The RAB World Series prediction thread, hosted by Jay-Z

With just under 30 hours under the Yankees and the Phillies start the Fall Classic, anticipation is in the air. The Yankees are just four wins away from their first World Series title since I was in high school, and the match up against the Phillies promises to be a compelling one.

As we await tomorrow night’s 7:57 first pitch, everyone and their uncles are getting in on the World Series prediction party. My favorite though is definitely this bit from a Jay-Z interview. Here’s what Shawn Carter had to say:

I actually predicted the Yankees in six with the Angels, so I think I?m like Jigga the Greek. I?m gonna say, Phillies are a bit tougher than the Angels. I?m gonna take Yankees in seven. Dramatic A-Rod walk-off at the end of the game redeeming him for all the time the papers and the media vilified him. Is that specific enough?

Personally, I’d rather not see the Yankees and Phillies go to seven games. I don’t think my baseball-loving heart could take Jigga the Greek’s prediction coming true. An A-Rod walk off would be quite dramatic, but that would mean the Yanks would either be down or losing Game 7 of the World Series.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball is a less disinterested crystal-ball gazer. Jimmy Rollins today predicted the Phillies in five, and the Yanks basically laughed in his face. I couldn’t care less about what he says, basically, because that’s not what’s going to happen,” Mariano Rivera said. “What he says and what’s going to happen is far from that. You know what I mean?” Indeed, I do know what you mean, Mo.

I’ll open up this thread, then, with my prediction. I say Yanks in six. I think the World Series plays out quite similarly to the ALCS. The Yanks will enjoy success in the new ballpark, but the Phillies will win a pair in Citizens Bank. If all goes according to plan, CC Sabathia should take home another postseason MVP award. But that’s hardly the definitive word. What do you think?

Who will win the World Series and in how many games?
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World Series Preview: Phillies Infield

We’ve previewed the Yankees along with their opponents through the ALDS and ALCS. Instead of re-re-rehashing all of that, we’re going to stick with just the opponents this time.

Catcher: Carlos Ruiz

Yankees fans do not have fond memories of Carlos Ruiz. When the Phillies came to town in May he went 6 for 8 with 3 RBI. Two of those RBI came in the second inning of the first game, when he hit a home run off A.J. Burnett. The other, a double in the 11th inning in Sunday’s game, broke a 3-3 tie and gave the Phillies the series. It was especially frustrating because Ruiz had never slugged above .400 in his career (in seasons with over 100 PA).

Ruiz went on to have a career year at age 30, hitting .255/.355/.425. After losing time to an oblique injury earlier in the year, Ruiz took over the full-time role in the second half and rewarded the team with a .276/.375/.487 line after the break. His emergence as an offensive weapon makes the Phillies lineup that much tougher.

The postseason apparently brings out the best in Ruiz. After going 1 for 14 in last year’s NLDS, he went 5 for 16 in the NLCS, followed by a World Series in which he went 6 for 16 with four walks, two doubles, and a home run. He’s continued his postseason run this year, going 9 for 26 with a double, a homer, and seven walks in the first two rounds, most of which came in the NLCS (5 for 13, 1 2B, 1 HR, 5 BB). In 96 postseason plate appearance, Ruiz has struck out just four times.

The Yanks had to deal with Jeff Mathis in the ALCS, and will face no less pesky a foe in Ruiz for the World Series. He’s no Posada with the bat normally, but it seems like October is a completely different season for him. He’ll hit eighth, possibly ninth in the Bronx, which could create a tough stretch when Philly rolls over the lineup.

Fun fact: Like Posada, Ruiz was a second baseman, but the Phillies converted him to a catcher once they signed him because they didn’t like his mobility at second.

First base: Ryan Howard

Ryan Howard’s name is recognizable to even the most casual fan. His story since breaking into the majors is remarkable. Replacing an injured Jim Thome, he hit 22 home runs in just 348 plate appearances, earning him the 2005 NL Rookie of the Year award. The next season, his first full one in the majors, he hit 58 home runs and drove in 149 runs, leading the NL in both, on his way to an MVP award.

The path to the majors wasn’t easy for Howard. The Phillies drafted him in the fifth round in 2001 and he hit pretty well in his first two minor league seasons, racking up 27 homers and 122 RBI in 773 plate appearances in Short Season A and Low A. The concern seemed to be his strikeouts, 200 in that span. Still, with a quality batting average and OBP, and with developing power skills, it appeared that Howard could move quickly through the Phillies’ system.

But after the 2002 season, the Phillies signed Jim Thome to a six-year, $85 million contract. That seemingly blocked Howard. Further hurting him was Thome’s debut season in Philadelphia, wherein he led the NL in homers with 57 (and also strikeouts with 182). Howard, meanwhile, found his power stroke, hitting 23 homers and 32 doubles in 553 plate appearances in Advanced A, and an overall .304/.374/.514 batting line. It’s a wonder why they never promoted him in-season — he was already 23 years old in Advanced A.

Howard would shine again in 2004, tearing apart AA with 37 homers and 18 doubles in 433 PA, and subsequently hammering AAA pitching before getting a September call-up. He then started 2005 destroying the ball in AAA, with 16 homers and 19 doubles in 257 PA. He came up for a stretch in May and hit poorly, but once Jim Thome hit the DL at the end of June, the first-base job was Howard’s. He so fully convinced the Phillies of his greatness that they traded Thome to the White Sox after the season.

If Howard has a weakness, it’s his inability to hit left-handed pitching. While he dominated righties this season, he hit lefties horribly, posting a .207/.298/.356 line in 252 plate appearances. The Yankees will have CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte starting three to five games in the series, which should help out against Howard. A.J. Burnett’s curve is also a weapon against lefties. Then there are Damaso Marte and Phil Coke in the bullpen. Expect them to face Howard in almost every late-inning bullpen situation.

Fun fact: The first basemen in this series each led his league in RBI.

Second base: Chase Utley

Compared to his last two seasons, 2009 was a down year for Chase Utley. Even so, he put up the second best offensive numbers of any MLB second baseman and No. 1, Ben Zobrist, played other positions. He’s the best second baseman in the MLB, and even in a season during which he recovered from hip surgery he posted ridiculous numbers: .282/.397/.508. Even a down year for Utley is a monster.

A 2000 first round pick by the Phillies out of UCLA, Utley had high expectations attached to him and for the most part met them. He posted a .827 OPS in the New York Penn League after the 2000 draft, but then dropped a bit next year to a .746 OPS in Advanced A. That was mostly on his poor batting average, .257. He had a similar mark upon a promotion to AAA in 2002, but raised his OBP and SLG to get his OPS above .800. Unfortunately, the Phillies had just traded for another second baseman, Placido Polanco.

Polanco was just a stopgap, or at least that’s how it seemed. The Phillies got him, along with Bud Smith (of no-hitter fame) and Mike Timlin, for Scott Rolen before the trade deadline in 2002. He played well for the Phillies in 2003 and 2004, while Utley continued to dominate AAA. In 2003 his OPS was .907, and in 2004 it was .880. Yet when Polanco became a free agent after the 2004 season, the Phillies re-signed him. It seems like quite the absurd decision in hindsight.

Utley made his own case in 2005, though, hitting .302/.378/.532 in April and May, forcing the Phillies to trade Polanco on June 8. From 2005 through 2009 Utley has posted an OPS above .900 every season, peaking in 2007 with a .332/.410/.566 line that earned him just eighth place in the MVP voting. Having Ryan Howard as a teammate certainly doesn’t help his case, but Utley might be even more valuable than Howard — after all, Utley’s 7.7 WAR topped Howard’s 4.9.

Not only is Utley an excellent hitter, certainly the best among second basemen over the past three years, he is also one of the best defenders, if not the best. His 8.8 UZR/150 topped every other second baseman in the league (second was, guess who, Polanco), and which is his third straight year leading the majors in the stat. The combination of power bat and slick fielding puts Utley on a level rivaled only by Zobrist — and the latter still has to prove that 2009 wasn’t a fluke.

After a monster first round of the playoffs against the Rockies — 6 for 14 with a homer and four walks — Utley dropped off against the Dodgers. He was just 4 for 19 in the NLCS with no extra base hits and has many wondering whether his foot is still bothering him. He fouled a pitch off it in early September.

Robinson Cano is a fine second baseman. UZR doesn’t treat him well, but he hits as well as almost any other second baseman. He just doesn’t compare to Utley. Which is no shame, really — no second baseman compares to Utley.

Fun fact: Utley has led the NL in HBP for the past three years.

Third base: Pedro Feliz

Like Utley, Pedro Feliz is an excellent defender. In fact, most of his 1.2 WAR comes from his defense at third base, where he posted a 14.3 UZR/150 in 2009, tops in the NL. That compensates for his bat, which can be described as balsa wood at best. He posted a .302 wOBA in 2009 and OPS’d around .700 for the fourth straight year.

There’s not much more to say about Feliz other than he’s a great defender who doesn’t hit well at all. He provided some power with his bat earlier in his career, but he last hit 20 home runs in 2007, the year before he became a Phillie. He’s hit 14 and 12 with the Phillies while keeping his OBP around .300. Again, without his glove he’d be a pretty worthless player, but his glove does add significant value, especially because he’s surrounded by such prolific hitters.

The only upshot of Feliz’s playoff run this season is that three of his five hits have gone for extra bases (one of each type). Still, he is just 5 for 31 over the first two rounds, walking just twice. For the Phillies’ sake he’d better save quite a few runs with his glove in the World Series, because otherwise it makes little sense to continue playing him. His bat is that bad.

Fun fact: Feliz’s .308 OBP this season was the highest of any year in his entire major league career. He topped that mark only twice in the minors. once at .310, the other .337, but that was in a league where Bubba Crosby hit .361/.410/.635 one season.

Shortstop: Jimmy Rollins

Jimmy Rollins had a disappointing 2009, his worst season since 2002. After winning the MVP in 2007, Rollins has dropped off in each of the past two years. In 2009 he hit just .250/.296/.432, and even though he had 31 stolen bases in 39 attempts, he still managed a wOBA of just .316. But the regular season doesn’t matter much at this point, right? We know Rollins’ true talent level, and if he picks it up in the playoffs all is forgiven.

Yet this postseason, as in almost all of his postseason series, Rollins has been a disappointment. After an excellent 2008 NLDS in which he went 5 for 16 with two doubles and a homer, Rollins has been horrible in the postseason. In the four series since then he is just 18 for 84 (.214) with one home run and five doubles. His only postseason triple came in the 2007 NLDS loss to the Rockies. Despite his speed, Rollins hasn’t stolen a postseason base since the 2008 NLCS. This is mainly because he has failed to reach base in general, just 21 times in 90 plate appearances over the past four postseason series.

Like the players who surround him, Rollins is good with the glove. He posted a 2.3 UZR/150 this season, which isn’t great but is certainly solid. It seems he took a step backward from last season, when he led the majors in UZR/150. Even if we disregard comparisons of UZR from year to year because of how it scales, we can still recognize a drop-off when a guy goes from tops in the league to 13th.

Against the Yankees this season, Rollins went 3 for 13 with two walks and a home run. That home run, though, hurt particularly badly. He hit it off A.J. Burnett on the first pitch in the first game of the series. It set the tone for a bad Yankees loss.

Fun fact: I thought about trying to connect Rollins to his friend CC Sabathia since they grew up near each other, but there’s an even better connection. Rollins’s cousin is Tony Tarasco, who was parked under a Derek Jeter fly ball in the 1996 ALCS when a young Jeff Maier reached over and brought it in.

Edges

Just so we’re not completely leaving out comparisons, here’s how I think the teams stack up.

First base: Even, leaning towards Phillies. Howard has trouble with lefties, which hurts him, but has been as hot as it gets this postseason. That can all turn around, though, for both him and for Teixeira, who has been cold (save for a few big hits).

Second base: Phillies. I love Cano, but unless Utley’s foot is really bothering him, the Philes have a clear edge at second.

Third base: Yankees. Feliz might get to everything hit on the ground in his direction, but that can’t make up for the canyon that separates his bat from A-Rod‘s. Alex has also played fine defense this postseason.

Shortstop: Yankees. No explanation needed.

Eiland a big part of pitching success

When good players fail, fans tend to blame the coaches. Since the team can’t fire the players, the coaching staff is the next logical target. When the Yankees struggled earlier this season, fans laid the blame on two coaches in particular. First was the obvious one, manager Joe Girardi. The manager always takes the blame when a team, good or bad, fails. It’s to be expected.

The other target was pitching coach Dave Eiland. Brian Cashman had spent $243 million over the off-season to improve the pitching staff, and they were not performing anywhere near expectations. After the Red Sox completed a two-game sweep of the Yanks in early May, the staff had a 5.86 ERA in 233.1 innings, striking out 189 to 113 walks. They’d also surrendered 32 homers, many of which came at the new Stadium. Eiland was also an easy target in this situation.

Eiland, whom the Yankees hired after he retired from playing in 2002, didn’t help himself out with the media. His staff had improved since the Red Sox series, lowering its ERA more than a full run by June 8. But then the Yankees ran into the Red Sox again and faced yet another three-game sweep. The middle game, a 6-5 loss, featured another poor performance from Chien-Ming Wang. “I can’t go stand behind the mound with him during the game,” said Eiland, seemingly throwing his pitcher under the bus.

That’s not what Eiland meant — or at least not what I think he meant upon further consideration. At the time, it sounded like he was trying to deflect the blame he had been receiving all season. But after watching Wang struggled through another month before succumbing to a shoulder injury, it’s clear what Eiland meant. You can work with a guy every day to help him get back in form, but if he’s not executing when it counts, there’s little else you can do. Eiland understood this and he tried to explain it to everyone, but his words didn’t work at the time.

The Yankees staff performed well for the rest of the season, and the criticism of Eiland dwindled. Even with two pitchers, A.J. Burnett and Joba Chamberlain, struggling in August, fans didn’t point to Eiland. Instead they put the blame where it belonged: with the pitchers themselves. Eiland can help them prepare for games, but if they can’t find the strike zone, or if their best pitches don’t have any bite, there’s not much he can do from the bench, other than walk to the mound once an inning. But something tells me he won’t explain it that way to the media.

How do we know that Eiland is the right man for the job? His colleagues speak highly of him, as Marc Topkin writes in the St. Petersburg Times (hat tip Pinto). This ranges from GM Brian Cashman to farm director Mark Newman, from manager Joe Girardi to the pitchers he coaches. Perhaps the most endearing remarks from from his players. When describing Eiland’s skills as a listener, Andy Pettitte, with whom Eiland pitched at AAA Columbus in 1994, describes him as, “Almost like a wife.”

One of this year’s notably struggling pitchers, Joba Chamberlain, is equally impressed with Eiland. “He’s not afraid to kick you in the behind. And he means it when he comes at you.” The two will try to figure out what went wrong with 2009 and correct it for 2010. It seems that at the very least, Chamberlain is receptive to Eiland, which could help the pitcher in the future. I’m sure both have noticed this (Eiland is reputedly big on video), and hopefully they can get Chamberlain back on track during Spring Training.

Why is Eiland a good pitching coach? Ask the people around him and you’ll get a few different answers, ranging from his having to “fight for everything he got” (Girardi) to simple that, “He had it” (Newman). Ask Eiland, though, and he’ll tell you that it’s because he wasn’t that good a pitcher himself.

“In reality, I gave it all I could,” Eiland said. “I threw 87-89 miles an hour, but I thought I had a pretty good feel for pitching and for my delivery. I had to be almost perfect when I pitched to be successful. I didn’t have that God-given talent, the 90-plus mph fastball, things like that. But I felt like I had everything else.”

It’s easy for fans to blame coaching staffs when results don’t meet expectations. This goes especially when good players struggle. Fans criticized Eiland when the pitching staff wasn’t doing well, but those times are behind us. The staff picked it up as the season rolled along, and has shined in the playoffs. Eiland deserves part of the credit for that.

Our son returns to the Bronx

Just in case a World Series match-up with our I-95 neighbors to the south isn’t fun enough, the Phillies announced today that Pedro Martinez will start Game 2 of the World Series in the Bronx. Pedro last made an October start in the Bronx in 2004 when chants of “Who’s Your Daddy?” filled the air. I’m expecting a similar scene on Thursday night.

Hello, Phillies. We’ve met before, haven’t we?

Because of the quirks of Interleague Play, the Fall Classic match-ups these days often feature two teams who have played each other during the regular season. Long gone are the days when the only meeting between AL and NL rivals would occur during the World Series.

For the Yankees, 2009 marks their third World Series out of their last five in which they have already seen their opponent in the same season. In 1999, they lost two of three to Atlanta before sweeping them in the World Series. In 2000, the Bombers won four of six against the Mets before taking the Subway Series in five games. Although the Yankees had not played the Phightin’s since 2006, this year, the two teams met for a Yankee Stadium series in late May. The Phillies won two of three, but the Yankees captured a walk-off against Brad Lidge.

So much as I did with the Twins and then the Angels, let’s hop back to May and relive the Yanks’ brief meeting with the Phillies this year.

May 22, 2009: Phillies 7, Yankees 3 (Box Score) (RAB Recap)
WP: Brett Myers
LP: A.J. Burnett
HR: Jayson Werth, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz, Raul Ibanez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez

This game, I witnessed from the Grandstand at Yankee Stadium, and it was an ugly one. Jimmy Rollins started the game off with a lead-off home run, and A.J. Burnett had absolutely nothing. He would allow three home runs on the night, including Carlos Ruiz’s first long ball of the season. It was vintage ugly Burnett – 6 IP, 8 H, 2 BB, 5 ER – and the Yanks were down 5-0 before they managed to plate a run.

For the Yankees, this game could have been a potential turning point in the season. Chien-Ming Wang, coming back from a sore hip, made his not-so-triumphant return to the mound in the Bronx. He threw three innings but allowed a pair of runs on six hits and a walk. In fact, one of the runs scored on this blast by Ibanez. The ball traveled an estimated 477, and it was the longest long ball at Yankee Stadium this year. Ibanez, however, after that home run, hit just .235/.315/.468 over his final 387 plate appearances.

Meanwhile, the seven combined home runs could be a harbinger of things to come for the World Series. The Yankees and Phillies play in hitter-friendly parks, and these two teams love to homer.

[Read more…]

World Series Preview: Phillies Starters

We’ve previewed the Yankees along with their opponents through the ALDS and ALCS. Instead of re-re-rehashing all of that, we’re going to stick with just the opponents this time.

The Phillies haven’t officially announced their full World Series rotation yet, but they have said that trade deadline pickup Cliff Lee will get the ball in Game One. Earlier today Jon Heyman said the team is leaning towards starting Pedro Martinez in Game Two and Cole Hamels in Game Three, before bringing Lee back on short rest in Games Four and Seven. That leaves Games Five and Six still up in the air.

As a team, the Philadelphia starters have put up a 3.11 ERA (3.69 FIP) this postseason, second only to Yanks. Their 6.71 K/9 in October mirrors their 6.87 regular season mark, however they’ve excelled at avoiding the free pass (1.47 BB/9) despite throwing 4.09 pitches per batter, well above the Major League average of 3.80. The Phillies’ rotation has certainly gotten the job done this postseason, so let’s meet the cast of characters.

Cliff Lee
The 2009 edition of the World Series really couldn’t start with a better pitching matchup. You’ve got the last two American League Cy Young Award winners, two former Cleveland Indians that have since moved on to greener pastures. Unlike CC Sabathia, who’s career progressed year after year in textbook fashion, Lee has had his ups and downs. While Sabathia was busy winning the Cy in 2007, Lee was struggling so badly that he was sent back to the minors.

However, Lee has been as good as any pitcher in baseball the last two years, and 75% of that time was spent in the big boy league. In his three postseason starts (the first three of his career), Lee’s recorded 73 of 81 possible outs, and put just 17 runners on base. As good as Sabathia has been in his three postseason starts, Cliff Lee’s actually been better. Of course, Sabathia didn’t get to pitch in the AAAA League, but you can only pitch against the competition you’re scheduled to face.

If you want a reason to be optimistic, then you should know that some of the Yankee regulars have really, really good numbers against Lee in their careers. Derek Jeter‘s hit .407-.467-.519 in his career off Lee, Mark Teixeira .391-.462-.696, A-Rod .333-.450-.733, Jorge Posada .286-.273-.667, and Nick Swisher .333-.458-.444. These aren’t the biggest of sample sizes (all around 25 at-bats), but it’s what we got.

Pedro Martinez
Pedro is certainly no stranger to the Yankees, and vice versa. Now, this obviously isn’t the same Pedro Martinez that tore apart baseball a decade ago, but he’s still been effective for the Phillies. His strong, but abbreviated, regular season was propped up by an unsustainably high 83.7% strand rate (league average is 71.9%), something a patient and powerful team like the Yankees could correct in a hurry.

In his one playoff start, Pedro held the Dodgers to just two hits and zero runs in seven innings, but got just four swinging strikes out of 87 pitches. He’s a contact pitcher with extreme fly-ball tendencies (0.67 GB/FB), and again, that plays right into the Yankees’ strengths.

As a Yankee fan, I hope and pray we see Pedro start Game Two of the World Series. Not because I want to chant “Who’s Your Daddy?” or anything like that, but because he’s probably the least equipped member of the Phightin’s rotation to combat the Yankees.

Cole Hamels
Last year’s Philadelphia playoff hero suffered through a down season in 2009, but upon further inspection, you can see that his performance really didn’t drop off all that much. Check it out:

2008 2009
K/9 7.76 7.81
BB/9 2.10 2.00
HR/9 1.11 1.12
GB/FB 1.02 1.04
Contact Rate 76.9% 75.2%
1st Pitch Strikes 61.6% 60.7%
FIP 3.72 3.72
tRA 4.63 4.51

Well look at that, everything’s practically identical!

So why was Hamels’ ERA nearly a run and a quarter higher this year than last? Well, most of it has to do with a unluckiness. His BABIP was 55 pts higher this year, and he stranded about 4% fewer runners as well. More balls dropping in means more runs cross the plate, it’s that simple. The Phillies as a team went from a +14.8 UZR/150 to just +5.8 this year, so Hamels was working with a lesser defense. The peripherals indicate that the lefty from San Diego who was drafted one spot after Nick Swisher in 2002 is still a world class pitcher.

After all that, why does it appear that the Phillies will push Hamels back to Game Three instead of getting him out there as early as possible? Well, Hamels was considerably worse on the road this year, so they probably want him pitching in the comfort of home. Just check out the splits. At home he’s Yovani Gallardo, on the road he’s Mike Pelfrey.

Hamels has made three starts already this postseason, one against Colorado and two against the Dodgers. Opponents have tagged him for a .328-.344-.672 batting line in 14.2 IP, and the damage is pretty spread out. It’s not like one clunker did him in. Ironically enough, the best of those three starts came on the road. Go figure.

Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ
Both Blanton and Happ have made one start each for the Phillies this postseason; Blanton was on the hook for the loss in Game Four of the NLCS until Jimmy Rollins walked off, and Happ lasted just three innings in Game Three of the NLDS. Blanton’s made a pair of long relief appearances this postseason, and Happ’s done the LOOGY thing a few times.

Blanton, Swisher’s roommate in Oakland, has made four starts against the Bombers over the years, and they pretty much owned him: 20 runs in 22 IP and an .814 OPS against. Happ made one start in the Bronx earlier this year, holding the Matsui and Posada-less Yanks to two runs over six innings. Unless he’s needed in long relief at some point early in the series, I suspect Blanton would get a World Series start if needed. Happ hasn’t thrown more than 76 pitches in a month, and he just might not be physically up to making a start in the playoffs.

Outside of Cliff Lee, the Phillies don’t have a pitcher that they can count on for a quality start. None of the above guys feature above average velocity, and it’s been proven time and time again that power pitching wins in the playoffs. Sure, Hamels has a chance to be great, but he’s been mediocre in the playoffs and can’t be expected to shut down the best offense in the majors.

Pettitte: ‘I wasn’t real happy with the contract’

This probably comes as little surprise to Yankee fans, but Andy Pettitte, in an interview with the L.A. Times today expressed his displeasure with the way his off-season negotiations with the Yankees ended up last winter. The veteran lefty made it clear that he wanted to return to the Yanks, but Brian Cashman and the New York brass, concerned about Pettitte’s shoulder strength, offered him a low base salary with high incentives. Although Pettitte stands to earn nearly $10 million total this year, he felt slighted by the Yanks over the winter. He is, however, over it. “I think everybody knows I wasn’t real happy with the contract,” Pettitte said. “But I wanted to take it and come back here and have a chance to do this. It’s nice to have things work out the way you think they’re going to work out. This is what I was kind of hoping for.”

The Yankees and Pettitte will probably engage in a similar dance this off-season but with a few different assumptions. Pettitte has certainly earned himself a higher base salary for 2010, and I’m sure the Yankees will keep the door open for Number 46 if he wants to return. I wonder, though, if Pettitte might retire if the Yankees win the World Series. Five rings fills up a hand.