I remember thinking that Jose Vizcaino was like, the greatest utility infielder in baseball history when I was younger. For whatever reason I always remembered him getting base hits and coming off the bench to have big games and stuff like that. That wasn’t really the case though. Vizcaino hit .276/.319/.333 (67 OPS+) during his one half-season with the Yankees — was it really only half-season? it felt like more — though he did manage a .358/.408/.418 line with men on base. Going 4-for-6 with a walk-off single in Game One of the Subway Series was, by far, his biggest moment in pinstripes and maybe the biggest moment of his 18-year (!) career.
Anyway, here’s the nightly open thread. The Rangers, Islanders, and Knicks are all playing, plus there’s college hoops on somewhere. Talk about any and all of those games as well as anything else on your mind right here. Have at it.
The 2013 season is over and now it’s time to review all aspects of the year that was, continuing today with the end of a disappointing homegrown era.
This was the biggest year of Phil Hughes‘ career. He was coming off a disappointing but almost perfectly league average 2012 season and had the opportunity to pitch his way into a hefty free agent contract this summer. This wasn’t your average contract year. Hughes’ walk year potentially meant going out onto the market at age 27 (!) with AL East and small ballpark success under his belt. Teams would have been lining up to pay him.
Rather than capitalize on that opportunity, Phil had the worst non-injury plagued season of his big league career. The end result was a 5.19 ERA and 4.50 FIP in 145.2 innings across 29 starts and one relief appearance, a performance that was below replacement level. Outside of a four-start stretch from late-April through early-May, Hughes never really put it together for any length of time. There was only one other instance this year in which he surrendered two of fewer earned runs in three consecutive starts. It was ugly for a number of reasons. Here are a few.
Homers For Everyone
Believe it or not, Hughes actually improved his homerun rate from 2012 to 2013. He allowed 35 homers in 191.1 innings last summer, which works out to 1.65 HR/9 and 12.4% HR/FB. This past season it was 24 homers in 145.2 innings, or 1.48 HR/9 and 11.1% HR/FB. Obviously the sheer volume of homeruns allowed is a problem, but timing was an issue as well. Twenty-three of those 35 homers in 2012 were solo shots (66%) and 25 came when the score was separated by two or fewer runs (71%). This season, 17 of 24 homers were solo shots (71%) and 22 of 24 (!) came with the score separated by no more than two runs (92%).
Obviously there is more to consider here than just Hughes — the Yankees played nothing but close games this past season because they had a crappy offense, so he had more opportunities to give up dingers in tight games. Still, it goes to show how untrustworthy Phil was for a team that needed steady and reliable pitching to compete. Any pitcher can give up a homer at any time, but Hughes is especially long ball prone and all season we sat on the edge of our seats waiting for the #obligatoryhomer. Every start he was walking on eggshells.
Aside from missing his very first start of the season due to lingering back problem, Hughes did take the ball every five days for the Yankees. Despite that, he failed to throw enough innings (162) to qualify for the ERA title. Hughes led all of baseball with 14 (!) starts of fewer than five full innings of work, four more than second place Barry Zito and five more than second place in the AL Erik Bedard. Part of that was Joe Girardi‘s general lack of faith in him, as the skipper rightfully showed a very quick hook late in the season.
Among the 192 pitchers to make at least ten starts in 2013, only eight averaged fewer innings per start than Hughes (5.01). The guy was a drain on the rest of the pitching staff. He taxed the bullpen when he pitched and that’s something that can (and often did) carry over and impact the next day’s game. Calling Phil a five-and-fly starter this year would be pretty generous.
Getting Ahead But Not Putting Away
There is one thing that Hughes does exceptionally well, and that’s get ahead of hitters. He threw a first pitch strike to a whopping 71.7% of batters faced in 2013, the highest rate in all of baseball (min. 100 innings). Patrick Corbin (70.2%) and Cliff Lee (68.5%) were the only other pitchers within four percentage points of Phil. Furthermore, Hughes was second in baseball by going to an 0-2 count on 26.3% of batters faced this summer. Only Lee (28.7%) was better. There’s no denying Phil did an outstanding job of getting ahead in the count and putting himself in a position to succeed.
However, he rarely took advantage of those opportunities. Hughes’ lack of a legitimate put-away pitch led to foul ball after foul ball and prolonged at-bats, so much so that he ranked 118th in pitches per plate appearance (3.97) out the 145 pitchers to throw at least 100 innings. He was 134th in pitches per inning (17.5). Batters hit a remarkable .281/.290/.409 (177 OPS+) against Phil when he was ahead in the count and a ridiculous .245/.290/.413 (213 OPS+) when he jumped ahead 0-2. The league average following an 0-2 count was .167/.197/.248 this summer. That’s nut. It’s easy to think Hughes is an out-pitch away from becoming an ace given his ability to get ahead in the count, but you can say that about a whole lot of guys. He’s not anything special in that regard.
* * *
Barring something completely unexpected, Hughes will leave the Yankees and sign with a new team as a free agent this winter. He pitched his way out of a qualifying offer — making the offer seemed like a no-brainer as recently as late-July or so — so the Bombers won’t even get a draft pick as compensation. For shame.
Hughes will leave the Bronx having pitched to a 4.54 ERA and 4.31 FIP in 780.2 innings. That’s the third highest ERA and tenth highest FIP in team history among the 88 pitchers to throw at least 500 innings in pinstripes. Only Hank Johnson (4.84 ERA and 4.82 FIP), who played a century ago, and A.J. Burnett (4.79 ERA and 4.31 FIP) are worse in both categories. Hughes was electric as a reliever during the team’s World Championship season in 2009 and he had two years as an adequate back-end starter (2010 and 2012), but otherwise he was a huge disappointment and another example of the team’s inability to turn its top minor league talent into top Major League contributors.
Lost amid a flurry of news and rumors yesterday were the pronouncements of two veteran pitchers who wish to return in 2014. Perhaps the news was lost because the pitchers just aren’t that good. Brad Penny last pitched in 2012 and hasn’t cracked 4 K/9 since 2010. Roy Oswalt has gotten knocked around in each of the last two seasons despite extended off-seasons. So what does either seemingly washed up pitcher have to do with the Yankees?
For Penny, there’s nothing. He looks as done as done can be. Oswalt, after a disastrous and injury-shortened performance in 2013, might also appear finished. But there is a glimmer of hope for Oswalt’s future. It might just coincide with one of the Yankees’ desires this off-season.
Late last week we learned that the Yankees want to add a late-inning reliever. Given that they just lost the best who ever lived, that’s an understandable item on the off-season shopping list. They’ve spoken to Joe Nathan, but like most other viable late-inning options on the free agent market, he’ll cost more than the Yankees can probably afford if they want to stay under the $189 million luxury tax threshold.
So if the best options — Nathan, Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit, and even Edward Mujica — are priced out, where can the Yankees turn? One place you can get creative in roster construction is the bullpen, and the Yanks might have an opportunity here. Roy Oswalt might be the kind of guy they seek.
Why would a guy with an 8.63 ERA last year — in the NL — and a 6.80 ERA in the last two years appeal to the Yankees? Because instead of starting, his primary role in his disastrous 2013 campaign, the Yankees could target him as a reliever. There are a few factors that could play in his favor if he were to transition from the rotation to the bullpen. Combine that with a likely manageable price tag, and it could be a deal that fits the Yankees’ needs and plans.
Starting with the most general, Oswalt still has quality peripherals. In Texas during the 2012 season he gave up a few too many homers, but he still struck out a batter per inning and walked fewer than two per nine. That walk rate jumped a bit in 2013, but his home run rate — while pitching at Coors Field no less — dropped back to normal levels. At the same time, he struck out more than a batter per inning. In both cases he ended up with an above-average FIP, despite a below-average ERA.
A decline in stuff has marked Oswalt’s recent seasons. His fastball has dropped from around 93 mph in 2009 and 2010 to about 91 mph in 2013. Yet that averages his starts and relief appearances. In two relief outings towards the end of last season he averaged over 93 mph with his fastball, topping out at around 94.5. That is to say, he can still reach back and get some gas on the ball. He also fared fairly well in Texas’s bullpen in 2012, further demonstrating that his 2014, if he has one, lies in the pen.
Oswalt has said that he’d like a return chance in Colorado, but that seems unlikely at this point. They just signed LaTroy Hawkins as their interim closer; he’ll hold the job for either Rex Brothers or Adam Ottavino. With those three in late-inning roles, it appears Oswalt will have to try elsewhere. A few teams are reportedly interested in him as a reliever, but even so the price likely won’t get too high. It’s hard to justify a raise over your ~$3 million salary coming off that kind of 2013 season.
The Yankees, who could use some late-inning bullpen help at a reasonable cost, could play this situation to their advantage. Oswalt would require only one year, while the other late-inning options could require multiple. Given his performances, he probably can’t ask for much in terms of salary. At the same time, there are indicators that he could perform in a late-inning role — if not as closer, than as setup man for David Robertson.
There are other relievers on the market who could perhaps more effectively fill the Yankees’ needs. At the same time, almost all relievers come with a large degree of risk. Given the ages of most available relievers, the Yanks will be gambling wherever they choose to spend their money. Why not go with a guy who could come at a relative bargain, and who has shown the potential to succeed as Oswalt has?
Via George King & Ken Davidoff: The Yankees have some interest in a reunion with Raul Ibanez. I assume he would come back in the same role he held last summer, meaning part-time DH and part-time outfielder. At least that was the plan before Brett Gardner’s injury forced into into the field on a nearly everyday basis. Obviously the Yankees know him well and are comfortable with what he brings to the table.
Ibanez, 41, hit .242/.307/.487 (117 wRC+) with 29 homers in 496 plate appearances for the Mariners this past season, though he was awesome in the first half (24 HR and 143 wRC+) and a disaster in the second half (5 HR and 79 wRC+). Raul whacked 19 homers with a 102 wRC+ for New York in 2012, but remember, he was pretty terrible before he started hitting all those insanely clutch homers in late-September and October. Despite his awful defense and complete inability to hit lefties, I do think Ibanez makes some sense for the current Yankees roster in a limited role. The question is whether he wants to stay close to his Seattle home. · (54) ·
There is nothing special about this Tuesday other than the fact that it’s thoughts day. That’s something special, right? Anyway, here are some random tidbits on my mind that really aren’t worth a full post.
1. The deadline to set the 40-man roster for the Rule 5 Draft is tomorrow and we already know the Yankees will protect RHP Shane Greene and RHP Bryan Mitchell. C Gary Sanchez, OF Slade Heathcott, RHP Tommy Kahnle, RHP Chase Whitley, and RHP Danny Burawa are eligible this year as well, ditto RHP Jose Campos according to Josh Norris. I say this every year around this time, but sometimes the best way to keep a player is to leave them unprotected. Ivan Nova was not big league ready in 2008 and, sure enough, the Padres returned him to the Yankees after he got bombed in Spring Training. Campos is 21 and he threw only 87 innings for Low-A Charleston this season after missing virtually all of last season with an elbow injury. Hiding him as the last guy in a big league bullpen for a full 162-game season will be close to impossible at this point of his career, even for a terrible team like the Astros and Twins. Guys with big arms who are higher up the minor league ladder flop in that role as Rule 5 picks every year. Leaving Campos unprotected is a low risk by Rule 5 Draft standards and the Yankees stand to save a 40-man spot and one of his option years. I suspect they will protect him because they protect just about everyone, however.
2. As Joe wrote yesterday, the Yankees appear likely to spend big on international free agents next summer, meaning they’ll blow past their allotted signing pool and pay the penalties the following year. Those penalties including being limited to bonuses of $500k or less (or $250k or less, depending on how far over they go). I understand the strategy of spending huge one year, landing a whole bunch of prospects, then dealing with the penalties and not signing anyone the next summer, but I also don’t like it. You’re basically eliminating yourself from contention for half the talent pool. I also don’t think it’s possible to say the next year’s talent crop will be weaker than the current year’s — thus justifying the extra spending — because we’re talking about 14 and 15 year old kids. The 18 to 21-year-olds in the draft are hard enough to predict from one year to the next. Doing it with teenagers is impossible. The new spending restrictions really suck and hurt the Yankees immensely, especially since the backbone of their farm system for decades was Latin America. I don’t think the solution is alternating big money years and small bonus years (due to penalties). You eliminate yourself from contention for too many players that way …
3. … but at the same time, I think the Yankees do a really good job of finding super cheap talent in Latin America. By super cheap I mean $250k or less, which is still a ton of cash in the real world. Guys like RHP Luis Severino ($225k), OF Ravel Santana ($145k), RHP Gio Gallegos ($100k), and SS Thairo Estrada ($75k) all signed for less than a quarter-million in recent years. Maybe that ability to find relatively cheap talent means it would make sense to go over the spending pool one year and incur the penalties the next since they’ll still dig up players in the down year. That makes sense to come extent, but again, you are taking yourself out of the running for the top talent in a given year with that strategy. I don’t know the best way to go — it’s probably a combination of both depending on the talent pool and a given year, but again, who can predict that? — all I know is that this new system stinks.
4. Jon Heyman recently reported Hal Steinbrenner is “at the center of things” this winter, getting involved in talks with agents and whatnot. Ownership has been dipping its toes in the roster building pool more and more these last few years and with payroll set to come down, they seem to want even more control to ensure they actually get under the $189M luxury tax threshold. My biggest concern is depth. Owners get involved to bring in stars and big name guys, not role players. The Yankees have less money to spend this winter than most realize and if Hal & Co. blow it all on two or three big name free agents, there will be nothing left to upgrade the margins of the roster. The Bombers will end up with a top heavy roster similar to the 2004-2008 squads. You know what I’m talking about. Realistically, New York needs a catcher, a second baseman, a third baseman, a right fielder, a DH, at least two (preferably three) starters, at least one (preferably three!) relievers, and a bench. Two or three big name free agents won’t be enough to turn things around even if they’ll create the biggest headlines.
5. The hot stove is just getting warmed up, but there have already been a few contracts handed out (Tim Lincecum, Marlon Byrd, Carlos Ruiz*) that show just how much money is available in the game right now. Teams can’t spend big on amateurs and the best young big leaguers are getting signed to below-market contracts, so the only place that money can go (aside from the owner’s pocket) is towards free agents. Remember, all 30 clubs are getting an extra $25M or so starting in 2014 thanks to the new national television contracts. That’s an extra $25M to pump into the team, just like that. Put all that together and it’s even more annoying the Yankees are trimming payroll to get under the luxury tax threshold. Every other team in baseball is increasing its spending and using the extra cash while the team with the most revenue and in the biggest market is purposefully scaling back and refusing to use its natural financial advantage. This is only going to become even more obvious as the top shelf free agents come off the board. Sigh.
* How much more awful does letting Russell Martin walk for two years and $17M look now? Goodness.
Via Jon Morosi: The Yankees are showing interest in free agent infielder Jhonny Peralta. I looked at him as a target last week and he’s a pretty great fit for their needs on the left side of the infield. New York will continue to look for infield help even after giving Derek Jeter a new contract and agreeing to re-sign Brendan Ryan.
Peralta, 31, hit .303/.358/.457 (123 wRC+) with eleven homers in 448 plate appearances for the Tigers this season while also missing 50 games due to a Biogenesis-related suspension. He has played shortstop exclusively the last three years but has a couple thousand innings worth of experience at third base as well. The obstacle is convincing Peralta he should come to the Yankees to bounce between short and third rather than play one set position with another team. Stephen Drew took less money from the Red Sox last winter to avoid that kind of situation in New York. · (31) ·
The Yankees announced their 2014 Spring Training schedule late last week. Pitchers and catchers are due to report on Friday, February 14th with position players to follow five days later. The first full squad workout is slated for Thursday the 20th. The Yankees will play their first exhibition game on Monday the 25th against Florida State, then Grapefruit League play opens the next day against the Pirates. The Bombers will play a pair of exhibition games against the Marlins in Panama City on March 15-16th, remember.
Spring Training season tickets go on sale today while individual game tickets will be available on January 10th. The full release is right here. · (4) ·
I was planning to post this video tonight anyway because hey, why not? But in the wake of the Brendan Ryan re-signing, it seems appropriate to go with a compilation of defensive wizardry at shortstop. That’s not Ryan though, that’s Braves youngster Andrelton Simmons, who recorded the highest single season dWAR — defense component of WAR at Baseball Reference — in baseball history this past season (5.4). That’s among all players and all positions. Greatest defensive season ever according to the metric, if you can believe that. Needless to say, the video features some insane plays (the plays at 2:28, 3:53, 9:05, 12:12, and 19:15 stand out in particular).
Anyway, once you’ve watched all 25 minutes (!) of Simmons, use this as your open thread. The Patriots and Panthers are the Monday Night Football Game, plus the Nets are playing. There’s got to be college something or other on as well. Talk about whatever. Enjoy.
Late addition: After talking about this with a few people, thinking about it some more, and reading the comments, it strikes me that perhaps Rosenthal misheard or misinterpreted the information. Even using the high-end signing figures the Yanks are just barely over that 5 percent threshold. Given the significant penalty for going even that fraction over, I find it hard to believe that they made such an error. Mistakes are made, of course, and it’s possible, but at this point I’m more apt to believe that they are still within the zero to 5 tier, and thus accrue only a tax on the overage rather than a restriction on players they can sign in the upcoming international signing period.
Furthermore, Rosenthal states that the “Cubs and Rangers went over the limit in 2012-13,” when in fact the Cubs and the Rangers are both over their limit in the current signing period, which is 2013-2014 (seeing as it started July 2, 2013 and extends into 2014). From what I’ve read, the Rays were the only team to exceed their international pool allotment in 2012-2013.
It would appear, then, that the Yankees’ plans to spend big in the international market concern this coming year’s class, which will open for business on July 2, 2014. The Yankees will have a larger pool of money this year, since they finished lower, but that won’t change the equation too much; last year, as the No. 28 team, they got less than $200K less than the No. 18 team. But the new period does give them a fresh crop of talent, and if they don’t care about the penalties they can spend as much as they’d like. Given the facts and the implications, this seems far, far more likely than them spending further money during the current period.
Original. One signature element of the current CBA is the restriction placed on almost all forms of amateur player acquisition. In both the Rule 4 draft and the international signing period, teams have limited pools of money at their disposals. Exceeding those limits incurs penalties that affect teams the following year, thereby discouraging lavish spending in any single draft or signing period. There’s even talk of an international draft, which would further limit teams in acquiring talent.*
*Really, it’s just one more way MLB strives for boring parity, rewarding bad teams with enormous talent opportunities, both in available dollars and preferred selection. But I digress.
Teams can create advantages for themselves, given the right circumstances and conditions. For example, if a team feels the current international class is strong and the next is weak, it can splurge before facing the heavy restrictions the following signing period. It appears the Yankees will take that path this year. They’ve already exceeded their $1.8 million international cap, signing CF Leonardo Molina for $1.4 million and SS Yonarius Rodriguez for $575,000. According to a recent bit by Ken Rosenthal, they’re not quite done yet.
According to Rosenthal, the Yankees are just 3.8 percent over their capped limit, but he also has the Rodriguez signing at $550,000. MLB Trade Rumors, which has the Rodriguez bonus at $575,000, notes that figure puts the Yankees more than 5 percent over the cap, therefore already inducing penalties. In that case they won’t be able to sign any player for more than $500,000 during the next signing period, which, given the two bonuses given to their signings this year, is a major impediment. The same penalty, with a greater tax on overages, is in place for the 10 to 15 percent bracket. That essentially means that as long as they can stomach the 100 percent tax on overages, there is no reason to sit at 5.1 percent over the cap. You might as well go all the way to 14.9 percent. Spending that exceeds 15 percent over pool dollars limits a team to $250,000 on a single player during the next signing period.
The question is of how the Yankees are going to spend this money. All of Baseball America’s Top 30 international prospects have signed. There could be a number of players with whom they have experience and who might have flown under BA’s radar. Even in that case, the Yankees don’t have a whole lot of bonus money within that 15 percent threshold; just under $200,000, to be exact. So in order to make an impact, they might have to go over 15 percent and further limit themselves for the upcoming signing period.
Or it could all be hooey. Rosenthal cites “rival international scouts,” and rival scouts have agendas. At the same time, if the Yankees are in fact over the 5 percent penalty, they might as well go hog wild. The rules make very little distinction between a 5.1 percent and a 14.9 percent overage.
The 2013 season is over and now it’s time to review all aspects of the year that was, continuing today with the up and down final season of an all-time Yankees great.
When the Yankees coaxed Andy Pettitte out of retirement last season, it was supposed to be one last ride off into the sunset. Pettitte was going to come back, give whatever he had left, then walk away after the season. Again. Instead, a fluke injury robbed him of three months at midseason. The competitive juices were still flowing, so Andy decided to give it another go in 2013.
Unlike last summer, Pettitte was more than just a fun, feel-good story this year. He was an integral part of the team and he was paid as such — the Yankees re-signed him to a one-year pact worth a hefty $12M and penciled him in as their number three starter behind CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda. This wasn’t “okay Andy, come back whenever you’re ready and do what you can.” This was “let’s go Andy, if we’re going to go anywhere you have to help carry us.”
Pettitte was baseball’s oldest starting pitcher come Opening Day and sometimes it was painfully obvious. Let’s break his season down into four separate acts.
Act I: Early Awesomeness
When he wasn’t hurt in 2012, Pettitte was pretty freakin’ awesome. He pitched to a 2.87 ERA and 3.48 FIP in 75.1 innings, posting his best strikeout (8.24 K/9 and 22.8 K%), walk (2.51 BB/9 and 6.9 BB%), and ground ball (56.3%) rates in years. It was amazing and much-needed considering how close the AL East race was down the stretch.
Early on this past season, that same Andy was on the mound. He pitched the team to their first win of the year with eight innings of one-run ball against the Red Sox in the third game of the season, and he followed up by allowing six runs total in his next three starts while throwing at least six innings each time. The Astros (of all teams) pounded him to close out the month (seven runs in 4.1 innings), but Pettitte got right back on the horse and pitched well in early-May. Following seven innings of two-run ball against the Royals on May 11th, he was sitting on a 3.83 ERA and 4.08 FIP in 44.1 innings through seven starts. Dandy.
Act II: Injuries & Ineffectiveness
On May 16th, Pettitte was forced from a start against the Mariners due to a sore trap muscle after only 4.2 innings. He had missed one start in April due to a stiff back, but the trap injury landed him on the DL for a touch more than two weeks. That was the risk of relying on a 40-year-old starter — a 40-year-old starter who had not thrown more than 130 innings since 2009 at that — injuries and physical setbacks figured to pop-up at some point.
Andy returned to the mound on June 3rd and clearly was not himself. He allowed at least four runs in eight of his next nine starts (including seven straight at one point), a nine-start stretch that featured a 5.04 ERA despite a 3.62 FIP. Opponents hit .295/.329/.436 against him in those nine games and the Pettitte trademark, the ability to wiggle out of jams, had deserted him. Pettitte looked old and washed up. I’m not sure there is another way to put it. He looked like a guy who should have stayed retired, frankly. The team didn’t have much of a chance to win on the days he pitched and through 17 starts, he had a 4.47 ERA and 3.78 FIP.
Act III: Empty The Tank
Something changed on June 24th. That ability to escape jams and keep the team in games had returned. Pettitte held the Rangers to two runs in six innings on that date, and five days later he held the Dodgers to two runs in seven innings. From June 24th through September 17th, a span of eleven starts, Andy allowed two earned runs or less eight times and only twice did he fail to complete six full innings of work. That works out to a 3.06 ERA and 3.54 FIP in 64.2 innings. He was back to being himself and not a moment too soon. The Yankees were fighting to stay in the playoff hunt and Pettitte had emerged as their best starter just as Kuroda began to fade.
Act IV: Blaze Of Glory
Following 6.1 innings of one-run ball against the Blue Jays on September 17th, Pettitte owned a 3.93 ERA and 3.69 FIP in 169.1 innings across 28 starts. Three days later, he announced his intention to retire (for the second time) after the season. “I’ve reached the point where I know that I’ve left everything I have out there on that field,” he said. “The time is right. I’ve exhausted myself, mentally and physically, and that’s exactly how I want to leave this game.”
Andy’s final start at Yankee Stadium came two days later, on Mariano Rivera Day. The Yankees honored Mo will a long and incredible pre-game ceremony before Pettitte took a perfect game into the fifth inning and a no-hitter into the sixth inning against the Giants. In that final home start, he surrendered two runs on two hits in seven innings against the defending World Champions. Andy walked off to the mound to a long and thunderous ovation after being removed from the game.
Four days later, Pettitte and long-time teammate Derek Jeter were sent out to the mound to remove Rivera from the final appearance of his career. Those few days were just unreal. Incredibly exciting and emotional and heartbreaking all at once. What a way to go out.
Andy made the final start of his season and career on September 28th, appropriately enough against the Astros in Houston, his hometown and the only other Major League team for which he played. Pettitte went out in style, allowing one run in the complete-game win. It was his first nine-inning complete-game since August 2006 and his first nine-inning complete-game for the Yankees since August 2003. It was the kind of start that seemed unthinkable as recently as mid-June, and yet, Andy did it. Remarkable.
* * *
All told, Pettitte pitched to a 3.74 ERA and 3.70 FIP in 185.1 innings this season, right in line with his career 3.85 ERA and 3.74 FIP. Same ol’ Andy, basically. Steady and reliable. Yeah, the 2013 campaign was shaky at times but that was to be expected at his age and with the long recent layoffs. When it was all said and done, Pettitte was an obvious positive for the 2013 squad. He retires as the greatest Yankees pitcher in history — an argument can certainly be made for Whitey Ford, but I think Andy just edges him out — and one of the most beloved players in team history. Few rank above him.
It is sad to see Andy go again, but I think it’s clear the time has come to call it a career. When he retired following the 2010 season, I thought it was obvious he still had something left in the tank and could continue pitching for another year or two. This time, I’m not so sure. He really labored for long stretches of time this summer and his usual start-to-start consistency just wasn’t there. The nagging injuries, stiff backs and strained lats and the like, became more frequent as well. Pettitte is one of my all-time favorites and the Yankees wouldn’t have hung around the postseason race as long as they did without him, but the tank looks to tapped out. Saying goodbye will be much easier for fans and Pettitte alike this time around.