They couldn’t land Cliff Lee. Nor could they swing a trade for a front of the rotation starter. Now the Yankees are stuck throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping that a couple of strands stick. In the past few weeks they have added Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon to a rotation competition that already included Ivan Nova, Sergio Mitre, David Phelps, and, perhaps, Hector Noesi and Andrew Brackman. There’s no Cliff Lee or Zack Greinke among them, but that’s not what the Yankees need. From those spots they just need a couple months of league average pitching, until they can start exploring the trade market for a true upgrade.
If the Yankees are going to take this approach, why not go all in? They’re already throwing spaghetti at the wall, so why not make it a heaping freaking bowl, full of noodles and sauce and every bit of seasoning they can find? We might not find any of the available names encouraging, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be useful for the Yankees’ purposes. In this way, it wasn’t surprising to see Jon Heyman mention that the Yankees are still in contact with Kevin Millwood. At this point in the off-season, with the Indians, Royals, and Orioles as his only other suitors, why wouldn’t the Yankees maintain communication? There’s no harm in bringing in another player on a minor league deal.
Heyman added a thought to his note about Millwood that pinpoints the Yankees’ biggest issue. Does maintained interest in Millwood mean they’re less optimistic about Andy Pettitte’s prospects of playing in 2010 than they were last week? It’s certainly possible, but I’m not sure the two are necessarily related. We’ve heard varying reports regarding Pettitte’s probability of pitching, but we’ve yet to hear definitive word. Brian Cashman said last month that he’s proceeding as though Pettitte is retiring, so therefore it makes sense to continue discussing options with available pitchers. If they weren’t, they’d be acting under the assumption that Pettitte is returning.
What of Pettitte, anyway? The Yankees’ season has been over for more than three months, and he appears no closer to a decision now than he was on October 23. As it turns out, he didn’t necessarily plan to decide during the previous three months. ESPN Radio’s Ryan Ruocco recently spoke to Nolan Ryan, who has been in contact with Pettitte this winter. To quote: “Nolan also said that Andy had told him he wouldn’t decide until [February].” If he told Nolan Ryan this, he surely informed the Yankees. The difference, of course, is that Brian Cashman let that remain a private matter. In any case, with knowledge that Pettitte hadn’t intended to make a decision before now, and with spring training looming, I’m presuming we’ll hear more about this in the next week or so. That will certainly affect how the Yankees deal with the rest of the off-season.
If Pettitte does return, they need not make another move. They’ll have those seven pitchers competing for a single rotation spot, and surely they can find one serviceable starter from among that group. At that point I imagine they wouldn’t be in contact with the likes of Millwood and Jeremy Bonderman. But until they know for sure that Pettitte is returning, it is in their best interest to stay close to the remaining free agent pitchers. They might not inspire confidence, but they are simply more noodles in the bowl. The more noodles they have, the better chance they have one or two that will stick. No one particularly wants to see Kevin Millwood don the navy blue spring training uniform, but at this point there isn’t much downside to the prospect.