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Posts Tagged ‘Mike Mussina’


ESPN New York released their “50 Greatest Yankees” list the other day. I can’t really argue too much with their list, although I probably would have swapped Thurman Munson (#12) and Bill Dickey (#10). Yes, I know Dickey is in the Hall of Fame and Munson isn’t. But it was Munson’s leadership, as much as anything else that returned the Yankees to their winning ways in the ’70s. And who knows what kind of numbers he would have put up if not for the plane crash?

Anyway, here’s their list. I’ve added in the dates they played for the Yanks, along with their position. An asterisk denotes a playing career interrupted by a military commitment; # denotes a Hall-of-Famer. Current players are in red type. Feel free to let us know how you feel about the list!

50. Mike Mussina (RHP, 2001-2008)

49. Bob Meusel (LF, 1920-1930)

48. Albert “Sparky” Lyle (LHP, 1972-1978)

47. Gil McDougald (IF, 1951-1960)

46. Jim “Catfish” Hunter (RHP, 1974-1978)#

45. David Cone (RHP, 1995-2000)

44. Roy White (LF, 1965-1979)

43. Hank Bauer (RF, 1948-1959)

42. Jack Chesbro (RHP, 1903-1909)#

41. Eddie Lopat (RHP, 1948-1955)

40. Rickey Henderson (1985-1989)#

39. Vic Raschi (RHP, 1946-1953)

38. Joe Gordon (2B, 1938-1946)*#

37. Tommy Henrich (RF, 1937-1950)*

36. Charlie “King Kong” Keller (LF, 1939-1949)*

35. Bobby Murcer (CF, 1969-1974, 1979-1983)

34. Spurgeon “Spud” Chandler (RHP, 1937-1947)

33. Willie Randolph (2B, 1976-1988)

32. Waite Hoyt (RHP, 1921-1929)#

31. Mel Stottlemyre (RHP, 1964-1974)

30. Paul O’Neill (RF, 1993-2001)

29. Graig Nettles (3B, 1973-1983)

28. Dave Winfield (OF, 1981-1990)#

27. Herb Pennock (LHP, 1923-1933)#

26. Allie “Superchief” Reynolds (RHP, 1947-1954)

25. Rich “Goose” Gossage (RHP, 1978-1983, 1989)#

24. Elston Howard (C, 1955-1967)

23. Earle Combs (CF, 1924-1935)#

22. Roger Maris (RF, 1960-1966)

21. Jorge Posada (C, 1995-present)

20. Phil Rizzuto (SS, 1941-1956)*#

19. Bernie Williams (CF, 1991-2006)

18. “Poosh ‘Em Up” Tony Lazzeri (2B, 1926-1937)#

17. Ron “Gator” Guidry (LHP, 1975-1988)

16. Andy Pettitte (LHP, 1995-2003, 2007-2010)

15. Reggie Jackson (RF, 1977-1981)#

14. Vernon “Lefty” Gomez (LHP, 1930-1942)#

13. Alex Rodriguez (3B, 2004-present)

12. Thurman Muson (C, 1969-1979)

11. Don Mattingly (1B, 1982-1995)

10. Bill Dickey (C, 1928-1946)#

9. Charles “Red” Ruffing (RHP, 1930-1942)#

8. Edward “Whitey” Ford (LHP, 1953-1967)*#

7. Derek Jeter (SS, 1995-present)

6. Lawrence “Yogi” Berra (C, 1946-1963)#

5. Mariano Rivera (RHP, 1995-present)

4. Mickey Mantle (CF, 1950-1968)#

3. “Joltin” Joe DiMaggio (CF, 1936-1951)*#

2. Lou “Iron Horse” Gehrig (1B, 1923-1939)#

1. George “Babe” Ruth (RF, 1920-1934)#

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Andy speaks to reporters / Courtesy NY Times

For some reason, a large number of Yankee fans were surprised by the news that Andy Pettitte decided to call it a career. Mr. Mailbag’s inbox is overflowing with questions; I figured this is as good a time to answer them as any.

Dr. Mr. Mailbag,

Since Andy isn’t returning this year, does this mean the Yankees season is doomed?

Sincerely, Afraid

Well, afraid…in a word, no. Even if everything stands pat, the current rotation isn’t as bad as everyone seems to think. The line-up should be actually be better than last year’s. Boston did improve their team, but Tampa Bay is much worse. And if we’ve learned one thing about the Yankees in the Steinbrenner era, the Yankees won’t stand pat if the team needs something come mid-season. Barring a sudden surge by a surprise team, the Yankees should wind up in the playoffs in 2011.

Mr. Mailbag:

How can I live without Andy? The Yankees just won’t be the same without him!

-Crying in my pillow

Well, Crying, you’re not alone. I’ve seen a lot of these in the last 24 hours. I understand that to a certain generation of Yankees fans – pretty much those under the age of 30 – Andy is the starting pitcher of record. But you should understand that what makes the Yankees the most successful franchise in sports history is the way this team replaces great players with other great players. If you’re of the current generation, you probably find it hard to understand how fans of my generation can hold such high regard for Thurman Munson or Chris Chambliss. (To me, Chambliss’ homer in the ’76 ALCS is still the most thrilling Pinstripe moment I’ve ever witnessed). For fans of my father’s generation, it was Mickey Mantle. And on through time it goes, back for 90 years, to the time of the Babe and Lou. There’s a crop of talented players making their way up from the minors now; guys named Betances, Banuelos, Brackman, Montero, and a whole bunch more. Andy Pettitte can’t necessarily be replaced anymore than Munson could. But other great players will come along who will carve out their own dynasties. It’s the Yankee way.

Dear Mr. Mailbag,

How many ballots will it take for Andy Pettitte to get into the Hall of Fame? If it takes more than one, It’s a damn shame!

-A Yankee in Texas

Well, Texas… I hate to break it to you, but Andy probably isn’t getting into the Hall of Fame. He has a borderline case: in his favor, he did finish his career 102 games over .500; right now, only one other pitcher with a similar number isn’t enshrined (oddly, former teammate Mike Mussina). But when compared to the other pitchers of his era; well, his numbers don’t particularly stack up well. His career ERA is higher than that of non-HOF candidates like Kevin Brown, Barry Zito, Tim Hudson, and Al Leiter. If anything, Andy should root really, really hard for Mike Mussina to get a HOF nod – because their final career numbers are eerily similar. In fact, Mussina’s are better than Pettitte’s (higer ERA+, more strikeouts, wins, complete games, higher winning percentage and lower OPS allowed), so you can bet if Mussina doesn’t get in, Pettitte won’t. Plus, Pettitte has the whole PED’s issue hanging over his career. I don’t think in the grand scheme of things it will make a huge difference, but if he’s close and that negatively influences a couple of voters…well, you get the idea.

Dear Mr. Mailbag,

When are the Yankees going to retire #46?

-A Huge Andy Fan

Um, Probably never. Was Andy an important cog in the past 5 championships? Yes. Does that mean he’ll get his number retired? No. Consider how many players from the 90’s dynasty have their numbers hanging on the outfield wall. Bernie Williams? Tino Martinez? David Cone? Paul O’Neill? Each was as integral to those championships as Pettitte; each as beloved in the Bronx as Andy – and none has their number retired. I strongly suspect that unless a player winds up in the Hall of Fame, their number will remain in circulation.

Mr. Mailbag,

Why did Andy Pettitte retire? The Yankees need him!

-Alarmed in the Bronx

Well, alarmed, as Andy said this morning, his heart just isn’t in it anymore. If you’ve watched Andy pitch over the past 5 years, then you know he’s gotten by mostly on heart. His once overpowering cut fastball doesn’t have the life it once did and neither do his secondary pitches. Perhaps more importantly for an athlete his age, he doesn’t have the drive to overcome injury – and a 38 year old pitcher is likely to step out on the mound with a nagging injury as not. Given his current state of mind, he’s making the right decision. Based on physical ability, he’s probably still better than Sergio Mitre. But without that competitive fire, Andy Pettitte would finish his career reminding Yankee fans why we hated Kevin Brown.

That’s it for now. These are representative of the most common questions I’ve seen. Somehow, I’m sure there will be more over the weekend, so stay tuned! Oh, and if you have one, feel free to shoot it out to me at Twitter or Facebook!


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31 days until pitchers and catchers report, and Andy Pettitte has yet to decide whether he wants to pitch in 2011. He announced he may sort of, maybe, pitch for half of 2011. In my humble effort to help the Yankees’3rd winningest pitcher of all-time make up his mind, I offer 5 reasons he should schedule a presser and announce he’s retiring.
  1. We’re all expecting it, anyway. By now, most of the drama is out of the situation. If were trying to let all of Yankees fans down easy, you’ve pretty much accomplished that. All winter, we’ve been deluged with reports that you’re leaning towards retirement, that you’ve told Brian Cashman to proceed as if you won’t be back, that you told Mark Teixeira you doubt you’re coming back for 2011. By now, this is beginning to feel more like we’re being teased than primed for a triumphant return.
  2. If last year showed us anything, it’s that injuries are catching up to you. Yes, you had a great first half. An All-Star caliber first half. Then, your 38 year old quad blew out and when we saw you again in late September, you weren’t the same pitcher anymore. Why should anyone think a 39 year old quad will hold up any better?
  3. You’ve had a great career – go out on top! We all have memories of our sports heroes playing when they should have been home, feet up, enjoying a cold beer. Willie Mays stumbling around in center field for the Mets. Mickey Mantle reduced to playing first base. Most recently, Brett Favre not even being healthy enough to put on his uniform for his last two games. Better to go out on a high note, a la Mike Mussina and Ted Williams.
  4. It’s time to let the Yankees move on. Even thought the front office keeps telling us they’re going on as if you’ve already retired, it sure doesn’t look like it to those of us shivering through the winter. The team came into the offseason needing another starter, a set-up man, and bench depth. So far, they’ve only added an injury plagued catcher and a pitcher who hasn’t fired a ML fastball in anger in four years. Until you tell them you’re not coming back, they’ll probably continue to walk around as if trying for a part in Zombieland.
  5. 2011 is going to be stressful enough. Let’s face it: 2011 is going to be a year for seclusion, when possible. Besides all of the retirement talk you’re starting the year off with, you have that pesky Roger Clemens trial coming up in July. Do you really want to deal with the whole steroids issue in what would be your final season? Nah, of course you don’t. Better to have our final image of you being one of gutting it out on the mound in another classic playoff performance.

So, there you have it. Just let me know when to call the press and have them assemble on your front lawn. Heck, you can even wear your pj’s for the event.

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Going into the offseason of 2000 and the looming free agency of Mike Mussina (147-81, 3.53 ERA to that point) had many Yankees fans licking their lips. Mussina grew up in a small town and played in an admittedly small market in Baltimore from 1991 until 2000 and there was some thought that Mussina wouldn’t fit in or he would not react well being in a big city with the type of media that the Yankees attract. Regardless, the Yankees decided to take the chance and they signed him for 6 years/$88.5 million and then a subsequent extension of 2 years/$23 million. Luckily for the Yankees, there no issues with Mussina being in New York. In Moose’s time with the Yankees he was 123-72 with a 3.88 ERA, not too shabby.

His first year with the Yankees in 2001 was pretty good as he went 17-11 with a 3.15 ERA and 214 K’s. On September 2nd, Moose came the closest he ever would to pitching a perfect game as he retired the first 26 batters against the Red Sox at Fenway when Carl Everett hit a 1-2 pitch to left field breaking up Moose’s bid for a perfect game. He then retired Trot Nixon and finished the 1 hit, 1-0 victory of the Red Sox. This was also the year the Yankees were down 2-0 to the Oakland A’s in the ALDS and Moose pitched 7 stellar innings in the game known as ‘The Jeter Flip.’

2002 was another good year for Moose compiling 18 wins with a 4.05 ERA, but unfortunately he could not help out the Yankees in the postseason as his only start lasted 4 innings against the Angels.

In 2003, Moose was, yet again, Mr. Consistency as he pitched to a 17-8 record with a 3.40 and struck out 195 batters. This was also the year when Moose came in against the Boston Red Sox in relief in Game 7 of the ALCS and provided some key innings of relief to allow Aaron Boone time to hit his magical homerun against Wakefield.

2004 saw Moose face a myriad of injuries which cut his season down and he only compiled a 12-9 record with an unusual 4.59 ERA over 27 starts. It was also his first season since 1994 in which he did not pitch over 200 innings. He would only pitch over 200 innings once more (2008) over the next four seasons as father time was catching up with Mussina.

Moose followed up 2004 with another respectable year in 2005 as he went 13-8 with a 4.41 ERA. 2004 and 2005 were the only years in his career in which he had back to back ERA’s over 4. Not bad for pitching in the AL East, eh?

2006 saw a return to form for Mike as he lowered his ERA to 3.51 as he won 15 games and struck out 172.

However, 2007, his next to last year in Major League baseball, was his worse as he was 11-10 with a 5.51 ERA. During the end of the year, he was removed from the rotation for a brief part of time before pitching well over his last few games.

Going in to 2008, as long as Moose did not fall off the face of the earth and posted a sub-5 ERA, one would believe that most Yankees fans would be happy. This also was the year where Moose appeared to lose a few MPH on his fastball prompting Hank Steinbrenner to say that he should learn how to pitch like Jamie Moyer. He finished the year 20-9 with a 3.37 ERA and was 6th in Cy Young voting and 2nd in AL Comeback player of the year, eventually losing out to Cliff Lee in both.

To be honest, I was one of the people that thought that Mussina might not be able to ‘fit in’ with the New York pressures and media. However, I was happily surprised and quickly assimilated to seeing Mussina in the rotation year after year. It was certainly nice to see Moose bounce back so well after his terrible 2007 to finally win 20 games. It’s only a shame he didn’t come closer to winning 300 games. Either way, he pitched admirably for the Yankees and will garner much debate for the Hall of Fame in a few years. Of the many Yankees free agent signings in the early 2000’s, this was one of the wisest signings, if not the wisest.

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In part two of our look back at Brian Cashman’s track record since gaining autonomy over baseball operations, we take a look at what has happened under his hand between October 2006 and October 2007. Part one can be read here.

Signings and Re-Signings

Mike Mussina resigned for 2 years/$23 million.

Signed Kei Igawa for 5 years/$20 million (Plus a $26 million posting fee)

Signed Andy Pettitte to a 1 year/$16 million deal with a 2008 player option

Signed Roger Clemens to a 1 year/$17.4 millon deal

Trades (more…)

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2009, much like the previous years for Andy Pettitte were generally what you expected from him. Give or take 15 wins with an ERA just a hair over 4.00. Throw in some gritty postseason pitching for the Bronx Bombers and you have one decent season for Pettitte. However,  of note is that his SO/BB ratio (1.95) and walks (76) was the lowest it has been since 2000. To counter that, Andy allowed less than 200 hits, a feet he has only accomplished in two full non-injury years in the past.

Looking Ahead to 2010: While it is not out of the realm of possibility for Andy to have a career year, it also isn’t that likely. However, this being said, I don’t think it will be a bad year for the long time Yankee. What we have seen the past few years, 14-15 wins with a 4+ ERA is a good baseline in what to expect with Andy. While it is debatable where he will fall in the rotation — Either the 3rd or 4th slot — if the Yankees make the playoffs in 2010, there is no other man I would want standing on the mound.

2010 Projection: 15-9, 4.12 ERA, 198.1 innings

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…in short: yes.

However, no team in MLB history has ever had three pitchers strike out more than 200 or more batters in one season. Since 1961, there have been 35 instances of two pitchers on a team striking out 200 or more pitchers in one season and only 10 instances since 1990. The last time the Yankees came close was in 2001 when Mike Mussina and Roger Clemens both had 200+ strikeouts while Andy Pettitte contributed 164.

  • CC Sabathia in the two years previous to signing with the Yankees struck out 209 and 251, while every year prior to 2007, the closest he came was 172. In 2009 CC struck out 197, so 200 for CC is certainly possible, but not a given.
  • AJ Burnett like CC, has previously only struck out 200+ batters twice in his career. Health concerns are always possible with AJ as are accuracy. In 2009, AJ struck out 195, so much like CC, it is possible, but not a given.
  • Javy Vazquez has the best track record when it comes to striking out 200 or more. In 12 professional seasons, Javy has struck out 200+ in 5 of those 12 seasons. The last three seasons Javy has put down 200 and two of those seasons he pitched for the White Sox. While Javy has more seasons with 200 or more strike outs than AJ and CC combined, he may be the ‘weak link’ considering his American League track record (4.50+ career ERA). However, he did show he could pitch in the American League when he posted a 3.74 ERA in 2007, so he shouldn’t be necessarily counted out.
  • While Joba or Phil Hughes could possibly post 200 K’s, I don’t think anyone is counting on it happening, especially if there is some turbulence for the starter in the 5th slot, which could prompt a change. Andy Pettitte has never struck out over 180 batters and considering he will be turning 38 this year, it is highly unlikely he will be posting his first 200 strikeout season.

Me, personally, I’d be happy with two pitchers coming close to 190 strikeouts, so if three of them get dangerously close to 200, I would be especially happy. However, I am not making unrealistic expectations that Javy, CC and AJ will all eclipse 200 strikeouts. Although, if they all do so, one could make a fairly confident bet that barring a catastrophic collapse by the offensive side of the house the Yankees could very well snatch championship 28.

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Recently Dave Eiland was speaking about the competition for the Yankees 5th starter slot when he said this:

“We want 200 innings in all five of our guys,” Eiland said.

Now, upon reading this, his statement made me a little bit curious as to whether this has been done, so I turned to our trustworthy friends over at Baseball-Reference. Upon extensive searching on Baseball-Reference for teams with pitchers with equal or greater than 200 Innings Pitched and at least 20 Games Started only 15 instances of such were found. The last occurrence of this was in 1923 when the Yankees had the rotation of Joe Bush, Waite Hoyt, Sam Jones, Herb Pennock, and Bob Shawkey did this. The last Yankees team to come close to this was the rotation of Mike Mussina, David Wells, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Jeff Weaver in 2003. Weaver was 40.2 innings away from hitting the 200 IP mark.

For the Yankees to have all five of their starters to hit the magical mark of 200 IP there are a handful of things that have to happen in their favor.

  • If CC Sabathia pitches the same as last year, you can easily count him in for 200, however, it isn’t necessarily guaranteed.
  • AJ Burnett, while is no virtual lock to hit 200 innings, has proven if he is healthy, which is a big if, can hit 200 innings as he has the last two seasons.
  • While Andy Pettitte throughout his career could be penciled in for 200 innings usually, however he is turning 38 during this season. In 2009, he logged 194.1 innings and one has to wonder how many innings he has left on his left arm.
  • Javy Vazquez has pitched over 200 innings 9 out of the last 10 years, so theoretically he is a virtual lock. The only year he did not pitch 200 innings? 2004 with the Yankees when he logged 198 innings. During his time pitching in the American League, Javy has amassed an average ERA above 4.50.
  • Joba Chamberlain/Phil Hughes will have to up their game to reach 200 innings as neither of them have pitched this much in a single season. While Joba has been under the Joba rules, there is no telling how his arm will react when he hits 180, 190 or even 200 innings. Hughes on the other hand has not pitched more than 130 innings since 2006 in the minors when he pitched 146. If Hughes becomes the 5th starter it is unknown how his arm will react to the increase of innings.

So, while it is possible for each the Yankees starters to log 200 IP, it is highly unlikely. While I would like to see all five rotation spots hit 200 innings, truth be told, I can see 3 or 4 pitchers hit 200 innings. At this current time, I don’t have faith in Joba or Phil to be able to pitch 200 innings this year, maybe 170 or 180, but not 200.

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Earlier this week we wrote an article about the Yankees’ hitting coaches since 1996. In baseball, you can’t hit if there isn’t anyone pitching to you, so, now we take a look at the Yankees pitching coaches since 1996…

Mel Stottlemyre

Year ERA H Runs HR BB SO WHIP
1996 4.65 1469 787 143 610 1139 1.56
1997 3.84 1463 688 144 532 1165 1.57
1998 3.82 1357 656 156 466 1080 1.56
1999 4.13 1402 731 158 581 1111 1.58
2000 4.76 1458 814 177 577 1040 1.52
2001 4.02 1429 713 158 465 1266 1.38
2002 3.87 1441 697 144 403 1135 1.50
2003 4.02 1512 716 145 375 1119 1.50
2004 4.69 1532 808 182 445 1058 1.49
2005 4.52 1495 789 164 463 985 1.53

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Now that 2009 and the decade is over (unless you’re counting challenged) we can look back and point out the years and figure out which really was the great year for certain positions. We have whipped together what we believe is the best year for each position and oddly enough Jason Giambi is the only one to appear on the list twice. If you think that someone else’s year should’ve been on here, let us know!

C – Jorge Posada (2007) .338 BA, 20 HR, 90 RBI, 171 hits, .970 OPS

1B – Jason Giambi (2002) .314 BA, 41 HR, 122 RBI, 176 hits, 109 walks, 1.034 OPS

2B – Alfonso Soriano (2002) .300 BA, 39 HR, 102 RBI, 209 hits, 51 doubles

SS – Derek Jeter (2006) .343 BA, 14 HR, 97 RBI, 214 hits, 34 SB, .900 OPS

3B – Alex Rodriguez (2007) .314 BA, 54 HR, 156 RBI, 95 walks, 24 SB, 1.067 OPS

OF – Bernie Williams (2000) .307 BA, 30 HR, 121 RBI, .957 OPS

OF – Gary Sheffield (2004) .290 BA, 36 HR, 121 RBI, 92 walks, .927 OPS

OF – Hideki Matsui (2004) .298 BA, 31 HR, 108 RBI, 88 walks, .912 OPS

DH – Jason Giambi (2006) .281 BA, 37 HR, 117 RBI, 110 walks, .971 OPS

P – Roger Clemens (2001) 20-3, 3.51 ERA, 213 K’s

P – CC Sabathia (2009) 19-8, 3.37 ERA, 197 K’s

P – Mike Mussina (2008) 20-9, 3.37 ERA, 150 K’s

CP –  Mariano Rivera (2004) 1.94 ERA, 53 Saves

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As a part of ESPN’s end of decade ‘Best of Series’ they have been having, they have named Mariano Rivera as the most valuable pitcher of the 2000’s (Cy Young of the Decade, if you will). Mariano had some stiff competition in being named this award (See: Johan Santana, Roy Halladay, Greg Maddux, etc al), but all his competition had various reasons for not being named for this award (Injuries, Off Years, Not Playing all of the 2000s, etc al).

For Mariano, this is yet another accolade he is deservant of. While it is hard to quantify what Mariano has meant to the Yankees, Rebecca at Purist Bleeds Pinstripes tries to quantify how many wins Mariano has meant to the Yankees and does a damn good job and ESPN’s article does a damn good job as well. Enjoy ESPN’s article after the jump.

(more…)

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     Many Yankees fans are mad at Mussina for making comments about Mariano Rivera in Joe Torre’s new book. I am as big of a fan of Mariano Rivera as anyone out there. The best closer of all-time, and nobody can argue that.  But let’s face the facts here..he did blow some big games in the postseason. The games don’t only fall on his shoulders, but facts are facts. Mike Mussina did nothing wrong by saying this stuff. Yankees fans are going a little crazy with this Joe Torre book.

According to one passage, Mussina said Rivera “blew the World Series in ’01” and “lost the Boston series” in 2004, causing some Yankee fans to be as mad at the newly retired Moose as they are at Torre for co-writing the tell-all tome.

“I’m aware of (the reaction). As far as I know that’s pretty much the way I said it. But the idea of it was not to take any stabs at Mo,” Mussina said Wednesday on WFAN. “I can’t put into words how important Mo has been to me as an individual player and to us as a team since I went to New York. My accomplishments would not be anywhere near what they are, and our team accomplishments certainly would not be what they are without him pitching the ninth inning.

“I didn’t mean to take any stabs at him. I was just making a factual comment, and it came out sounding like I was trying to cut him down. I’m certainly not trying to cut him down, because he certainly is legendary, and he’s earned that.”

—————————

The full excerpt on page 312 of Torre’s book quotes Mussina, who won zero World Series rings in his eight years with the Yanks, as saying: “As great as (Rivera) is, and it’s amazing what he does, if you start the evaluation since I’ve been here (in 2001), he has accomplished nothing in comparison to what he accomplished the four years before.

“He blew the World Series in ’01. He lost the Boston series. He didn’t lose it himself, but we had a chance to win in the ninth and sweep them and he doesn’t do it there. I know you look at everything he’s done and it’s been awesome, I’ll admit that. But it hadn’t been the same in those couple of years. That’s what I remember about the ’04 series.”

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Offseason moves have Derek Jeter pumped for start of spring training

Has Tampa Office Taken A Swing Back At Torre? / Impressions of Joe Torre’s book / Risking frostbite to meet Joe Torre / Lunchtime  / Francesa/Torre

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