Archive for Mike Mussina
Over the last few days, Hall of Fame talk has inevitably followed Mike Mussina’s decision to retire.
Some writers favor his induction; others don’t. But the debate is more of the same old, same old. The people who will not vote for him can’t get over the fact that Mussina didn’t win 300 games. The people who will smartly vote for him will look at the teams he was on, the teams he pitched against and the general success he enjoyed both relative to the time in which he pitched and to other comparable players.
In my opinion, Mike Mussina is a Hall of Famer. But don’t take my word for it. Just listen to King Kaufman dismiss wins on Salon.com. Many argue, writes Kaufman, that “the Hall of Fame is getting too big. It’s meant to honor the great, not the very good.”
Much as I hate to say nice things about a Stanford guy, I think Mussina’s a Hall of Famer, but I understand and respect those arguments. But the real argument against Mussina going to Cooperstown is going to be dumber than that. It’s going to be about how he didn’t win 300 games…
Mussina got his 270 wins in 536 starts, meaning he got a W in 50.4 percent of them. Sutton got 321 wins — he won three as a reliever — in 756 starts, which was 42.4 percent. Tom Seaver, who pitched on a lot of bad teams and a few good ones, got 310 wins in 647 starts, 47.9 percent. Perry won 44.2 percent of his starts.
If Mussina had won at the same rate in Seaver’s 647 starts, he’d have retired with 326 wins. That would have tied him with Eddie Plank for 13th all time, and not only would no one have suggested he didn’t belong in the Hall, no one would have dismissed the gaudy win total because he played on a lot of winners. With Sutton’s 756 starts — including the one during the Battle of Bunker Hill — Mussina would have won 381, more than anyone but Cy Young and Walter Johnson.
Of course, pitching every fourth day, he might have blown out his arm in 1992 and retired with 11 wins. We’re talking about silly stuff here.
But so is talking about 300 wins. Today’s starters only get the ball a little more than 80 percent as often as yesterday’s. Yeah, they have better medical care and aren’t asked to complete games anymore, but they also have to face real hitters from the top to the bottom of opposing lineups, which was not true in earlier eras.
If 300 wins used to be your magic Hall of Fame number, you need to lower it.
This is, of course, but one reason why Mussina deserves a spot in Cooperstown, but it’s a relevant one nonetheless. Maybe someday, the voters will understand that. I guess we’ll find out in five years.
Or: Wins are a really stupid metric for evaluating anything
This post comes from RAB commenter tommiesmithjohncarlos.
I was thinking about this again this morning, so I did some quick research on Baseball-Reference.com. Enjoy the following narrative, brought to you by The Committee to Induct Michael Cole Mussina into the Hall of Fame.
#1: June 22, 1992
Mike pitches 8.0 innings, giving up 5 hits, 1 walk, and 2 runs, strikes out 7, and is replaced after the 8th with a 4-2 lead. In the top of the 9th, Orioles reliever Mike Flanagan gives up a single to Mel Hall and is then pulled for Orioles closer Gregg Olson, who gives up a game tying home run to the first batter he faces, Roberto Kelly. In the bottom of the 9th, the Yankees bullpen gives up a run and the Orioles win, 5-4. Moose gets the ND.
#2: August 15, 1992
Mike pitches 7.2 innings, giving up 9 hits, 3 walks, and 3 runs, strikes out 5, and is pulled during the 8th with a 4-3 lead. In the bottom of the 9th, Orioles closer Gregg Olson gives up a single, a walk, a bunt groundout, a single, and a sac fly and the Royals win 5-4. Moose gets the ND.
#3: August 17, 1995
Mike pitches 8.0 innings, giving up 6 hits, no walks, and 2 runs, both unearned (on a dropped flyball by Bobby Bonilla in the second inning that would have been out #3), strikes out 8, and is replaced after the 8th with the game tied at 2. In the top of the 10th, Orioles reliever Jesse Orosco gives up a leadoff homer to Gary Gaetti in his second inning of work and the Royals go on to win, 3-2. Moose gets the ND.
Mike pitches 8.0 innings, giving up 4 hits, 2 walks, and 1 run, strikes out 9, and is replaced after the 8th with a 2-1 lead. In the bottom of the 9th, Orioles closer Armando Benitez gives up a one-out home run to Ed Sprague to tie the ballgame. In the top of the 10th, Roberto Alomar hits a home run of his own to retake the lead and the Orioles go on to win, 3-2. Moose gets the ND.
#5: July 7, 2001
Mike pitches 7.0 innings, giving up 6 hits, 1 walk, and no runs, strikes out 10, and is replaced after the 7th with the game still a scoreless tie. After two more scoreless innings from Jay Witasick, in the top of the 10th, Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera has one of his rare implosions and gives up a walk sandwiched around 4 line-drive singles, all with two outs, to score 3 runs and the Mets go on to win, 3-0. Moose gets the ND.
#6: July 17, 2001
Mike pitches 7.0 innings, giving up 8 hits, 3 walks, and 1 run, strikes out 3, and is lifted for a pinch hitter in the top of the 8th with the game tied at 1. Much later, in the top of the 12th with the game still knotted at 1, Phillies reliever Wayne Gomes gives singles to Jeter and Tino and a homer to Jorge and the Yankees go on to win, 4-1. Moose gets the ND.
#7: August 12, 2001
Mike pitches 8.0 innings, giving up 2 hits, no walks, and 2 runs, strikes out 9, and is replaced after the 8th with the game tied at 2. In the bottom of the 9th, Yankees reliever Mike Stanton walks Johnny Damon and, one batter later, gives up a two-run homer to Jason Giambi. The A’s win, 4-2. Moose gets the ND.
Mike pitches 7.0 innings, giving up 5 hits, 2 walks, and 1 unearned run (on a first inning error by centerfielder Raul Mondesi), strikes out 8, and is replaced after the 7th with a 2-1 lead. In the bottom of the 8th, Yankees reliever Steve Karsay gives up a game-tying homer to the first batter he faces, Randy Winn. Two innings later, Yankees reliever Sterling Hitchcock gives up a single, a double, an intentional walk, and then a single and the Devil Rays win it, 3-2. Moose gets the ND.
Had Moose had a slightly better collection of relievers (or fewer defensively challenged outfielders) over the years, and had the 2001 Yankees not been utterly shut down by Mets “ace” Kevin Appier in that 7/7/01 game, etc., Moose could have won these 8 contests, since he pitched damn well in all of them. What’s the significance of these eight games, you ask? Well, if we use our magical time machine to alter these games and give Moose the victories instead of the no-decisions, not only would Mike’s career record now be 278-153, he’d now have SIX, COUNT ‘EM, SIX twenty-win seasons:
…which means none of us would be having this conversation about “Is Moose a Hall of Famer”? Bill Plaschke, Jon Heyman, Jay Mariotti, Wallace Matthews, George King III, Joel Sherman, and even Mike Lupica himself would be singing Moose’s praises from the mountaintops and viciously excoriating anyone who dared question the credentials of an absolute stud ace who won 20 games an unbelievable six times.
(And don’t forget that Moose went 16-5 during the strike-shortened 1994 season, where he was robbed of probably 10-12 potential starts. Do your own math on that one.)
So please, people. Seriously. We can’t allow media idiots to keep Mike Mussina out of the Hall of Fame because of a few bad games from Gregg Olson, Armando Benitez, Bobby Bonilla, Raul Mondesi, Steve Karsay, Mike Stanton and one good game from Kevin Appier. That’s insanity.
He’s been in the game since 1991. He’s pitched to Bo Jackson and Dave Winfield, Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols, and everyone in between. His first start came on Game 1,674 of Cal Ripken’s streak, less than two-thirds of the way through the Iron Man’s record.
And now, 3,562.2 innings and 270 wins later, he’s calling it a career. He spent his entire baseball lifetime pitching in the hell of the American League East, and at one point threw at least 200 innings in nine straight seasons. His streak of 10 or more wins in 17 straight seasons is an American League record.
He never won a Cy Young Award, never won a World Series, never led the league in ERA, and never led the league in strikeouts. The closest he’s been is second in each instance, seemingly defining Moose’s career as “almost.”
Mussina finishes his career with a record 100 games over .500 (117 games to be exact), something only 20 other men have accomplished. Of those twenty, 16 are in the Hall of Fame. The other four (Clemens, Maddux, Glavine, Pedro) will be some day. Moose should one day make it 21 for 21.
We’ve watched him thrive and we’ve watched him struggle, but most of all we’ve watched him be nothing but a class act. Talk about the Mooseman here, or whatever else is on your mind. Keep it classy, like Mike.
Via Ken Rosenthal, Mike Mussina has decided to call it quits and retire. The soon-to-be 40 year old leaves the game after his first 20 win season, having grossed over $144M in his 18 year career. Only 32 men have won more games in the big leagues than Moose, a rather remarkable number. The decision will be officially announced later in the week.
Congrats on the wonderful career Mike, few have done it better.
Update by Ben: From a personnel perspective, this leaves Yanks now with just Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain as their starters under contract. The Yanks will probably now try to wrap up a deal with Andy Pettitte in short order and may increase the team’s push to sign CC Sabathia and either A.J. Burnett or Derek Lowe. Of the two Yankee starters from 2008, I was hoping Moose would be back instead of Andy, but you have to respect Mussina’s decision. He’s definitely going out on top.
Since the end of the season, Yankees fans have been waiting to hear the intentions of Mike Mussina. The 20-game winner doesn’t have a contract for the 2009 season, and there has been heavy speculation that he will go out on top. Still, we haven’t heard much from the man himself. It sounds like he’s still mulling the decision; if he was set on retiring, I imagine he would have announced it already.
That isn’t to say that he’s coming back. The way he told it to Mark Feinsand, he still hasn’t decided one way or another. We could hear from him soon, though. He claims he will make his decision “early next week.”
“I’m still kind of up in the air,” Mussina said Wednesday from his home in Montoursville, Penn. “I’m enjoying my time off, but then again, I always enjoy my time off.”
If he does come back, the first question will be on what terms. Will Moose seek a guaranteed three years, which he feels he’ll need to reach 300 wins? Will he accept a one- or two-year deal with options, perhaps of the vesting or mutual type? Or, most importantly, will he consider pitching anywhere but New York?
For all we know, though, we could be bidding adieu to a borderline Hall of Famer early next week. In either case, it has been a pleasure to have Moose on the mound for the past eight years. You know, except those few months in 2007.
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.
Mike Mussina won the entirely symbolic Gold Glove Award for whichever players the
BBWAA managers and coaches think might be among the best fielders. With his soft hands and cat-like reflexes, Moose has now grabbed seven Gold Gloves. This will probably be the only off-season award a member of the Yanks land although you could make a case for A-Rod for MVP, as shocking as that may sound to some of the A-Rod haters. (Gold Glove Winners)
EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it! The Yankees have room for Mike Mussina in their 2009 rotation. Stop the presses! Derek Jeter isn’t a very good defensive player. I bet you didn’t see any of this coming.
Update by Joe: Holy crap! The Yankees are going to make CC Sabathia their top target! Why aren’t we making a bigger deal of this?!?!?!?!?!*
* Multiple interrobangs brought to you by tommiesmithjohncarlos.
At this point, it would be a shocker if Mike Mussina did not retire. For years, Mussina has been determined to end his career on his terms, rather than being told he’s not wanted any longer. To walk away after his first career 20-win season, when he could actually get offers from all over the place…the only way it could’ve ended better for Mussina would’ve been a Yankees World Series victory to go along with his personal success.
You can expect a Yankee Stadium farewell news conference shortly after the conclusion of the World Series. I’ll leave myself one percent room for error. But no one who knows Mussina well thinks he’ll pitch again.
If this is true — and no one really has any way of knowing until Mike Mussina gets on stage and announces it himself — it will leave a glaring 20-win hole in the Yankee rotation. Mussina this year showed that he could adapt to age. He converted himself from a fastball pitcher into a Jamie Moyer type and enjoyed one of his best seasons ever.
Now, if Moose were to hang it up, the Yanks would have just Chien-Ming Wang, Joba Chamberlain and Andy Pettitte as definite members of the rotation in 2009. Without Moose to anchor the back end, the team will have to fill from a limited pool of free agents or internally from some combination of Phil Hughes, Al Aceves, Ian Kennedy or any other body that happens to be around.
Furthermore, I have more faith in Mussina going forward than I do in Pettitte, but the point may be moot. Over the last few years, Mussina has watched as well-respected hurlers — Roger Clemens, David Wells, Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling — have gone out amidst relatively poor seasons and injuries. He’d rather leave on top, and if that’s his choice, I’ll applaud him for it. For the sake of the Yanks, though, I hope he’s not quite ready to hang it up yet.
Tim links to an article by Buster Olney in which he discusses the fates of Andy Pettitte and Mike Mussina. According to a “close friend” of Pettitte, the lefty wishes to return for ’09. Further, he says there’s a “growing sense” that Mussina will be up for the task as well. While these aren’t wholly substantive rumors, it gives us something positive for the afternoon. After all, you can’t have too many options in the rotation.