Bodley: Moyer still proves doubters wrong

Bodley: Moyer still proves doubters wrong

The last time Jamie Moyer won nine games before July 1 was in 2001, when he went 20-6 for the Seattle Mariners.

The ageless Moyer won his ninth for the Phillies on Sunday, in an 11-2 cakewalk over Toronto. He's on a pace to win 20 for only the third time in his long career.

If anybody told me in Spring Training the 47-year-old Moyer would have the same number of wins as Roy Halladay at this point, I'd want to know what they were drinking. Or what Moyer has been drinking. Somebody should check his birth certificate.

On second thought, it really isn't so amazing when you know Moyer. He couldn't care less about the calendar. I'm not even certain he thinks he's 47, because when it comes to numbers, he doesn't have much to say.

He was recovering from two offseason surgeries in March, and frankly, was a longshot to nail down the fifth starter's spot in the Phillies' rotation. Anything he could do to help the back-to-back National League champs would be a plus.

I can guarantee not in his wildest dreams did manager Charlie Manuel think Moyer would be even with Halladay in wins at this stage of the season.

As the Phillies approach the All-Star break, it's anybody's guess where they would be in the NL East without Moyer. As erratic as the other starters -- with the exception of Halladay -- have been, they certainly would not be challenging the Braves and Mets for the division lead.

In his last three starts, Moyer has a 1.95 ERA. He's won four of his past five decisions, and except for a terrible start against Boston on May 21, has gone deep into games, giving the Phillies' suspect bullpen a huge lift.

In Sunday's sweltering heat, Moyer became the 40th pitcher in Major League history to throw at least 4,000 innings. He also gave up his 506th home run to pass Robin Roberts for the most ever allowed.

In this era of overpaid, underachieving players, Moyer is the poster boy -- er poster man. He sets an example for many young pitchers who worry too much about how many pitches they throw, fear overworking will injure their arms, or complain about an umpire's strike zone.

They should pay more attention to Moyer, his work ethic, and how he approaches the game.

To say Jamie Moyer is from the old school is an understatement. All he wants to do is take the ball, go to the mound, and do everything in his power to produce a victory. He told me one time this obsession with pitch-count annoys him. Take the ball, throw the ball, pitch as long as you can. Period.

When he was getting pounded in Spring Training's morning "B" games in Florida, he was being all but written off. Maybe even by Manuel.

Sooner or later, age takes its toll, people whispered.

Several hours before a game recently, Manuel sat in his Citizens Bank Park office and talked about what a pleasant surprise Moyer has been.

It's a good thing, because J. A. Happ has been injured most of the year, Kyle Kendrick has struggled, and you never know what to expect from Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton.

"Jamie Moyer's longevity is absolutely remarkable," said Manuel. "His career speaks for itself."

Outfielder Shane Victorino, in the midst of the Moyer euphoria, said Sunday that Moyer has a chance to go to the Hall of Fame.

Right now, I think that's a stretch. He has 267 wins, and his longevity has a lot to do with that. He's being compared to Phil Niekro and Hoyt Wilhelm, both Hall of Famers who both pitched well into their 40s. Niekro won 318 games during 24 seasons; Wilhelm, a reliever, pitched in 21 seasons and saved 227 games. He won 143. Both were knuckleballers.

Moyer first pitched in the Major Leagues in 1986, but spent all of 1992 in the Minors.

"I always say that I saw him twice in the Minor Leagues when he was sent back. Both times I saw him I thought, 'This guy might not make it back,'" Manuel said. "Not only did he make it back, but he made it back and stayed for a long time."

Moyer has won more games in his 40s than he did when he was struggling in his 20s.

To hear Jamie talk about it, he doesn't need the records or that kind of stuff. That's merely a credit to his longevity, and not necessarily a measure of his competitiveness or his worth to the team, he says.

"I feel like, if I start falling into that [statistics], I'm going to start following it, and all of a sudden lose focus on what I really want to do," he said. "For me, there's a time and a place for all of that, and it's not midseason. I know I will start to become distracted if I do follow that."

Manuel will manage the NL All-Star team for the July 13th game in Anaheim. My guess is Halladay will make it, unless he pitches poorly in his next three starts.

If Moyer has 10 or more wins, he should be a strong candidate. His only All-Star Game was in 2003, when he was 21-7 with a 3.27 ERA for the Mariners.

Hall of Fame? All-Star Game?

Don't ever count Jamie Moyer out. We've learned that lesson well.

Hal Bodley is the senior correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.