Andy Pettitte? Really?

If you were playing a baseball video game, and had a fantasy draft where you focused solely on pitching, your rotation might look something like:

CC Sabathia
Chien-Ming Wang
A.J. Burnett
Joba Chamberlain
Andy Pettitte

For the Yankees, that fantasy became a reality yesterday when Pettitte agreed to a one-year, incentive laden contract that will pay him a minimum of $5.5 million.

And that, obviously, is ignoring their lineup…which looks as though someone accidentally selected “American League All-Stars” instead of “New York Yankees.”

Pettitte went 14-14 with a 4.54 ERA in 33 starts last season, but he turns 37 this season and his .290 batting average against was the worst of his professional career.

So was signing him worth holding back the depth of pitching talent in the farm system for yet another season?

Consider the starters that will be without a big league job come April…

Phil Hughes
Ian Kennedy
Phil Coke
Alfredo Aceves
Jason Johnson
Dan Giese
Kei Igawa
Chase Wright
Eric Hacker
Christian Garcia
George Kontos
Humberto Sanchez
Alan Horne

Where do all of these guys go?  How many of them end up moving to the bullpen — some like Coke, Sanchez and Giese already have experience having done so — or starting at the minor league level.

Yankees fans have to ask themselves…what’s more important, Andy Pettitte getting 30 starts or Phil Hughes/Ian Kennedy/Phil Coke/Alfredo Aceves getting 30?

If the consensus is that Pettitte is little more than a placeholder, why not use one of your numerous starting pitching prospects in a meaningful role at the big league level instead of picking up garbage innings as a long man in the Bronx or spending another year in Trenton or Scranton?

And how long before some of these players start getting frustrated with having to repeat levels of the minors?

Things are looking great at the big league level, and the minor leagues certainly look stacked as well.  But at what cost?

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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21 Responses to “Andy Pettitte? Really?”

  1. Rob Says:

    Is this post serious? “At what cost?” The purpose of a professional sports team is to win games. Doesn’t having Pettitte slide into the #5 slot give us the best chance to do that as often as possible next year?

    Especially when you factor in inevitable injuries and innings limits, can you really argue we have too many starters? How many guys started for us last year? Thirteen by my quick count. How many innings will they let Joba pitch next year? Well if they go by the rule of only adding 30 per year, 130 or so. Point is, there will be opportunities for guys to step up.

    We tried the plan of penciling in too may guys from the minors last year into the Bronx starting rotation without enough other guys competing for the same spots. The result was 15 starts by Sidney Ponson. I don’t think anyone thinks that worked out the way we wanted.

    There are some really good pitchers on the list you put together. Some will probably play a big role for the major league club next year in a variety of roles, maybe even including starting. Some will spend the year in the minors, and some may get traded to help the club in other areas. That’s the way it should be.

    If this is a “problem,” it is a heck of a problem to have.

  2. T-H-H Says:

    I for one still believe in Hughes, and somewhat in Kennedy and I’d like to see one of them filling the #5 slot, move Andy to #4 and put Joba in the pen. Right now, who’s going to pitch the 8th inning? The end is nearing for Mariano, and when the time comes Joba will be there. I don’t think. off of last year, that Joba will be very effective as a starter.

  3. tdevils Says:

    Pettitte was average at best last year, that’s my point. Hard for me to justify him taking up a spot and pretty much knowing you’re going to get a so-so season when you still don’t really know what you have Hughes, Kennedy and the like. So to answer your initial question…no, I’m not so sure that Pettitte in the 4 or 5 slot gives you the best chance to win every day. He’s coming off an “eh” season and isn’t getting any younger.

  4. thunderbaseball Says:

    Yes, I switch between user names depending on which blog I’m logged into…

    Anyway, I would encourage everyone to check out the discussion on Chad Jennings blog as well: http://community.thetimes-tribune.com/blogs/yankees/archive/2009/01/26/minor-league-impact-of-pettitte-s-major-league-contract.aspx

  5. yanksince57-was this 1959 or is it 1965? Says:

    the glut of prospects will be diminished by the end of st when the yankees trade for a real cf and a better utility player.

  6. howie Says:

    “Holding back the depth another year”? The Yanks tried pushing Hughes and Kennedy too hard last year and it backfired. We need patience: one more year of Andy, then bring up Hughes, maybe let IPK rebuild value and trade him if there isn’t a spot for him.

    Those other guys aren’t really big league starting caliber or anywhere close to it yet.

  7. Inside the Pettitte incentives | River Avenue Blues Says:

    […] speaking of the kids, Mike Ashmore offers up a dissenting opinion on the Pettitte signing. Noting the ever-increasing number of young arms in the Yankee system, […]

  8. David Says:

    I agree with the post that suggests putting Joba Chamberlain in the bullpen as the 8th inning set up role. He would eventually be the closer when Mariano retires. Then the fifth spot could be given to a youngster like Phil Hughes.

  9. ebyanks Says:

    Who will Yanks be dropping from 40 man roster to add Pettitte???

  10. JeetMack-Clutch Says:

    I was for moving on from Pettitte and letting Joba/Hughes/IPK/Aceves/etc take on 2 rotation spots.

    No way does Joba go back to the pen. we are very strong there. Mariano Rivera, marte, bruney, veras, edwar, robertson, maybe coke, melancon, Albaladejo, sanchez, cox. not in that order

    Is another year in AAA going to be that bad for Phil or Ian? assuming Alfredo’s services are used for LR and spotStarting. Phil has had ~60? innings at swb and i think Ian has had less. It’s not like they can’t learn anymore or work on their pitches in a low stress (theoretically) environment

  11. Emac2 Says:

    Good call Ash.

    It was another bad move made unavoidable by fans living in the past.

    The team counted on the kids too much last year and probably did jump the gun a bit but they jumped the gun by a few months….not by 2 years!

    I would rather have the potential upside of the kids than the assured mediocraty of a 37 year old pitcher who is clearly either done now or will be very shortly.

  12. steve Says:

    THE YANKEES ARE NOT PUTTING JOBA IN THE BULLPEN.

    repeat

    THE YANKEES ARE NOT PUTTING JOBA IN THE BULLPEN.

    because that would be STUPID.

    let it go people.

  13. steve Says:

    also, you kindof stacked the deck to make your point here. NONE of the following guys are legitimate options to start for the big league team in 2009:

    Jason Johnson
    Kei Igawa
    Chase Wright
    Eric Hacker
    Christian Garcia
    George Kontos
    Humberto Sanchez
    Alan Horne

  14. Pettitte and the Kids | The Yankee Universe Says:

    […] only took so long due to haggling over price. Mike Ashmore, the Trenton Thunder blogger, stands a a voice of dissent among all the kudos being passed around over the signing: So was signing him worth holding back the […]

  15. thunderbaseball Says:

    Steve…I would say of the eight guys you listed, I’d say at least three of them have legitimate chances to make a big league start.

    Kei Igawa — which I believe roughly translates to gigantic waste of money — wasn’t signed to achieve minor league accolades. I think everyone could see him getting another chance.

    Jason Johnson, he of the 44 games under .500 record, could get a chance.

    And then perhaps one of the 40-man guys I listed…

    I’m thinking more spot starts, but still…those guys would have to be in the picture.

  16. ebyanks Says:

    Mike,

    Who will be taken off the 40 man roster???

  17. ebyanks Says:

    CHASE WRIGHT WAS TAKEN OFF THE 40 MAN ROSTER TODAY!

  18. cbconnolly Says:

    While I can see this move frustrating some guys, it isn’t like one year of Andy being a placeholder is an awful idea. While I think the world of Phil Hughes, he doesn’t have enough time under his belt to be in the majors full time. Under normal circumstances, he wouldn’t have even sniffed AAA until this season. Same with Kennedy.

  19. Kevin Says:

    Big signing, it allows Joba to be the fifth starter thus saving his arm. No brainer in my opinion. Regarding the idea of “garbage innings” swing-man roles, Earl Weaver in his book “On Strategy” claimed that the swing-man role was the best way to bring along good minor leauge talent that’s close to being major leauge ready (whew). And if the Yanks make the play-offs having Phil Hughes or Andy Pettite coming on in a long relief situation could be BIG.

  20. Thunderstruck Says:

    I would rather have Hughes than ‘Roid Boy. I think “Roid Boy is average at best and showed last year that he is slipping and will only get worse. I would give a prospect a shot at the #5 spot and develop them.

  21. nyyfaninlaaland Says:

    I wonder what all those commenting above on Pettitte’s being average thought Mussina’s chances of contributing in 2008 were heading into that season.

    I’m not saying Andy’s going to win 20 games, but I’m also not saying he can’t. He’s still capable of giving NY 200 decent to good innings from the 4th starter spot. And his track record suggests he’s likely to deliver 200. More importantly, he provides NY with rotation depth. And anyone not recognizing the importance of that wasn’t paying attention last season, or any of the last 4 – in which NY has never had more than 3 starters deliver even 150 IP. The last time NY got out of the 1st playoff round is also the last time they had at least 4 guys provide that many IP. They have had less than 8 starters get at least 2 starts only once from 2000 on, and at least 10 do so 6 X in those 9 years. So the AAA guys are likely to get some work – pitchers do tend to get hurt.

    And let’s drop the “Roid Boy” crap.

    Pettitte copped to TWICE using HGH – which isn’t a steroid, and isn’t used by players to improve performance, but because it’s thought to aid in the healing process or increase connective tissue strength to hopefully avoid injury. Usage is both illegal and unsubstantiated for actual effect so I’m not condoning Andy’s behavior at all – seems more stupid (and perhaps related to feedback from his best buddy Clemens) than anything.

    I’m also aware he could have used it more than twice – 2 single injections at discreet timeframes would seemingly have limited impact for any likely theoretical or actual therapeutic effect. Again, stupid.

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