The Nexus Of The Universe

Mike Mussina used to be such a great pitcher. Now granted, he has had good moments(coming in relief in the Aaron Boone game and making the Red Sox look like little leaguers) and some bad(last night), but he has always been a very steady pitcher. Thus is not the case anymore. Last night, he got hammered. Allowing 9 runs in 3 innings. Over his last 3 starts, he has an ERA of 17.68. Ugly and just plain terrible. No other way to say it. These are his #s overall:

8-10, 5.53 ERA, 76 Ks And 23 BBs In 123.2 Innings BAA Of .313

Now, there are alot of reasons for this. One reason, he is 38 years old. Another reason could be he was injuried to start the season. But when you watch him pitch, it looks like there is something seriously wrong with him. His pitches are flat, softball cookies that the hitters just smash the cover off of. They basically go right down the middle, with no movement, and obviously he has no speed. I've said this a few times already. He looks like Kevin Brown in 2004 and 2005. Now, everyone in NY remembers Kevin Brown. In 2004, Kevin Brown put up an OK year, but imploded on the mound in game 7 of the Choking Display Of The Century against the Red Sox. Then in 2005, he was so bad, he just made you angry all the time. He punched the wall because he bombed on the mound, then sucked even more, then went on the D.L. Not very productive:

4-7, 6.51 ERA, 50 Ks And 19 BBs In 73.1 Innings, BAA Of .341

That is what Mussina is turning into. Now, I know Mussina is alot smarter than Kevin Brown. I know Mussina ain't punching the wall because he just gave an extra session of batting practice. But as far as actual on the field pitching goes, Mussina just looks shot. I'm not gonna blame Cashman for signing him up for 2 more years. When he did it, I thought it was a good move. The Yanks weren't gonna get anyone else and last year, Mussina was classic Mussina.

15-7, 3.51 ERA, 172 Ks In 35 BBs In 197.1 Innings, BAA Of .241

When you look at Mussina's stats, something jumps out at you if you watch him and know what kind of pitcher he is. For one thing, the large difference in stats is obviously shocking. But something jumps out at me: He never walks alot of people. Even though he does try to paint the corners and nibble away, he still doesn't walk much. Which tells you 2 things:

1. When in a 3-2 count, he has not been able to make that big pitch to get the out. It could be a strikeout, groundout, or a high, fly ball caught at the wall. Either way, he has found ways to get the outs throughout his whole career because he has had great control when he channels it and he is a very smart pitcher(think Jamie Moyer). But this year, it has been different. It ain't that he is all of the sudden Kyle Farnsworth, meaning that he is still smart. His control is bad. Well, you might say: "If his control is bad, why isn't he walking alot?" That is because he gets in holes, then tries to make the perfect pitch because he doesn't feel confident in his stuff, throws the ball so that it gets way too much of the plate(I guess that is him trying to go after the hitter), and the hitter eats it up and smashes it down the line.

2. Which leads to this one: he is old. He is 38, with no speed, in the A.L. Very tough. But even so, I see the logic in Cashman giving him an extension. He must have been thinking:

"Look, Mussina is getting old, but he has been getting by on smarts and location all these years. He should be able to give us innings and wins for a good 2 years. There are older pitchers with less stuff than him in the majors still winning games."

I would have thought the same thing. I guess I can't run the Yankees. Damn It!!! Anyway, this begs the question: What the hell do you do with him?

1. Dump Him- Just release him. Pretty simple. But if you do, you will have to eat his contract. The Yankees have never liked doing that(then again, what team does?). If they do that, they will have to swallow the pill that is his 2 year, $23 million deal. They are not doing that.

2. Trade Him- Who in there right mind would take him right now? NEXT!

3. Move Him To the Bullpen- This would be a stupid move. Mussina has only pitched 1 time in his entire career in relief. That was that gutsy performance against Boston in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. Saved the game for the Yanks. But, that was only one game. Mussina has always struggled in the first inning of games. He needs time to settle down and get in a rhythm. Coming in from the bullpen in a tight game doesn't seem like the best spot for him. I think he would be a disaster in the pen.

4. Put Him On The D.L.- That doesn't seem like that bad of a choice. Maybe he just needs a break and he needs to fix something. Or it could be something is seriously wrong with him. At least that is what it looks like. But there is still one big problem with all of the 4 choices: Who will pitch in his place?

Ian Kennedy- This is another pitching prospect the Yanks are nuts about, but they already said he has reached his limit for the season. They are being very careful with him(and every other young pitcher). He is not coming up yet.

Jeff Karstens- This year, he has a 11.20 ERA. No thank you.

Tyler Clippard- Even if his ERA was in the 6s, he still went 3-1. I can see them giving him a shot, but not in September, in a playoff race.

Chase Wright- I don't even know why I brought him up. He was pretty good until Boston spanked him 4 times with back to back to back to back moonshots. And the last possible choice...

5. Keep Him In The Rotation- Really, what else can they do? You might have to keep him in for now and hope for the best. If he keeps pitching like this, you'll have to take him out once in a while. But he has more experience than the other options and he is still a better pitcher than those guys.  

The reason why I made this blog is because this is a huge issue for the Yanks. Don't get me wrong, I'm in a great mood. The Yanks beat Dice-K tonight, Joba contiuned to dominate everyone he comes in contact with, and I won Part 1 of the bet I have with Mac. Good times tonight. But this is a glaring issue. The Yanks need all the pitching they can get to make the playoffs. In the words of Mr. Mandelbaum, It's Go Time!



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