What Went Right: Andy Pettitte

A 'messy' negotiation takes a turn for the worse
Type-A Relievers: Death To Value
This adorable picture of Andy and his five-year-old son Luke was taken during a workout before this year’s Homerun Derby. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

When the Yankees stormed to their 2009 World Series victory, they did so by relying on just three starting pitchers in the playoffs. The Yanks were concerned about the those heavy workloads having a carryover effect into 2010, hence the Javy Vazquez pickup. Perhaps no pitcher on the staff was more vulnerable to that kind of hangover effect than 37-year-old Andy Pettitte, the stalwart lefty that has been a rock in New York’s rotation for the last decade-and-a-half (save those three years he went to Houston).

Amazingly, Pettitte showed zero ill effects from the heavy 2009 workload at the outset of the 2010 season, allowing just nine earned runs in his first seven starts, holding opponents to a .268 wOBA. He cruised into the All Star break with a 2.70 ERA (3.75 FIP) and 113.1 innings in 17 starts, an average of exactly 6.2 innings per start. The old man wasn’t just giving his team a ton of innings, he was giving them high quality innings. That effort earned Andy his first trip to the All Star Game since 2001, just the third of his career.

Andy’s overall season resulted in a 3.28 ERA (3.85 FIP) and a .310 wOBA against, and he absolutely annihilated left-handed batters (.216 wOBA). He was also the team’s best pitcher in the playoffs, following up a seven inning, two run performance against the Twins in Game Two of the ALDS with yet another seven inning, two run performance against the Rangers in Game Three of the ALCS. We have all come to love and adore Andy, and for most part we know what the Yankees will get out of him, but he far exceeded the expectations of even his biggest fans in 2010.

Of course, we have to mention that Pettitte’s otherwise brilliant season was plagued by injury. He missed two starts with elbow inflammation in May, then spent 62 days on the disabled list from mid-July to mid-September. Once he came back, Pettitte began dealing with back spasms that bothered him throughout the postseason and even put a ALDS Game Five in jeopardy had it been necessary. Such are the risks associated with a pitcher that turned 38 in June and came into the season with 3,175.1 big league innings (regular season and playoffs) on his arm.

So for now, we once again play the waiting game. Andy is back home in Texas doing his annual self-evaluation to determine if he wants to play another year. We know that if he does play in 2011, that it will be his final year, and earlier today, Ken Davidoff reported that Pettitte is “leaning toward” one final season on the diamond. The Yankees are patiently awaiting his decision as are the fans, but for selfish reasons we all want him back. Andy probably won’t replicate his 2010 performance again, but even a return to the days of a low-4.00’s ERA with oodles of innings would be welcome. In the meantime, bravo on the great season.

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A 'messy' negotiation takes a turn for the worse
Type-A Relievers: Death To Value
  • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com bexarama

    I approve. Of everything.* Except the injury. :( Not much else to say other than that it was a real pleasure to watch him pitch this year. More so than usual, I mean. One more year, please, Andy.

    * (Especially the photo. I mean. What.)

    • Esteban

      The post should be tagged Bexybait

      • http://soxandpinstripes.net Angelo

        I completely agree

  • Pessimistic Fan

    Good ol’ Andy. It says a lot that a player who left the team for a few years and later was involved in the whole steroids scandal is still so beloved by the fanbase (including me). Hope he comes back for one more year, delivers a solid season, and hopefully goes out on a high note (even if his performance in the 2009 playoffs was a pretty damn good one).

    Anyone got ideas on what he might sign for if he does come back?

    • Ed

      Anyone got ideas on what he might sign for if he does come back?

      First thought is the same as last year, as he pitched better than he has in a long time (worth a raise), but had injury issues (worth a reduction).

      Second thought is a deal like what he signed two years ago, a lower base but with playing time incentives that could make it worth more.

  • http://danielslifka.wordpress.com Jerome S

    Do you think Lee’s signing or lack thereof will have anything to do with his decision? I can imagine him staying if Lee doesn’t come, and leaving if he does. That said, I hope it’s not the case.

    • mbonzo

      The Yankees will try harder to get Pettitte back if Lee does come, but I think they want him back regardless.

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

      As reported earlier, signs are pointing toward a Pettitte return for 2011. Lee’s signing won’t have anything to do with Pettitte’s decision, but the Yanks would redouble their efforts to land Lee if Pettitte were to retire.

      • Chris

        I also think that Pettitte would be more likely to come back if Lee signs elsewhere.

  • S

    Who’s up for giving #46 to Luke in about 15yrs when he makes his pinstripe debut?

    • Rivera Venue Blues

      Should’ve taught him to be a lefty, Andy.

  • Raphy

    Hey! A picture of a petite Pettitte!

  • Ed

    We know that if he does play in 2011, that it will be his fourth final year.

    Fixed.

    I’m amazed people still put any value in that. I think I stopped taking it seriously when Cashman said he could only afford him or Johan, and he instantly made up his mind to play again.

    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com bexarama

      Did Andy ever say before that “I’m coming back for one more year after this one and that’s it”? Can’t remember that. Of course, he’s hemmed and hawed about retirement before, a lot, but the “OMG he’s Brett Favre” comparisons are overblown. Andy doesn’t say he’s certainly retired then go and sign with, I dunno, the Red Sox in the offseason. I’m not unbiased though ;)

      • Ed

        He says it all the time. He believes it every year. When he left NY, he even turned down 4 year offers because he was convinced he didn’t want to play that long. His deals are all 1 year because that’s all he wants, not because he can’t get more.

        • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com bexarama

          Yeah, but I can’t remember any one year where he’s said “I’m definitely only going to play one more year, and that’s it.” He always says he’ll think about it.

  • jim p

    Impressive about Andy: iirc, until the last few years he had a better than average postseason record, but nothing truly outstanding. A gem here, a disaster there. But he seems to have been consistently excellent in the postseason since he came back to NY.

    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com bexarama

      8 G, 51 IP, 2.82 ERA, 43 H, 14 BB, 39 K

      That’s a little over 6.1 IP/game, a WHIP of 1.18, and a K/BB of 2.79. He’s got a batting line against of .238/.288/.420/.708. Really, really good numbers. I guess you could say he’s given up a few too many HR (7 in 51 IP), but that’s about my only quibble.

  • http://twitter.com/AndrewLeighNYC Andrew

    I think Andy is the only pitcher in the league with an 80 stare into home plate over his glove tool. I hope we get one more year of that, plus 180 awesome innings.

    • Not Tank the Frank

      IETC

  • Monteroisdinero

    Andy: “I just want to be here next year to pitch to Montero to tell my grandkids”

  • Dick Whitman

    Too bad his son is right handed.

  • http://thefenwayfaithful.typepad.com Steven Erlich

    Great article. I wanted to ask what you give Pettite’s shot at the Hall? Like Schilling, I hope they can look past his numbers and see the bigger picture. But once you start putting guys in who are under the designated lines, does that open a Pandora’s Box? I’d hate to see every pitcher with 200 wins walking into Cooperstown. But Pettite and Schilling have to impressive of resumes (especially in the playoffs) to ignore.

    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com bexarama

      a. two Ts twice
      b. Schilling should be a HOFer, Pettitte shouldn’t (though he’s had a really nice career, he’s a Hall of Very Good guy). I do think Andy ends up getting in eventually. I am not sure about Schilling, but probably, just because of the bloody sock stuff.

  • http://yesnetwork.com solamon

    Andy pettitte is a great pitcher he is part of the cour four so he should stay with the yankees because pettitte maybe 38 buy jamie moyer is 48 and he is a starter