Say what you will about Mike Francesa’s opinion, but the man does his job. As the midday host on the city’s most popular sports talk radio station, he is supposed to drive listeners to his show and keep people talking. By taking controversial stands and harping on them to no end, he succeeds and what we do here at River Ave. Blues is, in a way, a natural step in the evolution of sports talk radio.
Today, the man talking about the news is the news. In a piece on MLB.com, Bryan Hoch profiled Francesa and the Great Joba Debate. There’s no needs to rehash any of the debate right now. We know it by heart, and we know how heated the discussion can be. “Whenever the topic is brought up, there is always a spirited debate on both sides, and it really can come up out of nowhere,” Francesa says. “It’s what you would call a hot-button issue. Everybody seems to have an opinion, and there are a lot of people who feel the way I do.”
Hoch didn’t, at least in print, push Francesa on that quote. The debate never really comes up “out of nowhere.” It comes up out of a quest for listeners. Shouting “Andy Pettitte is a starting pitchah!” over a caller trying to make a valid point does wonders for the ratings.
(As an aside, Joba himself seems to recognize the absurdity of this whole charade. He said to Hoch: “I guess it’s a good conversation piece over lunch, and it gives people something to talk about. I could win 20 games and people are still going to think I could save 50. No matter what happens, I just think it’s going to be debated.”)
While the debate outside of the Yankee organization continues to rage, the team is committed to keeping Joba as a starter. Meanwhile, this whole thing coupled with a Tweet by Mike a few hours ago got me thinking about Andy Pettitte and the state of the Yankees’ starting pitching.
After April, Pettitte was 2-1 with a 2.96 ERA. While I had my reservations about re-signing Pettitte this year, he was on his way toward proving his doubters wrong. Since then, though, it’s been a downward spiral for Pettitte, culminating in last night’s appearance. Staked to a seven-run lead, he couldn’t get out of the fourth.
Let’s see then how the four Yankee starters who haven’t missed a turn in the rotation since the start of May have done since then.
The funny thing about this table is its lack of a win column. It’s easy to conflate pitchers’ win totals with their ability to pitch effectively, and Pettitte is a prime example of that phenomenon. The Yankees are 8-3 in his 11 starts, and he and CC lead the team with five W’s since May 1. That win total is, though, largely a function of run support for Pettitte. While he has given up 40 runs, the Yanks have scored 64.
At some point, the question will become what to do with Pettitte. He hasn’t pitched terribly, but he hasn’t pitched terribly well either. Because the Yankees have a question mark in Chien-Ming Wang and an innings limit for Joba, Phil Hughes will get his starts but so will Pettitte. I have a feeling though that, despite his Francesa-inspired “starting pitchah” moniker, what you see is what you get from Pettitte. He won’t be as good as he was in April, and he won’t be as bad as he was last night. As long as the Yanks keep scoring those runs for him, the team can get by.