ANDY PETTITTE has made it clear that if he pitches again in 2009, it will only be for the New York Yankees. Well, Andy, thanks for everything and have a happy retirement.
That should be the message from general manager Brian Cashman. Yet the vibes coming out of the Bronx are that it won’t be.
Pettitte wants to pitch in the New Yankee Stadium and, apparently, the Yanks want him back. “They have pretty much already told me they’d like to have me back,” he said.
Pettitte will go down in Yankee folklore. He will forever be remembered as the last starting (and winning) pitcher at Yankee Stadium. He recorded his 2,000th career strikeout in the second inning of that game against the Baltimore Orioles.
But this is no time for sentiment. The statistics point against bringing Pettitte back for one more season, especially if it’s at a cost of $16 million – the amount he earned this year.
Pettitte, who has been shut down by a shoulder injury that he claims has hampered him for the past two months, has failed to finish with a winning record for the first time in his illustrious career – a career that began with the Yankees on April 29, 1995.
He has gone 4-7 since the All Star break for an overall record of 14-14 and an ERA of 4.54. Only once has his ERA been higher (4.70 in 1999).
Re-signing veteran lefty would be a mistake
The Yanks are no doubt thinking that a healthy Pettitte can do a Mike Mussina and have a bounce-back year in 2009.
At 36, he’s three years younger than Mussina. But his style of pitching is vastly different. His velocity has dropped and he seems to have lost the knack he once had of getting key hitters out at key moments.
‘Big Game’ Andy lost his aura of invincibility this season – and four games in a row in August and September to Toronto, Boston, Seattle and Los Angeles.
Cashman and the Yanks have some tough decisions to make in the next few months.
After the Yanks failed to qualify for the post-season for the first time since 1993, they can’t let their hearts rule their heads.
Girardi has a soft spot for Pettitte; most Yankees fans do too. Good starting pitchers are at a premium and with their gamble on Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy backfiring, the Yanks will no doubt err on the side of experience this time.
They probably believe that Pettitte can do a good job as a No. 4 or No. 5 starter. Girardi and Co. would do well to remember that a new broom sweeps clean.