The New York Yankees were probably very disappointed this week to hear that Andy Pettitte has decided to retire instead of return for another season with the Bronx Bombers. Now heading into spring training this leaves two big holes in their starting rotation that will most likely be filled by either Ivan Nova, Sergio Mitre, Bartolo Colon or Freddy Garcia.
As the season progresses, the Yankees may start looking outside the organization to fill these pitcher spots if the pitchers struggle. One pitcher they may consider is Brett Myers of the Houston Astros. Myers had a strong year in 2010 for the Astros and was the best pitcher on that staff after Oswalt was traded. If the Astros start off slow and fall out of the race early, Brett Myers may be a player that they look to move in 2011 and the Yankees make sense to be a team that Myers ends up with.
Brett Myers struggled in his last couple of years with the Philadelphia Phillies bouncing between a starting role and the bullpen. He signed a one year deal with the Houston Astros as a free agent before the 2010 season and expectations were low in Houston.
Myers ended up finishing the season with a record of 14-8 with a 3.14 and 180 strikeouts, which was his best year since 2006. He had two complete games and averaged over six innings pitched per outing. If Myers pitches well again in the first part of the 2011 season and as a team the Astros struggles, Myers would be one of the players the team would try to move because his value will be the highest and doesn't fit with the team's long term plan.
Chris Johnson is one of the key pieces in rebuilding the Houston Astros
Halfway through last season, the Houston Astros decided to dive head first into the rebuilding process by trading away the team's two biggest stars in Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman. After those trades, they brought up a number of prospects to get them regular playing time like Chris Johnson, Jason Castro, J.A. Happ, and Brett Wallace.
If the Astros start to struggle in 2011, Brett Myers will be one of the players the Astros move because he doesn't fit into the team's long term plan. He will be 30 at the start of the season and most likely will have his best years in the next two to three years. It would benefit the Astros to trade Myers for prospects now who could be of value in the future then have an older pitcher waste good years on a rebuilding team and not be able to contribute when the Astros are competitive.
Brett Myers pitching at Yankees Stadium in 2010
If the Astros are able to move Myers this will open playing time for another prospect and allow them to get major league experience. Depending on what players come to Houston in a trade for Myers the likeliest candidate to replace Myers would be pitcher Jordan Lyles.
Jordan Lyles will be 20 years old to start the 2011 season and spent the majority of last season in Double A where he posted a 7-9 record but had a 3.12 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 127 innings. He could benefit from another full year in the minors but if Myers is traded, the Astros could bring him up to see what Lyles can do at the major league level.
Another reason the Houston Astros may look to trade Brett Myers is to cut payroll and save some money. Last August, the Astros signed Brett Myers to a two year extension with a club option for a third year. If the third year is picked up the contract would total $28 million.
This is a reasonable contract for a player of Myers' caliber but the Astros really wanted to cut payroll they could package Carlos Lee with Brett Myers, who has two years and 37 million remaining on his six year, 100 million dollar contract that he signed in 2006.
However, it will come down to who has most of the leverage in July. If the Yankees are really struggling and the trade market for starting pitchers is very limited, the Astros could force Carlos Lee into a trade. If there are more sellers willing to trade starting pitchers as we get closer to the trade deadline or if Brett Myers is having a down year, it will be tougher for the Astros to include Lee.
I am sure there were a lot of people within the Yankee organization who believed that Andy Pettitte would return this season to pitch for them. The fact that the only starting pitchers signed this off season by New York has been veteran pitchers Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon it looks like they were pretty confident they only had to fill one spot in their starting rotation, not two.
The hole left by Pettitte's retirement cannot be measured in just a win loss record. He provided a veteran presence to that starting rotation. He is arguably one of the best post season pitchers ever and it will be hard to fill that void. Now Brett Myers is not near the same caliber of Andy Pettitte but he is a veteran pitcher who has post season experience and would be valuable at that back end of that rotation.
Brett Myers would provide some experience both as a starting pitcher and coming out of the bullpen. For the regular season, Myers could step into the fourth or fifth spot in the rotation behind CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, and AJ Burnett and be a veteran arm to strengthen the back end of the rotation.
He also has spent time as a relief pitcher during his time with the Phillies and actually pitched well out of the bullpen. In 2007 he went 5-7 with 21 saves for the Phillies and had a 4.33 ERA and 83 strikeouts in 68.2 innings of work. If the Yankees decided to shorten their rotation for the playoffs, Myers would be a pitcher that could make the transition to the bullpen and still be able to contribute.
Now that Andy Pettitte has retired, the Yankees will try and fill the finally two spots in the rotation with a combination of Ivan Nova, Sergio Mitre, Freddy Garcia or Bartolo Colon. The Yankees should have a good idea if they have two pitchers who can handle the responsibilities of a spot in the starting rotation by July.
Ivan Nova has very little starting pitcher experience, only starting seven games last year and Sergio Mitre has even less only starting three games last year and hasn't pitched a full season as a starter since 2007 with the Florida Marlins.
Bartolo Colon has only pitched 19 total games over the past three years and didn't pitch in the majors at all in 2010. Freddy Garcia was the only pitcher of the four who saw extensive time as a starting pitcher in 2010, pitching 28 games for the Chicago White Soxs and finishing with a 12-6 record.
I think Garcia is pretty much a lock to get one of the spots in the starting rotation but if by July none of the other three pitchers are able to step up, the Yankees will be in the market for a starting pitcher and Brett Myers makes sense as a possible target.
The size of the team's payroll or how much a player is owed has never seemed to be a stumbling block for the Yankees but Brett Myers actually has a reasonable contract. Brett Myers would be a cheaper option for the Yankees than the other options they were looking at this off-season between signing Cliff Lee or bringing Andy Pettitte back for one more year.
He signed a two year contract extension worth $21 million last August that includes a club option third year. This is a pretty good contract for a starting pitcher who looks like he can provide value to a team throughout the length of his contract and is coming off a strong season in 2010.
New York Yankees Get: SP Brett Myers
Houston Astros Get: SP Hector Noesi and SP D.J. Mitchell
When making trades it really comes down to who has the leverage in negotiating but I think this trade is fairly even for both teams. The Yankees get a veteran arm that can contribute in the starting rotation during the regular season. Then during the playoffs if AJ Burnett bounces back and proves to be a reliable starting pitcher, they can move Myers to the bullpen. The Yankees also have a number of strong pitching prospects and would be more willing to move pitchers who can not necessarily help them this season for a pitcher who can help now.
The Astros would want to do this trade because they get two more arms that they can add to their farm system that should be able to help in 2012 and beyond. At this point in the rebuilding process, it is important for the Astros to keep collecting as many prospects as they can.
New York Yankees Get: SP Brett Myers and OF/DH Carlos Lee
Houston Astros Get: SP Hector Noesi, SP DJ Mitchell and SS Cito Culver
Carlos Lee seems like a perfect fit for the Yankees to play the DH spot for them and he is due a lot of money the next two years. However, money has never been an issue with the New York Yankees before. He did have a down year in 2010 but he should have a bounce back year in 2011 and if he shows promise before July, this is a no brainer for the Yankees.
The Astros would also want to do this trade because it brings in more prospects for their farm system and they will cut a lot of payroll. Cito Culver is still a young prospect but he has a lot of potential and could contribute in a few years and step in for Clint Barmes.
This trade would make the future even brighter for the Houston Astros and they would be one step closer to getting out of the rebuilding process and moving towards a championship.