"Now Batting, for the New York Yankees, No. 25, the First Baseman, Mark Teixeira."
Well, Yankee fans, the Steinbrenners have done it once again; they have, for the third time this offseason, paid big bucks for a big-time player. CC Sabathia was first. Then A.J. Burnett, and now Mark Teixeira. Totalling over $423 million, the Yanks have not shied away from spending big money this offseason to improve the roster.
Yet, this writer feels there is still one piece missing to the puzzle: the last starting-rotation spot.
Alright, Mike Mussina had one of his finest years ever in '08, and he did a very admirable thing in retiring on the top of his game. Wang was out more then half the year, and still came in third on the staff with eight wins.
Andy won 14, and had a very subpar second half, which is very uncharacteristic of Pettitte, who usually finishes stronger in the second half. Add a few starts from Chamberlain, Hughes, Kennedy, Ponson, Pavano, Geise, Aceves...Did I miss anybody...And you have a very subpar starting rotation, to say the least, with the exception of Moose.
Skip ahead to the current look of the '09 starting rotation, you have: C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Chien-Ming Wang, Joba Chamberlain (of whom I think should still be in the 'pen, but I digress), and then an empty spot to be filled. This brings me to Andy Pettitte.
Andy is currently a free agent, who has decided he wants to pitch in 2009. At the end of the season, he stated that he would like to pitch in the New Yankee Stadium and as a member of the 2009 Yankees. So far this offseason, all he and the Yankee brass have said is that he wants to be a Yankee, and the team wants him back to fill that last spot.
After a very busy winter meetings, GM Brain Cashman took a detour flight to Andy's home, to start to work out a contract. An offer was made to Pettitte, one year, $10 million. Now, compared to his previous contract—one year, $16 million—it falls a little short.
With the instruction and persuasion of his agents, Andy has officially rejected the offer. As stated by his agents, a $6 million pay cut is too much for a 14-game winner. Andy won't budge and the Yankees won't budge...problems.
Here is my perspective of things.
When I think Andy Pettitte, I think Yankee. Even though he left for three years with Houston, I still viewed him as a Yankee, and was happy when he returned. He is no longer a top of the rotation starter, but he is a big game pitcher, and a lefty at that, with over 200 wins credited to his name.
Last year, Pettitte went 14-14, with over a 4.00 era, far from his normal standards he had previously set. Now, should the Yankees bump up there offer to him, or should they go there separate ways? I believe that the Yanks made a fair offer, but should not be so stingy, and bump it up just a bit eventually.
I wonder if Andy would take $12.5 million? Are the Yanks going to break the bank with another $2.5 million? They just spent over $400 mill! This is the last real void I see on the roster, but it is not a true "must" if you look at it.
Andy would be the idle choice to fill out the rotation, making it fierce, to say the least...on paper of course. Yet, is it so far-fetched to think that a Phil Hughes, or an Ian Kennedy, or even Alfredo Aceves can do the job at No. 5? I don't think so; they all, of course have a lot to prove before they get my trust again, but I believe one can do the job after competition in Spring Training.
So it really is not a "must" to have Pettitte back, but it would be nice to see him once again dawn the stripes, and set foot on the new mound across the street, like everyone, including himself, wants to see him do.
BOTTOM LINE: My prediction is that Andy Pettitte will once again be a Yankee, or he will just retire, or not play. The $10 million offer is not a bad one, but it might be low-balling just a bit for who and what Andy is, and what he has done for this organization.
Andy must accept some sort of pay cut; there is no question about it. The Yanks will not go for $16 million again, and I do not believe any other team will either. If I recall right, Paul O'Neill once turned down more money to stay with the Yanks, so why not Andy Pettitte play for a little less this year.
He is 36 years old and should still give you a solid 12-16 game winner at the end or middle of your rotation. Accept the $10 million, Andy, It is where you want to be. There are, unfortunately, very few players out there, along with agents, who would accept less money to be happy, but I think Andy just might.
Pettitte IS a Yankee, and should remain a Yankee. Both parties should come to an agreement somehow. Can't we all just work it out?