Andy Pettitte Returns: Would Jesus Montero Still Be a Yankee If He Never Left?

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Andy Pettitte Returns: Would Jesus Montero Still Be a Yankee If He Never Left?
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
It wasn't long ago that Andy Pettitte announced his retirement.

Andy Pettitte is one of the most popular players of the Joe Torre era that netted the Yankee franchise four World Series rings and six trips to the October classic. 

His return was met with far more excitement than skepticism; after all, Pettitte won't be 40 until June and even though he hasn't pitched since 2010, he managed to amass an 11-3 record and a 3.28 ERA in what was assumed to be his final season as a major league pitcher. 

Of course, all that changed yesterday when it was announced that Pettitte was returning to New York to don pinstripes and give it another go. 

It's safe to assume that nearly every Yankee fan will be rooting for Pettitte's success. One has to wonder if when Pettitte's people contacted the Yankees, someone in the Yankee front office said to themselves, "Thanks a lot, Andy; you couldn't have let us know about this three months ago?"

That's because in the last three months, the Yankees have made some major moves that one would have to think might not have happened had the team known that Andy Pettitte was thinking about returning. 

Rob Tringali/Getty Images
Jesus Montero has looked impressive this spring for Seattle.

The most significant of those moves was the trade made back in December in which the Yankees sent Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos. 

It was a major trade in Yankee-land because Montero was arguably the best offensive Yankee prospect since the turn of the century. They got a pretty good player in return as well by acquiring Michael Pineda from the Mariners. Pineda was coming off a fantastic rookie season in which he made the All-Star team and finished fifth in the Rookie of the Year voting. 

The problem is that while Montero has amassed an OPS of .936 along with a home run and a .304 batting average this spring, Pineda has been hampered by a drop in velocity, which has people speculating that he could start the season in the minors. Those struggles coupled with some weight issues had people speculating about him starting the season in the minors before Andy Pettitte even announced his return.

Had the Yankees been aware of Pettitte's potential return, it's worth wondering if that trade of Montero for Pineda ever would have happened in the first place? Maybe the Yanks wouldn't have signed Hiroki Kuroda, or maybe Raul Ibanez would be playing elsewhere since Montero's bat probably would have made the need to add a bat far less urgent to Yankee brass.

It's impossible to say for sure what would have happened had Pettitte voiced his thoughts about a potential return to pinstripes a few months ago.

One has to assume that Pettitte has returned to the Yankees both to satisfy his own individual competitive desires as well as to return the Yankees to glory in October, but his team might have been in a better position to do that had Pettitte been a little more forthcoming in his decision-making process a few months ago.

Regardless of how effective and what type of impact Pettitte will have on this year's Yankee team, his timing may have had a major impact on the team's fortunes going forward. Montero could be a major offensive star; the Yankees resisted numerous offers to deal him for years in hopes that they could find other ways to fill out their rotation while retaining Montero. Once it became apparent that they could not, they pulled the trigger on the deal for Pineda.

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Michael Pineda had a great 2011 debut but has had a rough spring in 2012.

MIchael Pineda may bounce back from his shaky spring and have a great season, or he could struggle this season and still go on to have a great career. If that's the case, then the Yankees won't think twice about having made the deal, but if Pineda struggles and if Montero continues to show off his offensive abilities, then not only will the Yankees have made a bad trade, but it's one they might not have had to make in the first place.  

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