Wells no baby Boomer

David Wells doesn't look like he's an "ageless wonder", but he certainly qualifies as one at age 40.

Originally Published: September 22, 2003
By Rob Neyer | ESPN.com

Plowing through some recent mail while waiting for the Phillies and Marlins ...

David Wells
David Wells has found a way to stretch his career.

    Interesting column yesterday on Jamie Moyer and his late blooming. However, there is one pitcher you missed.

    One other pitcher qualifies for the 100+ wins between their Age 34 and Age 40 seasons. This pitcher won fewer than 100 games prior to turning 34, and like Moyer he 1) is not a knuckleballer and 2) was around for a while before turning 34; around for 10 years, in fact. Also like Moyer, he turned 40 this year.

    The player of whom I'm speaking is David Wells. He turned 34 in May of the '97 season. Since the start of that season he has won 109 games, after winning 90 from '87 through '96. In fact, he just missed Moyer's mark by having his first 20-win season at the ripe age of 37.

    -- Jonathan Gelbord

Correct on all counts, Jonathan. And suddenly, Jamie Moyer looks like something less than unique, doesn't he? Let's compare them at those pre-selected ages.

		34-40	Before 34 
Jamie Moyer	112	72
David Wells	109	90

Then again, the similarity in those numbers does belie some real differences. Wells still throws fairly hard; Moyer does not. Wells has won 20 games once; Moyer has now won 20 games twice. Wells is round; Moyer is rectangular.

But the fact remains that both of them are 40, and both are still pitching effectively. Randy Johnson just turned 40, and Roger Clemens is 41.

Bill James has recently claimed that aging patterns haven't changed, that players today aren't lasting longer or performing better when they do last a long time. I suppose that he's right. Bill's right about most things. It's not like we haven't seen good 40-year-old pitchers before. There was Tom Seaver, Tommy John, Don Sutton and Early Wynn, and of course who can forget Nolan Ryan?

But we've got four guys like that, all at once right now, and it sure seems like there's something different happening. On the other hand, it's not like there's another generation of 40-year-old pitchers, right around the corner. Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine both are 37, and both might still be good when they're 40, but then again they might not be. Ah, the mystery of the humans. ...

    Rob,

    Just a quick note on your article about Jamie Moyer. I am probably as big a Jamie Moyer fan as you can come across. I was born and raised in Chicago, and spent my high school years rooting for those Sandberg/Sutcliffe teams of the '80s. My dad raised me to believe you need a quality lefty in your starting rotation, something the Cubs still need and have never had in my lifetime (I'm too young to have seen Kenny Holtzman pitch).

    So when Moyer (and Maddux) came up with the Cubs, I rooted for Moyer and that change-up. I embraced him as the homegrown lefty for my home team. Of course that didn't work out.

    Moyer
    Moyer

    Flash forward to '96: I move out to Seattle, and that same summer Moyer joined the M's. I've really enjoyed rooting for him these past few years. He's become everything I wanted him to be 15 years ago, just not with my first home team. He's been a great bridge to my two baseball teams. Moyer is now the winningest (career wins) lefthander to ever come out of the Chicago Cubs farm system, having passed Holtzman this past year. Considering how long the Cubs have been around, that's saying something. Moyer should break 200 wins next year, and probably pass Randy Johnson as the winningest pitcher in Mariner history.

    Finally, I've always thought Moyer compares well to John Tudor, both of them "crafty" lefties who went from average to exceptional. Gladly, I think it can be said that Moyer did this better and longer than Tudor.

    And in the past two months full of disappointments for the M's, I'm glad I still look forward to seeing Moyer pitch.

    Just a little something from a sports geek.

    -- Mike

You're right, Moyer probably will take over from Randy Johnson as the Mariners' winningest pitcher. Right now, Johnson's No. 1 with 130 wins, but Moyer now has 118. Consider that he's signed for two more seasons, he's going to pass Johnson unless his left arm falls off.

And let history note that on July 30, 1996, the Mariners got Moyer straight up from the Red Sox for Darren Bragg. Say what you like about the guy who used to run the Mariners, but that was one hell of a trade.

Miguel Tejada
Tejada

    For the love of God, please step in and stop the Gammons/Morgan/Stark/ESPN Miguel Tejada conspiracy. Despite not being one of the 20 best players in the league, both Morgan and Stark claim he is one of two or three MVP candidates, and ESPN tries to fuel the fire by giving him another article on the Web site. He is a glorified Orlando Cabrera.

    Don't want to vote for the best player? Fine. But then you still have Posada, Soriano, Giambi, Mueller, Manny, Nomar, Varitek, Nixon, Magglio, and Boone all on contenders who are so much better than Tejada, he'd need a rocket to catch up to them. Even the media-maligned Jeter has been more productive in far fewer games. And this also ignores Delgado, Wells, etc ...

    Apparently, the biggest criteria for being an MVP is playing on a team with great pitching and a mediocre offense. In such a case, you are the indispensable "star."

    And that doesn't even touch upon the Albert over Barry nonsense. Since when does 100 plus more outs equal greater production?

    -- Dan Hoppe

Dan, I'm afraid that if Gammons and Morgan and Stark and "ESPN" decide on something, there's not much I can do about it. ...

I'm kidding. Probably.

Seriously, Tejada's actually having a great season. Yes, he was terrible for the first few weeks of the season, but he's been excellent since then, and he's been a huge part of his team's success.

Would I vote for him? No way. It's nice that he's played so well lately, but of course if he'd played better in April, he wouldn't have had to play so well lately for the A's to build their big. If you want to vote for a player on a pennant contender, the obvious choice is Bret Boone, the Gold Glove second baseman with the great hitting stats in the pitcher's park. True, Boone played a lot better before the All-Star break than since ... but you know, those games in June count in the standings, too.

    Rob, I realize that he missed a chunk of time and his 14 wins aren't exactly what we look for in a Cy Young winner, but is there any doubt that Pedro Martinez has once again been the best pitcher in the AL? He leads the league in strikeouts, and his ERA is a half run better than anybody else. And, he would have a Cy Young-worthy amount of wins if his bullpen hadn't blown a couple of games on him. Why isn't he at least being discussed for the Cy Young?

    -- Chris Mears

Well, he's certainly been the best, qualitatively. But he's got only 14 wins, in part, because he's not durable enough to win more than 14 games. Martinez ranks 30th in the league in innings pitched. And while it's true what you say about his bullpen, it's also true that his hitters have scored more runs than anybody else in the majors. I'd vote for Halladay and Hudson, and maybe even Keith Foulke, before Pedro Martinez.

Which reminds me, has Billy Beane received enough credit for Keith Foulke? Remember, the White Sox couldn't wait to trade Foulke to the A's for Billy Koch the Proven Closer. Since then, Foulke's been the best reliever in the American League this season, and Koch ... well, Koch hasn't. The A's have the best pitching in the league, and Foulke's a big part of that.

Senior writer Rob Neyer writes four columns per week during the baseball season. His new book, "Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Lineups," has just been published by Fireside. For more information about the book, visit Rob's Web site.

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