In my last blog, I covered Randy Johnson, and his struggle towards 300 games. Another ancient lefty, Jamie Moyer, is stumbling towards his next milestone as well. As a 16 game winner in ’08, Moyer was far and away the most productive over-forty pitcher during the ’08 campaign. However, ’09 hasn’t been as kind to this former Oriole. When he next takes the mound, Jamie will do so with 249 career wins. As he approaches this milestone, his 3-2 record looks OK, but every other stat is just plain bad. Having allowed 10 homeruns in 6 starts and giving up 44 hits in just 31 innings, it’s no wonder Moyer sports an ERA of 7.26. Unfortunately, at 46-years-old, if this stretch continues much longer, I can’t believe the age issue isn’t going to be front and center. There are plenty of proven young guys who’ve struggled through the season’s first five weeks. Josh Beckett (6.42 ERA) John Lester (6.31) and Scott Kazmir (5.92) have all struggled mightily, but when in the prime of one’s career, as threes three are, people wonder when the effectiveness of these pitchers will return, not if it will return. Now that Mother’s Day has come and gone, I can’t help but wonder if Moyer will see Father’s Day, as a starter that is, if things don’t pick up rather quickly.
(As an aside, and going back to the Big Unit, did anyone notice that, sitting on 297 wins, if Randy would win his next two starts, his first shot at 300 would be an inter-league game in Seattle? That would be cool. He goes tonight against that Nats and Daniel Cabrera, so let’s just say he has a real good chance at 298)
Another guy who takes the mound tonight in need of a good outing is local boy Gavin Floyd. Floyd is an interesting case, made more interesting by his Maryland roots. Last season he irked many a Phillies fan. I heard more than one Philadelphia backer complain, something to the likes of “how can this guy go the American League and be good. When he was with us, he was awful.” Winning the World Series certainly calmed those complainers, but they do have a point. Pitchers are supposed to thrive in the National League and struggle in the American League. How did Floyd reverse this? Well, when you look at his beginning to this season, maybe he didn’t.
My brother passed on some nuggets of opinion during his career, a few of which I’ve come firmly to believe. One is, “If you see a proven big leaguer struggling for no apparent reason, he’s probably hurting and trying to play through it.” Any of us at WNST who’ve ever had a press credential and have walked into the clubhouse have seen players who are in the line-up every day, packed in more ice than a six-pack at a softball game. We assume everyone on the field is 100%, and nothing could be further from the truth. Maybe something like this is happening with some of the guys I mentioned earlier (Lester, Beckett, and Kazmir).
Another nugget has more to do with guys like Gavin. Mike used to say, “Lot’s of guys have one good year. One good year doesn’t make you good.” When you look at Mr. Floyd’s numbers, he certainly hasn’t followed up his ’08 success with and such luck in ’09. As he takes the hill tonight, he does so carrying a 6.29 ERA. While being on the opposite end of the age spectrum from Moyer, Floyd still probably won’t get as much rope as a struggling veterans would. He’s only had one good year. Everything else has been pretty bad. Many of us thought the proverbial light bulb came on for his last year. Maybe it did, and he’s just off to a slow start. Or, maybe it didn’t and ’08 was a fluke. Oriole fans can relate to the “one good year” theme. Rodrigo Lopez, Jose Mercedes, and Sidney Ponson, all looked like stars for six months. (actually, Rodrigo had two good years ’02 and ’04) I’m not sure this start qualifies as a big one for Gavin, but if he doesn’t start getting people out, he’s going to go to the mound very soon with his job on the line.
Now, one thing about the NBA. I know the Lakers dumped one last night, so much so that Magic Johnson ripped them up one side and down the other, but does any free-thinking American actually believe it won’t be a Lakers-Cavs final? If there’s any sport that will (wink-wink, nudge-nudge) gets the matchup they want, it’s the NBA. (Remember, the whole draft lottery sham. They still don’t pick the ping-pong balls live. They do it behind closed doors and just open envelopes on camera. Shouldn’t that be a red flag for something) Anyway, Kobe versus Lebron in the Finals is what David Stern wants, and that’s exactly what Devid Stern will get, even if he has to go all Prison Break on Tim Donaghy. If you would like to watch between now and the Finals, be my guest, but it’s all window dressing.