Joe Torre hosted his annual Safe at Home Foundation dinner last night. While the news out of the annual gathering of Yankee luminaries included much of what we already know, Joe Girardi dropped something of a Mike Mussina bombshell.
As far as the Yankee skipper knows, Mussina will be calling it quits some time soon. While this is information Moose passed onto Girardi at the end of the season, Joe had no reason to expect Moose to change his mind.
For the Yankees, this decision has immediate impact. Moose threw 200.1 innings last year to the tune of a 3.37 ERA. He won 20 games for the first time in his career and was 12th in the AL in VORP for pitchers, trailing James Shields by just a few tenths of a point. In other words, he was the Yankee ace, and while he probably wasn’t going to duplicate these numbers next year, his potential departure leaves a gaping hole in the front end of the Yankee rotation, Andy Pettitte or no Andy Pettitte.
Enter Derek Jeter. It seems that Mr. Jeter is fulfilling his role as captain. As NJ.com’s Ed Price reported a few hours ago, Derek and CC Sabathia had a chat about New York. Derek didn’t go into detail, but it sounds like the two players had a nice talk about coming to New York. Clearly, the recruiting effort is on.
If the Yanks land Sabathia — and that’s a big “if” right now with so many other teams involved — the deal will be fraught with risks. The Yankees will be committing a lot of money and a lot of years to a pitcher who has racked up 1659.1 innings and is just a few months past his 28th birthday. In fact, only 45 other players in the history of the game have thrown more innings by that age. As with any long-term deal, it’s a risk.
I believe that it’s a risk the Yankees have to take. Sabathia would immediately stabilize the Yankee rotation and give them a front-end trio with the potential to be as good as any other team in baseball. How many times would you imagine the Yanks losing three games in a row with Sabathia, Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain throwing in back-to-back-to-back games?
Of course, the Yankees have a lot of competition for Sabathia. He likes the NL; he’s very good at pitching in the NL and seems to enjoy hitting too. He could end up back near his home in Southern California as well. But the Yankees are interested, and they’re going to put the full-court press on. With Mussina out of the pitcher, Sabathia is the ace the Yanks need. Here’s to hoping they can land him.