The Rockies are a weird franchise. Time and time again we see them make baffling moves and decisions that seem to defy all logic. If you tell them to zig, more than likely they are going to zag. It’s part of the experience as a fan and sometimes makes them somewhat endearing. The Rockies also have a bizarre method of signing aging free agents, especially when it comes to pitchers.
Just this past week, it was reported that the Rockies signed veteran pitchers Ivan Nova and Chris Rusin to minor league deals to build out pitching depth in the organization. One day prior to Opening Day they signed Jhoulys Chacín to the roster to fill in the bullpen. We have also seen them sign veteran pitchers like Roy Oswalt who don’t quite pan out as the team hoped. But perhaps the weirdest signing the Rockies have made was that of Jamie Moyer in 2012.
If you are like me, you may have purged the 2012 season out of your mind. The Rockies had an abysmal record of 64-98, Troy Tulowitzki was injured early on, Opening Day starter Jeremy Guthrie struggled, and the Rockies pioneered a strange pitching experiment. Oh, and it happened to be the “Year of the Fan” (for more on the upsides of the 2012 season, check out Justin Wick’s article). However, there was a bright spot of history to be made for the Rockies on April 17, 2012, courtesy of LHP Jamie Moyer, and it’s time to revisit the ageless wonder in Colorado.
History in the making
Moyer signed with the Rockies in January of 2012 with the chance to compete for the final spot in the rotation. At 49-years-old, Moyer was still trying to defy the odds and prove that he could get batters out at the Major League level and was rewarded with an Opening Day roster spot. Moyer started the second game of the season against the Astros taking a 7-3 loss and began his quest to be the oldest pitcher to win a baseball game.
His next attempt came on April 12, 2012, against Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants. Sloppy defense and lackluster offense stuck Moyer with another loss, but he wouldn’t have to wait long to make history as it would be his next start at home against the San Diego Padres that would send Moyer into the record books.
On April 17, 2012, the Rockies finally found a way to win, beating the Padres 5-3 and making Jamie Moyer the oldest pitcher in Major League Baseball history to win a game at 49 years and 150 days old, replacing Jack Quinn. Not only did Moyer get the win, but he pitched seven innings allowing only two runs on six hits and striking out one Cameron Maybin. Moyer induced 12 ground balls in the game. He had finally done it, but Moyer wasn’t done quite yet.
Keep on chugging along
Moyer continued to provide serviceable pitching for the Rockies into the early days of summer. He gave up one run in six innings against the Pirates and even made the oldest pitcher history again on May 12, 2012, when he gave up one run in 6 1⁄3 innings pitched in a win against the Diamondbacks at Coors Field. He also became the oldest player to drive in a run.
In ten starts, Moyer pitched at least five innings in all but one game. His mixture of a blazing 78 mph fastball and off-speeds slower than that induced weak contact when it was working. He managed to strike out 36 batters while only walking 18.
Time waits for no man
However, it was becoming more and more evident that he was just not fooling Major League hitters consistently enough anymore as the soft tosser gave up at least four runs in five of his final six starts. Moyer’s shortest outing of the year came in Miami against the Marlins. In 3 1⁄3 innings pitched, he gave up six runs on nine hits, capped off by a Giancarlo Stanton grand slam that still haunts my dreams to this day.
He would get roughed up one more time at the end of May by the Reds. Moyer gave up seven runs on seven hits and allowed four home runs in the 7-5 loss. Shortly after that outing, the Rockies would designate Moyer for assignment and subsequently release him. Manager Jim Tracy stated, “I just felt like that by sending him out there, we were compromising him and the team.”
Moyer didn’t harbor any bad feelings towards the Rockies, and as strangely as he arrived, he disappeared. Later that summer he would pitch for both the Orioles and Blue Jays Triple-A teams before finally calling it quits. In 10 starts with the Rockies, Moyer ultimately posted a 2-5 record with a 5.70 ERA in 53 2⁄3 innings.
Jamie Moyer was a bizarre time in Rockies history, but it was a fun story for an otherwise rough season. With 2021 looking to follow along those lines for the Rockies, it may be important for fans to look for the bright spots because there may be any reflected in the record come October.
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Speaking of bizarre Rockies things, the team could end up making history in 2021, albeit terrible history. Kyle Newman explores the fact that the Rockies are currently on pace to break the single-season MLB record of 827 walks set in 1917 by the Philadelphia Athletics. The Rockies already have the National League record of 737 walks during the 1999 record. So there is something to root for in 2021 if you have already given up hope for a winning season.
In 1998 Major League Baseball took the “Turn Ahead the Clock” promotional night from the Seattle Mariners and expanded it out to the rest of the league. The result was pretty negative, as fans and critics alike pinned the promotion as a cheap cash grab. However, it did produce one of the best jerseys in Rockies history. Could it be time for the Rockies to bring back the unique garments for a timely promotion in 2021?
The headline itself may seem like it has nothing to do with the Rockies, but it involves an intriguing thought experiment, even if it may not seem realistic. Jim Bowden focuses his final section of the article on how the Rockies should make Theo Epstein a part-owner and hire him as CEO and president of baseball operations.
Theo Epstein is currently working as a consultant for Major League Baseball. He is every fan’s dream for their struggling franchise as he helped lead the Cubs and Red Sox to World Series titles, and could probably do the same for Colorado given the time and resources. The only problem with this proposal by Bowden is that it would require Dick Monfort to be on board with the idea and make the change, which doesn’t seem likely to happen.
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