Appreciating Andy Pettitte

The madness has to end
A-Rod back tomorrow

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the Yankees so far has been the starting pitching. Billed as the team’s best staff since 2003, they’ve stumbled out of the gates and haven’t quite recovered. Things aren’t as bad as they were in early April — as Mike mentioned, the pitchers have been going deeper lately. Yet they haven’t shown the dominance which we imagined heading into the season.

One bright spot on the staff is Andy Pettitte. As Eric Seidman notes in his FanGraphs post on the topic, Pettitte is already +1 wins this season through just 33 innings. Yes, he’s had his hiccups, but he’s turned in at least seven innings in three of his five starts, and only in the latest has he failed to record a quality start. In other words, the guy who was signed to be the fifth starter has been the ace of the staff in the early goings. As was the case in 2007, it’s difficult to imagine where the team would be without Pettitte right now.

Here is Seidman on Pettitte’s success from 2002 through 2008 (emphasis mine):

Over the last four seasons, Pettitte has averaged 213 innings and +4.6 wins. His total of +18.3 wins in that span of 2005-08 ranks ninth amongst all pitchers, ahead of both Jake Peavy and Josh Beckett. In 2004, he missed time due to injuries, but here are his win values from 2002-08, excluding that injury plagued 2004 campaign: +4.2, +5.5, +5.8, +3.5, +4.5, +4.4. Granted, I’m not here to make any sort of Hall of Fame case for the guy, but rather to point out he has had a terribly underrated career and he is still producing at a very high level. In fact, through five starts this season he has already amassed +1 win.

Of course, Pettitte benefits in this comparison to Beckett and Peavy, two of the more dominant pitchers of the current era, because 2002 was his age-30 season, while the other two were just rookies. So while that comp might not be completely valid, it is a testament to Pettitte’s consistency, minus his 2004 elbow injury. His second half last year gave some fans a scare, but thankfully he’s been in a full sprint to open 2009, at just the time the Yankees needed him.

While I used this thread to appreciate all Andy Pettitte has been for the Yanks, Seidman had a different reason. Apparently, he’s heard some fans clamor for Pettitte to move to the bullpen once Chien-Ming Wang returns. Excuse me? This I’ve never heard, probably because it’s so preposterous. Why would you ever remove your most solid pitcher from the rotation when the rest of the crew is struggling? Plus, as we’ve said ad nauseum, if the starters do their job the bullpen will become less relevant. The flaws will be exposed less frequently, and the best relievers will get the majority of the appearances.

During his first stint with the Yankees we remember Pettitte as a stopper, a guy who would come in on a day after a loss and turn in a solid performance. The Yankees could use that more than ever right now.

The madness has to end
A-Rod back tomorrow
  • Bo

    Pettitte in the pen is just ridiculous. What fans told Seidman that?

    • http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/00mwbIM15ofMv/340x.jpg Mike Pop

      I believe thier names were Sal and Grant.

      • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        To Sal and Grant’s great dismay, Bo held a dissenting opinion.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Is Sal really Grant/Bo? I missed that revelation. I thought Sal was someone else.

          • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            One of the three musketeers said so, right? Someone please tell me I didn’t make that up.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              I’ll take whomever’s word for it… I’ve been absent more recently due to finals and missed a lot more RAB than I normally do.

              • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

                I am 90% sure they are the same.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              If it is the case, though, we’re going to have to settle on the appropriate nomenclature.

              Grantsalbo?
              Bosalgrant?
              Salbogrant?
              Salgrantbo?
              Bograntsal?
              Grantbosal?

              • http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/00mwbIM15ofMv/340x.jpg Mike Pop

                I remember he said his name was Robert Grant. So I suggested Robert Sully Grant, but that hit and miss’d. Story of my life.

                I like Salbogrant.

                Just rolls off the tongue.

                The Salbogrant has oddly shaped feet.

              • Peedlum

                that reminds me of when michael kay used to talk about “quangormo” closing games.

  • Nady Nation

    True Yankee.

  • AJ

    Whatever fans made that suggestion should be taken out back and have their mouths sewn shut.

    They must be from LoHud.

    That comment = cheapshot.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    I love the fact that the idiot fans calling for Cashman’s head for not having enough position player depth to sustain MULTIPLE unpredictable injuries…

    … are constantly trying to convert one of our 6 starters into a relief pitcher… just because there’s six of them.

    JOBA TO THE PEN!
    NO, HUGHES TO THE PEN!
    NO, WANG TO THE PEN!
    NO, ANDY TO THE PEN!

    (two months later when Andy’s in the bullpen and A.J. Burnett starts feels shoulder tightness)

    WTF CASHMAN IPK IN TEH ROTATION WHERE’S TEH PITCHING DEPTH?

    • http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/00mwbIM15ofMv/340x.jpg Mike Pop

      ZOMG! Wang could be the bridge to Mo with his sinker!111!!

      • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        A triumphant return for Pop. lol Didn’t you just finish a paper or something, and, if so, shouldn’t you be getting drunk right now?

        • http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/00mwbIM15ofMv/340x.jpg Mike Pop

          Heh, that’s tonight after the game!

          (knocks on wood)

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    Andy’s awesome. Always liked him, glad we brought him back, think he should have his #46 put up on the wall.

    And no, I’m not offering him a contract next year. (Unless we have a bad injury, that is.)

    • Nady Nation

      Hypothetical: Wang comes back in a few weeks, starts dealing like the CMW of old, and we flip him this coming offseason in a package for a young, up and coming position player. Bring Andy back on a similar deal to the one he signed for this year?

      • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Too many variables in play to have this conversation in May of 2009.

        • http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/00mwbIM15ofMv/340x.jpg Mike Pop

          I love the idea of flipping the Wang for a young positional player. I’m not too much into the Wang compared to the likes of TSJC, Pawlikowski, Becca, and Pawlikowsi. If Pettitte pitches to a solid year and is willing to take a deal similar to his current one. Of course I would be big on bringing Wang back. I would love to see Rich Harden for one year but we can’t trust him and A.J. in the rotation together. Scary, scary thought.

          But like I said above, alot of guys on here LOVE the Wang.

          • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

            You’ll pay for that double entendre, Popavero.

            • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt ACTY

              Isn’t just waking up and being Mike Popavero punishment enough, Joe?

      • Ed

        If Pettitte is healthy AND Pettite pitches well all year, AND Wang recovers to his old self, AND Hughes hits his innings goal AND Joba hits his innings goal AND Burnett stays healthy, then we have a dilemma.

        Until then, let’s just not decide either way on what to do with Pettitte next year.

        • JP

          Andy probably won’t sign next year, with anyone. This is his final season. I think he wanted to pitch in the new stadium. If they don’t make the playoffs, which looks more and more likely every day, Pettitte won’t have the stomach to sit around another year and put in all the work.

          If everyone gets healthy, and the pitchers turn it around and have good years, well maybe we win 90+…I have no idea what he might do then, maybe he’d stick around another year to try to get one more ring.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Hypothetical: Wang comes back in a few weeks, starts dealing like the CMW of old, and we flip him this coming offseason in a package for a young, up and coming position player. Bring Andy back on a similar deal to the one he signed for this year?

        Well, in order for that hypothetical to be feasible, we have to assume that we’re dealing CMW because CC, AJ, Joba, and Hughes all looked totally dominant so we feel confident that those four are good to go as four co-aces for 2010.

        So, yeah, if we move CMW because we literally have an embarrassment of pitching riches, I’d consider Andy on another one-year incentive deal, if he’d take it, with the following caveat:

        If IPK comes up and gets a taste and is good, I may be inclined to go with him… which means Andy may open the spring as the #6 instead of the #5. Not sure if he goes for that…

        • AJ

          If IPK comes up and shows some promise, I think Cashman will look to deal him quickly while his stock is high. It seems, to me, that the Yankees hopped off that wagon.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            You may be right.

  • Ed

    Why would you ever remove your most solid pitcher from the rotation when the rest of the crew is struggling?

    Perhaps you missed every conversation about Joba for the past year and a half or more?

    Lots of people overvalue the bullpen. The press loves to talk about it because it’s a stupid, easy way to generate controversy.

    • http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/00mwbIM15ofMv/340x.jpg Mike Pop

      Yea, I believe Joe knows this.

      • Ed

        Of course Joe knows the Joba part.

        But seriously, it only gets harped on because it gets attention. If people keep linking to every article about “Move XXX to the bullpen!”, it’s just going to get worse. The press saw how much attention they got from “Joba to the bullpen!” Now they’ve found a way to expand on it.

        • http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/00mwbIM15ofMv/340x.jpg Mike Pop

          Heh, Steve Philips said since Joba is a special starter(after the start against Boston), the Yanks need to consider Hughes to the pen.

          • Ed

            Hadn’t heard that one. Heard “Hughes to the pen” talk immediately after Hughes made his season debut though.

          • AJ

            Yea, but five days before that he said the good start in Detroit meant “nothing.” My opinion on anyone working on Baseball Tonight is low. Half the time Kruk is too worried about what they have on the buffet table to give some sort of intelligent analysis.

            BBTN = pathetic.

            • Ed

              As I said in the beginning, the media doesn’t care about intelligent analysis. Controversy gets ratings, not intelligence.

              • AJ

                Ed, very true. As a broadcast communication major in college right now, it saddens me to see the lack of intelligent conversation on these shows. It discourages me.

                • andrew

                  Well, somebody made note of this last night or the night before in the game thread… as your intelligence level increases, the amount of people you can have a real debate with about anything decreases. BBTN is not marketing towards our demographic (the super uber baseball wise RAB crowd). Having more intelligent debates on BBTN may please us, but it would probably be bad for overall viewing.

                  I’m not saying this is a good thing, but it may just be the way it is.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                  Having more intelligent debates on BBTN may please us, but it would probably be bad for overall viewing.

                  John Q. Viewer watching the newer, more enlightened BBTN:

                  What the fuck are all these damn graphs and shit? I can’t understand this crap, these homos need to talk about putting Joba in the damn bullpen like they used to. Stupid effeminate Keith Law jerk.

                  Screw this crap, I’m watching WWE Monday Night Raw.

                  … aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand, SCENE!

    • steve (different one)

      it is totally out of control.

      just look at how many people picked the Mets to win it all.

      their rotation is horrendous, but they added 2 good relievers.

  • GG

    Look thats all fun to play fantasy Gm about, but we all know CC is the setup man once the Wanger is back.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Two words:

      Alex. Rodriguez.

      • AJ

        Two words:

        Alex. Rodriguez.

        Nick. Swisher.

        Your comment = fixed.

        • AJ

          I just meant Nick Swisher in bold.

          My technological skills = fail.

        • pat

          All aboard the FAIL express!!

          • tim randle

            AJ TO THE 8TH!!!

    • http://forums.projectcovo.com/images/smilies/e6omir.gif OmgZombies

      Aj Burnett he can like 120mph in teh pen

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Heh, I laughed at that.

        A.J. Burnett has the necessary “bull in a china shop” closer’s mentality.

      • http://statspeak.net dan

        True story.

      • AJ

        So we send AJ in for the 8th – I mean, we can afford it to “protect his arm” since he has an injury history.

        We move Joba to the seventh inning, because then it can be a six inning game.

        We put Wang in the rotation and throw in Kennedy/IPK/Aceves for the fifth spot.

        We’d have the perfect pitching solution! (Now where would all the runs come from?)

        • tim randle

          wang should be pitching every 4 days to keep his arm weak and ball down low anyway, right?

  • E-ROC

    Great post.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Compelling, and rich.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

        Four and a half stars.

      • E-ROC

        Awe-inspiring.

  • zs190

    I can’t see Andy in the pen, his stuff just doesn’t translate there. Probably more likely for Hughes to get sent down instead.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      I can’t see Andy in the pen, his stuff just doesn’t translate there.

      Frankly, that doesn’t make sense.

      The ability to get guys out in the first inning = the ability to get guys out in the eighth inning.

      Good starters = Good pitchers
      Good pitchers = Good relievers

    • Slugger27

      if hes a good starter, y wouldnt he be a good reliever?

      • tim randle

        cause some pitchers take a little bit to get going, and dont do well when not properly prepared…i would say there really is a ‘closer’s mentality’ that some starters would have and some would not.

        joba–has a closer’s mentality. that’s probably part of the ‘joba to teh 8th!’ shrieking
        pavano–bad example.
        wakefield–in the lolcatz tone, closer’s mentality…does not have.

  • Drew

    I L’edOL at AP to the pen.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      I L’edOL

      Nice attention to detail.

      Corollary: the other day I was listening to Suzyn Waldman do the game intro reading the lineups for the night (not an optimal solution, but what can you do).

      She kept saying “RBIs”. I wanted to reach through the radio and slap some grammatical correctness into her.

      • http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/00mwbIM15ofMv/340x.jpg Mike Pop

        I l’edmao @ Drew.

      • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Actually… The modern and common way to express the plural of an acronym is to add an “s” at the end of the acronym, whether or not the word that is plural is represented by the final letter of the acronym. According to wikipedia, writing “runners batted in” as “RsBI” would be “dated and pedantic.”

        • tim randle

          …when exactly did Wikipedia become a legitimate source?

          • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi
  • http://forums.projectcovo.com/images/smilies/e6omir.gif OmgZombies

    Honestly could there be a worse candidate on the Yankees starting staff than Andy Pettitte. Not only does he have 4+ pitches with location,hes very efficient, and durable. Often even being dominating at times.

    I definitely didnt now want him to come back for 16 million. I would have been happy at 10m but the 5.5m was as steal.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      I would have been happy at 10m but the 5.5m was as steal.

      (Pssst… if he makes his turn in the rotation all year long, he’s gonna get… 10M.

      • http://forums.projectcovo.com/images/smilies/e6omir.gif OmgZombies

        I know but the $10m isn’t guaranteed. That means he has his innings while managing to not completely suck.

  • JobaWockeeZ

    Pshh everyone knows being a starter takes no skill. Real skill is pitching in the 8th!

  • AJ

    By the way, Shelley Duncan sat out the S/W-B Yankees double-header because of a sore shoulder, not a potential call up. (courtesy Chad Jennings)

    Sorry to go off-topic a little bit, but I noticed the RAB tweet about this so I figured you’d all like the information.

  • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt ACTY

    Andy and I have the same birthday (June 15) so I will always love him. Always.

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  • tom

    the “under-appreciated andy pettitte

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