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.
In an otherwise laughable column about the precarious state of the Yankees — does anyone really think the Dodgers would trade Matt Kemp for “the regressing Melky Cabrera and the unphenomenal phenom Ian Kennedy”? — Portfolio writer Franz Lidz drops something of a Mike Mussina bombshell on an unsuspecting fan base.
Relying an an anonymous official who works for one of the current playoff teams, Lidz reports:
Whether the New York Yankees resign Mike Mussina depends almost entirely on his wife, Jana.
The rejuvenated free agent—who, at 39, won 20 games for the first time in his 18-year career—wants to play next season in the new Yankee Stadium and possibly beyond, which would enable him to make a run at 300 career victories. (He’s 30 shy).
But Jana has been adamant that he retire to life on their spread in tiny Montoursville, Pennsylvania, where the family compound is a half-dozen Ruthian clouts from the road and Mike can walk into Elery W. Nau Hardware on Broad Street without having to sign an autograph.
This nugget seems to contradict everything we’ve heard about Moose’s talks about hanging it up. The beat writers all seem to think Moose wants to go out on his own terms and of his own volition. If his wife is involved in the decision — and that’s certainly not an unreasonable or unacceptable proposition — the picture changes a bit.
The Yankees could really use Mike Mussina’s presence in 2009 both on the field and in the clubhouse. If this report is true and accurate, perhaps they can work out a Roger Clemens-type agreement with Mussina that would allow him some leeway on days during which he isn’t scheduled to pitch. For what it’s worth, this injects a new element into an issue I had thought rested on the shoulders of Moose and only Moose.
MLB.com’s 30 team reporters voted for their Comeback Players of the Year this week, and Cliff Lee and Brad Lidge emerged as winners in their respective leads. Mike Mussina was the AL’s runner up, winning 20 games a year after getting yanked from the rotation en route to a 5.15 ERA and an 11-10 season. Had Cliff Lee – demoted to AAA last year — not emerged as the AL’s presumptive Cy Young winner, this recognition would have belonged to Mussina.
What a way for Moose to end his season. Congrats on that 20th victory.
Jim Palmer, an old buddy of Mike Mussina’s for his Orioles days, spoke to a MASN reporter yesterday and dropped in a line about Moose’s future. According to Palmer, Mussina told the Hall of Famer that he doesn’t think he’ll pitch in 2009. If Mussina, who goes for win number 20 this weekend, the Yankees would have quite a few rotation holes to fill in the coming months.
We’ll wrap up both games of the double header later tonight. Needless to say, the Yanks didn’t look too impressive this afternoon as they lost meekly to the Rays 7-1. With that win, Tampa extends their AL East lead to three games over the Red Sox, and the Rays are going to exceed expectations I set for them when I compiled their BP Depth Chart in late March. The Yanks, on the other hand, are utterly underperforming this year.
As we await the start of the second game in less than three hours, let’s ponder Mike Mussina for a minute. Despite his gaudy numbers this year — 17-9, 3.63 ERA — Mussina has been far from impressive lately. In five innings today, Mussina gave up five earned runs on eight hits, two walks and seven strike outs. He couldn’t really get anything past the Rays’ hitters, and this start continues a recent trend.
Since August 12, Moose has now made seven starts, and in those seven starts, he’s 2-2 with a 4.81 ERA. In 43 innings, he’s allowed 53 hits and seven walks while striking out 41. The K totals are great; nothing else is blowing me away.
As the Yankees head into the off-season, the status of Mike Mussina will be one of the team’s biggest internal question marks. He’s been something of a baseball godsend this year, but he’s showing some signs of wearing out down the stretch. Moose will be 40 come Opening Day 2009, and while six weeks ago, I would have advocated bringing him back with no hesitation, now, I’m not so sure about that anymore.
If the Yanks can find reasonable replacements for him, might they be better off cutting ties? I’m glad I’m not the one making that decision.
A little Sunday afternoon discussion for you: Jonah Keri thinks that Mike Mussina belongs in the Hall. Do you? What if he reaches 20 wins this year and somehow makes it up to the 285-300 range over the next few years? This old Moose seems to have a few tricks up his sleeve, and one of them may be earning himself a spot in Cooperstown.