• Pondering Pettitte

    Posted by on November 9th, 2009 · Comments (22)

    Via NESN.com

    Andy Pettitte — who has announced that he will either pitch in pinstripes or retire to his Texas home – is waiting to hear from the Yankees about his future.

    Over the last 13 seasons, Andy Pettitte is easily in the “Top 5” of my personal “Favorite Yankees” (during that time span). And, he’s in the “Top Ten” of my personal “All-Time Favorite Yankees” since 1973 (when I became a Yankees fan).

    But, that said, I have to wonder about bringing Andy back to the Yankees in 2010.

    If the plan is to use him as a #5 starter – that’s fine. But, if you’re looking for him to be your #3 horse, behind Sabathia and Burnett, that’s a mistake.

    From May 29th through October 3rd last season, Pettitte averaged 100.9 pitches thrown and 5.91 innings pitched per start. And, Andy will be 38 years-old next season. Therefore, you have to expect Pettitte to be a 100-pitches, tops, near five-and-fly guy in 2010 – which, again, would be fine for a fifth starter. But, it’s not what you want from a middle of the rotation guy.

    And, don’t tell me that Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes are going to be the Yankees #3 and #4 starters next season – as they’ve yet to prove they’re capable of handling those roles.

    It’s really a weird spot for the Yankees. They need Pettitte – but they need him and something else too. Unless, they think he can be their #3 guy next year? But, that’s really rolling them, if you ask me…

    Comments on Pondering Pettitte

    1. MJ
      November 9th, 2009 | 4:25 pm

      I think the Yanks need Pettitte plus one more starter for 2010, in addition to whatever plans they have for Chamberlain/Hughes.

      The team could go the high upside route (think Smoltz/Penny) and grab Erik Bedard or Rich Harden (preferably Harden) which would be fine with me. The Yanks will bring back Gaudin and Wang will be coming off Tommy John surgery in early August so as long as the team has a Sabathia-Burnett-Pettitte front three with Gaudin, a free agent and the Chamberlain/Hughes/Kennedy/Aceves/Wang backstop, they can be OK.

      I’m not a huge fan of chasing John Lackey, incidentally. Although he was a workhorse in a previous life, his past two seasons have been somewhat injury-marred and he’ll command such a big payday that I don’t see the value there. Not to mention, I don’t like him personally so I’m biased.

    2. Raf
      November 9th, 2009 | 5:26 pm

      If I’m the Yankees, I play it cool until the nontender period. Having said that, I have no problem bringing back Pettitte on another deal like the one he had. And go year to year until one has had enough with the other.

      As it currently stands, the Yanks have 7-8 starters
      CC-AJ-Wang-Hughes-Chamberlain-Aceves-Gaudin-Kennedy. Pettitte will slot in fine for another year. I’m sure a few arms will be signed during the offseason (SP & RP, ML & MiL fodder), for due diligence or otherwise.

    3. Scout
      November 9th, 2009 | 6:11 pm

      I suppose it depends how you count. It takes a very liberal arithmetic to include Wang, who won’t be back until July and may never be the same pitcher, and Kennedy, who is coming off a serious injury and failed to produce in the majors in 2008. Aceves and Gaudin are filler at best. By my count, the Yankees can rely on CC and AJ, and have to hope for break-out years from either Chamberlain or Hughes. Pettitte would offer some security, but age and wear make it doubtful the team can expect as much from him in 2010 as he delivered this year. I think Steve is correct about that.

      Contrary to others, I do like Lackey. He’s been tested in the American League, he has performed decently in post-season, and all his peripherals suggest he remains a very effective pitcher. His mix of pitches is better than Burnett’s, too, which suggests he’ll adapt better as he begins to lose his velocity. With Hughes and Chamberlain available to start for part of the season, neither Lackey nor Pettitte needs to go 200 innings.

      A rotation of CC, Lackey, Burnett, Pettitte, and either Hughes or Chamberlain (more likely both, for parts of the season) woudl be deep and formidable in the regular season and the play-offs. It is reasonable to expect that by 2011, Petttite would be gone, freeing a space for both Hughes and Chamberlain. I don’t see any other minor league pitching prospect at the AA level or above in whom I would have confidence as a rotation solution –Kennedy and the others are Pittsburgh-Pirates-in-Waiting.

    4. Tresh Fan
      November 9th, 2009 | 6:48 pm

      Well, the Bosox just signed Tim Wakefield for two more years. So they’re obviously of the opinion that starting pitching is damn short these days. So why not rev up Pettite for another go?

    5. GDH
      November 9th, 2009 | 7:22 pm

      @ Scout:
      Would you be willing to go 4-5 years $75 mil to sign Lackey? It may be worth it for some teams – especially the Phillies – but the Yanks already have long term deals for Burnett and CC, I wouldn’t go long term for another F/A starter. But I would be in favor of bringing back Andy on a 1 year incentive deal – I think he’d live up to it again.

    6. 77yankees
      November 9th, 2009 | 10:19 pm

      An interesting name to keep an eye out for is Joel Pineiro. He’s a sinkerball pitcher who had the highest groundball ratio in the majors, so he’d be good for the Stadium. He also gave up only 11 HR in 214 IP.

      Even though he’s pitched for St. Louis the last three years, he did have a few good years with Seattle, so there wouldn’t be that shell shock NL pitchers have when they come to the AL.

      Now I’m not saying get him and don’t pursue Lackey or Halladay, but he would be a good fall back if those other guys fall through.

    7. Scout
      November 10th, 2009 | 6:52 am

      @ GDH:
      Bearing in mind that I do not have access to any organizational budget or revenue numbers and am in no position to evaluate profit/loss figures, as a baseball move I would go to four years and $70 million for Lackey and the security he provides, and I would add another option year that would kick in depending upon certain performance measures in the last year or two of the contract with a low-cost buy-out if he falls short.

      I do not see the Burnett and Sabathia deals as relevant, other than as part of the total payroll. What matters to me is whether the team can count on producing high-end starters from within the organization by the time Pettitte calls it quits, and I don’t see the evidence of that. (For what it is worth, Sabbathia has an opt-out after eyar three, though I doubt he’ll use it. But it gives him some leverage if the rest of the rotation is weak.)

      When making a decision such as this one, the team should also look ahead at the 2010 free agent class. Halladay may be available, but it is quite likely he will be dealt this year and, if so, an extension could well keep him from the FA pool. (Any team paying a lot in prospects will surely want to ink him to a new deal to justify the trade.) Will there be a real impact FA pitcher out there next year? Also, the Yankees are one of the few teams in this economy likely to be able to afford Lackey. Hard to predict whether the economy will rebound enough by next year to allow teams to invest heavily in free agents.

    8. MJ
      November 10th, 2009 | 9:18 am

      @ 77yankees:
      Joel Piniero (or Joel Pinata as my friend who lives in St. Louis calls him) joining the Yanks: over my dead body. He got lit up in the AL, and last pitched to a league-average ERA in the AL in 2003 as a 24 year old (114 ERA+). He’s been approximately league average in his past three seasons as an NL pitcher (cumulative 102 ERA+), doesn’t strike anyone out (4.8 K/9 over the past three years). Considering Erik Bedard and Rich Harden are both out there as Type B free agents and they both have much more upside, I’d rather go for one of them over Piniero.


    9. MJ
      November 10th, 2009 | 9:23 am

      @ Scout:
      I’m not sure Lackey is worth 4Y/$70M. Not exactly a workhorse, not exactly great vs. Boston or @ Fenway.

      I give him 3Y/$39M and tell him to take it or leave it. If it means he goes to the Mets, so be it. I don’t think the Yanks need Lackey and they can afford to wait a season for a better pitcher (like Cliff Lee).

    10. Scout
      November 10th, 2009 | 9:35 am

      @ MJ:
      The Phils are NOT going to let Cliff Lee reach free agency. He is far too valuable to them. Besides, at that point, Lee would be in the same age group as Lackey is now, and you could raise the same issues about duration of contract and total cost.

      I favor Lackey because he has proven himself in the AL, not because he has been successful or not against a particular team. (Beware the small sample size problem.) And I don’t think the workhorse standard matters, however that is defined. Injuries — none of which appears to have long-term implications — have cut his innings totals over the past two years, but not his effectiveness. But Burnett has had four such injury-shortened seasons during his career, too, so he doesn’t qualify as a workhorse by the 200 inning/year benchmark. Neither one of them is a Carl Pavano-type who heads for the DL for two months with a hang nail. To me, a guy who pitches well, avoids major injuries, and has much play-off experience would be exactly the right addition to this rotation.

      You don’t negotiate with a free agent by telling him to take it or leave it, either. Let the market determine the price and then decide whether to meet it.

    11. MJ
      November 10th, 2009 | 10:24 am

      @ Scout:
      We don’t know that the Phils will sign Lee to a long-term deal. The Phils haven’t broken the bank before and Lee will command a better contract than Lackey if he does in 2010 what he’s done in 2008-2009. Lee’s two best seasons put Lackey in the dust.

      Scout wrote:

      You don’t negotiate with a free agent by telling him to take it or leave it, either. Let the market determine the price and then decide whether to meet it.

      Considering the fact that you want Lackey and I don’t, that’s exactly how I’d negotiate with him. He can join the World Champs at their price or he can go pitch for another team. Furthermore, in general, why take such a passive approach to free agency negotiations? The market is set by teams since they ARE the market. If the Yanks offer him what they’re willing to pay, it’s up to Lackey to take that offer to another club to match it or not.

    12. GDH
      November 10th, 2009 | 11:07 am

      Scout wrote:

      @ GDH:
      I do not see the Burnett and Sabathia deals as relevant, other than as part of the total payroll. What matters to me is whether the team can count on producing high-end starters from within the organization by the time Pettitte calls it quits, and I don’t see the evidence of that.

      I see the deals for CC and AJ as relevant if only because they represent two long term deals taking two slots in the rotation and committed dollars. I’m willing to live with the relative lack of flexibility these two signings came with, but to tie up a third spot with another long term deal, I’d want to be relatively confident that the guy was money. If this was a decision between Lackey and AJ, I’d take Lackey, but with AJ committed to a slot, I’d go max three years with Lackey, and he’ll get more than that.

      He’s hitting free agency at a great time (he’s the only major arm) despite his innings being slightly down the last 2 yrs, and while he’s definitely pitched well in the postseason, he’s not a lockdown intimidator badass. He’ll get more than he’s worth in years and in money this year. Lastly, I his numbers would be reduced pitching in the AL East vs. West. He hasn’t done as well against Tampa and Boston IIRC.

      I agree that we need to solve this before Andy goes away, whenever that is, for sure, if not sooner.

    13. MJ
      November 10th, 2009 | 12:23 pm

      @ GDH:
      I agree with all your points here.

    14. GDH
      November 10th, 2009 | 2:16 pm

      I would like to see Cash make a serious run at Felix Hernandez. Not sure we or anyone would get this done, but the M’s have a lot of holes to fill, not the least of which is catching and pitching. I’d send them Nady, Kennedy, and one of Joba/Hughes to start the package, and maybe even Montero/Cervelli. I’d throw in Kei Igawa, his airfare and a package of Top Ramen too.

    15. Scout
      November 10th, 2009 | 6:25 pm

      @ GDH:
      The Hernandez conversation would START with Montero, Chamberlain, and one other significant talent such as Hughes or Cano. Don’t expect yoru pocket lint to bring back real talent. Nady and Kennedy are coming off serious injuries; Cervelli is a back-up. The M’s may have holes, but they aren’t stupid.

    16. GDH
      November 10th, 2009 | 7:27 pm

      First, I don’t think they’re dealing Felix. If they were and they wanted Cano, I’d do Cano, Joba and Montero, and whatever else for Felix in a second. They need one OF more than they need 2B.

      The relative stupidity of the Mariners is debatable. They’ve certainly made some moves in the past couple years that could be interpreted as not too brilliant. Whether they’re stupid enough to deal Felix – well I don’t know if they’re that stupid, but if they were… I wouldn’t mind the Yanks ending up with him for the right pieces. I could even be persuaded to trade both Joba and Hughes and let them figure those two out, and take my chances with a rotation of CC, Felix and Burnett, and build around that for a couple years.

    17. Raf
      November 10th, 2009 | 7:31 pm

      GDH wrote:

      The relative stupidity of the Mariners is debatable. They’ve certainly made some moves in the past couple years that could be interpreted as not too brilliant.

      Such as?

    18. Scout
      November 10th, 2009 | 8:39 pm

      @ GDH:
      To be clear, when I said the M’s weren’t stupid, I meant they would never consider the kind of deal you suggested in your initial proposal. They might choose to deal Felix Hernandez if (a) they conclude they will not be able to lock him up long term and (b) they are blown away with an offer that would help their franchise recover from his departure. Given that Cashman has shown a reluctance to deal top minor league talent and prefers to sign a free agent instead, the chances of a Yankee bid here are very small. Which brings us back to Lackey and where we started…..

    19. 77yankees
      November 10th, 2009 | 8:44 pm

      MJ wrote:

      @ 77yankees:
      Considering Erik Bedard and Rich Harden are both out there as Type B free agents and they both have much more upside, I’d rather go for one of them over Piniero.

      Erik Bedard…oh, God no. There was talk in Seattle how soft he was, so he wouldn’t survive in NY. Harden’s good, but he’s not durable and not a length guy (5.4 IP per start in ’09)

      If you have Pettitte, Joba/Hughes in the rotation – those guys will be 6 inning pitchers, so you’re going to need some length other than CC & AJ or else the bullpen will get burnt out as it did in the past.

    20. MJ
      November 11th, 2009 | 8:56 am

      @ 77yankees:
      I’m not debating the fact that Bedard has a bad reputation or that Harden has durability issues and can tend to get bogged down in pitch-count problems early in games.

      But I’d take a flyer on either of them over Piniero in a heartbeat. If you’re going to give up a draft pick for a Type B free agent, shouldn’t it be a guy with upside? Why take a guy like Piniero who absolutely stinks? At least aim high and accept that it may not work out. Aiming low is pointless. The draft pick is worth more than Piniero is.

      For the record, I agree that Pettitte/Chamberlain/Hughes/Gaudin all present the same issue in that they may not work deep into games. But Piniero doesn’t address that concern either. Hittable pitchers don’t work deep into games.

    21. GDH
      November 11th, 2009 | 11:41 pm

      @ Raf:
      Such as, Beltre, Bedard, Sexon, and Silva. They did manage to re-sign Ichiro, priss that he is, he’s still an incredible talent. And they did manage to bring back Junior, which was a no-brainer. They haven’t cracked the AL West since 2001. Maybe I’m being too harsh on the M’s, but they got killed on Beltre and Bedard for sure. Silva could blossom, but he’s an average pitcher at best being paid at 11-12 Mil per year. We picked up Sexon off waivers IIRC, and he couldn’t hit sand in the desert. Hey- they’re rebuilding. If they decide it helps them rebuild to move Felix, I’m all for the Yanks helping them out with that.

    22. MJ
      November 12th, 2009 | 8:38 am

      @ GDH:
      In fairness to the Mariners, you’re forgetting to mention that they’ve had a new GM in charge since the middle of 2008. The Beltre/Sexson/Silva/Bedard deals weren’t a part of the current administration.

      And while I think signing Griffey was a waste of a roster spot (and continues to be), I understand that the M’s needed to build some good will with their fans after such a disastrous period of time. Apart from the Griffey signing, I’d argue that he current GM has done a good job managing his 25 man roster, made some good trades to shed payroll, and isn’t the same old M’s you’re thinking of.

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