Friday, August 8, 2008

Mike “Maximus” Mussina?

Note: Howie, Dan’s pessimistic friend and former roommate, will be guest blogging today as Dan meets his girlfriend’s parents. Yup. That sentence was correct.

We’ve said it a million times, but where would this team be without Mike Mussina? Never did anyone expect to see anything like this. I have never been a Mike Mussina fan, as I felt he had two terrible habits – coming up rather small in big games and complaining. However, we have seen a new man. As Moose has lost some of his natural ability, he has truly learned how to pitch. This is all the more interesting because he was always an intelligent pitcher. It took him a full season, it seems, to get used to the loss of some of his natural abilities. Now, he stands as the difference between a team that still hopes to sneak into the postseason and an unmitigated disaster.

Every time I see Moose take the mound, I tell myself that we have been lucky to get this much out of him. And, he continues to produce. Now, with the Joba injury, we must get these types of outings from our geriatric ace. We now depend on Moose producing W’s. Last night, the second consecutive biggest game of the season, was perfect. Moose was in full command (with the help of some key double plays, particularly in the 6th inning) completely shutting down a very formidable offense. (By the way, has anyone else noticed that the Rangers hitters always look the same? The names change, but the lineup continues to be filled with muscular, poor fielding players that all produce offensively only to see their team fail due to a consistent lack of pitching) Then, some solid relief from Bruney/Marte and Mo, and we’re off to Anaheim with a salvaged split. These last 2 games were so desperately needed considering our struggles with the Angels.

As great as yesterday was, this team will not be around in a few weeks if it scores only 2 runs off of the Scott Feldmans of the world (those of you that know me are fully aware that I root for every Feldman in the majors). We simply cannot expect the pitching on this team to continue to overachieve. If we see a falloff from the pitchers, which should naturally occur given Joba’s injury, the offense will have to step it up just for this team to remain on the level it has been on, which is that of a team that would just miss the playoffs. Plain and simple, this offense will need to erupt if we are to see this team playing meaningful games the last 2 weeks of September.

A few more notes….

Will this season be the last for my favorite Yankee, Melky Cabrera? While no Yankee plays harder (A-Rod and Jeter seem to play just as hard), Melky is regressing offensively. Sadly, I don’t believe this team can afford to carry such little production from their center fielder next season, especially from the production fall-off we are seeing at catcher. The short-term drawback will be more days with Johnny Damon in center.

Great to see the captain deliver in the first inning last night (a la the 2000 Subway Series). I agree with this blog’s author that Derek Jeter may be the biggest culprit on this underachieving offense. So, it was great to see #2 give us an early lead last night. We will need big hits from the shortstop if we are going to make a run. One more note about Jeter: How many times has he been thrown out on the bases this season? Often considered the “best baserunner in the major leagues,” our captain has cost us many outs this season. Seems very out of character (along with his .280 average).

Will A-Rod set the major league record for consecutive games hitting into a double play? I am not sure what this record is, but I am sure it is held by Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada or Hideki Matsui.

Will the Yankees ever get Marlon Byrd out?

Lastly, if you tell me that Joba comes back healthy for opening day next season but doesn’t pitch again this year, I’m signing the papers.

Dan will be back shortly. I only hope I was able to fill one of his size 6 shoes.


John Williams said...

The whole "learning how to pitch with diminished stuff" thing is not quite right, IMO.

His stuff was worse last year. His pitches are getting stronger as this year goes on. Last year he was hurt and his velocity was down.

I would say his stuff now is comparable to 2006 when he was also the #1 pitcher on NYY and he had a great run of quality starts.

2007 seems more of an injury plagued year. Its not like his stuff left him in 2007 and all of a sudden in 2008 he adapted- as all the writers are saying.

Sure his approach has changed but his stuff is also better and he's hitting his spots better.

This doesnt mean he will definitely keep it up the rest of the year or be the same pitcher next year. It's hard to say.

b said...

Glad to see you're back Howie! Your fans were worried that you gave up blogging at 30.