Tonight’s game — a closer-than-it-should-have-been 6-4 win over the White Sox — proved that, yes, Mike Mussina can keep hitters off balance. In fact, he pitched like a more effective version of Jamie Moyer tonight. Funny how Hank nailed that one.
On the evening, Mussina went after hitters. He threw inside fastballs and had his slow, slower, slowest stuff out in full force. Except for two solo home runs, he largely silenced the White Sox. In seven innings, he gave up four hits, walked one and struck out three. He’s 2-3 with a 4.94 ERA, and if Mussina can keep that ERA around 4.50-4.75, the Yankees and their fans would be thrilled. With this game tonight, Mussina silenced the criticism for a few more trips through the rotation.
Meanwhile, the story of the night by the end of the game wasn’t Robinson Cano’s utter bad luck, and it wasn’t Jason Giambi’s utter lack of mobility at first base. Although both were out in full force tonight, the development from this game was LaTroy Hawkins and his inability to get hitters out. While I know that 9.2 innings does not a season make and I know that the Yankee fan reaction is “he’s not producing; let’s trade him,” I firmly believe that LaTroy Hawkins is simply wasting a roster spot on the Yankees.
For the season, Hawkins has made nine appearances, and he’s given up runs in four of them. He’s thrown 9.2 innings, given up 12 ER on 15 hits and four walks while striking out five. By any measure, he is right now the Yankee mop-up man, and I have to wonder about the wisdom of keeping him on this team for longer than necessary.
At AAA, the Yankees have three guys who have been throwing well — Chris Britton, Jonathan Albaladejo and Edwar Ramirez — along with Scott Patterson who is off to a slow start. Of those three, Britton and Albaladejo have successful, if limited, Major League track records, and Edwar has flashed bouts of brilliance in between bad outings.
If we assume that the Yankees could get something for LaTroy Hawkins — he is, after all, and Established Name with a track record of success — then they should look to move him. Britton, Albaladejo and Ramirez are all significantly younger than the 35-year-old Hawkins, and their upsides are much higher than Hawkins’. We didn’t need Hawkins in the pen when Brian Cashman signed him out of some requirement for veteran bullpen stability, and we don’t need him now when three guys at AAA could outperform him. If an offer sounds good, I say make the move.