Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Jeep-loving highly quotable minor-league pitcher

HighBeam Research

Title: Cougars' top gun having big fun Moser enjoys life on and off the baseball field.(Sports)

Date: 8/8/2000; Publication: Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL); Author: Bush, Joe
If the media - electronic or print - were to piece together the perfect athlete, they would be less concerned with muscle, height or frame and very particular about mouth and brain.
The press would come up with something resembling Cougars lefty Todd Moser.
He's a talker, and what's more, he's funny and honest and sometimes a touch vulgar. Moser always has the time to gab, even after a bad outing. There hasn't been many of those this season, but Moser (8-4, 2.70 ERA) has chewed them over with anyone who wants to analyze them.
If Cougars fans can remember right-hander A.J. Burnett, a 1998 alum who has been with Florida the past season and a half, they will get a picture of Moser. The 23-year-old from Davie, Fla., doesn't have nipple rings, but he does prepare for games with crunchy rock music (Limp Bizkit, Korn) and has a happy-go-lucky attitude off the field which is the polar opposite of his mound aura.
"I know my job on the field is what I've got to do out there - I've got no problem doing that - but if you take this game too seriously, it's going to eat you up," Moser says. "I mean, we're in low-A ball. I've got to worry about pressure and stuff like that when I start making those big paychecks. I guess I've still got that whole college mentality.
"My coaches in college were always real loose. It was all fun and joking around. You get your stuff done, you do it right, there's no reason to be hard about anything. You can have fun, too. They can go hand in hand."
The fashionable bleached-top crew cut, the 6-foot-5, 180-pound bone collection, the loose clothing, the always-ready smile - Moser could be an X-Gamer. In fact, his extreme sport is taking his 1994 Jeep Wrangler, which he bought from major-league catcher and good friend Bobby Estalella, and its chubby Super Swamper tires into as much muck as possible.
He hasn't done it much this season because cleanup is such a hassle and the team's down time is precious, but at home? The tires aren't just for show.
"Are you kidding me? I live like 10 minutes from the Everglades," Moser says. "It's a lot of fun, trying to get as much mud, so I can't even see out the windows."
Moser makes sure to get a much-clearer view of the science and art of pitching, and it's that combination of between-starts goofiness and studiousness that endears him to Cougars pitching coach Jeff Andrews and Marlins roving pitching instructor and former White Sox phenom Britt Burns
"It's hard to single out something that you like about this guy because there's so many parts that make him up," Andrews says. "I love his personality. I like his energy, I like his desire to pitch. He's always asking questions or always asking what he needs to do. He's never settled on it. He's got a nice relationship of what works for him and trusting myself and Burnsie to give him what he doesn't know yet.
"In this world that takes you a long way - when you don't think you know everything or you don't think that you don't need to change. That really stymies a lot of people, and he's not in that category."
Moser has been humbled a bit by injuries. He had shoulder surgery after his freshman year in junior college, knee surgery his junior year at Florida Atlantic University, and had to start this season late because of a damaged ligament in his right thumb. Through it all, he's won and won big.
After transfering to FAU - which he chose over national powerhouses so his family could watch him play - Moser won 9 games in his junior season and tied for the Division I lead in wins with a 15-1 mark in his senior season.
Because he was a senior with no bargaining leverage, he had to settle for being a 14th-round pick. It would have been a different story had he won the 15 games the previous season.
"Oh, God, add a couple zeros to my signing bonus," Moser says.
At least he got enough money to buy the Jeep. After signing, Moser earned all-star honors from the New York-Penn League and Baseball America (for short-season players) with an 8-2, 1.53-ERA 1999. Between college and pro ball last season, Moser was 23-3 and tossed 192 innings.
It only gets tougher from here on. Moser does not have overpowering velocity (91 mph, tops) or a knee-buckling breaking ball. What he does is command those pitches, as well as throw an improving changeup and an occasional slider.
His ERA was fourth-best in the Midwest League, but on the list of top-10 ERAs, Moser had walked the fewest (19 in 113 innings) by far.
"At this level, if you command one pitch, you're going to have a chance, if you command two pitches, you're going to win, and if you command three, you're really going to do well," Andrews says. "Even through his success, he's come to the realization that (the changeup) is going to have to be there. How is he going to face Jose Canseco or (Mark) McGwire without a changeup?
"That's the kind of thought you want to put in their minds, but you don't want to go out and throw 80 changeups. (Moser) has that ability to take the information, put it in the right perspective, and then use it as he goes."
Moser's got a few more starts this season. He's most looking forward to an upcoming series with West Michigan, the MWL's best team. Most of Moser's family will be at Elfstrom Stadium that week, including his dad, Andy, and Al, the 96-year-old grandfather who used to cry after his every start at FAU.
"So happy," Moser says.
In case it's not obvious when you see him between starts, Moser is overjoyed, too, as pleased as a Jeep driver in a mudhole during a Florida thundershower.
"I'm loving it," he says. "I really don't want to go home. I want to keep playing."
COPYRIGHT 2000 Paddock Publications
This material is published under license from the publisher through the Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan.  All inquiries regarding rights should be directed to the Gale Group.

This document provided by HighBeam Research at http://www.highbeam.com

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