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Monday, November 24, 2008
Monday Mendozas


Today's links were field-dressed and battle-tested in Tama, Iowa, where this blog is almost single-handedly rejuvenating the moribund downtown.

• The evidence behind Mike Mussina's Hall of Fame case just keeps piling up. In the Times, Dan Rosenheck notes that upon joining the Yankees, Mussina pitched for years with a lousy defense around him. And LoHud's Peter Abraham points out that Mussina spent his entire career pitching in the American League East, probably the toughest division in the majors.

• Also from Abraham, a bit of news and some corking good advice. The News: If you've somehow missed seeing old Yankee Stadium, you've still got time, as apparently a movie's going to be filmed there next year. The Advice: In the new Stadium, dump "YMCA" and "Cotton-Eyed Joe," and ratchet back "God Bless America."

• Then there's Bill Madden, who, "for argument's sake," prefers to compare Mussina to Jack Morris. True, Mussina's ERA relative to league was light-years better than Morris'. Also, Mussina won 64 percent of his career decisions, while Morris won 58 percent. Six points might not seem like much, but among pitchers with at least 400 decisions, Mussina's winning percentage ranks sixth best, all-time; Morris' is 18th (granted, that's still excellent). In the end, Madden turns to this old chestnut: "If the criteria comes down to which pitcher you would want in the seventh game of the World Series, the vote would almost have to be for Morris."

Really? Truly? Their ERAs in World Series games are almost identical: 2.96 for Morris, 3.00 for Mussina. Mussina actually has the better postseason ERA: 3.42 for him, 3.80 for Morris. The truth is that Morris' reputation rests on one game. Not exactly the fundamental rationale for a Hall of Fame candidacy.

Speaking of which, here's a list of non-Hall of Famers who have pitched brilliantly in the seventh game of a World Series: Babe Adams, Johnny Podres, Johnny Kucks, Lew Burdette, Ralph Terry and Steve Blass. And I suppose Don Larsen's perfect game is notable in this context, too. Good pitchers will occasionally pitch great games, and sometimes even in the biggest games. Who would you want in the seventh game of a World Series? Jack Morris was a very good pitcher. But only a terribly foolish manager would choose Morris to start Game 7 if Mike Mussina was available.

• According to this unsigned article, the Mets are interested in signing Trevor Hoffman or Kerry Wood as their new closer, and perhaps "acquiring a set-up man such as Colorado's just-acquired Huston Street in a trade."

Look, I know Huston Street was a little shaky last year. But he's got a 2.88 career ERA while pitching in the Big Boy League. With the exception of a DL stint in 2007 and a few extra walks in '08, he's been consistently excellent. I'm not saying he's better than Kerry Wood. But he's better than 41-year-old Trevor Hoffman, and if you've got both of them, you'd want Street getting more of the high-leverage innings.

• What happens if the Yankees don't sign A.J. Burnett, Derek Lowe or CC Sabathia? I still think they'll sign at least one of those guys. But apparently it's no sure thing, and there doesn't seem to be a Plan B.

• Joe Posnanski suggests that while there's nothing wrong with arguing about the MVP, he would love to see some compelling arguments. And there aren't enough of those.

• Is Delmon Young poised for a breakout season? Not according to Derek Carty.

They write letters (and I read them, and add a bookmark afterward).