What Went Wrong: Andy wasn’t so dandy

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Andy Pettitte will forever be remembered as the last winning pitcher at Yankee Stadium. A week and a half ago, he threw five solid inning to earn himself the W against the Orioles in the Yankee Stadium finale. While the fans gave Pettitte, in potentially his last start, a huge ovation, the last few months of the season were not kind to Pettitte, supposedly one of the anchors of the Yankee rotation.

After the Yanks and Joba Chamberlain downed the Orioles 13-3 on Wednesday, July 30, everything was coming up roses for the Yankees. Counted out in May, the Yanks were four games behind Tampa Bay and just one game the Red Sox for the Wild Card lead. That tantalizing glimpse of postseason hopes would fade the next day.

Andy Pettitte, 12-7 with a 3.76 ERA, would draw the start against Jon Garland and the Angels. While the Yanks would plate eight, Pettitte gave up nine. Over the next few weeks, the Yanks would slip in the standings, and Andy Pettitte couldn’t buy an out.

From that July start until he shut it down early due a sore shoulder, Pettitte would make 11 starts and win just two of them. He would go 2-7; the Yanks would go 2-9. Pettitte threw 65 innings to the tune of a 6.23 ERA. He allowed 87 hits and 22 walks while striking out 51. Opponents hit .323/.374/.461 against him.

On the surface, Pettitte’s numbers didn’t change that much during that 11-start run. Over his first 139 innings, he had a K/9 IP of 6.92 and a K/BB of 3.24. Over those final 65 innings, he would strike out just over 7 per 9 innings, but he would strike out just 2.31 per walk. With the worse walk rate and the higher hit rate, Pettitte’s overall numbers slumped.

Watching the games, it seemed as though Pettitte just ran out of steam in August. The velocity on his fastball was down, and he couldn’t locate his pitches as well as he had been earlier in the year. While Mike Mussina adjusted to a new physical reality, Pettitte was trying to pitch as he always had but with little success.

Had Pettitte and the Yanks won three more of his 11 starts — or even four more — the Yanks would have been that much closer to the playoffs by mid-September. But it was not to be, and as the Yankees face a tough off-season, Andy Pettitte’s status, if he choose not to retire, will be front and center on the agenda. If the Yanks can find a way to ensure that first-half Pettitte shows up for a full year, they’ll be set. If not, I’m not sure for how much they should rely on Pettitte next year.

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  • Old Ranger

    Andy is history, his stuff is not what it once was. No contract for Andy, he was a big help for many years but, those years are long gone. I would pass. 27/09

  • dan

    Some people here are allergic to stats, but his FIP went down for the third year in a row. It was at 3.71 this year, which is actually his career average. His K/BB ratio was better than his career average, and his HR/9 was only slightly worse than his career rate (difference of less than 2 home runs). If he’s committed to coming back I’m all for it, assuming he’s paid what he’s worth (not $16MM).

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      Yeah, but, dan, you can break out his stats overall or you can look at how he was pitching. That’s the second element of evaluating talent. He just wasn’t getting outs with the same stuff. His velocity was down; his command suffered. Sure, he suffered because of a sub-par defense, and we’ll get there on that one. But he also just didn’t have the stuff.

  • J.R.

    It would be interesting to see how much$ he would want to come back. $8 million, $10 million?

    And at what point is it worth signing him. Because we all know he isnt getting $16 million.

    • http://footballstu.blogs.sportsline.com/ Stu H

      Yes, I do think he’d be expecting $16 million to return.

      • steve (different one)


        based on what?

        • http://footballstu.blogs.sportsline.com/ Stu H

          Based on the fact that the Yankees want him, and I don’t expect he’ll be willing to accept a pay cut to come back.

          • steve (different one)

            ok. agree to disagree then.

            i would say there is a 0% chance that the Yankees bring him back for $16M next year, but i have no way of proving that, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

  • Manimal

    I don’t want him back. Thank you for your past contributions, have a nice day.

  • http://footballstu.blogs.sportsline.com/ Stu H

    Ugh, you’re right, that was a turning point… It just so happened to be the only game I attended in Yankee stadium this year (July 31). It was horrible.

  • Quidam03

    I agree…..bring him back…..everyone felt that Moose was cooked at the end of last year.

    Nevertheless how in the world can anyone do what you suggest?

    “If the Yanks can find a way to ensure that first-half Pettitte shows up for a full year, they’ll be set.”

  • Steve S

    Looking at the free agent options I think Pettitte might be a better alternative than most of these guys (sans CC). Sheets may need tommy john, Burnett will require huge dollars and he has serious health risks. If you lose Mussina, then bring back Andy in a number four starter role wouldn’t be the worse thing in the world. I think this year was a down year for him but he still has a good arm and the financial commitment to him will only be for one year. I cant see Sheets, Burnett or Lowe being good long term investments and if you sign CC then you really are only pursuing a number four starter (CC, Wang, Joba, Pettitte, Hughes & co.).

  • JC

    Hi Guys.

    At what point do we factor the injuries Andy has had into the equation?. Does anyone have any idea of the extent of the injuries?. Is this due to coming off the PEDs?

    Personally, I’m pretty unsure if I want him back as I have somehow expected the worst each time out. However, the other options available dont fill me with confidence (CC aside).

    You dont think he would take $10m or less (I’m sceptical too!)

  • JohnnyC

    Sign him only if he accepts a one year $8-10 million dollar deal with a club option and reasonable buyout. Let us hope that we don’t reach the point this offseason where we NEED to re-sign him. I’m o.k. with him as a veteran 4 or 5 guy in the rotation. But that’s it.

  • Jeremy

    Andy just needs to learn to pitch like Jamie Moyer.

  • JimT

    If I were the Yankees I would bring Pettitte back with the expectation that you might have to shut him down fora week to 10 days in the middle of the season just to recoup. I know that old time baseball guys hate the idea that players take days off, but a break following the all star break may have helped.

    The contracts would have to be reasonable in length, a year or perhaps a year with an option, but I would bring back both Pettitte and Mussina. Make the younger pitchers earn their spots. If the younger pitchers perform well you can afford to give your vets a bit more time off and if they don’t you have options to demote them. It takes more that five or six starting pitchers to get through most seasons.

  • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

    And yet and still, Pettitte, Mussina, and even Pavano have value to us, in that all three of them have been here and pitched well before in the AL East and could potentially do it again, and all three of them could possibly return on relatively risk free one-year deals.

    Assuming we add Sabathia, our corps of starters then becomes Sabathia and Wang, followed by Joba, Hughes, Kennedy, Aceves, McAllister, Betances, Brackman, etc. etc. We’ve got lots and lots of young talent that could soon become reliable starters, but only three of them are ready to contribute in 2009 and all three of them will need innings restrictions and short leashes. Having veteran starters who don’t come with long term commitments is a good thing. A better thing than spending money on Oliver Perez or Ryan Dempster, for example.

    I’d offer one year deals (or options) to all three as decent bridge options while we continue to break in our young guns.

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