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Andy's Heart May Be In Houston, But His Arm is Back in the Bronx
2006-12-09 05:10
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Good Andy Pettitte coverage by Jack Curry and Tyler Kepner in The Times this morning. The Astros were evidentally the southpaw's first cherce, but Houston would not go near a second year. Pettitte still has to take a physical, which won't happen for another nine days (Andy and his father are headed to South Texas for a previously-planned hunting trip). Here's Tom Pettitte, Andy's old man:

"I never wanted him to leave New York to begin with, as far as where his baseball numbers were going to stack up," Tom said. "I always thought he could get to 200 wins as a Yankee. Now the ironic thing is he'll have a chance to win his 200th game with the Yankees."

..."The Yankees were always a special part of his life, no question," Tom Pettitte said. "When he was deciding to pitch down here, he said: 'I'm a Yankee. I'll always be a Yankee.' That's how he understood it. Now he gets to go back and be a Yankee again."

Joel Sherman likes the move, and here is one of the reasons why:

The team's prospects get more than a great role model to see in spring training. Pettitte's arrival also means the Yanks can keep all of their prospects, notably Phil Hughes, in the minors to begin the season to continue their education. No one has to be rushed now. This also provides a stockpile of options for when the inevitable injuries occur. Between Double-A and Triple-A, the Yanks should have Hughes, Humberto Sanchez, Tyler Clippard, Jeff Karstens, Darrell Rasner and Steven White vying to be summoned. It is the best Yankees depth in a while.

Again, while the Yankees don't have that one guy that strikes you as a true ace, they've got a nice group of veteran starters. As Sherman notes, they also have depth, a bunch of young arms. That hasn't been the case in New York for more than a minute now. I know that I feel more confident about their starting pitching this morning than I did a week ago. Beauty, eh?

Comments
2006-12-09 05:56:25
1.   RIYank
We have to be realistic: Andy's not going to be great. But it's great to have him back, anyway.

By an ironic coincidence, I'm commenting from Texas today.

2006-12-09 05:57:26
2.   mikeplugh
I love it. I posted this over at Peter's blog. Sorry to double up if you read it there, but...The Red Sox still look worse on paper. Far worse on offense. They have the following OPS+ numbers staring them in the face for next year:

Youkilis (110)
Lugo (90)
Manny (160)
Ortiz (160)
Drew (135)
Lowell (105)
Varitek (120?)
Crisp (100)
Pedroia (?)

On the surface that looks pretty good. It does however predicate on Varitek bouncing back to his pre-2006 form, and J.D. Drew staying healthy long enough to do anything. Now, look at the Yankees:

Damon (115)
Jeter (125)
Abreu (135)
Rodriguez (145)
Giambi (150)
Posada (120)
Matsui (130)
Wilson (115)
Cano (130?)

There isn't a single guy in that lineup even in the neighborhood of league average. It's true that the two players with the highest OPS+ among all these players are Manny and Ortiz, but the rest of the lineup doesn't scare anyone. They may get a slight edge in pitching, but I defy anyone to tell me that Curt Schilling, who has posted a 77 ERA+ and a 116 the last two years is suddenly going to bounce back to posting a 150 at age 40. Let's look at some pitching projections for this year:

Schilling (115)
Beckett (110)
Papelbon (120?)
Wakefield (100)
Matsuzaka (140?)/ Clement (80)

Mussina (120)
Wang (115)
Pettitte (115)
Johnson (115)
Igawa (100)

Thoughts?

2006-12-09 06:04:08
3.   randym77
I love the NY Post headline:

"One Move Fills Many Holes"

That's what Mrs. Pettitte is afraid of... ;-)

2006-12-09 06:21:22
4.   Raf
2 Seeing as the Sox haven't finished ahead of the Yanks since 1995, I'm not too worried either.
2006-12-09 06:27:51
5.   rbj
Woo hoo! Great to have that pair of cold gun slinger eyes peering over the glove again.
Still is some scuttlebut about Clemens, but he's only a 4 month pitcher anymore.
2006-12-09 07:09:43
6.   joejoejoe
OT: I was reading about this deal on MLB.com and saw that the Yanks are putting 6-game ticket packages on sale this Monday. You can get a variety of 6-game bleacher packages for $72-a-ticket, each including two choice games (BoSox, Opening Day, Mets, Old-Timers). There is also an 11-game package for $55 ($5 a ticket!) that includes a junkbin of weeknight games.

I call that a bargain, the best I ever had. The best I ever had!

http://newyork.yankees.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/nyy/ticketing/holiday_ticket_pack.jsp

2006-12-09 07:49:20
7.   Jimmy Clark
I am very happy to see Pettitte back and at such as reasonable price (by today's standards). He was a stealth free agent. I wonder what kind of a deal he could have gotten if he was a "I'll go anywhere to pitch for the maximum amount of money..or close to it."??
Those Yankee ticket packages sound great..thanks for posting them.
2006-12-09 08:59:01
8.   Simone
I remember Tom Pettitte complaining about the Yankees not negotiating with Andy before the 15 day (?) period expired the off season that he left. In any case, I wish that Andy actually wanted to return to the Yankees rather than coming back because the Astros didn't come up with less money than the Yankees' offer. Good to have him back anyway.

2 Mike, while I think the Yankees' line up is superior to most in the AL, I still don't like the starting rotation. I consider the rotation to be old and injury prone. Other than Wang, I think they all break down and wear down after the All Star break. You didn't mention Pavano. You think the Yankees trade him? Or you just ignoring Pavano?

2006-12-09 09:00:34
9.   OldYanksFan
Brandon Inge - 3B
Career: 16 hrs .241 .302 .398 .700
Last 3: 19 hrs .267 .318 .445 .763 (approx)

Yes, he has improved. Had a career year with 27 hrs, although just a .313 OBP and a .776 OPS

Just got 4 years @ 6$m per. Can I assume even using his career year with an OPS of .776 that he is around league average, with better HRs?

Are these desperation dollars? Although we are now paying a league average SP a (desperate) 16$m.

If FA prices come back to earth over the next few years, a lot of teams are gonna be paying a fortune for average players.

Thank God for Man-of-Cash. I'm proud of you baby.

2006-12-09 09:09:58
10.   yogifan
I have many fond memories of Andy pitching well for the Yanks, but I thought Cash was moving in a new direction- young pitchers. Pettitte's already started having regular injury breakdowns and I doubt he's seen the last of those.

I fear Clemens may be heading down the same path . Overall, I'm slightly disappointed.

2006-12-09 09:13:00
11.   OldYanksFan
2 If they get Matsuzaka (140) they are doing pretty well.

8 "...still don't like the starting rotation. I consider the rotation to be old and injury prone"

This is true, but 3 things.
1) We have more decent backup SPs then in a LONG time.
2) Because none of our SPs are great, if one goes down (except Wang), the gap between him and his replacement won't be huge.
3) There is always mid season trades/salary dumps.

Considering this is December, I think we look pretty good. And we are not the Twins. We win with an A+ offense and B- pitching.

I think it's important to remember the PS is a very small sample size, and a complete crapshot. It is not a barometer of the best team. The Sox have lost to lesser teams in the PS, and now the Mets are on that list. You can build a team to win a division, but it's impossible (and we have tried) to guarantee success in the PS.

2006-12-09 09:14:11
12.   Rich Lederer
The Yankees may not have a "true ace" as you say, but they have three former aces. :)

On a more serious note, I think you may be underestimating your starting rotation a bit. If an ace = #1 pitcher = top 30 starters in MLB, then I would argue you might have three aces/#1s on your staff.

Let's not forget that Wang was #2 in the Cy Young voting. While not overpowering, he throws strikes, gets a ton of groundballs, and keeps the ball in the park. That said, I don't think he was any better than Mussina, who seems to have had a year that flew under the radar screen of many writers and fans. 3rd in the AL in WHIP (1.11) and K/BB (4.91), 4th in ERA (3.51), and 9th in K/9 (7.84). Call him Moose, call him what you want, but I'd call him an ace.

Johnson is clearly not ace material anymore but can still be dominating from time to time. Would rather have that than someone who has no upside. He will NOT have a 5.00 ERA in 2007.

With respect to Pettitte, he was one of the best pitchers in baseball in the second half (2.80 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 3.19 K/BB in 93.1 IP) while working half of his games in a ballpark that isn't particularly friendly toward pitchers. He may find the going a bit tougher in the AL than in the NL but should be a solid addition nonetheless.

And just maybe your real ace won't be heard from until the summer. Hey, don't snicker, look what Verlander, Liriano, and Weaver did in their first year in the bigs!

The starting rotation is fine. Go find yourself a first baseman.

2006-12-09 09:14:23
13.   Bama Yankee
It's good to have Andy back, I always felt like the Yankees were just not the same without him. I am sure I will have a similar feeling when Bernie finally hangs up his spikes...
2006-12-09 09:16:41
14.   Bama Yankee
"Andy and his father are headed to South Texas for a previously-planned hunting trip"

Let's just hope Dick Chenney is not going with them on that hunting trip ;-)

2006-12-09 10:03:14
15.   Simone
14 Hee. The joke that will never get old.
2006-12-09 10:10:28
16.   kylepetterson
14 15 I saw a t-shirt that said: "I'd rather hunt with Dick Cheney than ride in a car with Ted Kennedy"
2006-12-09 10:11:14
17.   Zack
Another then that I haven't seen anyone mention thus far about Andy is his #s against those good ol' Red Sox:
21 Games, 13-5 record, 140 IP, 3.01 ERA

At Fenway, 9 games, 57 IP, 2.98 ERA

Both are below his career lines, and, while it may have no real impact on this Sox team, at least he has a history of pitching them tough...

2006-12-09 10:38:00
18.   Just fair
Pitching depth down on the farm. That has a nice ring to it. Hopefully the Scott Erickson/Tim Redding types will not be near the Yankee Stadium mound for a long time to come. How long again until the mitts start popping down in the Florida sunshine?
2006-12-09 10:53:17
19.   kylepetterson
18 Isn't Redding the Nationals "Ace" now?
2006-12-09 11:20:48
20.   kylepetterson
19 He and his 54.00 ERA as a Yankee. I thought he would've retired after that.
2006-12-09 11:30:09
21.   weeping for brunnhilde
I'm delighted, delighted to have Andy back.

I remember the day his departure was announced, that feeling of abject disbelief I had.

I was demoralized when they let him go.

He'll give us what he gives us and that'll be good enough for me.

But now that we've got him back, can someone tell me why in the name of Christ we let him walk in the first place?

2006-12-09 11:54:58
22.   Jim Dean
The more I think about it, the more I think the Yanks should go either with a six man rotation or everyone starter should take a month vacation. Since the latter is even less likely, the six man rotation could realistically work and keep everyone's overall innings down while bringing the kids along slowly. With ten starters (! Wang, Moose, Andy, Unit, Meat, Rasner, Karstens, Huge, Sanchez, Clippard!), the six man could even weather the loss of four guys.

Wow, what a great signing, keeps the fans happy with a "move" and esp because of how it sets them up for next year (no Unit, no guaranteed money to Andy = 32 million and Zambrano heading to pasture).

2006-12-09 12:14:02
23.   AbbyNormal821
Hello Everyone! Hope you all are enjoying the holiday season!

No insightful thoughts on much of anything going on in the baseball world, except that I'm downright giddy over the return of Pettitte!

GIDDY, I TELL YOU...GIDDY!!!

Welcome back, Andy!!!!!

2006-12-09 12:35:16
24.   Peter
When it was all rumor, I was pretty indifferent towards Andy coming home, but now that it's real, this is very exciting.
Now if only Cash could work his magic and dust off some pinstripes for Nick the Stick and Dioner Navarro...

22 Jim, I have a feeling that one or more of those first 5 starters will end up with an involuntary "vacation" this season. This newfound pitching depth is really nice.

2006-12-09 12:54:46
25.   Shaun P
It will be so nice to be able to wear my #46 jersey again, and not have to explain to people who it is. Welcome back, Andy.

On a totally unrelated note, I know many folks don't think much of Suzyn Waldman, but I thought this was very interesting:

http://tinyurl.com/yhkzjd

I didn't really know anything about her before; I do now, and am impressed.

2006-12-09 13:16:48
26.   kylepetterson
25 You should've punched anyone that asked that stupid of a question. It was only 3 years ago.

Headline from LoHud:

Pettitte explains his position

"I'm sitting down. In a chair."

2006-12-09 13:26:19
27.   randym77
25 That is interesting. I had no clue she started out as a broadway singer.

(Nit: the heroine in "Man of La Mancha" is "Dulcinea,", not "Dulcinella.")

2006-12-09 13:55:09
28.   OldYanksFan
"KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Reliever Octavio Dotel and the Kansas City Royals reached a preliminary agreement Friday on a $5 million, one-year contract.

Dotel's deal allows him to earn about $2.5 million in performance bonuses based on games finished."

Is that 5$m PLUS 2.5$m MORE?
Well, I guess I know why we didn't sign him.
I don't think Cashman really went after him. I guess he feels with have plenty of power arms in the kids.

As someone mentioned earlier, I surprised our initial deal with him wasn't for 2 years (ala Lieber).

2006-12-09 14:01:14
29.   David
I remember the Yanks signing another near HOF pitcher coming off a good year, who was past his prime, subject to injuries, and expensive. Name of Kevin Brown.

Hopefully Andy will pitch well for the next two years. If he doesn't, I hope the Yanks depth will allow them not to start Andy, if need be, despite all the money he's making.

2006-12-09 14:33:59
30.   yankz
Kevin Brown, IIRC, had much more of an injury history than Pettite does.
2006-12-09 14:46:10
31.   kylepetterson
29 Wasn't Brown traded for and riding out a 7 year contract?
2006-12-09 14:57:28
32.   eephus
29 Hey, at least we can probably rely on Pettitte not to punch any walls a month before the playoffs.
2006-12-09 15:02:56
33.   joejoejoe
Does it make sense to pay for an ace pitcher when the Yankees have the kind of offense they do? A starter that has an ERA of 4.00 and goes 6IP a start would likely win 20 games for the Yanks if healthy. Why pay a premium for a pitcher who will only replace 6-4 wins with 6-2 wins? I know it makes a difference if you are trying to get from 90 wins to 95 wins but if you are heading into the season expecting to win between 95-100 games anyway I'm not sure the return you get from superstar pitching is worth the investment. You can win a ton of games with a solid but not spectacular rotation. The Mariners won 116 games with Paul Abbott and John Halama as their #4 and #5 starters.
2006-12-09 15:09:40
34.   Simone
I just read Gammons' ESPN article which was free for once. Talking about the Red Sox and Matsuzaka, Gammons quotes an anonymous GM, "it would be a shame for Matsuzaka and baseball to hold him out to try to force a change in the posting system." Uh? Why would the Red Sox being too cheap to make a deal for Matsuzak force a change in the posting process? I'm perplexed.
2006-12-09 15:09:59
35.   Simone
Oh, here is the url to Gammons' article: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?id=2692259
2006-12-09 16:21:41
36.   Jim Dean
33 You're right, but I think there's more that went into it. It was a 95 win team with some question marks. If things didn't go well they could have trouble reaching 95. Andy helps to solidify the 95 wins and, if all goes very well, push them towards 100.

Further, don't discount the number of people who need to STF now about the Yanks not doing anything and needing to get another pitcher. Cashman made a move that ordinary Yankee fans can embrace just as easily as the sabr fans. It's hard to do that.

2006-12-09 16:28:32
37.   yankz
Gammons' article reeks of fear to me, and I love it.
2006-12-09 17:25:04
38.   joejoejoe
36 I like the Pettitte deal as well and agree with your points. It will be popular with fans and addresses the 'they didn't do anything and lost Sheffield' criticism a lot more than only signing Igawa. I was thinking more about the expected Matsuzaka deal in Boston when I was talking about 'ace money' and value.

Johan Santana is going to be a free agent in 2009. Is he worth $25 million per year? $30M? You can run the table in the playoffs with front line pitching like Schilling and Johnson in 2001 but you can scrap to a championship like the Cardinals this year.

Looking at the moves Cashman has made I'm just wondering if he's decided a formula of great hitting, very good defense, and better than average pitching is what gives you the most bang for the buck in the current market.

2006-12-09 18:11:30
39.   mikeplugh
I'll tell you the #1 reason that the Pettitte move is a good one. For everything stated so far, and:

Last season we lost to the Tigers. The monster bats went cold. The pitching also fizzled out after Wang and a tough Mussina loss. If you remember, Game 3 was started by a Randy Johnson who was almost left off the postseason roster with back problems. Those back problems just required surgery. The fourth game was started by 5-inning Jaret Wright. Those two guys put up a 77 and 98 ERA+, respectively, last year. The Yankees couldn't go into this season with that kind of uncertainty in the plum playoff pitching slots.

Now, if we were to play that series again, we'd be following Mussina's Game 2 loss with Andy Pettitte, who always thrived as the Bombers stopper, and figures to throw up an ERA+ of somewhere between 105 and 120. He's playoff tested, and the health issues are overblown. He led the Majors in games started last year and has pitched a full season almost every year of his career.

Game 4 would be started by a healthy Randy Johnson, hopefully, or it could go to Igawa or Phil Hughes. I like this year's pitching a whole lot more, no matter what anyone says.

2006-12-09 18:17:13
40.   Jim Dean
38 Don't forget that Zambrano could be available at the trade deadline this year. The Yanks could have pitching to move and if any of the kids not named Huge has a bif first half, the Yanks could have an easy decision.

39 You bet. Great call. Just think if Zambrano's pitching Game 4 (you know because of Torre trust.).

2006-12-09 18:45:05
41.   mikeplugh
40 For all you Banterers out there, you should know that Jim Dean and I are the official cheerleaders for the "Carlos Zambrano to the Yankees" campaign.

Looks like we're ramping it up after the winter meetings, and will reach a fever pitch by this time next year, if he isn't with us already. The Cubs did just sign Jason Marquis, I believe, which gives them a rotation of:

Zambrano
Prior
Lilly
Marquis
Wood
Wade Miller
Glendon Rusch
and rookies....

If they can make a playoff run this year with that bunch, plus their new offense, they won't be trading him. That division is always close, so I don't expect they'll hang up the towel. They'll try to sign Zambrano to a long term deal mid-season, or he'll hit free agency. That's when we pounce.

Randy Johnson's deal comes off the books at $17 million, and we turn around that money, plus a pinch to bring in the young hurler.

2006-12-09 21:51:28
42.   yankz
Continuing my "If you're still up and bored" series from last night, this is just heartwarming:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=_x3QTw1M_t4

I remember how much I hated Damon a year ago. Now, I'm very glad he's on our team.

2006-12-09 22:47:30
43.   Yu-Hsing Chen
41 Well, Rich Hill is a pretty solid bet for the rotation for the Cubs.

To be fair, if Prior and/or Wood is healthy, they would be pretty good, if only on the merits of their arms and the overall suckniess of the division, but that's still not saying that it's a good way to building a team.

I would also agree with Rich on what the definition of a ace is? if we're using a high standard (Santana for example) so he would have to be dominating, consistent, healhty? and if Wang doesn't qualify, then we have about 5-6 true ace in the game right now at most. (Santana / Halladay (?) / Webb / Carpenter (?) / Oswalt / Zambrano (?)

note the (?) on those 3 cause they aren't exactly the model for consistent health (Halladay always seem to suffer some weirdo injuries, Carpenter had a long history of injuries, Zambrano wasn't very consistent in many aspects. hell, Webb wasn't all that great until this year.)

you can't count guys like Kazmir as true ace if you use such high standards anyway. he's never fully healthy. Felix should be a ace but he's not consistent. etc...

2006-12-10 05:48:35
44.   Shaun P
41 Except that Wood is slated to the bullpen and Prior is expected to be the 5th starter if and when he's available.

Zambrano is far and away the Cubs' best pitcher, and a heck of a hitter too, as far as pitchers go. Attendance at Wrigley is already down; the locals might openly revolt if the Cubs let Big Z go. He's become what many thought Prior would - why would the Cubs trade him? Because money is an issue? The way they've been throwing money around, that excuse will never fly. I expect the Cubs to resign Zambrano.

Then there's Santana. Sure, he'll be a free agent at the end of 2008. But who says the Twins won't sign him to a big extension before then? Don't forget, they too have a new stadium opening in 2009. Terry Ryan isn't stupid enough to let the best pitcher in MLB get away with a new stadium on the horizon.

I'd be as happy as anyone else to see Zambrano and/or Johan Santana in pinstripes. But honestly, I think there's no chance of it happening.

2006-12-10 06:12:03
45.   Jim Dean
44 Right now I can see Mike's scenario in 41 playing out. If Zambrano is insistent about hitting free agency, then they'd try to trade him. Then indeed we pounce. For Sanchez and Clippard plus Cox, I think that's a package that could do it.
2006-12-10 06:52:01
46.   mikeplugh
45

If he's insistent on hitting free agency, I'd say the better plan would be to make sure he knows the Yankees are out there waiting to pay him huge dollars, and wait it out. We don't have to give up anything if he comes to us on his own.

That said, it would be easier to hold onto him if we acquired him via trade first. It's way premature to consider any of this, but interesting.

2006-12-10 07:17:28
47.   kdw
42 Keep it up. Good to have distraction in the off season.
2006-12-10 07:48:08
48.   Shaun P
45 46 You both assume that the Cubs will look to trade him, which means they'd have to be out of contention. Again, the way the Tribune company has spent money plus having Piniella as manager makes it clear the Cubs are trying to win it all in 2007. They can't do it without Zambrano. I don't think they'll be so far out of contention on the trading deadline that Zambrano will be dealt.

If Zambrano does hit free agency, the Yanks may make a play for him. But the cost will be huge - and that keeps the Yanks paying the luxury tax again. Will Ca$hmoney do it, or will it be Beltran all over again?

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