Monday, August 10, 2009

Week in Review 8/9, commentary on Jamie Moyer

What a difference the turning of a calendar makes. After an amazing July, where it looked like the Phightins were going to run away with the NL East, just 10 days in August and no it's a different story. After losing 3 of 4 in San Francisco, the Phillies cam back home to Philadelphia and opened up a short 6 game homestand against the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins.

Phillies lost the first game against the Rockies, but then we had some amazing pitching to close out the series. On Wednesday, J.A. Happ through a 4 hit Complete Game Shutout. Happ made it clear to everyone, that he belongs in the rotation and like most Phans, I want to see Happ stay in the rotation. Then on Thursday, Cliff Lee made his home debut in front of a sellout crowd at the final Business Persons Special of 2009. I was there and it was amazing see Lee pitch, 9 K's in just 7 innings.

After two great pitching performances, the Florida Marlins arrived in Philadelphia. For Florida, it was do or die time and Florida came to play. After two close games where the Phillies lost 3-2 and 6-4, the Phillies had their worst performance of the season that was filled with bad calls, bad plays and full of tension; and I was again in attendance. What a different game than the amazing game I saw on Thursday. Phillies pitching gave up a season high 19 hits. Jamie Moyer started the game and looked good through 4. Florida scattered hits against him but were unable to score. Then in the 5th, everything started to come crashing down. Florida scored three runs and took the lead and it just got worse from there. Moyer came out to pitch the 6th, but struggled to get an out and was pulled. Moyer was finished for the day, giving up 11 hits in 5 innings and 3 runs, 2 of which where earned. The Phillies were able to get out of the 6th unscathed as Tyler Walker shut the door and got Moyer out of his jam. Then the bottom of the 6th, the foundations for the tension that ensued was laid. With 2 outs and 2 men on, Ryan Howard stepped to the plate in a crucial at bat for the game. Howard has been struggling of late, as most of the Phillies lineup. Howard drew the count full and was rung up on a pitch that was clearly low and outside. Then in the top of the 7th, on a 0-2 from Rodrigo Lopez to former Phillie, Wes Helms, I saw something that I had never seen before. Homeplate Umpire, Ed Rapuano stepped out from behind homeplate and gestured to the field and threw out Shane Victorino. Rapuano after blowing the Howard strike out, called Lopez' 0-2 a ball and Victorino threw his arms in the air in a "Where was that pitch motion" and Rapuano took offense to it and threw Victorio out of the game. Shane went berserk. At first, I thought Rapuano had thrown out Jimmy Rollins, but after some confusion it was clear he was gesturing towards Shane. Shane was on fire, he sprinted in at full speed from centerfield and b-lined it at Rapuano. Phillies' catcher, Paul Bako tried to get in the way of Shane, but was shoved out of the way. Shane was so enraged that it looked like Ryan Howard had to literally pick him up and take him to the dugout to avoid a suspension.

After that, the Phillies came unglued and gave up 6 runs in the 7th and two more in the 9th. In a weird move, Manuel brought in Brad Lidge in the 9th with the Phillies down 9-3. Lidge in a non save situation gave up a home run to Helms. Lidge who has struggled this year, gave up 3 runs on 3 hits. Perhaps, Charlie thought Lidge needed to work through his problems, but giving up a home run to Helms probably didn't help.

Following the game, many were thinking, did we just witness Jamie Moyer's last start in a Phillies Uniform. Despite Moyer's 10 wins, he has been mostly ineffective as of late. Right now, I am reading Phillies Confidential: the Untold Inside Story of the 2008 Champion Season, written by Gary Matthews and Scott Lauber. In the book, Matthews praises Moyer saying in reference to Moyer:
"Why can't he continue to pitch? For me, he can keep going until he isn't effective anymore, and he's showing no signs of that."

Well unfortunately, the signs are showing now. Moyer was huge for us in 2008, Moyer has been great for the Phillies, but as of late, he has been ineffective and for this team which is rich in starting pitching, it might be time for Jamie to step aside and perhaps consider a new role as pitching coach. Moyer's leadership was vital to this young Phillies pitching staff and he has help coach many of the younger guys, but perhaps, it is time to transition to a new role with the Phillies or another ballclub. As much as I don't want to see Moyer go, I think its time. We have the pieces to win another World Series and for right now, Moyer is hurting those chances.

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