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Twenty & Out
2008-09-29 05:22
by Emma Span
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

The Yankees ended the season on a good note, at least -- I'm going to pretend the second game of the double header, started by the inimitable Sidney Ponson, isn't happening; humor me -- beating the Red Sox 6-2 and earning Mike Mussina his long-deferred 20-win season. It's a statistical acheivement that I think we can all agree is an arbitrary and ineffective way of measuring a pitcher's worth... but still pretty damn sweet. A few weeks ago I didn't think he was going to pull it off, and I'm very glad I was wrong.

The Red Sox never mounted a sustained threat against Mussina, who allowed two walks -- he didn't allow even three in a single game this year --and three hits in six innings, using just 73 pitches. He left the game then, surprisingly, with a three-run lead, courtesy of a Xavier Nady fly ball that had bounced off the top of the wall by the Pesky Pole and into the stands for a home run. Mussina explained afterwards that his elbow was still sore from the comebacker it took in his last start; I figured that was probably the case, because otherwise you’d have expected him to lunge at Joe Girardi with a bat sometime during the eighth inning, when Joba Chamberlain, Brian Bruney, and Damaso Marte allowed two runs and looked like they might be about to collectively blow it. No jury would’ve convicted him.

But Mariano Rivera came to the rescue (of course), entering the game with the tying run on base and, calcified shoulder and all, nailing down a win for Mussina for the 49th time. And Mussina wasn't sweating it, at that point: "I knew with Mo in the game, it was going to be all right." Me, I still half expected Carl Everett to pop out of the Fenway shadows and ruin everything. Instead, the Yankees tacked on three insurance runs off Jonathan Papelbon in the top of the ninth, and whatever else fell apart this season, at least this one thing went right.

After eight years with the Yankees, Mussina says he'll take some time now to decide if he wants to keep pitching. Personally I'd be happy to see him back, but at the same time, it's very rare for an athlete to walk away at the absolute top of their game; if Moose pulled it off, I'd have a ton of respect for that decision.

--

UPDATE: So the Yanks went ahead and played the second game of the doubleheader, despite my protestations, and it was actually somewhat dramatic -- as dramatic as a meaningless late-September Spring Training game can be, anyway. All the scrubs were in, and Sidney Ponson pitched very well, I suspect just to spite me.

The Yankees were down 3-2 with two outs in the ninth when Robinson Cano drove in the tying run. But Jose Veras couldn't stave off the Sox in the tenth; he loaded the bases, someone named Jonathan Van Every singled home Alex Cora, and the Sox won 4-3. I say we all just agree to consider Mussina's win the end of the 2008 season and leave it at that.

Comments
2008-09-29 06:07:14
1.   Sliced Bread
I think we, as NY baseball fans, are entitled to be bitter and petty this morning -- so I'm going to share this with the class:

I think I was actually more pleased to watch Papelbon melting down in the rain than I was to see Moose find his Holy Grail. There, I said it.

Dark October. That's NY baseball for ya.
$340 million in combined payroll and we can't buy a playoff game in the big city. But at least we have two new, state-of-the-fascist architecture palaces in which to worship our scrappy underachievers.

Let's go Wall Street! (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap!)

2008-09-29 06:25:27
2.   Mattpat11
MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSE

The only thing missing was it should have happened at home, but that's a minor point and doing it in Boston is pretty nice.

2008-09-29 06:55:52
3.   Schteeve
I always believed he would do it. With every thing else that went wrong this season, I just had a feeling that this was gonna go our way.

Good on ya, Moose. If you come back I'll be happy to see your cranky ass at the new stadium (personally I believe he will come back and use the old "Want to see the new place," line as one of his reasons.

2008-09-29 06:56:13
4.   Schteeve
)
2008-09-29 06:58:23
5.   3rd gen yankee fan
Congrats Moose.

I actually enjoyed the 2nd game, but when I saw Veras coming in, I said, This guy's going to lose the game for us. Otherwise, it was interesting to see the Yankees play like they wanted to win.

2008-09-29 07:06:51
6.   Raf
5 In fairness, Melky played that ball into a triple.
2008-09-29 07:08:58
7.   Shaun P
After the whole Randolph firing fiasco, I am thrilled beyond words that the Mets' owners and front office miss out on the postseason. Icing on the cake: they are giving Omar a four-year extension. Good luck with that one, Wilpons! Can't wait to see next year's bullpen!

I feel bad for the Mets' fans. To make it worse, today Buster Olney says, what the Mets really need to do to compete and win next year, is to fix David Wright, because he puts too much pressure on himself in big at bats: http://tinyurl.com/3qmth8

Wright, mind you, hit a paltry .340/.416/.577 in September, 160 sOPS+ (basically a 160 OPS+ just looking at September). This after hitting .352/.432/.602, 164 sOPS+ in Sept '07. Can't count on that guy when the season is on the line.

Jose Reyes - he of the .243/.314/.402, 89 sOPS+ for September '08, and .205/.279/.333, 58 sOPS+ for Sept '07 - well, says Buster, he's a great young shortstop signed to a multiyear deal. Nothing to fix there!

Sheesh. Glad there's nothing like that about the Yanks right now.

2008-09-29 07:14:36
8.   Knuckles
Congrats to Moose- as Emma said, an arbitrary number, but still happy to see him so happy. If anyone deserved it, it was Mussina.

Can't decide whether to root for the Cubs or Rays this October. They both have so much to recommend them...quaint ballparks, die-hard, long-suffering fan bases, years of futility, Lou Piniella...aw who am I kidding- Go Cubs Go!

I hope the Angels-Sox series goes 7 games, and game 7 goes 30 innings, leaving the victor too spent to compete in the ALCS.

Time to check the pilot light on the Hot Stove...

2008-09-29 07:21:23
9.   ms october
today feels weird.
different than the last 3 years of frustrating playoff losses.
a little more of a now what feeling - but i feel like i can at least watch the post season without the bitterness of the last few years - with the only really strong feeling is to hope red sox get knocked out by the angels.
moose's 20 wins was a really nice way to cap a season that was otherwise disapointing.
i read through the game 2 thread and several people remarked on how great moose's post game was - 2 of my favorites were him kind of complaining that it always rains at his starts and how damon only throws someone out once or twice a year.
3 definitely agree - i would love to see his cranky self back next year.

i don't really feel ready for the whole cashman situation yet. nevertheless it will be an interesting hot stove for the yanks.

2008-09-29 07:22:26
10.   Raf
7 But Reyes offers spark and energy at the top of the order? Oooh, look at him dance!
2008-09-29 07:25:28
11.   dianagramr
10

so does that scrappy Dustin Pedroia!

2008-09-29 07:31:36
12.   Yankee Fan In Boston
very, very happy for moose. all the whining aside, he deserves this.

10 pedroia has been playing worlds better than reyes. that was sarcastic, right?

the big question is: can i officially consider ponson a free agent yet? i'll be twiddling my thumbs until i get the okay.

2008-09-29 07:32:05
13.   Bronxer
8 The ALDS can only go 5 games, not 7, but I agree. I'm rooting for Rays - Brewers Series, just to see how low the ratings can be measured.

11 Mr. Scrappy will probably be top 3 in the MVP - hard to believe ...

2008-09-29 07:36:47
14.   Sliced Bread
APNewsAlert
NEW YORK (AP) -- Dow Industrials fall 300 points on anxiety over
Scarlett Johansson's marriage.
2008-09-29 07:46:07
15.   rbj
Moose's game was technically game #162, so we can say Moose closed out the season with a win. Just because #162 came before #161 is no reason to think otherwise. Besides, we can just blame the Large Hadron Collider.
2008-09-29 07:48:44
16.   Knuckles
13 Doh, the Yanks miss the playoffs and I immediately forget how many games are in each postseason series...
2008-09-29 08:02:38
17.   williamnyy23
7 Move over Arod...the unclutch police have a new whipping boy.
2008-09-29 08:05:03
18.   williamnyy23
12 I don't think you can say Pedroia played worlds better than Reyes. The OPS+ edge was only 123 to 120 and that's before you consider Reyes speed and position. The problem for Jose in the comparison is he seems to play down to an OPS+ of 120, while Pedroia plays up to his 123.
2008-09-29 08:07:18
19.   dianagramr
18

and Jose tires/disappears in September

(I blame that on Mets management not having a capable backup for he, Wright and Beltran to give them a few days off during the year)

2008-09-29 08:09:33
20.   Shaun P
12 Free agency doesn't start until sometime after the World Serious ends; maybe ten days later? I don't remember exactly how long we have to wait.

I can't wait to see which competing team signs Marte to help shore up their bullpen - as long as the same team doesn't sign Abreu too. =)

The only sad part about free agency is that I-Rod is almost certainly not going to be a Type A free agent. Still, he'll be a Type B, and when he signs elsewhere, the Yanks will get a supplemental pick between the 1st and 2nd round. The more picks the better!

Oh, and Farnsworth has fallen so far, he won't even be a Type B. =)

2008-09-29 08:12:45
21.   williamnyy23
20 Abreu seems like a perfect fit for the Mets. He is a lefty Aalou who never gets hurt. The reason the Yankees can't bring him back is because they already have Damon and Matsui who are pretty much the same player.
2008-09-29 08:12:59
22.   Sonya Hennys Tutu
Congratulations Moose!! And thanks for proving me wrong all year long :) Now please come back and do it again next year! :D Sorry I doubted you and your ability to make the necessary adjustments...

OK. Now, can we start talking about the hot stove season and nothing else? Predictions? Desires? Is it too soon?

2008-09-29 08:19:28
23.   Shaun P
19 That's what amazed me about Buster's blog - its clear from just looking at the season splits that Reyes always falls off in September! His career splits for September are .248/.307/.378 (worse than his overall numbers); Wright's career Sept splits are .327/.395/.554 (better than his overall numbers).

Buster had a story line (Wright presses in big ABs) and ignored the stats to go with it. Not cool.

2008-09-29 08:23:19
24.   Shaun P
21 I agree, but Omar may be happy with Church in RF and the Murphy/Evans platoon in LF. That bullpen has got to be his first priority - though we all know how well buying free agents for the pen works! - and the rotation will probably be second, with Pedro and probably Perez gone.

I'd prefer to see the Dodgers dump Andruw Jones and go after Abreu, since Bowa and Torre love him so much and they could use the OBP and probably won't worry about his defense - because the Dodgers will draft higher than the Mets. =)

2008-09-29 08:33:16
25.   JL25and3
8 Definitely the (Devil) Rays. More than anything else, I hope it's not Cubs-Red Sox in the WS. The blather would be intolerable.

One correction, though. The Cubs have a long-suffering fan base; The (Devil) Rays have, I believe, a long-suffering fan.

2008-09-29 08:44:20
26.   williamnyy23
24 But we want the lower pick, so the Mets is the better destination. Personally, I think whomever has the 16th pick in the draft could really use him.
2008-09-29 08:48:06
27.   Shaun P
26 We agree but we are using different terms. The Dodgers have the 17th pick - which would normally be 16th, but for the Nats' extra pick for not signing Aaron Crow - and the Mets have the 24th pick, just in front of the Yanks. You say lower, I say higher . . . =)

For the record, the other teams that pick in front of the Yanks but after the protected picks, are Florida Marlins, St. Louis Cardinals, Toronto Blue Jays, Houston Astros, Chicago White Sox, and Minnesota Twins. Any of those guys signing Abreu or Marte is a good thing for the Yanks.

2008-09-29 08:49:40
28.   williamnyy23
26 Just to clarify, by lower, I mean higher...understand? The Mets did have the better record than LA, so yes, the Dodgers would be the better landing spot.
2008-09-29 08:49:42
29.   ny2ca2dc
20 That type A/B predictor on the Detroit blog had Marte as a Type A! So he may be worth more if he departs, though I think he's worth keeping if only to flip at the deadline, and as lefty depth. meh. I wonder if Giambi has played himself into type B status, that would be awesome. I'd like to see every type A/B FA get offered arbitration. Use the money the team has. If they accept arb and ya really don't want them, trade them for whatever you can get while paying a couple mil. I doubt this approach would eat into the CC or Tex (or Dunn) money.
2008-09-29 08:57:42
30.   williamnyy23
29 I think Giambi should also be Type-A. The only problem with offering Giambi arbitration is he might accept, making the cost of his 2009 season + the buyout close to $20mn.
2008-09-29 09:15:04
31.   Shaun P
30 I would have agreed with you until about a month ago, when I heard about this guy's (http://tigers-thoughts.blogspot.com/) reverse engineering of the Elias scoring. As of his last update (Sept 14th), Giambi is barely a Type B: http://tinyurl.com/5evgl7

Someone will give Giambi two years, so I'm not afraid of the Yanks offering him arbitration. However, if he won't even bring back a supplemental round pick as a Type B, its not worth it.

2008-09-29 09:17:54
32.   ny2ca2dc
30 If Giambi comes out type A/B, he's the only one that is a gray area - and it's not the cost, it's the fact that he's a 10/5 guy so would have a NTC even on arb. But if he's a type A, I think it would be worth the risk.
I don't think it's worth considering the buyout in the calculus - it's a sunk cost. Giambi back on a one year deal though, even if he couldn't be traded, would let you look at trading Matsui (preferably) or Damon, and still sign Tex or Dunn.
2008-09-29 09:19:08
33.   williamnyy23
31 I wonder if someone will offer him two years at significant money though. It is conceivable that he could get $15mn in arbitration. If that happens, the question becomes how much could he get for two years? If the answer is $20mn, Giambi might think he could get at least $5mn in a one-year deal for 2010, while giving him more flexibility about where he wants to play.
2008-09-29 09:20:05
34.   underdog
24 Dream on, Shaun. :-)

I also believe the Dodgers will receive another 1st rounder as comp for losing Derek Lowe -- perhaps the Yanks would be interested in signing him?

2008-09-29 09:20:38
35.   dianagramr
Perhaps players shouldn't play/workout in the rain?

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3615141

"Francona said after Sunday night's regular-season finale that Beckett strained the oblique muscle in his side on the 40th pitch of his normal side session Friday in the rain before the opener of a three-game series with the New York Yankees."

2008-09-29 09:21:36
36.   williamnyy23
32 Good point about the buyout with regard to arbitration, but if you are going to buyhim out and then offer arbitration, it might make sense to offer hima $18mn one year deal instead of losing a $15mn case and also paying the $5mn buyout.
2008-09-29 09:22:23
37.   williamnyy23
34 Lowe would definitely be on my radar for a three year deal, especially if Moose retires.
2008-09-29 10:47:40
38.   Shaun P
34 37 With the Yanks porous infield defense, and playing in the toughest division in all of MLB, I wouldn't touch a going to be 36 years old Derek Lowe. He didn't exactly shine in his last season in the AL, and that was when he was 4 years younger.

I think the Dodgers are going to end up surrendering that pick, underdog. =) In all seriousness, you guys have enough youngsters that losing one first round pick for one year won't hurt. Besides, the way Logan White drafts, I'm sure he'll make up for it.

2008-09-29 11:10:08
39.   ny2ca2dc
36 But my goal would be for a type a/b FA Giambi to walk after being offered arb. So if you just offer him an 18mm one year deal, you lose the possibility of getting those picks.
2008-09-29 12:03:54
40.   williamnyy23
38 If you add Texiera and Cano goes back to being a top defender, I think some of the defensive risk is mitigated. As for age, Lowe always struck me as a bit immature, so it doesn't surprise me that he has improved with age. His durability is also a huge plus. I wouldn't make him a centerpiece, but I think he would be a better option than Sheets or Burnett.

39 Right, but in order to get the picks, you have to offer arbitration. If you do that, you run the risk that Giambi accepts, which means you tack on the $5mn buyout to his cost.

2008-09-29 13:49:35
41.   OldYanksFan
I think Giambi would love to stay with the Yankees, but I believe he will accept if it's not to be. I would think they would work out a deal where if it came to arb, it was agreed that Jason would decline. I believe short of exercizing his option, the $5m is lost to Giambi regardless, so Jason has nothing to gain by not cooperating.

The bottom line is if the Yanks take the option, it costs them $17m net. Part of me thinks while this is overpaying, he did post .247 .373 .502 .876 this year with 32 HRs (better then Bobby and Jeter) and considering we don't know about Po, it might not be a horrible idea. Frankly, with the Yankees cash, no one year deal can be that bad. At the same time, if another team was willing to give Jason another 2/$25, he might consent to a trade.

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