Andy Pettitte will reportedly announce on Friday his decision to retire from baseball. This news may come as a shock and a disappointment to Yankees fans after the team was unable to find a strong replacement for Pettitte this offseason.
With a starting pitching rotation consisting of CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett and most likely two of the following five (Ivan Nova, Sergio Mitre, Freddy Garcia, Mark Prior and Bartolo Colon), New York was definitely hoping for a different decision from Pettitte.
Pettitte is not overly old. At 38 years of age, he proved last season that he still has quality baseball left in him and has the potential to deliver when needed. While a groin injury derailed his season last year, he should be healthy and could have been ready for spring training, which happens to be two weeks away.
At the age of 37, Pettitte may have surprised some people last season with his huge start out of the gates. In just 21 starts before injuring his groin, Pettitte compiled a record of 11-3 with a 3.28 ERA. The Yankees have a strong offense behind their pitchers, and Pettitte was definitely able to reproduce those numbers if he decided to come back in 2011.
Over 16 big league seasons, Pettitte has put together an impressive record of 240-138 between his time with the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros. Pettitte can only look to improve those numbers to help build his case for the Hall of Fame. If Pettitte comes back to the team in late July or early August, we can expect him to make about 10-15 starts with the team in 2011.
If he comes out and performs like he did out of the gates in 2010, Pettitte could win anywhere from 5-10 games for the Yankees. While this may not make a huge HOF impact for him, it could lead to a return in 2012. Never know with athletes these days.
If he comes back to the MLB this season, it will most likely be with the Yankees. If the unproven pitchers such as Nova and Mitre do not perform as well as New York is hoping for, then they could be willing to dish out a large paycheck to Pettitte to get him to come back. It's always hard to turn down cold, hard cash.
OK, so New York picked up Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia and Mark Prior this offseason. Look out Boston, Baltimore and Tampa, they're coming for you now. Let's face it, New York had a disappointing offseason so far. The moves they were able to make did not all make sense for the team. Three over-the-hill All-Stars and another closer are not going to help the team make a run in the playoffs. The Yankees' best-chance pickup could be Colon.
Colon is looking to make a comeback in the majors. As a former Cy-Young winner, Colon could surprise a lot of people out of spring training and could make the opening day roster for New York. As far as Prior and Garcia go however, they will probably be in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for the year.
This thin pitching rotation will not carry the team deep into the playoffs. Pettitte could be the difference maker to pick the team up late in the season.
With his "retirement", Pettitte has the chance to spend more time at home and working out on his own without the travels and the strain of a long MLB season. This means more time for Pettitte to throw on his own, more time to rest, more time with family. It's a win-win situation for both parties. The Yankees will not have to stress over a midseason trade, and Pettitte will be able to come in fresh and contribute for a smaller amount of time.
Roger Clemens joined the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees midway through the season in 2006 and 2007, respectively. In those two combined seasons, Clemens made 36 starts, compiled a record of 13-12 and struck out 170 hitters. Should Pettitte choose to take this route, watch for him to better the numbers that Clemens was able to produce when he came back mid season.
Is spring training a waste of time for Andy Pettitte? Yes and no. Spring training is mostly meant for young guys to sharpen their skills while working out with experienced veterans. It is also a "tryout" to fill empty roster spots. If Pettitte plays, we all know he is on the team.
So rather than tacking on nearly two months to Pettitte's work schedule, why not stay at home, work out on his own, spend time with his family and stay happy? Pettitte does not need to be at spring training but if he would join the team now, he would be required to attend spring training.
Pettitte has made 42 career postseason starts with the Yankees and Astros. In those starts, Pettitte is 19-10 with 173 strikeouts. Bottom line, he can be a turning point in any postseason series. In 2009 Pettitte won two key games against Philadelphia to help secure the World Series title for New York. The Yankees will need a spark like Pettitte come playoff time (and yes they will be in the playoffs). Pettitte not only brings experience, but the ability and composure to pick up big wins when needed.
Let's face it, the man still has it. Winning 11 of your first 21 starts doesn't just happen by luck. Pettitte was on track to win over 20 games last season before suffering a nagging groin injury. If he could win 11 last year, imagine how many he can win down the stretch in relatively the same number of starts this year?
While other pitchers around the league are starting to wear down and run off of reserve tanks and crowd energy, Pettitte will be coming out fresh, energized and ready to go. There is no doubt that Pettitte can come back midseason this year and mow down hitters just like he has in the past.
Do not be surprised to see Pettitte back in the pinstripes before the season is over.