I go back and forth on Brett Myers. I’ve met the guy a couple of times, and he was decent, cordial, and didn’t come off as a prick — which he certainly can sometimes in the media. He can be a tough pitcher when he’s healthy and focused, but he has had injury issues the past few years and, at times, it appears his emotions get in the way of his talent. When the Phillies decided to let him walk in free agency, it didn’t really register with me. And I certainly didn’t have much of a desire to see him end up with the Mets.
But after the Astros made it official yesterday and before I saw his comments as reported by The AP
, I had one pang of regret that the Mets didn’t consider him: I had a hunch that he was pissed at the Phillies and would be gunning for them when he faces them. As reported by The AP:
“I wanted to go back to Philadelphia, but they didn’t show an interest, they had other obligations, which is fine with me,” Myers said. He then promised to “stick it” to the Phillies every time he faces them.
With the Astros, he’ll get just two chances (the clubs play April 9-11
in Houston and Aug. 23-26
in Philly), and if he’s in the top three slots in the rotation, which it sounds like he will be
, he won’t pitch against them in that April series — the second of the season — in Houston. But with the Mets, he would’ve had perhaps four or five chances to “stick it” to the Phillies over the course of the season in the NL East.
For the heck of it, I went back into the archives — literally, the brown accordion folder kept in a cabinet — and dug up a short piece I wrote on Myers when I was working at the Asbury Park Press and he was with Double-A Reading. I didn’t come up with the headline (it was a narrow two columns in a big font), but here it is:
Making major minor strides
Pitcher Brett Myers, a year removed from Greg Legg and the Sally League, has his sights set on the Phillies.
This time last year, Brett Myers was riding buses around the South Atlantic League with his Piedmont Boll Weevils teammates and manager Greg Legg.
Now with the Reading Phillies of the Eastern League, Myers is on a fast track through the Philadelphia system, with Veterans Stadium that much closer.
But heading into spring training, the 6-4, 215-pound, hard-throwing right-hander was just looking to make a little progress.
“I had no clue,” Myers said last week at Mercer County Waterfront Park before a game against the Trenton Thunder. “I was hoping to move up at least one level. Of course, I would’ve liked to be here (with Reading). That’s what I was shooting for, but I was hoping for at least another level.”
He took two steps from low-Class A Piedmont to Class AA Reading, and now stands just two steps from replacing the “R” on his cap with a “P.” But Myers did not realize he would be this close to Broad Street until spring training was nearly over.
“About a week before we broke camp, when they put up the rosters,” Myers said, he realized he had a good chance of playing for Reading. “But even then it wasn’t set. I guess it didn’t really hit me until I got on the plane.”
The move has paid off for both the Phillies and the 20-year-old Floridian. Through Wednesday’s 7-2 win over Akron, Myers is 5-1 with a 2.57 ERA in nine starts. He’s struck out 50 in 56 innings, allowing 54 hits for a .250 average against. The numbers are good for 10th in the league in ERA, second in wins, ninth in innings pitched and 10th in strikeouts.
“It’s still the same game,” Myers said. “It never changes. The people around you change. They get better. And hopefully I do too, or get better than them and stay ahead. Hopefully I can keep it up.”
Drafted in the first round in 1999 (12th overall), Myers went 2-1 with a 2.33 ERA in the Gulf Coast League. Last year at Piedmont under Legg and current Lakewood BlueClaws pitching coach Rod Nichols, Myers weathered his first full season with a 15-8 record and a 3.07 ERA.
“I learned how to pitch, how to develop my pitches a little better,” Myers said of his year in the South Atlantic League. “I learned how to work hard to prepare for a full season. I found it not as tough as I thought it would be. I prepared for it well. If I hadn’t, it would’ve been a lot tougher.” With a fastball consistently reaching 92 or 93 mph and a hard-breaking curveball, Myers is considered by many to be the top prospect in the Phillies organization and the pitcher most likely to assume the power-pitcher, No.1 starter slot once held by Curt Schilling.
“Ultimately, everyone playing this game wants to get to the big leagues,” Myers said. “That’s why you play this game. And once you get there, it’s staying there. I just have to take it one game at a time, keep progressing and keep learning, and I’ll be OK.”