On the mound, Mike Mussina didn’t show much emotion. He never had the fire or flare of a superstar, and never struck most Yankee fans as the type of stopper they expected to have for a guy making $19 mil a year in the final seasons of his then-monster contract. Perhaps it’s the money that kept the fans from realizing what Mussina was really all about — a consistent dose of high-level pitching that almost always gave his team a chance to win.
Mussina did his best work with the Orioles for the most part, which allowed him to make a killing upon signing with the Yanks. He never did take his game to the next level in NYC and win a Cy Young, but he did remain what he had been — a guy who tossed tons of innings at a 3.50 ERA level in the AL East — not too damn shabby. Things started to go down hill in ’04 and ’05 for Moose before he bounced back in ’06 only to struggle once again in ’07. In retrospect, he was by that point past his prime and already in the downside of his career. That’s what makes ’08 such a special season for the Moose.
Things couldn’t have possibly gone more wrong for Mussina in ’07. He went on the DL early in the season and never really seemed comfortable. He was afraid to attack the strike zone fearing that his pitches (much slower than when he was in his prime) would get crushed and he became ineffective. He was so bad that each start was worse than the next and he got demoted to the bullpen. Playing in front of the New York media and with the demanding Yankee fans made the situation about as bad as it could be; this was one of the top pitchers in the game hitting his absolute low point.