08/18/08 5:56 PM ET
Mailbag: Will Moose make the Hall?
Yankees beat reporter Bryan Hoch fields fans' questions
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
-- Derek F., Atlanta, Ga.
After winning his 16th game in the Yankees' 15-6 laugher over the Royals on Sunday, you'd have to say that Mussina has a decent shot at it. That's not too bad for a guy who went into Spring Training just hoping that he'd be able to keep a job in a big league rotation for the entire season.
It hasn't been a secret that Mussina has continued to reinvent himself and that's a major reason why the results are coming -- he's been locating his pitches, changing speeds well and, overall, he has given the Yankees a chance to win more often than not. This space certainly owes him an apology for doubts coming into the season, but somehow it seems like we have a lot of company in that regard.
Mussina-for-Cooperstown should make a great debate one day, especially if he continues pitching after this season and tacks on to his win total -- he has 266 now, tying him with Hall of Famer Bob Feller and Eppa Rixey, and Jim Palmer is just two wins away. Inevitably, his detractors will point to Mussina's tag as 'Mr. Almost' -- he never (as of now) won 20 games in a season, a Cy Young Award or a World Series.
But Johnny Damon made one of the best arguments we've heard to put Moose in the Hall of Fame. Mussina has spent his entire career pitching in the American League East during a time when the Blue Jays won two World Series, the Yankees won four and the Red Sox won two. He's had to face very tough competition and still has a lifetime record of 266-151, so far. A .638 winning percentage is nothing to sneeze at. Mussina will fuel more than a few arguments five years after he hangs his spikes up and retires to a life of crossword puzzles, 1980s re-runs and John Deere tractors.
Looking at next year's rotation on paper, there is an abundance of pitching. We saw what happened with that this year. What happens with Sidney Ponson? He's been very effective and has looked legit since he came to New York.
- Ricky S., Arkabutla, Miss.
The worst thing a baseball team could ever do is evaluate its roster in February or March and decide they have enough pitching. You never have enough, and the '08 Yankees are just one more example of why. While Brian Cashman has said that he does not want to waste any energy trying to forecast '09 yet, Ponson has certainly made a good enough case to receive an offer to stay, proving serviceable at the least.
Ponson's problems in Texas weren't necessarily centered around his on-field performance anyway, and since joining the Yankees he has done nothing to detract in the clubhouse from what the team is trying to accomplish. He's not going to strike out many and relies on his defense to win games, but so far, they've been happy with his ability to compete.
It's been weeks since Jorge Posada's surgery, and a lot of us are anxious for news on how he's feeling. Could he be allowed back in the dugout even though he's out for the season? He's a positive energy element for us.
-- Geoff W., Maui, Hawaii
Posada popped up in the clubhouse during the Yankees' abbreviated three-game series with the Royals in New York, his right arm in a sling. The players were happy to see him, but it's much too early to look for progress reports on Posada's recovery. Right now he's relegated to cheerleader status and he'll check in with the Yankees when they play home games for the rest of the season, as well as seeing the team's medical staff for routine checkups.
The Curse of the Bambino is dead. The curse of Richie Sexson is not. No team makes the playoffs with Sexson on the roster, but everyone has a chance once Richie leaves. Chart his career.
-- Phil P., Asheville, N.C.
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Not to disparage Sexson, but just out of curiosity, this claim was worth a look. The 2000 Indians were 51-48 when Sexson played his last game for them before being traded, and they finished 90-72. That's the only one that works, but there was no victory parade through the streets of Cleveland that year.
The '03 Brewers wrapped their season 68-94 and actually finished one game worse in '04 without Sexson on board. He played 23 games for a bad D-backs team in '04 that still finished under .500 the next season (though they were second in a weak National League West). And I don't think they're printing any playoff tickets in Seattle this season. Suffice it to say, the Yankees shouldn't hang their hat on this.
Hypothetical question: Let's say that Carl Pavano comes up in September and puts up the numbers the Yankees expected him to. Would the Yankees even consider the thought of signing him to a one-year deal?
-- Brian J., White Plains, N.Y.
Cashman likes to say he's open to consider everything, but this scenario might set a new record for brevity. Let's call it what it is -- Pavano's four years in New York have been disastrous and expensive for the Yankees, and ultimately disappointing for both sides. Pavano has a vested interest in coming back to pitch Major League games in '08 so he can find a contract for next season, and he probably will. Yet it would be stunning if he reports with the Yankees' pitchers and catchers in '09.
I haven't heard anything about Chien-Ming Wang. Is he still going to be back this year or is he lost for the season?
-- Jesse C., Waynesboro, Pa.
Good question. The Yankees' initial prognosis put Sept. 1 as a potential return date, but Wang was still hobbling around on crutches during the Royals series. He's obviously a long way from taking the mound, and now the talk is about October -- maybe. Joe Girardi said that he would not hesitate to use Wang in the first round of the playoffs -- assuming they make it, of course -- but that just seems like a stretch. Wang would be starting completely over and thrown right into the fire of the Division Series, a venue he didn't exactly master in '07. At this point, it's realistic to say Wang's best chance at pitching in the big leagues would be in '09.