Moyer, the home starter
Dave and I have been kicking this around on our brief, whirlwind tour of Puget Sound-area ballparks: bring Moyer back next year, but make him a home-only starter.
Home 2.69 ERA, 67 IP, 3 HR, 17 BB, 37K
Away 7.09 ERA, 45 IP, 7 HR, 18 BB, 24K
It’s a relatively recent phenomenon. Three year splits aren’t that far off what you’d expect from park effects (3.77 v 4.07, 337 v 311 IP, 46 v 45 HR, 82 v 97 BB, 210 v 191 K). Even 2004’s splits aren’t that bad.
And ordinarily, I’d point to his one-year split on balls in play: at Safeco, he’s been much better off than on the road. It’s a fluke.
The argument I’m entertaining, though, is that Moyer’s using his defense, which is extremely well-suited for Safeco, and the particular average-punishing (and home run-containing) characteristics of that park to succeed here where he cannot on the road.
Proving or disproving this requires detailed splits I don’t have access to, and I’d probably want to see a lot of hit charts, play-by-play, etc. Oh, if only I were a highly paid consultant for some major league team.
But say you buy it, for a second. It then becomes worthwhile to make Moyer a weird offer. If he’s willing, make him a home starter. Take a flyer on some modest amount of money, for which you schedule him to only start in Safeco Field. Like Houston was trying to do with Clemens, you schedule his starts around homestands, let him stay home and get light, scheduled work in on the side when the team’s on the road (which, obviously, will require some doing).
If it works, you might get half a season of the good Moyer (and a particularly well-rested one, at that), soaking up around twenty starts, and on the road you could even use a long relief/spot starter guy out of the pen to make the mid-series start if it came to that. Looking at the schedule, you can start to see how this might work.
I acknowledge immediately that it’s unlikely to work — Moyer doesn’t have any career milestones that are going to make or break a Hall of Fame case next year (one of x pitchers to record 1,000 strikeouts after age 34…) and if he wanted to start, there might be a team more willing to give him a shot at a steady starting rotation spot. And it’s a roster hassle, requiring the team really work the schedule, and it requires a flexible manager.
And yet… I kept thinking about it. Moyer would get to hang around Seattle, not putting in the brutal travel the team endures, he’d get to pitch in an environment where he’s comfortable, in front of a stellar defense, if it works he looks even better in the twilight of his career (and if it fails… heck, he’s 43). The team takes a wacky gamble that helps a really shaky rotation next year if it works, and at the very least, gives Moyer a chance to bow out as a Mariner, where he’s found the greatest success.
(yes, comments are off, and please don’t respond by throwing off-topic stuff into other threads)