Mike Mussina won his seventh Gold Glove award yesterday, a cherry on top of the sundae of a season that ended with 20 wins for the first time. That dual confirmation of what he's got left in the tank hasn't caused him to put off retirement, not yet anyway, but it does make that much more surprising that Moose would walk away right now.
The Yankees should use it as an opening to step up their pursuit of a Mussina return. Offer up the team's congratulations in a well-worded, public statement that includes a few quotes from Brian Cashman about how much they'd like to see Mussina's pitching and fielding skills on display in the new Yankee Stadium. Follow that up with a call to Mussina's agent, a call to Mussina and, heck, a bouquet of flowers for Mussina's wife if you think it would help get him back in the fold next season.
They are already talking about an Andy Pettitte return, which should be their fallback to Mussina's retirement. It shouldn't be something they move forward on until they are sure that Mussina is going to begin his Cooperstown waiting period. Mussina was much better than Pettitte last season, and would want a one-year deal while Pettitte is angling for two years. In the second half, when Pettitte's season went down the tubes, Mussina was carving up the American League and providing the only consistency on the team. Perhaps Pettitte was hurt, he pitched like it, but he may also be trying to do the same things with an older, lesser arm.
Mussina was able to reinvigorate himself under similar circumstances, but there's an old saying about lightning striking twice. In a perfect world, one with CC Sabathia and Derek Lowe signing with the team, you wouldn't need either of them. The Yankees seem determined to have one of them back for '09, though, and Mussina is the only choice worth making.