Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Mikey Likes It
2008-08-07 17:01
by Cliff Corcoran

Apparently the recipe for a pitchers duel is to have Mike Mussina face Scott Feldman. Feldman beat Moose 2-1 in the Bronx at the end of June. Last night, Mussina returned the favor, tossing seven shutout innings as the Yankees pulled out a 3-0 win and a series split in Arlington. It was the first time the Rangers had been shutout at home all year. The last game at the Ballpark in Arlington to end with three or fewer runs scored was a May Day duel between Sidney Ponson and Zack Greinke, which the Rangers won 2-1. The only game since that was close saw Feldman beat Greg Smith and the A's 4-0 on May 9.

Derek Jeter gave Mussina all the runs he'd need with a solo homer in the first of Feldman. Johnny Damon singled home Wilson Betemit in the fifth to double the Yankee lead, and Jeter singled Betemit home in the ninth to set the final score. Both times Betemit scored after replacing Robinson Cano on base via a fielder's choice on a comebacker to the mound.

Betemit's trip around the bases in the ninth was particularly interesting. Cano doubled off Jamey Wright to start the inning. Betemit then grounded back to Wright, who caught Cano off second and got him in a rundown as Betemit reached first safely on the fielder's choice. Jose Molina then hit a sinking liner to second base. Betemit thought the ball was going to be caught, so he retreated to first, but Ian Kinsler took a step back and let the ball drop before fielding and flipping to rookie first baseman Chris Davis. Davis instinctualy stepped on the bag only to be surprised to see Betemit already standing there. Unfortunately for the Rangers, by stepping on the bag, Davis retired Molina and removed the force on Betemit, who was then called safe when Davis attempted to tag him out. Singles by Damon and Jeter then plated Betemit with the final Yankee run.

Said Mussina after the game, "You get some breaks sometimes. I've never seen a ground ball that the guy doesn't run from first and he's safe, stays there and is safe, and then we end up getting two hits and scoring a run. I've never seen that."

Mussina also got a break in the sixth when Marlon Byrd, who had doubled with one out, strayed too far off second on a comebacker to the mound. Mussina whirled and ran right at Byrd forcing him toward Alex Rodriguez, who took the throw from Mussina and caught Byrd retreating for the second out. Brandon Boggs, who had hit the comebacker, likely expected a longer rundown and was on his way to second as Byrd was tagged out. Rodriguez then flipped to Cano, who tagged Boggs for the final out of the inning (making it all the more surprising that Cano was similarly caught off second base on that ninth-inning comebacker).

Untitled By his own admission, Mussina didn't have his best stuff, but he got the outs he needed to keep the Rangers from scoring. The sixth was one of three innings that ended in a double play as Mussina scattered eight hits and walked one. In fact, each of Mussina's first six innings ended in either a double play or a strikeout with a runner in scoring position. His only 1-2-3 inning was his last. After Byrd and Boggs were doubled up in the sixth, however, the Rangers didn't get another men on base, as the Yankee bullpen was perfect in relief of Mussina, with Brian Bruney and Damaso Marte splitting the eighth inning, and Mariano Rivera picking up his 28th save in as many chances.

The win was the 265th of Mussina's career and the 15th of his season, marking the eleventh season in his 18-year career that he's reached that total, and the fifth time in his eight seasons with the Yankees. If he stays healthy, Mussina will make nine more starts this year.

2008-08-08 03:01:43
1.   yankee23
He's Mikey and he rocks:
2008-08-08 05:08:11
2.   RIYank
I just wanted the 0808080808 time stamp. I probably can't time the seconds, but if the Toaster's clock is right I should have the minutes at least.
2008-08-08 05:08:42
3.   RIYank
Oh yeah. Duh. I'll be back!
2008-08-08 06:08:41
4.   OldYanksFan
Poor Moose seems to have odd Karma when it comes to pitching stats.

I remember in 1970 when Fritz Peterson was going for a 20 win season. Fritz was a decent, but not great pitcher, who did have outstanding control... except over his wife. In the days of horrible Yankee teams, individual accomplishments were the only real joys a fan could hope for.

In the last game of the year, the Yanks faced a much better team, the Boston Red Sox at Fenway, with Fritz going for #20. Peterson pitched a very good game, and after giving up 2 runs in the 8th, was taken out for Lindy McDaniel in the 9th, with a 4-3 lead. When Lindy threw his first pitch, the TV camera showed Fritz hiding behind the watercooler, almost afraid to watch. It turned out to be too much, and he soon disappeared into the locker room, to await his fate. I remember the camera showing the water cooler with Fritz nowhere to be found.

But Lindy held on, Fritz got #20, and 1970 had meaning.

I can almost see Moose doing the same thing. If I know the baseball Gods, Moose will get 19, and have to reflect on a number of games that we easily could have won. I really, really hope he gets 20, but this smells like a setup to me.

2008-08-08 06:08:42
5.   JL25and3
4 Nice job, RIYank
2008-08-08 06:27:01
6.   mehmattski
So.... candy in the clubhouse???
2008-08-08 06:30:33
7.   3rd gen yankee fan
I'm diggin the baseball card thumbnails, Cliff.
2008-08-08 06:42:28
8.   RIYank
5 You're just trying to make me feel better by referring to the wrong comment.

Shaun, if you're reading: Hughes is scheduled to pitch Tuesday. I'm going to buy PawSox tickets today -- there are some box seats, or I might just get Gen Ad and arrive early.

2008-08-08 06:43:10
9.   OldYanksFan
5 I'm from NH and OUR state bird is NOT a chicken.
2008-08-08 06:43:27
10.   Cliff Corcoran
7 Thanks. I just got a 1979 Topps set and once I get this year's I'll have a 30-year run of regular-issue Topps sets. It struck me that I should make use of them. So, these scans are all from my collection (you can click the thumbnail to see a larger image).

The previous post featured the first regular-issue (meaning non-traded or specialty set) Topps cards of both Mussina and Ivan Rodriguez. Note that Mussina is wearing not his usual #35 (as in the card above), but his rookie number 42. Also, on first glance I was sure he was pitching in Yankee Stadium in that pic, but checking his gamelogs, he didn't pitch in the Bronx until his third big league season (1993). That means the photo was taken at either new Comiskey, Tiger Stadium, or old Cleveland Municipal (the sleeves would seem to rule out his August start at old Arlington Stadium). If it's new Comiskey, it would be a photo from his major league debut.

2008-08-08 06:48:27
11.   ms october
7 agreed - nice touch.

4 thanks oyf - i appreciate the interesting but generally overlooked stories you share about the yankees during that era - i have learned a lot from it.

i was just exploring moose's page over at br.
he really logged a ton of innings from 1992-2003. he jumped from 87.7 plus whatever he did in the mil in 1991 to 241.0 ip his first full year in 1992.
career whip at 1.190 and era+ of 122.
certainly a guy like pedro had a much higher and amazing peak, but moose has really been a top pitcher for a long time.
i am very happy for him and really want him to get 20 and 300 - i would buy that shirt.

2008-08-08 06:50:31
12.   Shaun P
5 Excellent! Thanks for the info, RIYank.
2008-08-08 07:02:34
13.   Bob B
Moose deserves at lest one twenty win season but it seems that the Gods of Baseball have been determined to prevent it. I sure hope the gets it this season since it seems that he has risen from the ashes of last season and reinvented himself. Give him three years and I believe he'll reach 300 wins.
2008-08-08 07:03:34
14.   mehmattski
4 "If I know the baseball Gods, Moose will get 19, and have to reflect on a number of games that we easily could have won."

Looking at his gamelog, there's not too much to be found in the bad luck department. Many of Moose's losses came in games when he was terrible There's two games against the Orioles, the one where he didn't make it out of the first inning on May 20, and another blowout July 28. In general, when Moose pitches well, the Yankees win. There are two exceptions I can see from his no-decisions:

June 9 against the Royals: 8 IP 7 H 2 ER 0 BB 3 K. The Yankees managed just two seventh-inning runs against Luke Hovchevar, and Rivera blew the tie game in the ninth inning.

July 10 at Pittsburgh: 6 IP 9 H 2 ER 0 BB 5 K. The Yankees offense could barely touch Paul Malhom and Mussina left a tied game to Jose Veras, who gave up a two-run homer to Nate McClouth that was the difference. At 98 pitches, it wasn't impossible to send Mussina out for the seventh that day, perhaps things could have gone differently.

Those are Mussina's only two no-decisions. I think when you look at it closely, Mussina's win total is largely his own design and not the result of luck in either direction. If he misses 20 wins, it will be up to Mussina, not the Bronx Buddha.

2008-08-08 07:19:53
15.   Mattpat11
14 He probably should have won the games on June 20 and 30 as well.
2008-08-08 08:01:33
16.   pistolpete
So here's the question of the moment — how long and for how much money do we resign the crafty veteran?
2008-08-08 08:07:40
17.   Cliff Corcoran
16 I think he's a one-year contract guy at this point. He's making $11 million this year. I'd say just re-up him at the same price for 2009, maybe give him a 2010 option. Maybe.
2008-08-08 08:09:54
18.   pistolpete
17 But IYO would he accept 1 year? After his performance thus far, I'm sure plenty of teams would line up to give him more than that...
2008-08-08 08:20:29
19.   ms october
16 i'd maybe try to overpay him a bit - meaning give him a bit of a raise for 1 year and if he wants more years see if he will take a contract where he has an option that automatically gets picked up if he reaches certain numbers (innings pitched, whatver..)

i get the sense from some his interviews that moose would like to keep going since he is feeling healthy and see how many more wins he can get and try to get to another ws and give that a shot; but doesn't want to really change up his whole life to do that, so he might be amenable to staying with the yanks without having to sign more for multi years.

2008-08-08 08:23:29
20.   JL25and3
4 (And this time I really do mean 4 )

Yeah, 1970 was a great year, the year when they turned the corner for the first time. Munson won ROY, Danny Cater came over and had a pretty good year, Murcer and White in the outfield - but it was mostly about the pitching. In fact, even through the lean years their pitching wasn't bad: Stottlemyre, Peterson, Downing, Bahnsen's ROY year. They also built up an excellent bullpen led by Jack Aker, the aforementioned McDaniel, and Steve Hamilton.

They jumped from 80 wins to 93 that year, good for second place - 15 games behind a monster of an Orioles team.

2008-08-08 09:01:33
21.   OldYanksFan
Yes, Danny Cater really changed the dynamic of the team. While he was not your prototypical clean up hitter, sandwiched between Murcer, Munson and Roy White, we actually has a solid if not great middle of the lineup. Danny is also the answer to a favorite trivia question of mine.

Yaz won the Batting Title in 1968 with one of the lowest BAs ever: .301. Who finished 2nd? Danny Cater, .298.

16 You also have to ask about Andy. Even IF we get 'a CC type' of pitcher, considering our youth and their IP limits, both Moose and Andy might be reasonable insurance.
For both these buys, ESPECIALLY Andy (who will be in his final year just to pitch in the new stadium), staying a Yankee should be in the bag.

Short of lowballing them, I believe they will both come back at reasonable salaries... maybe $10m each (HA! TEN MILLION DOLLARS is only reasonable). Certainly Moose wants to be on a winning team, as his goal is both a ring and 300 wins.

Also, we know there is a ton of money coming off the books, and I think we all expect one, or more likely two impact players to be signed.

CC and Tex?
In terms of Winshares, a high end position player is more valueable then a high end pitcher. For example, ARod often has 50% more Winshares then Santana. Considering Melacon and Sanchez, and all the other kids, would it be smarter to sign 2 stud position players (instead of CC)?

And what of Mr. $17m Giambi? And if we don't get Tex or resign Giambi, Sean Casey(34) is a pretty solid and well priced alternative.

Of course, what studs are out there, aside from Tex?
Milton Bradley (31) worth considering.
Pat Burrell (32) I thought this guy was 42.
Adam Dunn (29) Giambi lite.
Manny Ramirez (37) Just say No to idiots
Juan Rivera (30) not good for Yankee Stadium

Not a long list.

In 2010:

Jason Bay BOS
Carl Crawford TB
Jermaine Dye * CWS
Vladimir Guerrero LAA
Matt Holliday COL
Austin Kearns * WAS
Magglio Ordonez * DET

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