Tempered Enthusiasm for Pettitte’s Return

I was on the road to NYC for a Knicks game March 16th when I heard the shocking news about Andy Pettitte’s return. I was listening to Joe and Evan on WFAN and they had Sweeny Murti on at the time. Evan saw on Jack Curry’s twitter account that the Pettitte was coming back and he was so surprised he had to make sure it was Jack Curry’s actual account.  That is how surprised I was as well. Growing up Pettitte was one of my favorite Yankees and will always treasure the moments he gave the Yankees. From out dueling John Smoltz in Game 5 of the 1996 World Series to winning every clinching game in the 2009 playoffs and everything in between Pettitte has been one of the best clutch players in Yankees history. His #46 should and will eventually go to Monument Park.  He should and will receive Hall Of Fame considerations. While I would love to see him do it again there can be negatives that result from his comeback.

It is very hard for GM’s in sports to make decisions when feelings and sentiment are a big part of it. I am a huge Green Bay Packers fan and they had an issue a few years back that can relate to this Pettite comeback. Legendary Packers QB Brett Favre retired following the 2007 season in which he lead the Packers to the NFC Championship Game. So much like Pettitte he retired with something left. He wanted to return to the Packers during training camp in 2008.  However, the Packers were ready to move on with Aaron Rodgers and Packers GM Ted Thompson had a difficult decision to make. Ultimately, he told Favre the Packers had moved on and he traded him. Rodgers lead the Packers to a championship in 2010 so the move was successful.  The point is GM’s have to make decisions without sentiment like Thompson did with Favre. Thompson was hated on hugely in the aftermath by fans including me. I could not understand how Thompson could do that to Favre, but the Packers won long term. Also, Favre was a lot bigger in Green Bay than even Andy is here in New York.  Now would I want to be the one to tell Andy Pettite no? Goodness no, but the job of the GM is to make those tough calls. I am not suggesting they should have told him no since the risk is minimal in terms of money. However, maybe guaranteeing him a spot like they did was not the wisest idea. There is no reason with the depth of this Yankees pitching staff that he should not have to earn it.

If Pettitte can repeat his 2010 season obviously this move would be a no brainier for the Yankees to insert him right in. Pettitte was 11-3, with a 3.28 ERA, and a 1.27 WHIP. He showed he does not need top velocity to pitch effectively. Pettite commanded his fastball, mixed his pitches, and had a really awesome cutter. He also will provide great leadership and experience to the Yankees that is always needed. The main issue is obvious. The Yankees have 7 pitchers for 5 spots. CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, and Pettitte when he comes back are locks. That leaves Michael Pineda, Phil Hughes, Freddy Garcia Ivan Nova to battle it out for 2 spots. They also have great depth at Triple A including David Phelps, Adam Warren, D.J. Mitchell, Manny Banuelos, and Delin Betances.

This is a great issue to have in the short term. You can never have enough pitching. I think Garcia is a long shot with Hughes looking outstanding this spring and Pineda and Nova have improved of late. Hughes looks like the Hughes of the first half of 2010 thus far in spring training. Pineda and Nova are coming off very solid years last season. If they moved Hughes to the bullpen again it would pretty much be like Joba Chamberlain all over again. My feeling is the more a team goes back to its past the more it prevents the future. Pettite taking a spot from Pineda, Nova, or Hughes is not good for the Yankees long term. If they win a championship this year with Pettitte producing than that’s great. However, if they do not what did you get out of one of those young guys not pitching in the rotation? They could also easily win a title with Pineda, Nova, and Hughes all being in the rotation this year. Chances are somebody will get hurt, or will be ineffective and inserting Pettitte will be an easy move. But, what if everybody is healthy and pitching well? With Pettitte scheduled to be ready sometime in May the pressure will be on for Nova, Hughes, and Pineda to produce or risk being removed form the rotation. That will either motivate them to pitch well or they could crumble under the pressure after a bad start or two. It is easy to see the media creating a firestorm out of this that the Yankees do not need.

The other obvious question is with Pettitte approaching 40 and having a year off how effective will he be? You also have to wonder if he can keep healthy as he was injured in 2010. It is impossible to tell really since nobody has seen him pitch yet. If it is not going well how hard will it be for Girardi to pull an icon like him from the rotation? The handling of Jorge Posada became a circus last year and the Yankees don’t need that again. However, I think Pettitte would handle it much better than Posada did.

Hopefully in this situation the positives outweigh the negatives. Like I said chances are there will be an injury or somebody will pitch ineffectively and Pettitte will be able to slide right in. There is no guarantee of that though. I am looking forward greatly to seeing Andy pitch again. The competitive look in his eyes behind his glove is like nobody else. There is no other pitcher who is more fun to get behind than Pettitte when he gets those juices flowing. However, what if Pineda, Hughes, or Nova is the Aaron Rodgers to Andy Pettitte? Remember the more you go back to the past the more you prevent your future.

About Matthew B

I am a student at William Paterson University and studying to become a sportswriter. I have a huge passion for the Yankees and love sharing my opinions on them. I can analyze every aspect of the Yankees very well. I am very active on Twitter so feel free to contact me there Twitter: @RAYROBERT9

Posted on March 26, 2012, in Personal Opinion, Player Analysis and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. nice article Matthew. I hope Pettitte has enough left in the tank to have a great year this year.

  2. Great article Matt, my feelings exactly. I’m as big a Pettitte fan as you’ll find, and I’m overjoyed to have him back. But realistically, this does create a problem as you said that isn’t beneficial for the long run, and could affect them negatively this very season.

    Why should Pineda, Hughes, or Nova be ousted to the bullpen or sent down because a 40-year old wanted his job back? Though it is Andy, and though Yankee fans and the team itself loves him, moving either of those three young arms to the bullpen can screw up the rotation and their careers, a la Joba Chamberlain.

    And we can’t keep hoping or anticipating an injury. Granted, it does happen to every team, but what if, and I’m saying IF, everyone is preforming well and the Yankees come out firing in April? You can’t just shake things up and put Pettitte in if the team is 15-5 or we. and everyone is doing well.

  3. Agree guys. Like I said he should not have been guaranteed a spot

  4. I don’t agree with a thing Cashman has done in a long time. This is just another instance.

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