The Sports Daily > Firebrand AL
Why Mike Mussina won’t survive

Mr. Michael Cole Mussina lost his first game as the Yankees ace. Is this going to be anything new? No. (Let me preface this column by saying this does not mean Mussina is going to go 0-33 with a 7.00 ERA. He will get wins, just like Derek Lowe went 17-7 (with a 4.47 ERA) with 7.5 runs per game support.)
Mike Mussina spent the first nine seasons of his career with Baltimore. Following is a record of the Orioles’ record, Mussina’s wins and losses, his ERA, and League ERA (lgERA – this is what an average pitcher did in the home park, and the differential between the ERA and lgERA.)
1991: 67-95 = 4-5 (12 starts) = 2.87 = 3.98 = -1.11
1992: 89-73 = 18-5 = 2.54 = 4.03 = -1.49
1993: 85-77 = 14-6 = 4.46 = 4.42 = +0.04
1994: 63-49 = 16-5 = 3.06 = 5.00 = -1.94
1995: 71-73 = 19-9 = 3.29 = 4.91 = -1.62
1996: 88-74 = 19-11 = 4.81 = 4.90 = -0.09
1997: 98-64 = 15-8 = 3.20 = 4.39 = -1.19
1998: 79-83 = 13-10 = 3.49 = 4.52 = -1.03
1999: 78-84 = 18-7 = 3.50 = 4.82 = -1.32
2000: 74-88 = 11-15 = 3.79 = 4.72 = -0.93
So, Mussina’s pretty much always been a pretty good pitcher. But when they finished below .500, his record was 65-46, or a winning percentage [note: used by adding wins and losses, not total decisions, which may be misleading due to bullpen woes. So I just went with wins and losses total, where Mussina had the most control of] of .585. When Baltimore was above .500, he went 82-35, or a winning percentage of .700. So what, you may say. So far you’ve only showed how Mussina WILL survive.
But wait. Here’s his first three years with the Yankees. Keep in mind that he was not the #1 starter, he was more the #4.
2001: 95-65 = 17-11 = 3.15 = 4.48 = -1.33
2002: 103-58 = 18-10 = 4.05 = 4.38 = -0.33
2003: 101-61 = 17-8 = 3.40 = 4.39 = -0.99
His winning percentage in all three winning seasons was 52-29, or .584. That’s right, the same winning percentage as he’s had with the losing seasons with Baltimore. How odd. What factors into this? Maybe it’s Mussina’s age, or abilities. Whatever the reason, an ace cannot have a .584 percentage in his times with the Yankees, slipping from … .700.
Mike Mussina was the ace for the Orioles for unquestionably 5 of those 9 years that he spent with Baltimore. Mike Mussina left and went to New York, where he was the #4 starter. In case some of you don’t believe that, I will concede being the #3 starter. So if Mike Mussina is the #3 starter with a direct winning percentage (which I will call, to distinguish between the real way winning percentage is calculated and my way) of .584…how can he be the ace of the Yankees? His DWP with the Yankees is exactly the same as all those losing years with Baltimore, both as ace and as non-ace?
Not only that, but the psyche. Being the ace in Baltimore is one thing, being the ace in New York? Mike Mussina came to New York so he wouldn’t have to be the ace, and now he is. Kevin Brown is too injured to be the ace, and Vazquez is young and unproven in the AL. Both are new to the Yankees. Mussina can’t even pretend that they both are the aces, he knows he is the ace.
Because of the Yankees’ offense (which is good, but as previously stated, not as good as the 2003 Sox – they won’t have the slugging percentage), it is feasible that he wins 20 games – but he’d probably lose over 10, too. He won’t dominate, as he hasn’t had an ERA below 3.00 since 1992.
All this combined makes Mike Mussina a huge risk as the ace of the Yankees. His DWP as a Yankee compared with his DWP as an Oriole split into losing and winning seaons, his psyche, the Yankee defense, and the fact that he is 35 … the Yankees may be wishing they held on to Andy Pettitte, after all.


  1. What strikes me, as I look at Moose's career numbers, is his startling inconsistency. Wild ERA swings from year to year. After his bust-out '91 and '92 seasons, he's sustained a steady center of about 3.50, but he has 3 times been above 4.00 for a year (one of those, nearly 5.00!) and 3 times at/below 3.20. But the really interesting thing is that every season above 4.00 has come immediately before or after a season at/below 3.20.
    So basically what I'm saying is that your Consistency Index might not say very favorable things for this guy.
    And that's not what you want from your "ace."
    Brown's not a Striper for long. Vazquez is the MFY "ace-to-be," and I really really wish we'd gotten him instead. But this year, and probably next too, Moose is The Man. And that doesn't bode well for the Bronx


  2. Now the thing is, if he is so inconsistent… well, he posted a 3.40 ERA last year, so he seems to be back up to 4.00+ ERA this year, no?