By most accounts, the Yankees could use a back-end starter who can eat innings in 2009. While they have CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Ching-Ming Wang up front, having two of Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Al Aceves, Ian Kenned, Phil Coke, Chase Wright and any other youngster the Yanks trot out there fill up 70 starts while pitching the Yanks toward a playoff berth may be a tall order.
To that end, there’s a certainly a reason to bring Andy Pettitte back into the fold this year, but that soap opera has seemingly reached a stalemate. Pettitte doesn’t want to take a $6-million pay cut, and the Yanks don’t want to sign a pitcher turning 37-year-old in June and coming off his worst season of his career to a lofty contract. I don’t blame them.
In the meantime, the Yanks have alternatives. Derek Lowe remains unsigned. He, however, wants a few years and $15 million per before affixing his John Hancock to a contract. Ben Sheets is still unsigned as well, but teams have concerns about his health.
There is another pitcher out there, also 37 and coming off his worst season. As John Garica notes, Pedro Martinez could be an intriguing option for the Yanks. It’s not as outlandish as it sounds.
Last season was not one of Pedro’s finest. He was coming off of major arm surgery and got lit up. He threw 109 innings in the NL and gave up 127 hits, 19 of which were home runs. He walked 44 and struck out 87, his worst K/BB ratio since 1993. Over his final 40 innings of 2008, opponents hit .321/.379/.500 off of the former Cy Younger winner (while striking out 38 times). No matter how you slice or dice it, those are ugly numbers.
So Pedro is looking to rebound in 2008. Maybe he’s the guy the Yankees need in the back end. He could be their John Smoltz, a low-risk, high-reward type of signing. Considering that the only Pedro rumors this off-season were either his own desire to return to New York and some quickly quashed Marlins rumors, I would think that the Yanks could swoop in and sign Pedro for a low base salary with incentives.
It might not be the answer to the innings gap, but the Yanks don’t have much — other than money — to lose. Pedro could make some starts, and if he’s healthy, he’ll fill that 4/5 whole in the rotation. If not, the Yanks seem ready to rely on the kids anyway. And, hey, then maybe we could all go back to wearing these shirts again. Crazier things have happened.