Leave Brett Myers On The Scrap Heap

Brett Myers's Phillies tenure officially ended this past week and he will be a free agent. The controversial righty made it known after a meeting with general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.:

I officially won’t be a Phillie next year.

Myers tore a labrum in his hip this past season, requiring surgery. Usually a starting pitcher, he was placed in the bullpen upon returning in September and struggled (7 IP, 4:3 K/BB, 6.43 ERA). He is in the group of talented but risky starting pitchers available this offseason, including Rich Harden, Ben Sheets and Erik Bedard. These types likely won't garner large contracts or multi-year deals but are worth considering (especially Harden, a personal favorite). When deciding whether to pursue Myers there are 2 factors to consider: his on-field performance and off-the-field performance.

A quick look at Myers's defense independent pitching stats shows us his biggest problem - home runs:

Year IP FIP xFIP tERA
2005 215.1 4.06 3.49 4.93
2006 198 4.14 3.89 4.31
2007* 68.2 3.75 3.31 3.90
2008 190 4.52 4.01 4.96
2009 70.2 6.14 4.39 6.50

* - Myers pitched out of the bullpen for almost all of 2007

Generally xFIP is the best or 2nd best statistic for evaluating a pitcher's luck-independent performance. It normalizes the highly variable home run rate based on the number of fly balls a pitcher allows. In this case, it might not be so useful. Myers is consistently among the league leaders in home runs allowed per fly ball, and his career HR/9 of 1.35 seems like a reflection of his true talent level rather than the bad luck that xFIP suggests. Citizens Bank Park is a bandbox but about half of the home runs he's allowed in his career have come on the road, so small home field dimensions are not solely to blame. Aside from home runs, Myers is a solid pitcher - K/BB of 2.39 and ground-ball rate of 47.3% for his career. 

At age 29 and coming off a full offseason of rest, it wouldn't be aggressive to think Myers can be an average starting pitcher next season. He's also open to pitching in relief. Given his affinity for southern redneck culture, who knows if he would even consider signing with the Mets. It might be a decent, low-cost signing on paper. In reality, Myers is a player the Mets should, and likely will, avoid.

In June 2006, Myers was arrested for punching his wife in the face while in Boston for a Phillies-Red Sox series. Although his wife Kim eventually had the charges dropped, the fact remains that this 6'4" 225 lbs. man punched his wife in the face in a public setting. Outstanding Brett, we'll get you a(nother) case of beer for that one.

Maybe this is a tad hypocritical coming from someone who advocated signing Barry Bonds and trading for Milton Bradley, but on my moral continuum women-beating is far worse than steroid use or tantrum throwing. If Brett Myers signed with the Mets I would openly root against him.

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