According to the Daily News, Brian Cashman has said Andy Pettitte will not be playing at the start of the 2011 season. I've been trying to give Andy the benefit of the doubt, but he's start to remind me of Brett Favre.
I know how hard it is to walk away from a sport, I had to do it in college, so I can hardly fathom how it is for someone who has played more than 30 years.
However, when it is a situation like a professional sport, where it is a job, decisiveness is a necessity. Whether the Yankees will admit it or not, they are in a stranglehold due to Andy not being sure if he wants to come back.
How much time will they give him before they say we don't want you back? What happens if a rotation of CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett, Ivan Nova, and a prospect actually clicks? I know it isn't the likliest scenario, but you never know. What if it's the opposite and the young guys don't work? Will they call Andy offering everything but the kitchen sink to drag him back on the field?
In the meantime, they'll be looking for Pettitte's replacement, whether it is short-term or long-term, who will they pick? Lately, there has been a lot of buzz over Justin Duchscherer. Justin is 33, and hasn't pitched much over the past two years after being an All-Star in 2008. 28 innings to be exact, not a good sign. He's another one of those players the Yankees could take a gamble on, because it's a small risk and a high reward. We've already seen them take a few chances like that this off-season so far (Scott Proctor, Russell Martin).
Who Will Fill the 5th Starter Spot?
A safer bet, and obviously cheaper, is to stay in the system. A lot has been said about Dellin Betances, Andrew Brackman, Hector Noesi and Manny Banuelos. These kids are all said to be either major-league ready, or close to it, and it is pretty likely any of them could have a shot at the 5th spot. Although it is more likely Brackman or Banuelos come up first.
With all of this young talent, the Yankees could fill out a rotation, and potentially bolster the bullpen a little more if more than one player is ready to make the move up. Any players who aren't ready could be sent back down, or used as trade pieces if Cashman feels the Yankees need to add some more talent from outside.
Sure, I'd be sad to see Pettitte leave, he's had a great career in New York, and he's been one of my favorite pitchers to watch since I was a little kid, but I'm looking forward to seeing some of this young talent come through. The Yankee farm system has made a resurgence over the past several years, and this can be the season where we really see first-hand just how good it really is.