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11BarryLarkin11
08-31-2007, 12:17 AM
There's an interesting situation unraveling in the Bronx with Mike Mussina. If the Yankees decide to stick with Ian Kennedy, then there is a good chance that Mussina will be dealt, as he is not a viable an option in the bullpen. In his entire MLB career, Mussina has never pitched even a single inning as a reliever. Given the possibility that the Yankees want to move Mussina and the Reds perpetual need for another quality starting pitcher, the situation begs the question of whether the Reds should attempt to acquire Mussina.


THE TRADE IDEA

Given that the waiver trade deadline is approaching, it would seem to make sense for the Reds to attempt to acquire Mussina now. Given his lower level of performance in 2007 and his high salary, Mussina would likely clear waivers. That would enable him to be traded before the deadline on August 31.

The Yankee bullpen currently lacks lefthanded pitching. Given that, the Reds could try to trade Mike Stanton to the Yankees for Mike Mussina. Mike Stanton also is likely to clear waivers, as his performance does not justify his salary. Also, Stanton has a long history of pitching for the Yankees, so he might prove to be an attractive option.

The Yankees would be able to shed payroll in the deal and *possibly* improve their bullpen, by adding an left-hander with substantial post-season experience to the team. Given that the Yankees are pushing for the playoffs, Stanton is someone who could improve their chances of reaching the post-season.

Maybe the Reds would have to add something else to the deal (a second tier prospect?) for it to make sense for the Yankees, but I think those should be the two principle players. Both teams subtract a player they don't need, improve their salary situation, and add a player who may be able to help them reach their respective goals.

Given that the structure of the deal makes some degree of sense, the question then becomes, is Mike Mussina a good bet to bounce back in 2008?

MUSSINA'S PERFORMANCE

Mussina's performance in 2007 has not been stellar, but is it indicative of a poor 2008 season?

Year:___ERA__WHIP__BB/9____K/9___GB/FB___HR/9
2007:___5.53__1.49____2.1___5.5____1.09____1.02
2006:___3.51__1.11____1.6___7.8____1.07____1.00
Career:__3.70__1.19____2.0___7.1____1.14____0.97

Mussina has maintained his walk rate, groundball/flyball ratio, and his homerun rate. His ERA and WHIP have skyrocketed because his strikeout rate has fallen. His K/9 is currently about 1.5 strikeouts per nine innings below his career rate. A 5.5 K/9 is still high enough for a pitcher to maintain long-term success, but clearly Mussina would like to miss a few more bats.

Given that Mussina's strikeout rate has fallen by ~1.5 K/9, you would expect some increase in hits allowed. However, Mussina is giving up almost 3 more hits per nine innings than before, which seems too high.

Year:___H/9__Strand Rate
2007:__11.29___63.5%
2006:__8.39___72.1%
Career:__8.67__71.9%

That said, Mussina is suffering from some poor hit luck. Mussina's BABIP for 2007 is high at .348. Another problem with his 2007 performance is his 63.5% Strand Rate, which is well below his career rate of 71.9%. If BABIP is a measure of how many balls in play will fall in for hits, then Strand Rate is a measure of how those hits are distributed. Obviously, clusters of hits will result in more runs allowed than a more well dispersed pattern. Mussina has suffered from both poor hit luck and poor distribution of hits in 2007.

If you look at his pitch data, his 2007 season has seen him throw a similar amount of both strikes (66%) and first pitch strikes (64%). He's also been consistent in the types of counts in which he has worked, as 2% of the Plate Appearances he has seen have been 3-0 counts and 19% have been 0-2 counts. All of those rates are in line with his career performance, but the one statistic that stands out is his Contact Rate.

This season, Mussina has just been more hittable. He is getting fewer swings and misses than in years past. In 2007, when batters have swung at Mussina's pitches they have made contact 86% of the time, which is up from his 81% career and 81% 2006 mark. It's difficult to be successful in the majors if you aren't missing more bats than that, so it is cause for concern.

So, the $10M question is whether the decreasing strikeout rate is a sign of father time catching up to him or is it something that he can bounce back from?


CONTRACT IMPLICATIONS

In the offseason, the Yankees signed Mike Mussina to a two year contract extension. The terms of the contract included salaries of $11,000,000 in 2007 and $11,000,000 in 2008.

The Reds signed Mike Stanton to a contract which included a $2,000,000 salary in 2007, a $3,000,000 in 2008, and a $2,500,000 club option for 2009. The 2009 option comes with a $500,000 buyout.

So, if the Reds could use Mike Stanton and his contract to reduce the amount of money and the inherent risk in acquiring Mike Mussina. If the Reds swapped Stanton for Mussina, then they would save around $3.75M on Stanton, which would reduce their net salary obligation on Mussina to $7,250,000 for 2008. Given the contracts handed out to free agent pitchers last offseason, $7.25M could be a bargain for a pitcher of Mussina's caliber.

By lowering the amount owed to Mussina in 2008, the Reds would also be reducing the inherent risk that he won't provide the amount of production needed for his salary. The lower the salary, the more likely the Reds will get their money's worth out of Mussina.

LEAGUE COMPARISON

Another factor at work in determining the risk on Mussina is the switch from the AL East to the NL Central. Given the payroll explosion in the AL East and the existence of the DH, there are some strong offenses in that division. By moving from the AL East to the NL Central, Mussina would be facing weaker offensive lineups and his numbers would likely improve.

In 2007, the non-Yankee AL East teams have scored 4.8 runs per game (2528/528). The non-Reds NL Central teams have scored 4.5 runs per game (2981/657). A switch from the Yankees to the Reds would allow Mussina to face offenses that score fewer runs per game. It worked with Bronson, maybe it'll work again with Moose.


FINAL THOUGHTS

Given the needs of both teams, this might be a deal worth considering. The offseason free agent starting pitcher pool is weak and the Reds may need to look elsewhere to fill out their rotation. The Yankees have three young starters in Phillip Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and Ian Kennedy who could be ready to fill out the rotation with Andy Pettite and Chien-Ming Wang in 2008. Accordingly, they may not have much need for Mike Mussina. However, the Yankees could be interested in fan favorite Mike Stanton as a situational lefty to help them out in October.

Mike Mussina does have no trade protection, but with some convincing maybe he'd be willing to hang his hat in Cincy. It'll be interesting to see what happens to Mussina as the waiver trade deadline approaches, but a 1-2-3 of Harang, Mussina, and Arroyo could be a big improvement in Cincy in 2008.

For the Reds, it all depends on risk and Mussina would seem to be a lesser risk than throwing ~$10,000,000 at a league average starting pitcher in free agency.

WVRedsFan
08-31-2007, 12:46 AM
NO.

I'd rather take my chances with Beslile developing and a couple of the kids coming up. $11 million? No way. Getting rid of Stanton sounds good, but I'd eat his salary before I'd trade him for Mike M.

schroomytunes
08-31-2007, 01:11 AM
No I think Mussina's days are done, Stanton's contract is easier to swallow than Moose's. I too agree I would rather have Belisle in the 5th spot and let him continue to grow as the 5th starter, remember this is only his first year as a full time starter! As far as the rotation goes in 08, I see it as being this:

1)Harang
2)Arroyo
3) Free Agent Acq.
4)Bailey
5)Belisle

I would rather use any $$$ on acquiring a steady guy in the bullpen, and improving our bench depth, and getting that solid #3 starter.

KronoRed
08-31-2007, 01:21 AM
Unless the yanks pay 95% of that salary then no thanks.

schroomytunes
08-31-2007, 01:29 AM
I think some good targets/goals this offseason should be:

1)Find a taker for Freel: we have 2 guys in Hopper and Keppenger that get better production so this makes Freel expendible.

2)Acquire a guy like Carlos Silva to be the #3 guy in the rotation.

3)Go hard after Francisco Cordero to be the closer, if unable to land him than shore up the back of the pen with a guy like Troy Percival, yeah he's old but if used right would make a hell of a set-up guy!

4)Look at a 5th starter/Long relief guy that can spot start on occasion but realizes his role as the long relief guy, a Shawn Chacon type.

just ideas thoughts?

Patrick Bateman
08-31-2007, 01:34 AM
Silva is hardly better than what we have, plus he will cost in the 7-8M range in free agency. Chacon can be replaced by a Ramirez type with ease. Those 2 are just a waste of valuable payroll room.

11BarryLarkin11
08-31-2007, 02:07 AM
Silva is hardly better than what we have, plus he will cost in the 7-8M range in free agency. Chacon can be replaced by a Ramirez type with ease. Those 2 are just a waste of valuable payroll room.

I agree.

Carlos Silva is Bobby Livingston in a pitcher friendly park and in front of a much better defense.

As for Shawn Chacon, I just don't think he's a very good pitcher.

Given the escalating salaries in MLB, it is becoming more important than ever to get the most bang for your buck. If you aren't getting production that is significantly better than replacement level, then it's not worth handing out huge multiyear contracts.

As for Mussina, I think he's a solid option at ~$7M and you might be able to get the Yankees to pick up more of his contract. I'm a bit surprised everyone is so quick to dismiss him, but maybe they are seeing something that I'm not. He's having an off year, but he was very strong in 2006.

In 2006, he posted an ERA of 3.51, a 1.11 WHIP, a 1.6 BB/9, and a 7.8 K/9.

Given his hamstring problems and his poor hit luck, it's possible that he could bounce back strong in the NL Central.

Maybe we'd need to get the Yankees to pickup up more of the salary to offset some of the risk, but I think he could be an interesting option. Personally, I'd have much more faith in Moose than Belisle in 2008.

penantboundreds
08-31-2007, 02:10 AM
no

Jpup
08-31-2007, 04:17 AM
of course it would be a good idea, but the Yankees will never do it and I'm not sure he would clear waivers.

mth123
08-31-2007, 04:44 AM
I'd happily dump Stanton For Mussina. I don't see it ever happening from the Yankees perspective.

I wouldn't mind the Reds going after Mussina but unless the Yankees would take a PTBNL, I doubt that the Reds have anyone who'd clear waivers that would make their 25 Man Roster.

LoganBuck
08-31-2007, 07:30 AM
mth123, don't you think that the Yankees would like to add Mike Stanton's "veteran presence"? :D

redsmetz
08-31-2007, 07:37 AM
Heck, I thought this thread was a call to bring Bob Moose out of retirement - that would be some serious "vet-love" - he'll be 60 in October!

http://www.sportsecyclopedia.com/nl/pittpirates/BobMoose.jpg

On a more serious note, if the Yankees ate a significant amount of Mussina's contract, I might be interested. I'd need our obligation to be less than $5 Million.

cumberlandreds
08-31-2007, 07:45 AM
Heck, I thought this thread was a call to bring Bob Moose out of retirement - that would be some serious "vet-love" - he'll be 60 in October!

http://www.sportsecyclopedia.com/nl/pittpirates/BobMoose.jpg

On a more serious note, if the Yankees ate a significant amount of Mussina's contract, I might be interested. I'd need our obligation to be less than $5 Million.

It would be miraculous to bring Moose back too. He's been dead for a long time. I think he died in a car crash in the 70's.

redsmetz
08-31-2007, 08:04 AM
It would be miraculous to bring Moose back too. He's been dead for a long time. I think he died in a car crash in the 70's.

Yikes! I'd forgotten that and now my small joke borders on tasteless. But then again, if we could do it, it could cap off a miracle finish.

I looked it up, he died on his 29th birthday - very sad.

Chip R
08-31-2007, 11:16 AM
It would be miraculous to bring Moose back too. He's been dead for a long time. I think he died in a car crash in the 70's.


Well, cross him off then. ;)

wally post
08-31-2007, 11:21 AM
Jim Palmer and Earl Weaver have both discussed Mussina's lack of desire in holding fast / going into the late innings. Ray Miller often referred to him sarcastically as "Miss-ina" for this reason.
Sorry I can't provide a link. He looks done to me as well, though, I have ALWAYS said we need a veteran pitcher - a hall of fame pitcher to set the tone for the staff. I so very much wish we could've traded for Greg Maddux way back.

blumj
08-31-2007, 01:14 PM
Mussina has 10-5 rights, he'd have to approve any trade.

fearofpopvol1
08-31-2007, 01:55 PM
I think this is actually a good idea. It's a short-term deal for an older player who has had quite a bit of success. Even though some say he is done, he has only had a recent bad stretch. I know his velocity is down, but it's not like the guy has forgotten how to pitch. Not to mention, I think he would benefit from coming over from the AL. I think he's still got some good stuff left. Having him around for next year would ensure that the Reds wouldn't have to pressure Bailey or Cueto to make the big league club and they could continue to develop.

I see too many problems with it working though.

#1 - Even if the proposed trade of Stanton worked, it's still a lot of money for a team like the Reds to spend on a starting pitcher that is older. I feel like the Reds would need a little bit more salary relief.

#2 - If the Yanks did trade Moose to the Reds, they would want more than Stanton and a tier 2 prospect, I think. I don't know that they would demand an elite prospect, but I could see them wanting at least a Maloney type.

#3 - He is a 10/5 player and I don't see him approving a trade to the Reds, unless maybe there was a contract extension which the Reds should not consider.

KronoRed
08-31-2007, 02:24 PM
mth123, don't you think that the Yankees would like to add Mike Stanton's "veteran presence"? :D

They seem to do better the less of that they have ;)

Rojo
08-31-2007, 05:47 PM
I'd only do it if the Yank's eat a bunch of salary. And the only way they eat a bunch of salary is if they get stud prospect back.

I like this kind of thinking though.

Spitball
08-31-2007, 08:00 PM
From what I saw of Mussina the other night, he does not have the velocity nor near the movement of his successful past. However, there is an interesting aspect to Mussina's prospect of converting to a finesse pitcher. The nice reperotoire of pitches he has commanded in the past tells me that he has a propensity and aptitude for pitching beyond pure physical skill. If Mussina could move to a National League team like San Diego or Los Angeles, I believe he could have another successful four or five years as a number three starter.

vaticanplum
09-01-2007, 07:18 PM
Mussina has 10-5 rights, he'd have to approve any trade.

Mussina would approve a trade to Cincinnati if I had a chance to get my hands on him, thank you.

BTW -- I agree with Spitball; Mussina is a smart, flexible pitcher. He's actually one guy to whom I'd give a fair chance of standing up well to middle age after a period of adjustment.

jmcclain19
09-01-2007, 07:26 PM
Mussina would approve a trade to Cincinnati if I had a chance to get my hands on him, thank you.

Now now this is a family board vp :)