October 08, 2005
Mussina Alone, Not Home
From the AP via SI:
Mike Mussina can only wait, watch and hope.
Bad weather is expected Saturday in New York, and if a rainout pushes Game 4 of the AL division series to Sunday, the Los Angeles Angels will consider bringing back Game 1 starter Bartolo Colon to pitch on four days' rest.
But the Yankees don't plan to do the same with Mussina. They didn't even bring him back to New York.
Mussina stayed in Los Angeles when the series moved East. He was the winning pitcher in Game 1 and would be scheduled to start a deciding Game 5 in Anaheim -- if the Yankees can force one. They trail 2-1 in the best-of-five series.
So even if the weather forces a game in New York on Sunday, Mussina isn't expected to be there.
Whoever had this brilliant idea should be fired. I hate this for two reasons.
First, it sent a terrible message to the team. "Yes, were 1-1 in the series with two games to come in our own park. But, we're so convinced that we cannot win two games in a row, that we're leaving Moose behind because we know before we even play the next two games that there will be a Game 5 back in L.A."
Second, and especially now that Game 4 is pushed back a day, what if the Yankees needed Mussina in Game 4? Face it, if the Yankees lose Game 4, there's no Game 5. It's all hands on deck - including Mussina. If it's the kind of game were you need everyone to win it, you do it, and worry about tomorrow's starter when tomorrow comes.
I have no issue with sending a guy out the day before - in fact, I recommend it. But, this move with Mussina is not that type of situation (for the reasons stated above).
When the Yankees lose this ALDS because of a spot in Game 4 where Mussina could have saved them, it will be another chapter in the legacy of Mike Mussina's Days In Pinstripes. I'm starting to think that it's no coincidence that they have zero rings since he showed up.
Why anyone on this team felt there was a need to leave Moose out west this weekend is beyond me.
Posted by Steve Lombardi at October 8, 2005 07:53 PM
I'm starting to think that it's no coincidence that they have zero rings since he showed up.
As if one pitcher had that kind of control...
Moose wasn't the sole reason the Yanks lost from 2001-2004. Moose isn't the reason the Yanks are down in the series 1-2
Posted by: Raf at October 8, 2005 09:30 PM
"We didn't decide that until after Game 2," said manager Joe Torre. "It made sense, because he would have had to leave [Saturday] during the day [in order to fly ahead for Game 5]."
Posted by: Raf at October 8, 2005 09:38 PM
So, then, he doesn't leave early, and goes with the team on Saturday. I'd rather see that than the white flag of "let him stay because we think we're going to lose a game."
Further, what's he doing there? Working out? Where? With who? He'd be better off with the team and going west with them, if it was necessary.
Posted by: Steve Lombardi at October 8, 2005 10:28 PM
Alan Embree stayed behind to work out with him:)
I agree with you 100% on the message part. I thought the same message was sent in the ALCS last year when we started El Duque instead of Mussina in game 4. Torre even said that he did it that way because we'd have Mussina in reserve if we lost game 4. They should've went for the kill. Part of our problem is the last few years it seems we play to not lose, not to win. There's a big difference. I think Rivera should've went 2 innings in that game 4 as well and Gordon should've been passed over. (Another example of this mentality would be when Brosius didn't turn that double play in the 2001 Series, game 7, bottom of the 9th. He was scared of throwing the ball away rather than making the big play.)
As far as the Mussina coincidence, it's just that, a coincidence. By and large he was a good signing, considering he is still capable after 5 seasons of a six-year deal. Compare him to other guys with similar terms- Kevin Brown and Mike Hampton come to mind. Mussina is probably the best free-agent pitcher signing the Yankees have had since Catfish Hunter. I'd even rate him over Key, who got the latest dynasty rolling in a lot of ways, and Gossage.
I've been digging into that new Yankees box set, and I think Don Zimmer was a LOT more responsible for our success than realized. Throughout the games I've watched, he's telling outfielders where to play, yelling at guys to take big leads when the situation warrants, and you can constantly see him advising Joe. This guy was the brains behind our operations, it's too bad George pissed him off for reasons unclear. Torre is the master at handling our players, and I think Zimmer took care of the strategy. I don't think Gordon would've pitched that game 4 or at least game 5 in the 2004 ALCS if Zimmer was still there.
Posted by: JeremyM at October 8, 2005 10:46 PM
Four months ago,
I wondered the same thing.
Posted by: Steve Lombardi at October 8, 2005 11:41 PM
Looks like Torre learned nothing from last year.
//Torre conceded, though, that he was "kicking myself in the rear end" after he sent Mussina back to New York to get ready for Game 5 of the Division Series against the Twins. When the decisive Game 4 went into extra innings, "I said, I wish we had this guy to win a two-inning game as opposed to a nine-inning game," Torre said.//
Posted by: Jen at October 9, 2005 12:00 AM
Of course it's not the same thing, and I'm not saying they are...but wasn't it Moose that has claimed to be bothered by jet lag in the past? I think he said this when they went to Japan (which is, of couse, far different than just a 3 hour time difference), but if he's really THAT bothered by something like that, then maybe it is a better idea that he be in Anaheim...
BUT I AGREE WHOLEHEARTEDLY WITH YOUR ASSESSMENT THAT THEY PLAY TO NOT LOSE, which is extremely frustrating. It's very true that they needn't worry about game 5 if they lose game 4. To me, it's the postseason: everybody is available at ALL times, if necessary.
Posted by: Rafael at October 9, 2005 12:03 AM
This is the biggest pile of stink. They could have used Chacon Friday in relief and had Mussina for Sunday at home. There was a 99.99999999% chance of a washout Saturday.
Dumb, dumber, dumbest.
Posted by: Don at October 9, 2005 12:14 AM
Don, everyone was calling for Friday's game to be the washout, not Saturday. Even when I was driving to the Stadium at 5:30 there were still doubts that they would get Friday's game in.
Posted by: Jen at October 9, 2005 12:37 AM
Who starts game 5? Where's the Angels' game 5 starter?
Posted by: rilkefan at October 9, 2005 02:10 AM
>but wasn't it Moose that has claimed to be bothered by jet lag in the past?
Moose complains about anything he can think of. If he loses game 5, it'll be because he was lonely, or he had a hangnail, or the sheets in his hotel didn't have a high enough thread count and it threw off his pitching arm. They need to stop pacifying him and start telling him to shut up and pitch. Lou?
Posted by: hopbitters at October 9, 2005 10:49 AM
It's not like Moose is the most reliable guy ever. If we beat the Angels today with Chacon (BIG BIG BIG IF), I don't feel any better about having Mike Mussina on the mound for our playoff lives in Game 5. Does everyone forget that Moose was in this same situation last Sunday when it might've come to him to pitch us into October? Does no one remember how nervous that made us? Moose is better off as far away from this team as possible. He's a damn bum.
Posted by: MJ at October 9, 2005 12:09 PM
Mussina's ERA in the playoffs is 3.16 in 19 appearances, which includes a bad 1996 with the Orioles and an unbelievable 1997 with the Orioles. That doesn't include his start from this season in which he didn't allow any runs but only went 5.2 innings. Has he laid some stinkers? Hell yes. But Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens, and David Cone have as well. Do I have a lot of faith him in game 5? I'll be pretty damn nervous truth be told, but I would be nervous with Cy Young pitching as well.
Posted by: JeremyM at October 9, 2005 01:20 PM
Jen, you were listening to the wrong weather reports then because Saturday was a virtual guaranteed rainout as I said above. In fact the weather 'expert' that Mike and the angry puppy had on their show indicated Friday's game would more then likely be played and Saturday was Noah's Ark time. He said this on Thursday and Friday afternoons.
Posted by: Don at October 9, 2005 01:33 PM
Just to compare Moose to some of his contemporaries. Again, I don't know what to expect from this guy in a hopeful game 5--remember the perfect game he was working on in game 1 of the ALCS last season, and next thing you know he gave up 4 or 5 runs? Anyway, and these stats do not include 2005:
Mussina: 6-6 ERA 3.16 in 119.2 innings
Pettitte: 13-8 ERA 4.05 in 186.2 innings
Clemens: 10-7 ERA 3.49 in 180.2 innings
Pedro Martinez: 6-2 3.40 ERA in 79.1 innings
Schilling: 8-2 ERA 2.06 in 109.1 innings (very impressive)
Randy Johnson: 7-8 3.08 ERA in 108 innings
Smoltz: 14-4 2.70 ERA in 199.2 innings
Glavine: 12-15 ERA 3.57 in 194 innings
Maddux: 11-14 ERA 3.22 in 190 innings
Cone: 8-3 3.80 ERA in 111.1 innings
El Duque: 9-3 2.65 ERA in 102 innings.
Mussina is in the middle, but he has pitched primarily against AL teams while some of the others have varied. Schilling has a case for the best big-game pitcher of his generation, by far, which makes me wonder why he sat for game 3? And don't give me that they needed to win game 3 to play game 4 garbage or whatever it was they were spinning. El Duque has the biggest jump from regular season to playoffs and is one of the best, but towards the end of his Yankees run he was only good for 5-6 innings. Boy could the Yanks use him in middle relief right now.
Posted by: JeremyM at October 9, 2005 01:54 PM
All their ERAs are pretty good, only Andy is above 4, odd considering he trails only Smoltz in wins. Of course, in the post season the other team's starters are going to be good too.
Posted by: rbj at October 9, 2005 06:32 PM
He was scared of throwing the ball away rather than making the big play.
Always get the sure out.
Posted by: Raf at October 10, 2005 08:38 AM
I don't think Gordon would've pitched that game 4 or at least game 5 in the 2004 ALCS if Zimmer was still there.
Given that was the "formula," yes he would have.
Maybe Torre doesn't go with Gordon as long in game 5 (Gordon got a DP in the 7th, got torched in the 8th). Gordon pitched 2 scoreless innings in game 4.
Posted by: Raf at October 10, 2005 09:34 AM