For much of the last two off-seasons, the Andy Pettitte Question has loomed over the Yanks’ pitching plans. Each year, Pettitte has equivocated about his future, and each year, he has ended up signing with the Yanks after much back and forth. This year, he signed at the end of January, fairly late in the Hot Stove League.
So far, 2009 has been kind to Andy Pettitte. He is enjoying a second-half renaissance, and while he wasn’t at his best on Friday, he admitted that the blowout score distracted him. He still pitched the Yanks to a big win though, and his second-half numbers — 2.82 ERA, 47 K, 1.11 WHIP in 7 starts spanning 44.2 innings — are superb for a mid-rotation starter.
With his Friday victory, in fact, Pettitte won his 10th game of the year, and it marked the 12th time in 12 Yankee seasons Pettitte has reached double digits in wins. He has been nothing if not durable and fairly consistent during his Yankee career.
Perennially surrounding Pettitte are questions and concerns about his left elbow and his age. He will turn 38 midway through the 2010 season, and the Yankees have a few young pitchers waiting in the wings. That doesn’t faze Andy. While Pettitte is still focusing on the current goal of that championship this season, he is looking ahead a bit to 2010, and in a recent interview with Daily News sports writer Christian Red, Pettitte talked about his pinstriped future:
But Pettitte hinted Sunday night that he not only wants to play next year, but that he would prefer a return engagement in pinstripes. After weathering an offseason in which he and the Yankees haggled for weeks before agreeing on a deal, the 37-year-old lefthander said he does not want to repeat a lengthy contract process.
“I really would hate . . . I really don’t want to go into the offseason, you know, and sit there and be a free agent again, have to worry about other people making me offers and whatever,” the lefthander told the Daily News before the rubber game against the Red Sox…
“As far as next year – I’m trying to get through this year. I hope I can stay healthy and try to help this club win. That’s all we’re looking at right now. I’m not through – we got a lot of starts left (this season). I want my arm to be healthy. Once I get closer, I can start thinking about that. Maybe start talking to my family and my wife about that.”
To me, Pettitte sounds as though he wants to and will do his best to return next year. By all accounts, his arm has been feeling better than it has in years, and while the Yankees should recognize the need to rest their starters in advance of October, Pettitte’s health and success has been a pleasant surprise.
For next year, then, if Pettitte’s arm holds up over the last five weeks of the season and into October, the Yankees should bring him back, and they should do so because of Chien-Ming Wang. Wang’s surgery has completely changed the equation. In the past, the Yanks were eying a 2010 rotation of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Chien-Ming Wang, Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes. Wang though is out until at least midway through the 2010 season, and his ability to pitch effectively is up in the air.
As Cliff Corcoran wrote via Twitter this morning, “CC, AJ, Joba, Andy, Hughes, with Wang as the alternate? Yeah, that’d work.” Sounds good to me.