Jul 152010

July 15 By ED BARKOWITZ Philadelphia Daily News

WHEN JAMIE MOYER was traded to the Phillies late in 2006, the prevailing thought was that Philadelphia would be the last stop of a very good career. He was 43 at the time and had 211 career wins. Not too shabby for a sixth-round pick out of Saint Joseph’s, but certainly not Hall of Fame material.

But now, here we are almost 4 years later and every time Moyer takes another step up the list of all-time wins, the question intensifies: Is Cooperstown now on his itinerary?

Hall of Fame voting is done by the Baseball Writers Association of America. The Daily News reached out to some voters via e-mail on the subject of Moyer’s potential candidacy.

“Before the last couple of seasons, I would have said that Jamie Moyer isn’t a Hall of Fame pitcher,” said Mel Antonen, of USA Today. “I still don’t think he is, but I think he’s improved his standing, and I think that if he ever does retire, voters will have to take a longer look at him, simply because of the last couple of seasons.”

Moyer, 47, is at 267 wins, one behind Orioles great Jim Palmer. He passed Bob Gibson last year and Bob Feller this season. All of those pitchers are in the Hall of Fame.

Moyer is 9-8 in 2010 and on pace to register the most wins he’s had in a season since winning 21 as a spry 40-year-old with the Mariners in 2003. He’ll be on the mound at Wrigley Field tonight when the Phillies resume their season against the Cubs.

In his three-plus seasons with the Phillies, Moyer is 56-39. He is in the final year of a 2-year extension signed after he helped the Phillies win the 2008 World Series.

“It’s all about opportunity and the desire to play,” said Moyer, whose career ERA of 4.23 would be the highest for a HOF pitcher. “If I didn’t have the desire to play, I wouldn’t be playing. People say, ‘How do you do it?’ I still have that burning desire today like I did 5 years ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago. Maybe I have [the desire] more now. I don’t want to say I’m defying the odds, but the way I look at it, people my age just choose not to play.”

Since turning 40 before the 2003 season, Moyer is 103-78 (a .569 winning percentage). Phil Niekro is the only pitcher in history with more wins after turning 40. Niekro, a Hall of Fame inductee in 1997, was 121-103 – a .540 percentage. Niekro, though, won 318 games in his career.

“There’s always something to be said about players who are really good for a really long time,” ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark said. “But looking at this realistically, I think Jamie is going to have to get to 300 wins, or get very close, to make the Hall of Fame.”

Moyer has been to the All-Star Game just once and his highest finish in Cy Young voting was fourth in 2001.

“Now, if he gets to 300 wins and is still winning as he closes in on 50 [years old], he carves out such a unique place in baseball history for himself that he may cause voters to think about him differently,” Stark said. “But by traditional Hall of Fame standards, it would be hard to make a case for him at the moment.