When the season ended and new Philadelphia Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg was looking for a pitching coach, the name of Jamie Moyer came up.
No pitcher was more respected by current members of the staff than former teammate Moyer — not even accomplished pitchers like 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels and one-time 22-game winner Cliff Lee. Now that the Phillies have hired Moyer as a broadcaster and not a pitching coach, it could turn out to be a stroke of genius for frugal GM Ruben Amaro Jr.
That’s because Moyer is in the Phillies camp now in Clearwater, Fla., ostensibly researching for his new role as a broadcaster on 100 of the team’s 162 games. While there, though, players like Lee and Hamels will no doubt pick Moyer’s brain for helpful hints here and there. Bob McClure may be the actual pitching coach, but he does not possess the street cred Moyer has in his back pocket. Lee, Hamels and even Roy Halladay often sought Moyer’s counsel and could be seen in the outfield before each game talking about pitching while Moyer literally went through the motions while gripping a baseball.
No pitcher in baseball history got more out of his arm than Moyer, and he did it more on guile and smarts than he did with the fastball. In fact, even as a youngster, Moyer’s fastball topped out at 87 mph. For most of his 30s and 40s, he could bring it no higher than the low 80s. Moyer did what he was able to do by setting up a hitter. One inside pitch here, one outside pitch there would be part of his routine.
Moyer also studied the habits of each individual hitter like he was preparing for a SAT test. If a player like Ryan Howard bit on the low-and-away curve, like he does, Moyer would feed him a steady diet of low-and-away curves. Low-ball hitters like Chase Utley would never get a low ball.
It’s simple stuff, but no one had it down like Moyer, who won 269 games (exactly 201 more games than McClure did) as a major-league pitcher despite being only recruited out of high school in suburban Philadelphia by only Temple and St. Joseph’s.
Whatever knowledge Moyer can bring to the Phillies’ staff is a plus. Just having him around in any capacity is going to help, and if there’s an on-field opening, he will not have to go far to slide right into that spot.
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