Here’s a novel idea — Moyer as a home starter

DMZ · November 9, 2005 at 9:54 am · Filed Under Mariners 

John McGrath in the Tacoma News Tribune (“Whupping the Times in M’s coverage for a couple years now”) writes that the M’s should consider Moyer as a home starter.

An equally good case can be made that Moyer figures to be as reliable as anybody else in a rotation whose only certain returning starter is 19-year-old Felix Hernandez.

My case? Go halfway.

Instead of paying Moyer $8 million to start 32 games, pay him $4 million to start 16 home games. He could accompany the team on trips – and be available to pitch in a pinch – but he’d concentrate on taking the mound at Safeco Field.

There’s no precedent for this arrangement; the closest parallel might’ve been the weekend passes extended to players with domestic military commitments.

That’s crazy! Who would think of such a thing? Besides me and Dave back in July.

Anyway, I this is a good idea and if gets any traction from distribution in print, so be it.


41 Responses to “Here’s a novel idea — Moyer as a home starter”

  1. vj on November 9th, 2005 9:14 am


  2. Jimmie the Geek on November 9th, 2005 9:16 am

    I’ve already emailed him asking to at least give the USS Mariner crew credit for the idea, since you guys thought of it first. Stupid Tribune. :moon:


  3. Mike Snow on November 9th, 2005 9:20 am

    The real question is, could they get Hargrove to stick to the plan?

  4. Evan on November 9th, 2005 9:32 am

    I still love the idea, and with some rotation juggling you could probably get 20 starts out of him at home. And maybe one on the road if there’s a long stretch with no breaks.

  5. tim on November 9th, 2005 10:03 am

    what’s the deal with that picture on the story? moyer looks like The Thing or merv from sin city.

  6. JoJo on November 9th, 2005 10:06 am

    The M’s could contract out for ten starts from Burnett at let’s say 4 mill, 10 starts from Millwood at 2.5 mill, and ten starts from Roger C at about 2.5 mill and their problems would be solved….and under budget. The rest of the starts could be filled with the puddy they tried using last year (Piniero, Meche, Franklin).

    This idea has tremendous possibilities….

  7. Kwickie on November 9th, 2005 10:12 am

    Who would think of such a thing? Well, the Astros for one. They pioneered the idea with Roger Clemens. Worked out for them and I definitely think it’s a good idea for the M’s.

  8. metz on November 9th, 2005 10:12 am

    Of course this assumes…

    a) Moyer only wants to start at home
    b) He’s willing to take 1/2 pay for 1/2 the work
    c) He’s expressed that he doesn’t want to travel

    All of them are massive assumptions with no published facts to back them up.

  9. Evan on November 9th, 2005 10:12 am

    At Roger’s price, ten starts would run somewhere near $7 million.

  10. DMZ on November 9th, 2005 10:15 am

    a) No it doesn’t. It assumes you’re willing to try and work his schedule around home starting.
    b) No it doesn’t. Moyer on the FA market’s not going to get $8m for a year.
    c) No it doesn’t. If he didn’t want to travel, it’d be easy to work that, but no one’s proposed that.

  11. DMZ on November 9th, 2005 10:19 am

    Puddy? They used Puddy in the rotation last year? Wow, he must be hard up for work post-Seinfeld.

  12. Jim Thomsen on November 9th, 2005 10:25 am

    Mildly off-topic ….

    The latest numbers, released yesterday, show that the P-I lost 9 percent of its circulation between March 30 and Sept. 30 over the same period last year. (The Times dropped 6.7 percent and The News Tribune just 3.6 percent.) The P-I now circulates at 132,000 and The News Tribune at 123,000. At this rate, the Trib will overtake the P-I in two years (assuming the P-I even exists at that point).

    Jon Paul Morosi must have woken up today thinking, “Geez, what the hell did I get myself into? Get me off this journalistic Titanic!”

  13. Jim Thomsen on November 9th, 2005 10:27 am

    Back on topic ….

    Are there some very-pitcher-friendly parks on the road that you think Moyer could pitch in without too much risk exposure?

  14. Zip Bailey on November 9th, 2005 10:50 am

    Wasn’t Kenny Rogers basically an “away” starter for the Yankees in 1997 because the fans tortured the guy so badly? He had a *brutal* playoff performance in 1996 (the Yankees won the WS in spite of him) and a miserable 1997. I remember the Yankees curbing home starts that year. I remember him being traded to the A’s for Scott Brosius — an even swap, it turned out.

  15. Paul B on November 9th, 2005 10:51 am

    I seem to remember reading about a team, a long time ago, that had an aging pitcher and instead of using him in the bullpen they made him a “Sunday” starter, and gave him only one start a week.

    With a 12 man pitching staff, one would think that something like that could be done today.

    So, making Moyer a home only starter, why not?

  16. JPWood on November 9th, 2005 10:52 am

    Bavasi has to be aware of the figures, and they talk big money. And for more than just Moyer. Despite the fact that Jamie the Jedi kept had virtually the same K/BB ratio and BA and OBP against at home and on the road, his SLG against outside Safeco was pretty ghastly, and he got about 4 fewer outs per start on the road as a result. His ERA more than doubled, with the same defense behind him, XB hits killed him. Felix could pitch in a band-box the way he keeps the ball on the ground and out of play. Moyer can’t and needs that Seattle air to help. Who else can take advantage of that?

  17. Jim Thomsen on November 9th, 2005 11:11 am

    #15: You’re thinking of Hall of Famer Ted Lyons ….


    “In 1939, White Sox manager Jimmy Dykes started to use Lyons, who was 38 years old, only on Sunday afternoons. This pattern was maintained through the ’42 season, with the veteran starting 21, 22, 22 and 20 games each year. The veteran right-hander posted a fine 52-30 record for that span, with a 2.96 ERA (he led the AL in ERA at the age of 41 in 1942, with a 2.10 mark). Fans took to calling him “Sunday Teddy,” and belying his age, Lyons completed 72 of his 85 starts over those years.”

    And what was he like as a pitcher?

    “Damage control; Lyons got opposing batters to put the ball in play. He didn’t strike out too many, in fact he walked more than he fanned in his career, he just put it over the plate and let the batters get themselves out. Consequently, he allowed his share of hits, but he managed to pitch effectively with all those runner son base (12.1 per nine innings).”

    Bill James has also written a lot about Lyons; along with Lefty Grove, he is one of James’ favorites.

  18. vj on November 9th, 2005 11:25 am

    Below are links to Moyer’s season splits and his gamelog. It seems to me that we might be looking at a case of random variation, í.e. Moyer’s four worst starts by chance happening on the road. If two of those had happened at home we might not be having this discussion.

  19. Zzyzx on November 9th, 2005 11:36 am

    “I seem to remember reading about a team, a long time ago, that had an aging pitcher and instead of using him in the bullpen they made him a “Sunday” starter, and gave him only one start a week.”

    One thing to remember is that was during a time when there were regular double headers on Sundays. Having a spot starter on that day was good so it wouldn’t mess up the rest of the rotation.

  20. JoJo on November 9th, 2005 11:39 am

    Houstan didnt work out a schedule that had Roger C only pitching home games. He took his regular turn in the rotation irregardless of home or road games. The Astros just didnt make him travel with the team between starts so that his time at home was maximized.

    The proposal to only allow Moyer to pitch in Safeco is a different can of worms that almost suggests the M’s DONT want Moyer pitching on the road because his road performance isnt worth the money. Truthfully, if I was an arm, id be more offended than flattered….

  21. JoJo on November 9th, 2005 11:41 am

    Im willing to pick up 5 starts for $250,000 if that would help any potential scheduling conflicts……

  22. Brian Rust on November 9th, 2005 11:59 am

    vj, good point about sample size. It’s also worth noting that three of those four awful starts were in consecutive starts early in the season, so it’s quite possible they were related to some temporal factor (minor injury, mechanical mis-adjustment, predictable pitch sequencing) rather than merely the fact they were away games.

  23. JMB on November 9th, 2005 12:34 pm

    Who would think of such a thing? Well, the Astros for one. They pioneered the idea with Roger Clemens. Worked out for them and I definitely think it’s a good idea for the M’s.

    Where is this idea coming from? Clemens started 32 games last year; 17 at home and 15 on the road. He also started 33 games in 2004, which certainly doesn’t sound like a “home only” total to me.

  24. Brian Rust on November 9th, 2005 12:38 pm

    It is interesting to slice and dice JM’s splits before and after Derek originally posted his idea July 20.

    Before: Home 2.69 – 0.40hr/9 – 4.97k/9 – 2.28bb/9 – 2.18k/bb
    Away 7.09 – 1.38hr/9 – 4.73k/9 – 3.55bb/9 – 1.33k/bb
    After: Home 3.31 – 0.73hr/9 – 4.78k/9 – 0.55bb/9 – 8.67k/bb(!)
    Away 4.93 – 2.11hr/9 – 3.52k/9 – 3.29bb/9 – 1.07k/bb

    Seems like he was trying to sell Derek’s idea with that freaking 8.67 k/bb ratio at home. It also appears that the four awful early road outings inflated the ERA differential Derek cited, compared to the road peripherals, which declined after Derek’s article, but produced a better result as far as runs given up.

    FWIW. I’m not sure the idea flies, either statistically (sample size) or with Moyer himself, but it’s fuel enough to heat the stove.

  25. msb on November 9th, 2005 1:05 pm

    #23– I think it is a misunderstanding, stemming from this:

    The Oakland Tribune (May 9, 2004) …. “As part of Clemens’ deal with the Astros, he can skip certain road series if he’s not scheduled to pitch. But the deal doesn’t make Clemens immune from getting fined in Kangaroo Court. “Now I’m getting fined for showing up,” Clemens said. “I was getting fined for not showing up, but now they fine me when I do. I think I’m probably going to wind up underwriting the whole thing.””

  26. DMZ on November 9th, 2005 1:11 pm

    Also, it comes from what the Astros discussed with Clemens when they were trying to lure him out of retirement. They discussed a bunch of different things like not traveling with the team on road trips at all, unless they got to the playoffs, and so on. I thought it was cool they were willing to discuss how they could get Clemens and work around whatever limitations he wanted to impose on his return, even if in the end they didn’t give up much at all.

  27. Smegmalicious on November 9th, 2005 1:42 pm

    I was always under the impression that too much rest was bad for a pitcher. I would think that the long road trips with him not pitching would leave him rusty for home games, but then again he’s older than dirt, so maybe the rest would be good for him.

  28. Jim Thomsen on November 9th, 2005 1:45 pm

    I don’t think it’s so much about the number of days of “rest” between starts as it is developing a between-starts routine that works and sticking to. Maybe they can have him throw simulated games from time to time to stay sharp. I see any number of ways in which this could creatively work.

  29. LB on November 9th, 2005 1:57 pm

    #19: One thing to remember is that was during a time when there were regular double headers on Sundays. Having a spot starter on that day was good so it wouldn’t mess up the rest of the rotation.

    Actually, I have read (and I wish I remembered where so I could give you the citation) that the notion of a “rotation” as we understand it today was invented in the 1950’s by Casey Stengal when he managed the Yankees. Until then, managers would use their four starters so they could get their best pitchers against the league’s toughest lineups. If that meant short rest or long rest for some guys, so be it.

    Of course, the game has changed a lot since then.

    But your larger point that Dykes could avoid stressing the staff by having a spot starter for the scheduled DH’s is a good one.

  30. NBarnes on November 9th, 2005 2:04 pm

    what’s the deal with that picture on the story? moyer looks like The Thing or merv from sin city.

    When 900 years old you reach, look as good you will not.

  31. msb on November 9th, 2005 2:17 pm

    #5, 30– I think that is the irritated expression that crosses his face while watching an opposing hitter circle the bases on a ball he shouldn’t have hit out….

  32. msb on November 9th, 2005 2:33 pm

    oh, and Larry Stone weighed in on the dangers of free agent pitchers this morning

  33. Adam S on November 9th, 2005 3:00 pm

    McGrath and Evan (in #4) understate the number of starts you could get out of Moyer.

    Assuming you wouldn’t split a spot in the rotation — using “the other guy” on the road — and optimized Moyer’s starts, it’s easy to get 23 starts out of him by starting the first and last game of every six-game homestand with four days off in between. And if you pitch him on short rest the day before the all-star break, that’s a 24th start which would be 3/4 of the season.

    You could also pitch Moyer in some road games to keep him sharp and not need a 6th starter. For example, given the tentative schedule he could pitch Opening Day 4/3 (H), 4/8 (H), 4/13 (@CLE), 4/18 (H), 4/23 (H), 4/29 (@BAL), 5/5 (H, one extra day rest), 5/10 (H), skip him with two off days on the road, 5/19 (H), 5/24 (H), skip him in Texas and use a spot starter.

    That’s 8 home starts and 2 road starts and only 2 skipped road starts in the first two months. Should be able to repeat that for the rest of the season and have something like 28 starts, 22 of which are at home. That would seem to be a much easier plan to sell Moyer than just pitching 16-20 games.

  34. John D. on November 9th, 2005 3:45 pm

    Aren’t we dealing with a small sample (one year), a very small sample? – (See # 18) – Let’s look at the last five years. MOYER had a better AWAY W-L record in ’04; and a better AWAY W-L record in ’02; and there was a neglible HOME/AWAY difference in ’01 [11-3 VS 9-3, (respectively)].
    It seems that I’ve often heard (on this blog) of the wrongness of basing things on one year’s performance. Why the exception?

    USE of ROTATIONS – (See # 29)- In his book on baseball managers, Bill James often answers NO to the question “Used a rotation?.

  35. Evan on November 9th, 2005 4:21 pm

    How is any pitcher’s win-loss record indicative of anything?

    Ignoring 2005, let’s use 2002-2004.

    Home – Away

    ERA: 3.71 – 4.81
    HR: 36 – 50
    BB: 81 – 100
    SO: 194 – 162

    Moyer has a clear home/away split, and has for years. In 2005 it just got bigger.

  36. mark from Oly. on November 9th, 2005 4:41 pm

    DMZ and Dave, glad to see your ideas getting some ink!

    I like this idea a lot.

    In a post, game show early last year (right before or right after inter league play, can’t remember) a reporter asked Moyer how he “liked” playing on the road. He replied with something like “It’s fun to play on the road? …I think it’s fun to play at home. I prefer to play at home.”

    I think Moyer would go for this idea. However, I’m sure he would hate to lose out on all those frequent flyer miles.

  37. mark from Oly. on November 9th, 2005 4:48 pm

    Ok. So let’s say Moyer & the M’s come to some agreement on this.

    Who takes Moyer’s starts?

    Random guy from what they have? Maybe this could be minor league pitcher of the day? Or the M’s get new guy from trade/FA?

  38. mln on November 9th, 2005 7:31 pm

    John McGrath thought of this idea all by himself. He did not read it on the internet somewhere (cough, cough USS Mariner) and plagiarize it. Honest.

  39. John D. on November 9th, 2005 8:43 pm

    RECORDS – (SEE # 35)- “How is any pitcher’s won-loss record indicative of anything?” Who says it has to be indicative of anything? I thought that the impetus for this thread–and McGraw’s column–was the glaring 10-0 at home, 3-8 on the road.
    I’d rather have a pitcher that went 20-5 with a 4.50, ERA, than a pitcher who went 15-15 with a 3.50 ERA.
    [BTW, I think the half-time proposal is unrealistic.]

  40. Evan on November 10th, 2005 9:19 am

    Chances are that 15-15 pitcher is the better pitcher, but he just got lousy run or bullpen support.

    I’d rather have the better pitcher, regardless of his W-L record. And Moyer’s a better pitcher at home.

    While McGrath may well have written his column because of Moyer’s W-L records, that’s just shoddy journalism. That he reached the right conclusion doesn’t excuse his sloppy methods.

  41. John D. on November 13th, 2005 11:35 am

    Re: John McGrath’s Brainstorm – (# 38) – How do you know that McGrath thought of the idea all by himself? I have seen things on this blog (and on the Mariner Newsgroup) that subsequently appear in some baseball writer’s column.
    McGrath may have conceived of the idea himself, but I’m curious to know how you know that.

    BTW, I think that the word “plagiarism” does not belong in this discussion.
    e.g. Donald Gropman (author of SAY IT AIN’T SO, JOE) was enrolled in The University of Iowa’s writers’ program. Ray Kinsella enrolled in it later. Does that mean…