Two years ago today, an Andy reunion

Yankees place ninth in KLaw's organization rankings
The RAB Radio Show: January 26, 2011
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The 2008-2009 offseason was a memorable one for Yankees fans. The team kicked it off by trading spare parts for Nick Swisher before going for the kill in December, signing CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Mark Teixeira for a total of 20 contract years and $423.5M. Those moves would turn just about any team into a contender, but the Yankees still had one order of business left to finish heading into the new year: Andy Pettitte remained unsigned.

Pettitte, 37 at the time, was coming off his worst season in a decade. An achy shoulder hampered him throughout the second half of the season, and it saw him post a 6.23 ERA in his final eleven outings. He lost 14 games on an 89 win club, and his 4.54 season ERA was the second highest of his 14-year career. All that came at the cost of a $16M salary.

Similar to the Derek Jeter situation, the Yankees negotiated with Pettitte through the media. Also just like Jeter, a legion of fans were irate that the team wouldn’t give Andy what he wanted just because he was Andy Pettitte. The Yanks did offer the lefty a one-year deal worth $10M, but it was eventually rejected. If the Yanks had offered that much money to another 37-year-old pitcher with a PED past and a recent shoulder issue that was coming off his worst season in ten years, we’d be livid. But because it was Andy Pettitte, it wasn’t enough.

Negotiations carried on well into January, and in the middle of the month we heard that Pettitte’s return was less than 50-50, something that sounds all too familiar these days. The two sides eventually came to terms on January 26th, two years ago today. The new one-year deal guaranteed Pettitte just $5.5M, and he admitted that the pay cut stung.

“Heck, the bottom line is I’m a man, and I guess it does take a shot at your pride a little bit,” said Andy during a conference call with reporters soon after the deal was announced. “But when you put all that aside, I wanted to play for the New York Yankees and, you know, that was the bottom line.

“I know I could have made a lot more money than what I signed for (somewhere else), but if you want to play for one team you’re going to have to make sacrifices. If it means me taking a pay cut, then it means me taking a pay cut.”

Of course Pettitte ended up making much more than his $5.5M base salary that season. Incentives tied to innings pitched and days on the active roster put another $4.75M in his pocket, so his total earnings in 2009 climbed to $10.25M, more than the contract he turned down earlier in the winter. Then there’s another $365,000 from his World Series share.

As much as we’d like to make this date another anniversary for Pettitte, it’s extremely unlikely to happen. We’re all still waiting for Pettitte to give definitive word about his plans for 2011, but the Yankees have assumed the worst. Brian Cashman has maintained all offseason that they are not counting on Andy and are working under the assumption that he’s staying home for the season, something he reiterated at yesterday’s WFAN breakfast. Waiting and being patient is nothing new for these two parties, but now we’re venturing into uncharted territory.

Note: This post was originally published this morning, but quickly got buried by the Bartolo Colon news. I’m just moving it back up to make sure no one misses out.

Yankees place ninth in KLaw's organization rankings
The RAB Radio Show: January 26, 2011
  • Andrew

    The fact that it took him this long back in 2009 is a good sign, at least to the optimist in me. Even if he waits until right before ST, I am still hoping (and somewhat confident, since he could have just outright retired by now and ended up all the will he-won’t he) that he’ll give 2011 a go. Best case scenario, he comes back and they sign Duchscherer and have Mitre and Nova at the ready, if needed, to fill in.

  • Ed

    Also just like Jeter, a legion of fans were irate that the team wouldn’t give Andy what he wanted just because he was Andy Pettitte.

    Let’s be a little more fair on that. Most people didn’t want him to get paid just because he was Andy Pettitte. The complaint was that Pettitte pitched through an injury at the team’s request, then the team held his performance while injured against him in contract negotiations. Before the injury, he was having his best season since returning to the Yankees.

    If the team didn’t already have Ponson and Rasner in the rotation, Pettitte would’ve spent a few weeks on the DL, come back full strength, and end up in a much better situation for contract negotiations.

    • Steve (different one)

      Before the injury, he was having his best season since returning to the Yankees.

      I’m not really seeing it:

      I don’t recall when he was injured, but his numbers look pretty consistently mediocre from wire to wire.

      • Steve (different one)

        I take that back, I shouldn’t really say “mediocre”. More like just standard Andy. Some good months, some meh months.

        Agree that he did take one for the team though.

      • Ed

        I didn’t look too hard, but after the July 26th game he had a 3.76 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. The previous two years were over 4 ERA’s and 1.43 WHIP’s. You are right though, there was a lot of up and down getting to that.

        As for the injury trouble, it started July 31st against the Angels. I was at both the 26th and 31st games, so I remember the difference in him.

    • MikeD

      I agree. He finished poorly when had the shoulder issue, which was discussed reguarly. He should have been shut down for a couple of starts, yet he was one of the few who could take the ball. He could have shut himself down if he wanted to protect his stats. His BABIP indicated he was unlucky, while his K/9, walk rate and HR rate were all consistent with previous seasons, actually even better in some ways from the previous year. His FIP and xFIP rated him right at about 3.70. The sabermetric community, as well as scouts, had him as a top rebound candidate, which is exactly what he did in 2009.

      The mistake many Yankee fans make is they refer to Pettitte as a league-average pitcher. He’s anything but. In his worst year, 2008, he was league average based on ERA+, yet based on innings and WAR he was still much better than league average.

      He was our number two pitcher last year behind CC. He was our number two pitcher the year before. He’s been the Yankees overall #1 pitcher since 1995.

      We have no replacement for him. He is not league average.

  • AndrewYF

    Not directly related to Pettitte, but with a mention of the 2008-2009 offseason, I have to mention this article, which has my vote as the most hilarious sports article of the past 10 years:

    • Drew

      When i read the first paragraph of that article I almost peed my pants. It kinda discredits Jayson Stark of being a reputable journalist, and proves once again the anti Yankee bias of ESPN and 99% of their writers are Red Sox fans.

    • bexarama

      the part about the postseason pitching, I doth not even

      So let’s do the math. Smoltz, Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka are 25-7. Add in Jon Lester and Penny, and the five of them are a combined 30-11.

      Record of the Yankees’ group: 17-15. But Burnett and Joba Chamberlain have never started a postseason game. Sabathia’s postseason ERA is a scary 7.92. And Andy Pettitte’s last postseason win was four years (and five starts) ago.

      “Smoltz is the key, for me,” said one scout. “I’d be very confident throwing John Smoltz in Game 1 right now, because I know he’ll find a way. His pain tolerance is phenomenal. And you know he’s got something to prove.”

    • Kiersten

      Is the team that spent all those Steinbrenner family dollars really the team to beat? For that matter, did the team that spent all those dollars even have the better winter?

      Yes and yes. Thanks for your time, Jayson with a y.

      • bexarama

        but the 2011 Red Sox are teh unbeetable sooperteem

        • Kiersten

          It’s comments like this that are ruining RAB.

          • bexarama

            I made tsjc leave. :(

    • Dax J.

      I laughed every time I saw “one scout said”.

  • bexarama

    That pose has basically been mine since the season ended. :( Come back, Andrew Eugene.

  • Kiersten
    • Randy Pettitte

      It’s true. A source close to me has confirmed it.

  • OldYanksFan
    “A judge has scheduled a hearing next week to discuss how pitching great Roger Clemens can defend against a former teammate who claims Clemens admitted using performance-enhancing drugs.

    Prosecutors argue defense lawyer Rusty Hardin has a conflict because he briefly represented Andy Pettitte and Clemens in December 2007, just before the release of a report alleging both players used human growth hormone.

    Prosecutors say Hardin shouldn’t cross-examine Pettitte when they call him as a witness at a trial scheduled for July. They say that should be handled by another Clemens attorney.

    U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton on Tuesday scheduled a hearing on the issue for Feb. 2 and ordered Clemens to attend.”

    Could this stuff be influencing Andy.
    If there is a hearing in July, that’s shitting timing.
    If the hearing was put off until November, would that make a difference to Andy?

    • bexarama

      whatever source is talking to Heyman and Craig Calcaterra says it has nothing to do with the Clemens trial. Not that those sources are necessarily 100% accurate but who knows.

      • OldYanksFan

        I’m not sure how it can’t influence him. I’m sure he’s loath to the idea of having to testify against Roger in court. If this happens mid-season… well, that would really be shitty.

        I don’t think anyone can really know if this plays into the equation except Andy himself.

  • camilo Gerardo

    pettitte gives quality, but he will annul back to 06-08 numbers

  • Mike Myers

    A source tells Craig Calcaterra of that there is a “very strong possibility” that Andy Pettitte is going to pitch in 2011.
    Pettitte is currently doing his usual preseason workouts and has had no issues thus far. Furthermore, the source tells Calcaterra that Pettitte’s indecision about a possible return is in no way connected to the Roger Clemens trial, as many have speculated. This essentially echoes what Jon Heyman of reported earlier today, but if both reports are true, this is very encouraging news for Yankees fans.