• Some ‘What If?” Questions On Mussina

    Posted by on May 23rd, 2007 · Comments (17)

    Since August 1, 2006, and to date, batters are hitting .294/.327/.454 against Mike Mussina (in 313 AB).

    From April 2006 through month-end July 2006, batters hit .227/.268/.363 against Moose (in 564 AB).

    Clearly, since August 2006, Mike Mussina has not been the same pitcher that he was during the first half of last season. This begs the following questions:

    If Clemens joins the Yankees and pitches well, and if Clippard/DeSalvo/Hughes do a decent job in the rotation (in addition to Wang, Pettitte and Clemens), and if Moose continues to pitch this poorly, does Mike Mussina then become the fifth man in the Yankees rotation (when they line-up again after the All-Star break)?

    Further, if Mike Mussina pitches his way into being the 5th-worst starter on the Yankees staff, and if the Yankees make the post-season this year, should the Yankees remove Moose from the rotation in the post-season?

    Back in October of 2006, I was against the Yankees re-signing Mussina. When Mussina signed with the Yankees, I was OK with it from a money standpoint. Looking at the numbers now, I’m beginning to wonder if I was right the first time and wrong on the second one.

    Comments on Some ‘What If?” Questions On Mussina

    1. j
      May 23rd, 2007 | 1:47 pm

      Steve, I have to concede to your “I told you so” regarding your post about Moose a while ago. He’s shown nothing this year that would suggest that his pre-ASB 2006 was not an outlier. He was getting worse in 2004 and 2005, had a good 1st half of 06, stunk in the second half of 06 and stinks now.

      To answer your question, IMO, Moose should get slotted where based on how he performs. I’m still pissed about ALDS 2006 Game 2 because I felt like Moose pitched just well enough to not win, and I’m also positive he wasn’t up for it because of the friggin raind delay. I was at the game last night and noticed that Moose was ready to warm up in the bullpen at 6:44, but waited until the clock said 6:45 to start. At first I thought he was being superstitious, but when I remembered his comments about the extra day of rest messing up his routine, I became convinced that we’re dealing with a cranky prima donna. Hopefully he proves me wrong… which he can do by pitching well. That’s all we ever really ask, isn’t it?

    2. The Scout
      May 23rd, 2007 | 1:58 pm

      Pushing the argument one step further, if Mussina continues his downward path through the end of the season, do the Yankees eat his contract for 2008 and release him or try a “dump via trade” path as they did with Sheffield and Johnson? Posing the question makes it clearer why Cashman is the wrong GM after this season. Apart from his other flaws, he seems to display the natural human tendency to refuse to admit a mistake.

    3. j
      May 23rd, 2007 | 2:03 pm

      As long as they have 3 starters better than Mussina on the roster (making him the #4 or #5, whatever that means), then he’s fine. Perhaps a little overpaid, but fine.

      If he’s starting Game 2 of playoff series’, we’re screwed.

    4. rbj
      May 23rd, 2007 | 2:13 pm

      I was ok with the new contract, because I wasn’t convinced that any of the young arms were ready. Considering that most of the rest of the rotation was a question mark in Igawa, an elbow worrying Pettitte, and a joke (try and guess who that is), Moose wasn’t such a bad option. It’s clear though, that he’s a #5 now. Bummer.

    5. Garcia
      May 23rd, 2007 | 2:17 pm

      Steve, I think if you look at these pitchers:

      Then it becomes a no-brainer, Mussina is the worse out of all of them.

    6. The Scout
      May 23rd, 2007 | 2:18 pm

      Do you want an over-the-hill Moose as your #5 starter in ’08 if that blocks the path of a promising youngster? Whether Mussina was a good option last fall (perhaps the only realisitc option) is a separate issue. Look ahead and consider whether Cashman can distance himself from his past choices enough to make the tough call on Mussina after this season.

    7. j
      May 23rd, 2007 | 2:21 pm

      “Posing the question makes it clearer why Cashman is the wrong GM after this season. Apart from his other flaws, he seems to display the natural human tendency to refuse to admit a mistake.”

      I guess if you really want to give Cashman a report card for each player acquisition, you can. In my book, he’s still way in the black overall. You can’t judge his decision on Mussina until the 2 years is up, but he certainly got an above average pitcher for below market price last year.

      Cashman is not the problem; he’s just now getting out from underneath some bad Tampa-made decisions. Pavano still lingers and that is on Cashman because he could of sold him for fifty cents on the dollar to Colorado or St. Louis in the offseason. But he did snag Abreu who was great for us last year, he caught lightning in a bottle with Aaron Small and Shawn Chacon, without whom we would have not made the playoffs in 2005. He gambled on a top notch pitching prospect in a trade for Sheffield which resulted in no net cost (he basically got Whelan and Sanchez for free) and he’s got us 9 to 10 starting pitchers deep.

      If you really want to bust on Cashman, the moves that should have been made were for Beltran and Guerrero instead of Sheffield and eventually Damon. Bernie should have been shown the door earlier. But the popular theory (despite how true it is) is that Cashman has really only recently come into power. I think we’ll like what we see through 2010, as our 2 dimensional, older, injury prone roster becomes littered with 5 tool (albeit high priced) players and young pitchers.

    8. RICH
      May 23rd, 2007 | 2:25 pm

      “I was at the game last night and noticed that Moose was ready to warm up in the bullpen at 6:44, but waited until the clock said 6:45 to start.”


      How the heck do you know he was waiting for the clock to change? Has he said previously he wants to start his warmups at precisely 645? I wouldn’t doubt it but you seem so sure of what his thoughts were precisely at that minute.

    9. baileywalk
      May 23rd, 2007 | 2:34 pm

      I can’t believe you guys are ready to bury Mussina after six starts.

      He’s had two good starts, three bad starts, and one incomplete start (when he pulled his hammy).

      He had this exact same stuff last year and he was statistically the best pitcher on the staff. Because he faltered down the stretch a bit and took some time off, people seem to forget just how brilliant Mussina was in ’06 (and no, Steve, it wasn’t because it was a contract year). He had a 35/172 BB/K! He’s not done.

      We have zero idea what Clemens is going to look like back in the AL East. Last year, in the NL, he was basically a five-inning pitcher who didn’t strike a ton of people out (considering he saw the pitcher twice a game). How does that translate to facing teams like the Red Sox?

      I think Hughes is better than everyone in that rotation but Wang, so it goes without saying that he’s better than Moose, but I think Moose deserves a few more starts before we call him a geezer who’s a fifth starter at best.

    10. snowball003
      May 23rd, 2007 | 2:49 pm

      My only problem with Moose is that he’s been a bit of a whiner. After his first start didn’t go so well, he didn’t make any excuses. He said “it was bad, and it needs to be better,” basically. But the last couple times, he’s made some mention of the extra rest and, while I agree that the blown 2nd base call made a huge difference, it still kind of seems like he’s making excuses.

      I didn’t mind his performance last night. He got into some trouble in the first, but then stayed out of it until the blown call in the 7th.

      He’s not the Ace, but he’s a good part of the rotation.

    11. j
      May 23rd, 2007 | 2:49 pm

      “How the heck do you know he was waiting for the clock to change? Has he said previously he wants to start his warmups at precisely 645? I wouldn’t doubt it but you seem so sure of what his thoughts were precisely at that minute.”

      I was staring at Mussina, while he was starting at the official time on the scoreboard. The second it changed to 6:45, he started to pitch. I was like, 20 feet away from him. Given the context of his comments from his previous start, in which he basically used the extra day of rest as an excuse for not pitching well, I thought it logical to conclude that he is either very rigid with his pre-game regiment, and was waiting for an exact time to start. I suppose he could just be superstitious.

    12. j
      May 23rd, 2007 | 2:51 pm

      “staring” not “starting”. It was weird.. Moose was literally staring at the time, waiting for it to change. When it did, he turned to the bullpen catcher and starter to throw.

    13. Mike
      May 23rd, 2007 | 3:54 pm

      When Clemens joins the team and Hughes re-joins the team, the Yanks should try to trade Mussina. I understand he has a no-trade clause, but couldn’t they convince him to play for an NL Team that needs some veteran pitching? He is from PA, would’t he look better in Phillies pinstripes than Yankee pinstripes?

      I would rather have a rotation of:
      Clippard/DeSalvo ect…

      I think Mussina is cooked.

    14. Lee Sinins
      May 23rd, 2007 | 4:31 pm

      Mussina’s 38 years old. Over the past years, he’s only had 16 RSAA.

      Let’s look at the active pitchers who were +/- 5 RSAA of Mussina for the ages of 35-37. (Let’s define active as pitched as recently as 2006)–

      Woody Williams: -19 RSAA at age 38 (2005), -19 RSAA for ages 38+

      Tim Worrell: -7 RSAA at age 38 (2006), career over

      Mike Stanton: -3 RSAA at age 38 (2005), -3 RSAA for ages 38+

      Kenny Rogers: 1 RSAA at age 38 (2003), 47 RSAA for ages 38+

      Rheal Cormier: -7 RSAA at age 38 (2005), 3 RSAA for ages 38+

      Trevor Hoffman: 14 RSAA at age 38 (2005), 20 RSAA for ages 38+

      Terry Mulholland: -3 RSAA at age 38 (2001), -30 RSAA for ages 38+

      Brian Shouse: like Mussina, age 38 season is right now

      I also just had the CBE expand the search to include all such pitchers over the past 30 years, even if not active. The expansion did not even uncover 1 additional case of a similarily situated starting pitcher who was effective for ages 38+, even if we were to define effective as low as having a mere 1 RSAA left in him.

    15. L-girl
      May 23rd, 2007 | 4:42 pm

      Hi, please forgive the cut-and-paste comment.

      I’ve started a petition to tell Major League Baseball that a significant number of fans dislike interleague play and want it abolished.

      Please visit Petition to End Interleague Play (http://www.petitiononline.com/mlb2007/petition.html) and read it. If you agree, please sign it and consider posting it on your blog.

      I’m hoping to spread the word among serious baseball fans. I realize it may do very little, but I thought it was time we stop complaining to each other and tell management how we feel. Thank you!

    16. Raf
      May 23rd, 2007 | 5:52 pm

      Lee: Mussina has had 16 RSAA over his career? Wow. For some reason I thought it was higher than that.

      L-girl. Interleague play has been around for much too long. And to be honest with you, with the 2 game series, and the travel in general, and series that don’t “mean” anything (TB-WSN), I don’t think it’s worth it. But as long as NYY-NYM and LAD-LAA and series along those lines do well, interleague play isn’t going anywhere.

    17. May 23rd, 2007 | 10:37 pm


      That was supposed to say Mussina had 16 RSAA over the previous 3 years.

      He has 303 career RSAA.

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