Tag:Jamie Moyer
Posted on: August 13, 2009 6:17 pm

Taking Chemistry 101 with White Sox, Phillies

Those who believe in clubhouse chemistry now have two riveting experiments to watch in these final six weeks: Alex Rios and his Chicago White Sox teammates, and Pedro Martinez and his Philadelphia Phillies teammates.

Both situations involve winning teams with high expectations, a new player with baggage and current players who are popular in the clubhouse and stand to lose playing time.

It is widely believed that Rios' arrival will punch Jermaine Dye's ticket out of town. Dye, a free agent this winter, Rios, Carlos Quentin and Scott Podsednik equal four players for three spots. So? Manager Ozzie Guillen's job just became ever-more challenging. And unless there's mega-understanding, somebody's not going to be happy with each new lineup card posting.

Between general manager Kenny Williams' uber-aggressiveness and Guillen's take-no-crap manner, these are just the guys to handle it. What these Sox have done so well over the years is put winning first, rather than cater to personalities, and that's not changing now.

"That's what we do here," Guillen told Chicago reporters this week. "We hurt your feelings? That's easy. Call your agent, your agent will call [general manager] Kenny Williams and then Kenny will do something about it."

The biggest key might be how much of an effort Rios makes. In Toronto, several sources say, he rubbed several teammates the wrong way with his disinterest in working too hard.

Meantime, Martinez's arrival has pushed veteran Jamie Moyer to the bullpen. Moyer is not a happy camper, and Pedro, historically a diva, could cause a clubhouse rift down the stretch. Especially if he isn't winning. Moyer, integral to the Phillies' World Series title last year, is popular with teammates and is viewed as a mentor by younger Phils (which, yes, pretty much includes all of them being that Moyer is 46).

The prediction here is that, as usual, it will come down to performance and wins in the end. If Rios hits and the Sox win, the rotating outfield quartet will be all smiles. If he doesn't and they don't, it could get ugly.

In Philly, same thing. Pedro's act always has tilted toward the endearing when he's winning, and toward the grating when he's not. His debut with the Phils, a 12-5 win over the Cubs, was a start. If he improves from there, the Phillies' callous shoving aside of Moyer will be far more easily overlooked in the clubhouse.

And if not, Pedro may not be around for the long haul, anyway. And maybe Moyer makes a triumphant, late-season return to the rotation.

At the very least, both situations have the chance to work out splendidly ... or to turn catastrophic. Either way, it'll be must-see TV.


How good are the New York Yankees' chances of playing in another World Series?

History tells us this: Dating back to 1995, eight of the 14 teams that owned the best record in baseball on Aug. 13 have advanced to that year's World Series (and four of those teams won).

The eight best record on Aug. 13/World Series teams: 2007 Boston Red Sox, 2006 Detroit Tigers, 2005 Chicago White Sox, 2004 St. Louis Cardinals, 1999 New York Yankees, 1998 New York Yankees, 1996 Atlanta Braves and 1995 Cleveland Indians.

The four World Series winners: 2007 Red Sox, 2005 White Sox, the 1999 Yankees and the '98 Yankees.

The Yankees, by the way, are the seventh different team over the past seven seasons to own the best record in baseball on Aug. 13.

Likes: Caught The Bob Dylan Show -- Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Dylan -- in Lake Elsinore, Calif., on Wednesday night and it was fantastic. Great venue -- at The Diamond, home of the Lake Elsinore Storm, Single A affiliate of the San Diego Padres -- gorgeous night and great sound. Willie Nelson opened, playing for about an hour, and the man may be 76, but his voice is timeless. Of course, his classics Whiskey River and On the Road Again were great, and a couple of Hank Williams numbers mid-show, Jambalaya and Hey Good Lookin', were really cool. Mellencamp rocks, though one of his highlights was an acoustic version of Small Town. He brought out his 14-year-old son, Speck, to play guitar on his final number, The Authority Song, and Mellencamp teased him pretty good ("Now you know you're not in the band, right?"). Pink Houses, Crumblin' Down, Rain on the Scarecrow and a couple of his new songs were stellar. Then, last came the master. And while I've heard Dylan can be maddeningly inconsistent, and barely able to be understood sometimes when he sings, I've gotta say, he and his five-man band were far better than I expected. There isn't any interplay with the audience, but that's fine. Watching Dylan was the same feeling I got when I was in a baseball clubhouse when Muhammad Ali entered a couple of springs ago. To me, there are only a very small handful of icons that can make you sit back and go, 'Whoa', and the reclusive Dylan -- like Ali -- is one. He killed on Thunder on the Mountain and Summer Nights, among many others. All Along the Watchtower, his show closer, was terrific. The Times, They Are A-Changing was barely recognizable until about a third of the way in, but it was great. Two songs from the new album, Beyond Here Lies Nothin' and Jolene, were highlights. All in all, when you can catch three Hall of Famers in one venue on one night, that's a pretty darn good night. ... Oh yeah, and there was a fourth Hall of Famer, too: Basketball legend -- and former Grateful Dead groupie -- Bill Walton was rockin' in the standing room area in front of the stage, about 20 feet to my right. Looked like people were leaving him alone and letting him enjoy the show.

Dislikes: A Cubs fan throws beer on Shane Victorino during Wednesday night's game? All these years later, and Lee Elia is still right. ... Can we just get past the Aug. 17 signing deadline so we don't have to listen to more of the Stephen Strasburg negotiations. Every baseball man I talk to expects, with Scott Boras as the adviser, that it will go right up until the midnight EDT deadline on the 17th. ... Aw, they sold out of the cool Bob Dylan Show concert poster I was going to pick up on my way out of the Lake Elsinore ballpark at Wednesday night's show. It would have looked so good on my office wall, too.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I'm listening to Billy Joe Shaver
"And I'm reading James Joyce
"Some people they tell me
"I got the blood of the land in my voice"

-- Bob Dylan, I Feel a Change Comin' On

Posted on: June 5, 2009 2:02 pm

Moyer: 250 and counting

While Randy Johnson basks in the afterglow of career win No. 300, the only pitcher in the majors older than the Big Unit heads to the mound in Dodger Stadium this evening in pursuit of career win No. 251.

No small feat, either, for Philadelphia's Jamie Moyer, 46, who appears close to getting back on track after a miserable beginning to the season, pitching reasonably well in his past three starts (1-2, 4.00 ERA).

And with the streaking Phillies reeling off a seven-game winning streak and opening up a four-game NL East lead over the New York Mets, there isn't quite the sense of urgency that there was earlier when it seemed as if the roof were caving in on the soft-tossing left-hander.

You don't pitch this long in the majors, though, without developing a philosophical side. And while he's confident that the wreckage of his first seven starts (8.15 ERA) is behind him, Moyer says he never reached panic time.

"It's happened to me before in my career and it's probably happened to everyone on the field," Moyer says. "Obviously, you want to minimize the struggles. For some, it's knocked them out of the game. For some, it's been a character-builder.

"You struggle for a reason. Sometimes it's unknown."

Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee has at least an idea as to why the struggles.

"Jamie likes to tinker a lot," Dubee says, smiling. "Some of the tinkering led to difficulties with his arm angle and with his arm slot.

"But (tinkering) is probably why Jamie Moyer has been around for 23 years. He's always looking for some kind of edge."

He also spent a lot of time looking at an unusual career souvenir at home in Bradenton, Fla., over the winter.

Remember those television shots and photos of Moyer carrying the dug-up pitching rubber around like a bagged hunting trophy in the immediate aftermath of the Phillies' World Series triumph last October?

Well, the pitching rubber -- which measures 18 inches long and some four-to-six inches deep -- is displayed on a shelf in the bedroom of he and wife Karen at home.

"It's pretty cool," he says. "I have it in the bedroom so I can look at it when I go to sleep and again when I wake up in the morning. It brings back a lot of good memories."

He has a second pitching rubber, dug up after his Seattle Mariners tied a major-league record with their 116th regular season victory back in 2001, on display at the house the family still owns in Seattle.

Likes: Saturday afternoon games. ... The days when pitchers were men and, doggone it, stayed on the mound -- like this old game from Monroe, Mich., in 1968. ... The opening sketch from Conan O'Brien's first Tonight Show on Monday, was classic. He "realized" he forgot to move from New York to Los Angeles, and when he couldn't catch a cab outside of his New York office building, he started running and ran all the way west to Los Angeles. Very funny. Letterman is still where it's at, though. ... New album from Jimmy Buffett on the way this fall, Buffet Hotel. That's always good news. ...

Dislikes: One day very soon, the Yankees are going to figure out a way to install each of their exalted players inside of a personalized, portable, plastic bubble so that they can move about without ever having to suffer the indignity of coming into contact with common, everyday street trash like you ... and the fans who actually, uh, support them. The latest evidence.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Thirteen's my lucky number
"To you it means stay inside
"Black cat done crossed my path
"No reason to run and hide
"You're looking through a cracked mirror
"No one really knows the reason why
"Your enemies are gettin' nearer
"Gonna hang down your head and cry"

-- Social Distortion, Bad Luck

Posted on: December 12, 2008 7:27 pm

Phillies bag Raul Ibanez

Moving to fill big holes in the middle of their lineup and left field, the world champion Philadelphia Phillies have reached an agreement with free agent Raul Ibanez on a three-year, $31 million deal, according to sources.

The deal is pending a physical examination.

The Phillies had targeted the now former Seattle Mariner since parting ways with slugger Pat Burrell. Ibanez, whose long list of suitors included the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Angels, New York Mets and Atlanta Braves, among others, hit .293 in 2008 with a .358 on-base percentage, .472 slugging percentage, 23 homers and 110 RBI.

Though he's 36, he plays younger than his years.

"He's everything you want as far as professionalism, he hits 20 homers consistently, 80-to-100 RBIs," one major-league scout said. "Five years ago, people thought that maybe he should stop playing the outfield. But he's continued to work at it to where he makes most of the routine plays.

"Plus, he's a great guy. Just a super human being. He can hit anywhere in the lineup, three, four or five, and he's a tough out."

The Phillies are hoping that perhaps Ibanez brings another benefit, too. He's good friends with pitcher Jamie Moyer dating back to their days as teammates in Seattle. The Phillies still haven't signed Moyer because of a disagreement over salary. Now that they've got a left fielder and have a firm grasp of how much is left in their budget, and given the presence of Ibanez, they're hoping they can reach an agreement with the lefty.


Posted on: October 23, 2008 12:01 am

Phillies take Game 1

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The first World Series game in Tampa Bay franchise history, and wouldn't it figure that in the majors' most unusual ballpark, a most unusual occurrence would result?

It did not involve catwalks, doglegs or funky artificial turf. Instead, the Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays produced this bizarre tale: The Phillies went 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position and still won Game 1, 3-2.

A productive first inning, in which Chase Utley followed a one-out walk by rocketing a home run to right against Rays starter Scott Kazmir, gave the Phillies liftoff.

Tacking on a run in the fourth when Shane Victorino scored on Carlos Ruiz's ground ball to shortstop gave the Phillies the final breathing room they would need.

Twenty-four-year-old starter Cole Hamels, in his World Series debut, did the rest. Well, most of the rest. Mixing in crisp curves, well-placed high-80s fastballs and the poise of a seasoned October man, Hamels limited Tampa Bay to two runs and five hits over seven innings.

Then manager Charlie Manuel went to his blueprint, employing set-up man Ryan Madson to work the eighth and closer Brad Lidge in the ninth.

So Philadelphia got a game it had to win.

And yes, even though it was only Game 1, you read that right.

The rotation matchup clearly favored the Phillies in Game 1 -- Hamels is that good. The rest of the way, not so much. Maybe you'd take Brett Myers over James Shields in Game 2 -- but that's iffy, and only if Myers is on top of his game. Matt Garza gets the nod over Jamie Moyer in Game 3, and Andy Sonnanstine vs. Joe Blanton is, at worst, a draw in Game 4.

None of this is to say that the Phillies can't, or won't, win with those matchups. Who knows, maybe they'll run the table and make it a short series.

If they don't win when Hamels pitches, it makes it that much more difficult, is all.
So they did win. And for a team that hadn't played a game in a week, a team surrounded by questions of whether it would be rusty, this was a very good start.


Posted on: October 7, 2008 7:57 pm

Phillies set NLCS rotation

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Phillies will stay with what got them to this point when the National League Championship Series opens here on Thursday evening: Left-hander Cole Hamels will start Game 1, followed by right-hander Brett Myers, lefty Jamie Moyer and righty Joe Blanton, according to pitching coach Rich Dubee.

No official word yet on the Dodgers, who were traveling and expected to arrive later Tuesday night. They're set up to begin with the same three starters who pitched them to a sweep of the Chicago Cubs in the divisional series: Right-handers Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsley and Hiroki Kuroda.

It is expected that Dodgers manager Joe Torre will leave those three in place and go to a four-man rotation in the best-of-seven NLCS. Assuming he does, he and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt must decide on a No. 4 starter, which probably will come down to left-hander Clayton Kershaw or right-hander Greg Maddux.

Based on how the two pitched down the stretch, as well as on the chance to slot a lefty in against a potent Phillies lineup that includes MVP candidate Ryan Howard, it is expected that Kershaw will get the nod as the Game 4 starter.

As for the Phillies, who ranked fourth in the NL with a 3.88 ERA this season, the current alignment leaves them very well-balanced between right- and left-handed starters as well as relatively hard-throwers (Myers, Blanton), a change-up specialist (Hamels) and a soft-tosser (Moyer).

"We're comfortable the way it is," Dubee said. "You start flipping it around, and then somebody is going to have 10 days off (between starts), and that's not good."

Philadelphia's starting pitchers ranked fourth in innings pitched among NL rotations (966 2/3) and ranked second in quality starts (88).



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