Thursday, October 16, 2008

On Andy Pettitte

Yesterday, while watching ESPN whilst I was still without internet, I caught the ticker on the bottom:

Buster Olney Reports that Andy Pettitte wants to pitch for the Yankees in 2009.

This in itself was not a surprising revelation; Pettitte has more or less been dropping hints since the beginning of the season.

The big question, of course, is whether or not the Yankees should let Andy do it, and there are arguments to be made for each side of the issue.

The most glaring issue is that 2008 was not a good season for Pettitte.

He finished 14-14, and only got the last win because Joe Girardi took him out after the fifth inning. At one point in August and September, he had gone 1-7 in his last eight--a far cry from the second-half dominance normally ascribed to him.

His 4.54 ERA was the second highest of his career (1999 4.70), though his other numbers, such as strikeouts and walks were in line with his career averages.

The question at the crux is why 2008 was a poor year.

There are many different explanations on offer; the one that I find easiest to believe is that he was pitching hurt through most of August, when the Yankees didn't really have another option to fill his starts.

If this is the case then, there is an optimistic and pessimistic view--the optimistic view being that a healthy Andy will be back to his 2007 form and a sound investment; the pessimistic view would be that at 36, 37 years old, his body probably won't heal as quickly and that he's battled elbow problems in the past.

The other, separate issue to consider is what Mike Mussina will do--and signs seem to point to him retiring (though we've certainly been wrong about things like that before).

If Mussina retires, the case for re-signing Pettitte is that much stronger: a veteran pitcher who will make most, if not every start, and at the very least give you innings and probably win at least ten starts as well.

Resigning Pettitte is a very tough call, especially when it's uncertain if the Yankees will sign CC Sabathia or another high level free agent starter. If it was up to me, I'd wait to see which, if any, FA pitcher the Yankees sign before committing, but I realize that a) Pettitte probably doesn't want to wait that long, and b) it really wouldn't be right to make him wait that long, anyway.

Either way, it's an issue the Yankees have to ponder, and sooner rather than later.

My gut tells me Andy will be back for one last go-around, but whether or not that will be a good decision remains to be seen.


  1. Rebecca -

    What makes it a little easier to bring Andy back is the realization that he would not be a top of the rotation guy, but a back of the rotation guy. I'd rather take my chances on him than someone from outside the organization. Andy is a Yankee, and that counts for a lot. But more than that, he is a gamer and if he can pass that passion along, AND win 10-plus games, I'll take it.

  2. Doreen: I certainly agree that him not being the #1 helps a lot.