give. Tracy could be patient with the younger pitchers, but doing it with a pitcher who would be better off at the back of a rotation of a flourishing club did not make sense. "All you have to do is go back and look at the number of games that I've walked out there [to change pitchers] before the fifth inning is even completed, yet we're up there in the eighth or ninth inning with tying runs standing at home plate, bases loaded or the winning run is on the bases with a guy taking an at-bat," Tracy said. "That's happened time and again with this club." Moyer was thankful for the chance with the Rockies. "I enjoyed my time here in Denver," Moyer said. "Dan [O'Dowd, the Rockies' general manager] gave me a great opportunity to come to Spring Training, which I'm awfully thankful for. Jim stuck his neck out for me, gave me an opportunity. That's all I could ask for. "Unfortunately, I didn't hold up my end of the bargain. That's what happens in this business."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.