Waiting for Andy, again


Yankee fans know the waiting game. We’ve played it before with Andy Pettitte, and we’ll play it again. This year, though, there is seemingly some urgency to it as Pettitte’s decision could impact how the team plots its off-season.

Last year, the Yankees were content to wait for Andy Pettitte. They had bigger fish to fry, and after landing both CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, Brian Cashman knew he had the upper hand in negotiations with Pettitte. Although Andy had expressed his desires to return to the Bronx or retire, the Yankees weren’t going to overpay initially. The witnessed Pettitte suffer through an injury-plagued second half in 2008 and gave him a $5.5 million guaranteed salary with innings options.

In the end, Pettitte made over $10 million in 2009, and everyone was happy. He made 32 starts; he threw 194.2 innings; he went 14-8 with a 4.16 ERA; and he won the game that clinched the AL East, the game that clinched the ALDS, the game that clinched the ALCS and the game that clinched the World Series. For a member of old Yankee guard, it was quite the superfecta.

After the World Series, Andy Pettitte again said he was unsure of his future plans. Speaking on the David Letterman show, he talked about his desires to spend time with his family and children as they grow up. He turns 38 next year, and his oldest son recently celebrated his 15th birthday. No one, obviously, is getting any younger.

But Pettitte isn’t ready to make up his mind, and the Yankees, says Mark Feinsand, do not expect a quick decision. Yankee manager Joe Girardi has talked to Pettitte about 2010, but the left-hander has yet to announce his intentions. “I’m sure he’ll take his normal amount of time,” Girardi said. “I don’t ever ask guys right away. I think you need time to get away, to talk to your family. I think you need a good month, then you can make your decision.”

Brian Cashman will touch base with Pettitte soon, but the Yankees may not have the luxury of waiting “a good month” or more. Last year, Pettitte did not sign with the Yanks until January 26, just three weeks prior to the start of Spring Training, and this time around, he will have to come to terms with his future sooner than that.

The problem, as the Yanks know, comes about if Pettitte decides to stay home next year. With Pettitte, the Yankees have three veterans to anchor the front of the rotation and two rookies as well as numerous other options for the final two spots. Without Pettitte, the Yanks’ pitching staff looks awfully thin. CC and A.J. would hold down the fort, but the Yanks would be relying on Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and, well, take your pick. Thus, Pettitte must give the Yanks an answer sooner rather than later so the Yankees know if they have to go after a bona fide pitcher via trade or free agency.

I would be quite happy welcoming Pettitte back to the fold. He said his arm felt great this year, and as the season wore on, he learned to rely on his command and the movement on his cutter and slider rather than on his diminishing velocity. If his elbow and shoulder can hold up, I expect more of the same from him in 2010. Without him, we’ll hear more about John Lackey and Roy Halladay, and as the Hot Stove League warms up, the Yankees will need to solidify their plans and their future with or without Andy Pettitte.

Categories : Hot Stove League


  1. Mike HC says:

    For me, Pettitte should only be looked at as a bonus. Even if he comes back next year, it may be his last. We should prepare this off season as if he is already gone, and then as long as he continues to pitch, it is icing on the cake.

  2. I asked this yesterday so I’ll throw it out there again to get more discussion and input:

    Let’s say Pettitte does retire and at the time, Ben Sheets is unsigned. Do you guys think they’d take a risk at offering him a guaranteed deal?

    • With a low base salary and incentives. A deal structured properly isn’t much of a risk. They can’t really consider Ben Sheets a replacement for Pettitte though. There’s far too much uncertainty there.

      • How low do you think that base would be? $10MM? Lower? The alternatives, IMO, are not attractive. Trading for Halladay weakens the immediate rotation (as they’d likely have to part w/Chamberlain or Hughes), signing Lackey takes up too many years and too much money (though w/o Pettitte, he starts to make a bit more sense), and after that, the FA starters are pretty thin. Randy Wolf? Meh. Basically everyone else after Lackey and Wolf is either a reclamation project (Sheets, Escobar, J-Dukes) or just not very good. Out of all of them, I think Sheets may be the best bet; however, I would like to see Duchscherer brought in to be a swingman/spot-starter out of the bullpen in the Aceves role with Ace getting shifted to a one inning reliever type role.

    • Mike HC says:

      I don’t think his upside is that high. How well can you really expect him to pitch in AL East after not having pitched for an entire season and a career NL Central ERA of 3.72. Like Ben said, with the right contract, then I guess why not. But I just don’t think he would be anything more than serviceable.

      • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

        But Adam Schein said he was better than CC Sabathia when healthy!

        SNY, YOU LIED TO ME!!! (sobs)

      • I think with a 3.85 K/BB, 3.56 FIP, and a tRA+ of now lower than 115 since they started keeping the stat in ’03, he could be very successful.

        • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

          I’ve always heard that the difference in the AL to the NL was 3/4′s of a run in ERA, so his ERA would be about 4.15. Not bad, but certainly not great. Essentially, Andy Pettite, which would be fine. I’m just not expecting the NL numbers.

          • Yeah, he’s probably not gonna come in with a low 3′s ERA, but I definitely think he could keep it below 4. My hesitations about Sheets would not be based on performance, but rather health.

            • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

              You really think he could keep it below 4? I would not be shocked, but certainly surprised, if he managed to do so.

              • Mike HC says:

                I’m with you. Not shocked if he did that, but that would be best case scenario, everything lines up right in the universe kind of year. I think a 4.15, like you said, is more reasonable to expect if healthy, but even that would be considered a good year. It could be far worse.

                • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

                  You could be Sergio Mitre (shudders).

                • A 4.15 ERA in the A.L. East would be considered good no matter who was throwing it (especially if he was the team’s third starter).

                  I also bring up Sheets’ peripherals because it’s not like he was skating by with shaky numbers and was only doing well because it was the N.L.

                • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

                  A 4.15 ERA would be fine. He would basically be Andy Pettite, which is not a problem. I’m just not expecting anything better.

                • Mike HC says:

                  Maybe I’m being irrational, but I just imagine Sheets getting rocked if he tried to pitch for the Yanks next year. Having never pitched in the AL and being extremely rusty after not pitching all of last year, I just don’t see good things.

                  His numbers do look relatively good though and I can see how you have hope he can be a consistent, solid number 3 like Pettitte last year, but I am just not on board.

                • FWIW, which is not very much, in 16 IntLg. games, Sheets has put up a 3.55 ERA in 106.1 IP with a 1.223 WHIP, .690 OPSA, and a 2.26 K/BB.

                • Mike HC says:

                  Were those all with a DH, or does that count Interleague games with the DH too?

                  And I really don’t doubt that Sheets has pitched very well in his career. There is no denying that.

                • Mike HC says:

                  “Were those all with a DH, or does that count Interleague games with the DH too?”

                  I meant, does that also count games where the pitcher hit.

                • The split on B-R just says Interleague Games. It doesn’t make the H/A distinction.

        • Mike HC says:

          First, that was all before he went all last year without pitching. I doubt he just picks up where he left off.

          Two, as Rocky noted, those are all NL numbers, so I doubt he will be able to keep those same numbers up in the AL East.

          Three, he is a major injury risk, so even if he can pitch well when healthy, he may not be healthy.

          There are far too many unknowns for me. Give him a 4 million base with incentives and I’m fine with that, but I’m sure there are many teams in baseball willing to give him that. For what the Yanks would have to pay him, I would pass.

          (This message was funded by the Lackey to NYY foundation)

          • Obviously, any signing of Ben Sheets would come with the condition that the Yankees were completely confident in his ability to stay healthy and as it’s been said, a low base w/incentives would be the smart way to go.

            If Pettitte said he was going to retire, I’d be more open to Lackey but I still don’t think I’d want him on a five year deal. He’s also an injury risk after the last two seasons and he’s just going to want too much money.

  3. Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

    I’d be very surprised if Pettite retired.

  4. JohnC says:

    What Andy is waiting for is for Halladay to be traded somewhere else and Lackey to sign somewhere else so his bargaining position increases. He is determined to get back at the Yanks for low balling him last year.

    • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

      He’s a pretty lousy negotiator then.

      • How so? His negotiating leverage does increase the fewer options there are left in the market.

        • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

          Because I would think that if he waits too long for Lackey to sign the Yanks may just sign Lackey and tell Pettite sayonara.

          Seems like a risk to me.

          • Mike HC says:

            I think the Yanks need Pettitte more than Pettitte needs the Yanks at this point.

            Being able to sign a pitcher like Pettitte on a one year deal is huge. The guy is as consistent as it gets and is a great post season pitcher. I can’t imagine any scenario where the Yanks would not want to re sign Pettitte, even with Lackey. Let us not pretend that AJ is no longer injury prone. Or that all starting pitchers are an injury risk. CC is basically a pitching machine at this point. We will see that he is indeed human at some point during this contract. Maybe next year, maybe not.

            Pettitte is close to retirement either way and he just won a Championship by being the clinching pitcher in every series. If the Yanks force his hand, so be it. I think he is prepared for that already.

          • So signing earlier for less money makes him a better negotiator in your eyes? If Andy engages the Yankees and continues negotiations until after some other options fall off the market, he increases his leverage. Accepting a low-ball offer early because you’re scared of losing that low-ball offer isn’t exactly negotiating from a position of strength.

            Of course there’s some risk involved with delaying. But there’s also risk involved with not delaying – the risk of signing a contract for way less money than you could get otherwise. If Andy and his reps are confident he’ll get an 8-figure offer at some point (which is probably fair), they’d be silly to settle for less just because they’re scared of John Lackey.

            • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

              Well obviously there’s a balance you need to find. I don’t think that Pettite’s going to base his negotiations off of Lackey’s though. hey’re very different pitchers, for one thing.

            • Ed says:

              I see what you’re getting at and see some validity in it, but, I keep thinking it sounds like the approach Abreu took last offseason. He turned down the early offers because he felt they were lowball offers, but then all the teams that *needed* another outfielder signed other people instead. He ended up having to sign with a team that didn’t necessarily need an outfielder for much less than the other outfielders on the market got.

              • I hear you. Keep in mind, though, that what happened to Abreu last offseason was (1) really F’ng unique and crazy and (2) a result of Abreu and his reps massively misreading the market. Abreu thought he’d get an offer from a team not named the Yankees for as much as he was making the year before when most people thought he was overpaid and aging and he also didn’t properly read the competition on the market. Andy is looking to stay with a team that he’s been with almost his whole career, that team being the Yankees, that team being a team that needs his services and values him, and that team being a team that at the worst is going to offer him a contract like his 2009 contract (which he may not have liked but which paid him 8 figures in the end).

                There are certainly concerns on Andy’s side of the negotiating table, I’m not saying he’s in the strongest negotiating position in the world. But we have to be careful to not overreact to Abreu’s situation and use it as a comp for free agents who are not really in the same predicament he found himself in last year.

        • Ed says:

          The only thing that increases Pettitte’s leverage is making the Yankees believing that he might sign elsewhere. If he waits until everyone else fills out their rotations, he’s stuck with whatever the Yankees decide to offer him.

          • Or he could also, just, not sign a contract until he gets one he finds reasonable. He can just take his ball and go home until the Yankees come around.

            I’m not saying he has a ton of leverage here, but he has some. If it’s late in the offseason and the Yanks haven’t filled his rotation slot, there will be some pressure on the Yanks to get him signed. Yeah, he’s stuck with what the Yankees offer him, but the Yankees might also need him back.

            • Ed says:

              Gotcha. I think that’s basically what Pettitte tried last year, and it kinda worked. Got less guaranteed than the initial offer, but the possibility for more. In the end he did make more than the initial offer, so he came out ahead by a little.

    • If that was the case, Pettitte wouldn’t make the Yankees or retirement his only options, as he’s already done.

    • He is determined to get back at the Yanks for low balling him last year.

      You know this how? Andy ended up earning around $11 million in 2009. That’s not exactly a low ball deal. The Yanks had legitimate issues about his health, and Andy understood that.

      • “The Yanks had legitimate issues about his health, and Andy understood that.”

        I agree that we don’t know that he’s “determined to get back at the Yanks for low balling him last year,” but the reason we don’t know that is just that we aren’t privy to that kind of information, not that the supposed motivation is made up. We do, in fact, know that he wasn’t happy with the contract he got last year. He said so.

        • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

          That’s pretty lousy negotiation techniques. If he waits too long for Lackey too be signed the Yanks may sign him and just tell Andy to pack it in.

          • First of all, that response is irrelevant and doesn’t address the point of the comment you responded to.

            That aside… There’s more to negotiation than eagerly taking the first offer you receive because you’re scared someone else may take your place. I’m not going to bother getting into a drawn-out conversation about negotiating strategies/tactics but, suffice it to say, the tactic you’re proposing is only advisable to a party that is reasonably worried that it will receive no offer at all and has absolutely zero leverage in the negotiations. That’s not Andy Pettitte. No offense, but you don’t sound like someone with much experience with negotiation, whether academically or in the real-world.

  5. JSquared says:

    I’m Waiting for Felix Hernandez.

  6. Patch says:

    Any idea what Detroit is asking for Jackson? This is from MLB Rumors:

    “Detroit seem to be becoming more determined in their quest to trade pitcher Edwin Jackson. An unnamed executive is quoted as saying, “It’s like they want to give him away, and I don’t really understand why.” “

  7. crapula says:

    I think Andy comes back. I think the real consideration for him is going out on top or taking the chance of not going out on top. I think that helped Mussina decide to retire after his 20-win season. But Andy is Andy. I mean, he pitched the final game at the Old Stadium and he loved that even though they didn’t make the playoffs…and he was hurt the second half and he came back…perhaps to prove himself yet again or to play baseball or to play in the new Stadium. Or whatever. Andy’s reasons seem to be a mixture of a lot of things.

    And New York loves Andy. Not every player gets the love that Andy gets and he has to settle for Old Timers Day. Somehow I don’t think he’s ready. That post-season performance was amazing.

  8. steve s says:

    You never know how cognizant a guy like Pettitte is about such things but I’d say if he can get to the point of having more than 100 wins over losses (he’s 229-135 after last year)and bags a few more post-season wins he is going to be a viable HOF candidate. If he is cognizant of that kind of stuff I think he will not retire after having such a productive 2009 and its pretty clear the Yankees are the only team he’d pitch for and the only team willing/able to pay him market or close to market.

  9. emac2 says:

    The question isn’t yes or no on Pettitte. It is Pettitte or another option.

    Damon, Matsui and Pettitte are all good player that would help the club win the series next year.

    I just happen to think that the 25-30 mil they would cost is better spent elsewhere.

    One year contracts are great but they are an admission that you don’t have a long term solution as opposed to being the goal themselves.

    Personally, I would replace Damon with Jackson, resign Hairston, Resign Matsui for 5 mil and leave the bottom 3 rotation slots to Hughes, Joba, Aceves and Kennedy. I think we pass on free agency this year and wait for the big one next year or do a mid season deal for one of next years free agents if the kids can’t hold down all three of those rotation slots.

    The bottom line is we should roll with the kids for the most part, include a few vets who want to win more then they want to get paid and know that we will have the time, money and trade assets to get the best of anything to fill our needs next summer.

  10. Lanny says:

    Andy should be looked at what he is. A backend starter. The best 4 guy in the biz. That is why they still need abother top flight starter.

    Before you go making Andy a 3 starter remember his age and the fact that he had an achy shoulder last yr.

    Leave him where he is. Backend. Go out and get another top notch starter to pair with him, AJ and CC.

  11. [...] there’s a chance they won’t offer any of their free agents arbitration. They’re still waiting for Andy Pettitte to decide if he wants to return in 2010, though they plan on having both Hughes and Joba in the [...]

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