Sep
19

Moose’s hopes for 20 still alive

By

Were the season to end right now, the Chicago White Sox would be playing in October while the New York Yankees would be heading home for the first time since the strike-shortened season of 1994. After this week’s four-game set in the Bronx, that hardly seems fair.

For the third time in four nights, the Yanks held the Chicago offense in check and beat up on their pitching. Javier Vazquez, pitching on three days rest, had next to nothing, and the Yanks cruised to a 9-2 victory. With that win, the Yanks staved off elimination for another day. With their magic elimination number down to one, the Yanks are delaying the inevitable while playing looser and better baseball than they have all season. Funny how that works.

But for a few minutes at the start of the game, things didn’t look so easy. Mike Mussina labored through the first inning, allowing two walks in one inning for the first time since he lasted just 0.2 innings on May 20, 2008. With one run in and the bases loaded, Moose appeared headed for an early exit, and those of us sitting in the upper deck were a minute away from groaning. Not another bad Mussina start, we moaned.

Mussina, in his potential last start as a Yankee at Yankee Stadium, would have none of that negativity. He would allow only three of the last 18 hitters he faced would reach base, and the crowd gave Mussina a thunderous ovation. He tipped his cap, and the normally stoic pitcher even allowed a smile to creep onto his face. He knows as well as we do that his future in the Bronx is not guaranteed.

We’ll have to save that epic debate on Moose’s future for another day. I see the reasons why bringing him back would be a good idea; I see why cutting him loose would be the right step as well. Whatever the outcome, tonight belonged to Mussina, and he delivered. Maybe he’ll get to that magic 20-win plateau after all.

Offensively, another Yankee with an uncertain future led the barrage. Making sure that Home Run Javy lived up to his nickname, Bobby Abreu took Vazquez deep twice in the first three innings of the game. He drove in six of the nine Yankee runs and will also cause the Yanks’ front office and the team’s fans to wonder about the best course of action.

Additionally, Robinson Cano drew a walk. That, in and of itself, is significant as it had not happened since August 20. Cano really must improve his batting eye.

While the old pros gave the Yanks the game, the young kids popped in today as well. Most notable was the Major League debut of number 77 Humberto Sanchez. The center piece to the deal that sent Gary Sheffield to the Tigers, Sanchez had missed much of the last two seasons with a variety of arm injures. In his first outing, Sanchez showed why the Yanks coveted him. He hit 95 on the stadium gun, and his first big league out was a backwards K. He retired the White Sox in order on that strike out and two ground balls. Sanchez — along with Mark Melancon — should be a big part of the 2009 Yankee bullpen, and this duo should allow us all to forget about Joba the Reliever.

But the kids will wait until next year. Tonight belonged to Mussina, and in his final start at Yankee Stadium, he delivered his 72nd win in those hallowed grounds.

Categories : Game Stories

54 Comments»

  1. Moose has earned another year, with a team option on a 2nd – period. If nothing else, I hope we’re seeing the real Brett Gardner. If so we have next year’s center fielder.

    I’ll be there tomorrow (Fri) and Sunday. It’s hard to beleive they are letting Pavano pitch in one of the last 3 games at “The Shrine”. I heard Susan say Mo was pitching Sunday whether the Yanks were up or down by 27 runs. Personally, I hope it’s a save situation. I’m also excited to see Bernie, and hope the Yankees have lots of surprises in store, including the retiring of YMCA and Cotton Eyed Joe.

    -Scott

    • Steve says:

      With 18-20 wins he’s earned another 2 guaranteed years, but unfortunately I think it will be with another team. He’ll have to turn down 2-3 year offers (and a chance at 300) to come back with the Yanks. Thats a LOT to ask of a player.

      I know there’s talk of him retiring, but you hear that from a lot of veterans this time of year. I don’t take it all that seriously. He lives in Pennsylvania, if the Phils offer him 2 years and chance at 300 with a good hitting team in the NL that is 30 minutes from his home, that will be very tempting for him. I can’t see him turning that down.

  2. Does anybody have video of Humberto’s first appearance? I missed the game. Had alot of work to do.

  3. Steve says:

    When it comes down to both Moose and Pettitte, the Yanks will have a question to answer which doesn’t favor either.

    Who do you want as your #4 starter next year. Moose/Pettitte or AJ Burnett?

    Burnett could win 20 this year as well, pitches to a similar ERA and strikes out over a batter an inning. When he’s on, he can be dominant. He breaks down some, but at Andy and Moose’s age its hard to count on them, to be 100% healthy, either.

    That could be a tough sell to bring back Andy or Moose.

    • Steve says:

      Lets assume they sign CC. The rotation would be

      CC
      Wang
      Joba
      Pettitte-Moose-Burnett
      Hughes

      You have to choose one of those guys to be your #4. Money’s not an issue, Yanks have 90 mil coming off the books. Who gives you the best chance to win a World Series next year?

      In all honesty, its Burnett. Plus you get the added benefit of getting him off the Blue Jays, who you play 19 times a year and where he kills us on a regular basis.

      • Kelvz says:

        How bout signing both Burnett and Moose/Andy as our 4 and 5? let Hughes start at AAA and earn his way up or be the first to be called up in case of injuries?

        • The Scout says:

          That is the approach I would favor, though who the five established major league starters would be is open to debate. I do not want to hand Hughes, Kennedy, or any other kid a starting slot. They should earn it through performance. With the inevitable run of injuries, the innings limit on Joba, etc, the team needs 8 starting pitchers to get through the season. Beginning the year at AAA is no shame.

      • Haggs says:

        I like Hughes, but, as of today, his name should not be in the first five or six names of the 2009 rotation. If it is the Yanks are making the same mistake they made last year. His name should be written in pencil in about the number 8 spot on the depth chart, and just hope he sails through winter ball and spring training. Consider Hughes gravy.

        From LoHud re: Moose:

        “Mussina hasn’t decided whether he’ll continue but said he’d pitch for the Yankees if they want him in 2009.”

        “I’ve always loved pitching here,” Mussina said. “That’d be a simple answer.”

        http://yankees.lhblogs.com/200.....-news-377/

        The Yankees would be foolish not to bring him back. They need all the starting pitchers they can get. If I have to go through another half season of Rasner, Ponson, etc…my head will explode.

        • TurnTwo says:

          no, they wouldnt be foolish to not bring him back. i think the chances that he can come back and perform in 2009 with the same level of success and consistency he pitched with in 2008 are if not remote, at least highly unlikely.

          that being said, if they brought him back on a one-year deal because they determine he’s the best option available, then sure, roll the dice and hope for the best.

          i prob wouldnt bring back Moose or Pettitte if i really had to decide right now, but i’m sure i’m in the minority on that one.

          and that decision doesnt have to be made yet, anyway. got plenty of time to sort thru those decisions.

          • Haggs says:

            No, they definitely would be foolish.

            This year did not come out of nowhere, and this is not a Bernie Williams situation.

            Last year he was terrible, but two years ago he pitched at the level he is pitching at now.

            If you read his quote above, it sounds like all the Yankees have to do is pick up the phone this winter.

            They can have a pitcher who has had borderlie great success in New York – no small feat – for a short term deal and (in today’s terms) very little money.

            Two words: NO BRAINER.

            • TurnTwo says:

              again, not a no-brainer.

              if the yankees make no other moves to bring in new pitching, its a no-brainer, sure. need veteran arms to eat innings, take the ball every 5th day.

              cant count on Hughes or IPK. dont know what you can realistically get from Aceves, Horne, Wright, or (enter any younger pitcher’s name in the organization here) to contribute at the MLB level.

              so yeah, you need a veteran to throw quality innings. Moose makes sense.

              but if you sign a Sabathia, and maybe another FA arm like Burnett, Sheets, Garland, or Perez, or get an offer for a young stud like a Matt Cain-ish type arm, you have to weigh all your options and decide who is best to lead this team for 2009 and maybe beyond.

              i personally dont think you can count on Moose to be this consistent and healthy again next year as he was this year.

              but if you’re telling me that when the yankees weigh all their options, that he’s the best available pitcher to plug into the 2009 rotation, then go ahead and sign him for another year.

              but then i’ll be prepared to wonder if a 40 year old, soft-tossing right hander well on the backside of his career is the best option the yankees have to bring on board for the 2009 rotation, whether or not 2009 will finish any better than 2008 did.

          • The Scout says:

            Moose doesn’t need to perform at this level to be an important contributor. This year the Yankees got about a dozen wins from their top two starters, Wang and Chamberlain. Next year those two, if healthy, could win 30 between them. If Mussina comes back and wins a dozen games, he will solidify the back of the rotation. Bear in mind that he learned this year how to pitch within what his arm will now allows him to do. He will carry that over next year.

            • TurnTwo says:

              so you’re basing this on the same logic that figured IPK and Hughes could give the yankees at least 20 wins from the back of the rotation this year?

              havent we figured out you cant guess or make assumptions on win totals like this?

              • The Scout says:

                There is one key difference — Hughes and Kennedy have never done it in th emajors. Wang certainly has and Chamberlain showed he could over a longer period than either of the other kids.

                • TurnTwo says:

                  but in the same breath, didnt we see what injuries can do to derail the rotation expectations, too?

                  you like to be able to estimate what expectations you’d like to see as you put the team together, but there are too many things that arent in a team’s control to predict win totals.

            • steve (different one) says:

              If it is the Yanks are making the same mistake they made last year.

              i kindof disagree.

              if the Yankees had CC, Wang, Joba, and Moose as their front four, i think they could afford to go into the year with Hughes penciled into the #5 spot.

              that would be a HUGE difference from starting the year with Wang, Pettitte, Moose, Hughes, and Kennedy.

              the wildcard in this equation is Aceves. he would be a big part of the equation as the 6th starter, sucking up the excess innings from Hughes and Joba. i think the difference between Aceves and Rasner is enough to feel ok about their depth there. maybe Cashman plucks a veteran starter off the scrap heap and stashes him in AAA just in case.

              i wouldn’t be opposed to doing it your way, with Hughes starting the year in AAA. i’m not saying you are “wrong”. but if they handed the #5 spot to Hughes, i wouldn’t be upset provided they address the top of the rotation and get some bats.

      • DaveM says:

        I had a similar thought, but with a slightly different take.

        CC
        Wang
        Joba
        Moose (2 years)
        Pettittte (1year)

        with Hughes and IPK waiting in the wings in case of an injury. And there will be one.

    • Mike A. says:

      Who do you want as your #4 starter next year. Moose/Pettitte or AJ Burnett?

      Well, who would you rather have putting up a 4.30 ERA: Moose/Pettitte at $8M, or Burnett for $15M?

      • Haggs says:

        Yeah.

        I’m not basing this on much of anything, but Burnett does not strike me as the type of guy who would excel here. I have visions of him getting booed off the mound and landing on the disabled list with a bum arm halfway through the first year of his deal.

        But I would like to see him out of the AL East.

      • Steve says:

        With 90 mil coming off the books and the printing press they’re opening up across the street, money is the least of their concerns. Throw in the fact that the cost of building the stadium gets deducted from future revenue sharing. They can (and I think will) make this decision with Baseball as the principal concern.

        I don’t love Burnett. I question his commitment to compete with how he gets up for some games and not others. He’s also had a rep for going on the DL for ticky tack injuries. But more and more it seems the Yanks are heading in his direction, and as I previously stated I can’t make a convincing argument for Moose/Pettitte and against him.

  4. Yank Crank 20 says:

    This all wouldn’t matter if we signed C.C. and traded Cano, Kennedy and another prospect for Peavy.

    1) CC
    2) Peavy
    3) Wang
    4) Joba
    5) Hughes

    Yeah, of course it’s a far stretch from reality, but i’d take that over having to decide between Pettitte and Moose.

  5. frits says:

    “Additionally, Robinson Cano drew a walk.”

    STRIKE UP THE BAND!

  6. scottnar says:

    There has been a lot of talk lately about peavy and i just don’t know where it is coming from. I know the Padres are looking to cut some payroll but why would they want to unload one of the best young pitchers in the game, it just doesn’t make sense. His name needs to stop appearing in any discussion. As far as Burnett goes I think it is a huge mistake to make a run at this guy. He is always injured and putting up his best numbers this year in a walk year. I agree 100% with Haggs, this guy is not cut out for NY. I would much rather have Moose/Pettitte than this guy. Go after CC hard, make Joba a full time starter and resign both veterans who have proven they can handle NY. Andy will bounce back and Moose will be a great back end guy. And you still have Hughes et. al. ready to go if one should fail.

    ’09 rotation
    CC
    Wang
    Joba
    Moose
    Pettitte

    • TurnTwo says:

      well, the idea behind moving Peavy is to shed $17 million (or so) of payroll off a team that wont have a chance to compete in an awful division for the next couple years anyway.

      im not sure if Peavy will go anywhere, because i’m guesing since he signed that “hometown discount” to stay in SD they gave him some sort of no-trade protection… you’d have to check cot’s for the info specifically.

      but if they want to shed payroll and acquire prospects to rebuild, he’s their best chip to get the most back in return. makes sense in theory.

      • scottnar says:

        true but I think he is young enough where they can take a few years to rebuild and still have them as their ace. I think trading for a guy like Cain or Billingsly is more realistic. The giants have a lot of young talent and they could afford to move him to get some offensive help

        • Jamal G. says:

          “The giants have a lot of young talent…”

          Really?

          • frits says:

            Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, Tim Lincecum, Buster Posey. That’s a pretty good start, no?

            • TurnTwo says:

              3 pitchers and a 2008 draftee? seems like they have an awfully long way to go.

              not that the Padres are in a much better position…

              that whole division stinks.

              • Chip says:

                Well at the ML level we basically have Hughes, Joba and Cano for good young players. Would you trade our three young guys for their four? That’s a tough one but I’m a homer and say ours are better :)

                • frits says:

                  Well, right now Lincecum> Joba, Cain> Hughes. The value of Cano exceeds the immediate value of Sanchez+ Posey, but not for long.

                  I’ll take Lincecum and Cain over Joba and Hughes any day of the week and twice on Sunday though.

                • Chip says:

                  I completely agree except what if Joba>Lincecum and Hughes>Cain next season? With guys this age with this much upside, you never know.

              • frits says:

                Yeah no one said they were the best team around, but they do have a lot of young talent. No doubt about it.

                • JohnnyC says:

                  The thing we know about CC and Burnett is that they can pitch successfully in the AL East. We don’t know that about Cain and Lincecum. There is enough of a disparity in talent between the leagues to put that in question. Not saying Lincecum and Cain aren’t talented, just saying look at the context for their performances.

  7. steve (different one) says:

    one thought on Cano, i’ve read a lot of posts about how the Yankees should try to trade Cano for Cain or Billingsley, etc.

    don’t we have this completely backwards?

    the FA market is fairly rich with pitching, as is the Yankee system. and all told, the Yankee pitching really wasn’t THAT bad this year. it was really the lack of offense that did them in.

    my point is that the Yankees need to get younger, but they should be looking to move pitching for young position players, not young position players for a pitcher.

    a trade like Cano for Cain might make sense in a vacuum, but i think it’s the wrong approach.

    yes, you can NEVER have enough pitching. and no, not all of Hughes, Kennedy, Brackman, Betances, Joba, McAllister, Horne, etc. will pan out.

    but i think if you are going to be trading prospects, you should be looking for an OFer or a 1Bman.

    • Chip says:

      Problem is, those are the positions traditionally the easiest to get out of free agency. The most difficult is an ace pitcher, CFer, SS, 2B and C. There’s always a big bat as a corner outfielder, first baseman or third baseman. It’s those up the middle positions that are hard

      After saying that, I still wouldn’t trade Cano. We’ll be just fine with the pitching we have if we can sign CC. If we can’t, well then maybe it’s time to get interesting but honestly Joba and Wang could both be (or already are) aces.

      A rotation of
      CC
      Wang
      Joba
      Mussina
      Hughes

      is a very formidable rotation when you consider the success Coke and Aceves are having and would be waiting in AAA (or competing with Hughes in spring training)

  8. scottnar says:

    I agree, I don’t think we need to get a young pitcher if it means giving up cano. the pitching was decent considering rasner and ponson were are 4 an 5 for the better part of the year. that’s why they need CC and re-sign moose/andy.

    the young talent i was referring to jamal in the giants organization was their pitching. they have a couple of kids on the farm they think will translate to success in the majors, that’s why i mentioned cain as being expendable.

    our offense needs to be addressed big time. might have to think about re-signing Bobby unless he wants more than 2 years then i say no way. love to go year to year but he won’t want that. too many questions at C,1B, and OF. its just a mess with damon, matsui, jorge, nady, melky, gardner. I say you give gardner a shot at CF, play Damon in left and Nady in Right. having said that it still leaves the Bobby question out there. The problem is that we don’t what jorge has left behind the plate. He is definitely a future DH once matsui and damon are gone after ’09. If he can still play the position you catch him keep molina as the backup and hope cervalli can take the job in 2010

    • Chip says:

      I honestly don’t think we’ll see Bobby back. Like you said, we have three pretty good outfielders and Matsui back next season. I really don’t think there’s a question mark at the catcher position either. Posada will be back with his subpar defense but more than make up for it with the bat. First base is the only issue that needs to be addressed IMO and for that we have a choice of Tex, Giambi, possibly Dunn or let Miranda and Shelley bash away for it

      • scottnar says:

        what is the max. years you give to TEX?

        • steve (different one) says:

          7

          • Chip says:

            I agree, 6 or 7 figure 20 mil a year

          • scottnar says:

            I would do that, no way if he wants ten. so to sign him and CC we’re looking at roughly 50 mil a year. Let Bobby go and move Nady to right. Re-sign moose so here’s what we’re looking at.

            rotation
            CC
            wang
            joba
            moose
            hughes

            lineup
            damon lf
            Jeter ss
            A-rod 3b
            tex 1b
            Matsui DH
            Nady RF
            Jorge C
            Cano 2B
            Gardner CF

            Thats not bad with a solid pen

            • Chip says:

              And Mike A would be very happy to report to you that you have plus defense at CF, 3B, 2B, 1B and LF. That should more than cover for Jeter and Posada’s defensive inadequacies. Plus, that’s still a savings of something like 30 mil a year so we could still pick up a Garland or Burnett and be good.

              Also, figure we lose our first and second round picks for CC and Tex. We still gain two for Bobby, one for Giambi (don’t have to offer type-B arbitration to get the pick anymore), another for Pettite if he signs (ok that’s a maybe) and our first round pick from this year. You’re still looking at like 4 or 5 picks in the first 2 rounds which definitely isn’t too shabby!

              I love being the enternal optimist

  9. PYanks says:

    Small correction on the main story which lists our elimination number as 1:
    Magic elimination number (AL East): 2
    Magic elimination number (wildcard): 3
    Hey…why not hope???

    I keep Moose for another year, too. He said he would gladly come back to the Yanks next year; that means he’d probably take a pay cut, if it came to $$$.

  10. [...] Mike Mussina earned himself a nice curtain call last night, Carl Pavano wishes he could win the adulation of the fans that way. Pavano, another [...]

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