Andy Pettitte: Yankees Not as Foolish as They Look with Pettitte Signing

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterMarch 16, 2012

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 18:  Andy Pettitte #46 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Texas Rangers in Game Three of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium on October 18, 2010 in New York, New York.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Something odd happened a few hours ago: Andy Pettitte started trending on Twitter.

The reason Pettitte was trending, as I and everyone else soon discovered, was because of this report from Jack Curry of the YES Network:

The Yankees have signed Andy Pettitte to a 1-year minor league deal worth $2.5 million. The team is thrilled to have 240-game winner back.

— Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) March 16, 2012

The phrase "out of left field" comes to mind. Or maybe this is a case of the Yankees throwing hardball fans a proverbial curveball.

However you want to phrase it, it was an odd bit of news.

At first glance, I didn't like it one bit. It didn't look like a signing meant to bolster the Yankees' rotation depth. It looked like a Roger Clemens signing, one made for nostalgia purposes and little more.

But this is not to say that this signing looked like a disaster then, and it is not to say that it looks like a disaster now. On the contrary, it makes more and more sense the more I think about it. The Yankees have not made a foolish signing.

They've made a signing that is rather shrewd.

Pettitte at his retirement presser in 2011.
Pettitte at his retirement presser in 2011.Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Yankees can't lose with this signing. They have enough pitching depth to allow Pettitte to take his time getting ready, which would not have been the case had Pettitte chosen to re-up with the Yankees ahead of the 2011 season.

Pettitte can take his dear sweet time getting into pitching shape, and Curry noted on Twitter that the Yankees are indeed likely going to "advise" Pettitte to be in no hurry.

I'll put on my speculating hat and guess that Pettitte will be ready to roll sometime around May, roughly six weeks from now. That sounds like the right amount of time for him to shake off the rust and to build up his stamina.

By then, the Yankees should have a pretty good idea where the weaknesses in their rotation are. Despite all the good vibes surrounding their offseason pitching acquisitions, there are indeed some apparent weaknesses in their projected rotation.

Michael Pineda's sagging velocity is an issue.

Brian Cashman told the New York Daily News this past weekend that he's not sure what to make of it. The truth is nobody is quite sure what to make of it. Pineda will have a lot to prove once the season starts.

Phil Hughes
Phil HughesPatrick McDermott/Getty Images

There's also the issue of the No. 5 spot in this rotation, which is up for grabs between Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes. It's been reported that Hughes could start the season in the minors if he doesn't earn the job, and Garcia has been pushed back this spring because of a hand injury. The Star-Ledger has the latest on that.

It remains to be seen how the pieces are going to align heading into the 2012 season, but it's not hard to envision a scenario in which the back end of the rotation is the primary concern for the Yankees heading into May.

That's where Pettitte, conceivably, could step in and solve things. If he's still able to pitch like he did in 2010, he'll be a valuable asset.

If so, the Yankees would have an excuse to move Hughes or whoever into the bullpen, thus strengthening the pen while simultaneously strengthening the rotation. At that point, there would be cries of "Huzzah!" in the front office.

Better yet, the Yankees' wealth of pitching would open up a lot of doors at the trade deadline.

Sacrificing pitching depth at the deadline is always risky business, but the Yankees will have more pitching depth than any team in the bigs if Pettitte's return actually pans out. The Yankees wouldn't deal him, of course—though that would be pretty amazing—but one of the odd men out could easily be dealt.

For kicks, let's say the stars don't align in such a way. Let's say Pettitte's return ends up being a bust and the Yankees are forced to move forward with the starting pitchers they have.

If that's what ends up happening, Pettitte's signing will be no big deal.

The Yankees aren't paying him too much (not by traditional team standards, anyway), so what do they care if he ends up being unable to pitch? His presence in pinstripes is a luxury, not the necessity it would have been this time last year.

If this signing doesn't work out, the guys in the front office will merely shrug and move on. "It was worth a shot," they'll most likely say.

That will be the case then, and that's the case now.

The Yankees have signed Pettitte because he's worth a shot.

What the heck, right?

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