I thought this would be as good a time as any to weigh-in, officially, with my thoughts towards Mike Mussina (as a Yankee) in 2007 and beyond. This way, next season, if the Yankees retain Mussina and he tanks, I will have something to point back to and say “Told you so!” Conversely, if Mussina the Yankee is good in 2007, the WasWatching.com faithful can point to this entry and tell me how wrong I was on Moose.
Let’s start with age. At the close of the 2007 post-season, Mussina will be days away from his 39th birthday. Since you know that Mussina will not sign a one-year deal for 2007, bringing him back to the Yankees ensures that the days of the “40-year old pitcher” will be alive and continuing into the last season of Old-New Yankee Stadium.
Plus, the only American League starting pitchers, age 38 or older, in the last 30 (or so) seasons do to well have been hard throwers like Nolan Ryan or Roger Clemens or extreme-junkers like Jamie Moyer or Charlie Hough. Mussina, as a Yankee, in 2007 will be lucky to be a 15-game winner. In all probability, Mussina wins 12-13 games in 2007. Is that worth having to carry an old-timer the next season? Rasner or Kartsens could probably win 12 games next year with the Yankees in Mussina’s place.
Secondly, age aside, look at Mussina’s trend in New York. In the first three years of his contract, he was fine. But, the last three seasons paint a different picture.
In 2004, Mike Mussina was a below-average pitcher. In 2005, Mussina was just barely a league-average pitcher. Last year, 2006, Mussina improved – coincidentally enough in the “option year” of his contract. Will Mussina be that inspired in 2007? More than likely, he reverts to being an average-pitcher again next season, once his contract is secured.
Also, let’s talk about reliability. It’s reasonable to expect someone in the front-three of your rotation to make 33 starts in a season. Here are Mussina’s start totals the last few years:
Notice again that last year. Mussina, lately, was always good to miss 3-6 starts a year – until this past season, his option year. How many starts to you think Mussina will make in 2007? Based on recent performance, you’re looking in the ballpark of maybe 30. That means he misses a half-month of pitching over the course of the season.
I know that some people out there think “Wait, this is the new Mussina – he’s got that new change-up – that’s the reason why he was great in 2006 – and why he will be very useful next season as well!”
Check the stats. The “new” Mussina had an ERA of 3.24 before the All-Star break and an ERA of 3.96 in the second-half. Batters hit him for .225 before the break and .268 after the break. So, much for the “new” Mussina, huh? Towards the second half of the season, once he had his stats padded-enough for the year, he once again was a pedestrian hurler.
The above are cold-hard-stats. It doesn’t even include the issue that the Yankees last won a ring before Mussina got here and have not won a ring since he’s been here. Still, because it would be a hard case to prove that moving Moose might be good for karma, I’ll stick to the facts.
Mike Mussina – old, unreliable, and pedestrian. And, since pedestrians have the right of way, the Yankees should let him walk now.