|This year marks the end of Moose’s $88.5 million contract with the Yankees, and he’s had quite a run since joining the team in 2001. His first 5 seasons in the Bronx were winning seasons, despite recurrent elbow pain that slowed him down considerably in the past couple of years, and he has impressed batters and coaches with his ability to master new pitches as he ages. His elbow healed, Mike has been nothing if not dominate in 2006. In 3 starts he boasts a 2.67 ERA and has allowed just 8 runs in 27 innings pitched; he is averaging less than a hit per inning. By all accounts, his pitching has slowed down considerably over the years, but Mussina has an arsenal of available pitches that don’t rely on speed with which to trip up batters.
The question that will beseech the Yankees as they watch Mike’s performance this year is whether to keep him around next year, when he'll be 38. The Yanks have the option of picking up a $17 million option on Moose’s contract after this season, but it is considered to be highly unlikely that they would go that route. Mussina recently said that while he would like to keep pitching for a few more years, it “wouldn’t be worth the effort” to pitch anywhere but the Bronx. Mussina has continually expressed his desire to stay in New York, and it’s possible that the Yanks could offer him a deal at a reduced rate. Joe Torre appreciates Mussina’s adaptability and mentioned that such a trait could allow him to pitch for several more years—whether or not Torre thinks Mike could still be an asset to New York will be determined by his performance throughout the season.