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Thinking About Mike Mussina

This little tidbit caught my attention over at LoHud:

Meanwhile, Hughes has his locker moved. It was Mike Mussina's idea. He wanted Hughes on one side and Ian Kennedy on the other so he talk to the kids all spring.
Mussina gets a lot of bad press around here (most of it deserved). He's a prima dona; the "Mussina Meltdown" (when he can't pick up for a teammate's error), the whining about being bumped from the rotation, and his unwillingness to alter his routine all makes him an easy and visible target.

And I'm not saying it doesn't deserve that. But I've always liked him.

He came to New York to win, and he's pitched in his share of big game. I'll never forget the shutout performance that got overshadowed by Jeter's flip. His near perfect game in Fenway was a ton of fun, and his relief effort in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS was as clutch as any performance I've seen.

I like that he's inserting himself into the lives of the young guns. Roger got a lot of attention for the attention he paid to them, hopefully Moose will get a little goodwill too.

But this moves me on to my larger point:
I think Mike Mussina is going to have a good year. He went on the DL with a strained hammy last April, and just like Hughes, I don't think he really had his legs under him when he came back.

We saw vintage Mussina in '06. Nearly 200 innings of 1.11 baserunner per inning (WHIP). I'm not saying that guy will be back, but if he's halfway between those numbers and his merely average '05 he's going to be a huge asset. In '07 Mussina posted a WHIP of 1.47 and a 5.15 ERA, both career highs- his previous worst was 1.37 and 4.81 (which was actually better than average that year- '96). He's got the brains to pitch with reduced stuff, and with Joba and Hughes bringing heat to the rotation Mussina's bag of tricks will be more effective than when he was the 4th pitcher in the rotation throwing in the high 80s.

Here's my bold prediction for '08:
180IP, 150K, 1.25 WHIP.