Goodbye Andy

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Well, Andy Pettitte is going to be a Houston Astro.  Frankly I am surprised and not just because I thought the Yankees would resign him, but because of what this means for him.

 

First off, for the Yankees, this leaves a hole in the rotation.  The Yankees just pulled off a great trade for Javier Vasquez (Yes, I liked Nick Johnson, but 27 year old power pitchers are hard to come by.) to replace Roger Clemens and now they need to replace Andy Pettitte.  Doesn’t make a lot of sense.  Perhaps they could have been more aggressive in their pursuit of Pettitte and things wouldn’t have gotten to this.  Apparently, they did ultimately offer thirty-nine million, but that was not enough to get things done. Why did the Yankees drag their feet on this? 

 

Well, I suspect two reasons and I am surprised that the media hasn’t focused on these issues more.

 

  1. Yes, Pettitte has been a solid performer for the past nine years for the Yankees, but he is not the ace of the staff and never would be.  Mike Mussina is an ace pitcher, Andy Pettitte is a good guy to have in the middle of the rotation, but a team with playoff aspirations would be in trouble with him in the front of it.  Look at his career numbers compared to Mussina or Pedro or Randy Johnson.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked Pettitte and wish he was still a Yankee, but he is not an ace.

 

  1. The media is infatuated with the idea that Pettitte is a great post-season pitcher.  Fact is, he has pitched some amazing games, Game Five 1996 World Series for example, but he has also pitched some real clunkers, Game Six 2001 World Series.  He was brilliant in the 2003 World Series, but it is a stretch to compare him to Orel Hershiser. 

 

And for Pettitte this move makes me scratch my head.  Yes, going home is important, but Pettitte may be overlooking a few important things.

 

  1. The Yankees have scored a tremendous amount of runs for Pettitte in his career.  Last year he was second in the American League in run support per start with 7.04 runs scored for him.  Wad Miller was the Astros leader with 5.48.  So, it is probably safe to assume that Pettitte have as many runs scored for him this year as he did last.

 

  1. Minute Made Park is not overly friendly to pitchers.  It was 8% easier to score a run there compared to the rest of the National League Parks.  (Yankee Stadium was 6% harder than the American League Parks)  Couple this with the fact that Pettitte has a better ERA at Yankee Stadium than on the road, and you can assume that Pettitte may give up a few more runs next year.

 

  1. Why should this matter?  Because, if Pettitte had stayed in New York and pitched as he has the past nine years he would project to win around 17-18 games a year.  (He wins an average of 53.9% of the starts he makes and starts around 33 games a year)  In three years, that would bring his career win total to 200 games and he would still be only 34 years old.  From that point, he might be able to get close to 250 wins and with that, he might have a chance at the Hall of Fame.  I think his win totals will decrease and his ERA will increase now. 

 

  1. Lastly, Pettitte is not a spotlight guy.  He doesn’t come out and say brash things and look for media attention.  Houston is expecting a savior to walk in the door and I would argue that there might be more pressure on him in that role than there would have been in continuing to be a quiet star on the New York stage.

 

I hope Andy does better than I think he will and I thank him for a great nine years. We will miss him.

 

So, with Andy gone, who fills his shoes?  Rumor has it some sort of trade involving Kevin Brown for Jeff Weaver.  If Brown is healthy, that gives the Yankees a very dangerous Big Three and gets rid of a problem in Jeff Weaver.  If they can, I hope they do it.  That would mean that they have replaced Clemens and Pettitte with Brown and Vasquez.  To me, that is an improvement. 

 

Wells is supposedly coming back with weight and conditioning clauses in his contract.  If he were healthy, he would be a good fifth starter, though I am still angry with him for Game Five of the World Series.

 

Something tells me the Yankees might go after Kevin Millwood now.  Interesting thing about Millwood, he and Pettitte have exactly the same number of win shares since 1998- 77 for each of them. 

 

I really can’t figure out what Gary Sheffield is thinking.  Steinbrenner is already volatile enough; I don’t think he will take kindly to this turn of events.  That is too bad; Sheff would be a great addition to the lineup.  The only other Right Fielder who I would rather have is Vlad Guerrero. 

 

Rumor has it Kenny Lofton might be Yankee bound as well.  Lofton would be a good fit as a leadoff hitter, but would we get the guy who hit .327 in Chicago or .277 in Pittsburgh?  He could be a great option against right handed pitching.  Maybe a DH platoon of Lofton and Spezio?

 

This is a somewhat sad day considering we lost a member of the Yankee family, but I am sure the Yankees will continue to retool and their bullpen looks really good for 2004.

 

Peter can be reached at pete@yankeesredsox.com