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What Andy Pettitte’s comeback means for the New York Yankees

Mar 16, 2012, 1:27 PM EDT

Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees Getty Images

Still reeling from the news that Andy Pettitte is coming back.  He sat in that press conference a little over a year ago and made a pretty convincing case that he was done.  I suppose they all do. And so many of them come back.

Which is fine. Because if you had the talent to do something that so many have described as the most magical wonderful experience in their lives — playing major league baseball — you’d hold on to it with all of your might.  So, no, there will not be any criticism of Andy Pettitte’s reversal from this quarter.  Good for him and God bless him.

So, with that out of the way, what does this all mean for the New York Yankees, who now have seven starting pitchers?

At first, probably nothing.  Pettitte is reported to have thrown some bullpens over the winter and he’s generally in shape, but it will take him a little time to get up to baseball speed.  He’ll likely take the rest of spring training to get back to major league shape and it would not be at all surprising to see him begin the year in extended spring training down in Tampa.

Oh, and after he gets in shape, one wonders if they’ll hold him beyond mid-to-late April. That’s when the Roger Clemens trial starts, and Pettitte is expected to be a witness.  Maybe no one with the Yankees cares about this, but I would think that it might be easier for all involved if he makes his big league return after that than before.

But when he does come back, who is the odd man out in New York?  My guess: Freddy Garcia.

At the moment, the fifth starter’s job is down to Garcia and Phil Hughes.  Hughes has worked from the pen before, however, and Garcia is just not suited for it according to most folks.  So the Yankees break camp with Garcia in the five slot and Hughes in relief.

But once Pettitte is ready, Garcia has no place. They could attempt to keep him around as a long man.  Or they could try to trade him. And assuming he gets one or two halfway decent starts under his belt before then, there may very well be a market for him.  But they could also simply DFA him and see if he’ll accept a trip to Scranton.  Doubtful he would, but worth a shot.

The upshot is that, assuming Pettitte is good to go, the rotation for most of the season should look like this:  Sabathia, Kuroda, Nova, Pineda and Pettitte, with Garcia finding new employment.

Oh, one final question: how will Andy Pettitte actually, you know, do?

I think he’ll do pretty well.  His last year, 2010, was his best since 2005.  His strikeout rate (7.0 per 9 IP) was higher than his career average. His hits per nine innings (8.6) was lower than his career norms too.  His walk rate was right where it always is at 2.9 BB per 9 IP.

Yes, he’s two years older and yes he’s coming off a layoff, but even if you adjust down for that, Pettitte figures to be no worse than an average starter, and likely somewhat above average.  Which is not a bad pickup for $2.5 million.

  1. yankeesfanlen - Mar 16, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    The most surprising thing about this surprising comeback is that it’s not surprising at all. He was no doubt within a whisker of it the second half of last year but could not bring himself to do it.
    Think of all the baserunners at first dying to get caught off the bag.
    Welcome back, Andy- you’re a better member of the “core four” than a couple of people I can think of.

    • hittfamily - Mar 16, 2012 at 2:17 PM

      So the “better” member of the core 4, is the only one who has broken federal law, and been caught for it. He is an admitted cheater, but only after he got caught. He cheats to prolong his career, while the “non better” don’t. Why is he better?
      Out of the “core 4”, Pettitte’s the only known liar, cheater, and criminal. But the reason he is a better member is ….

      ……..he is the only member who get’s to be Dove comfortable in his own skin, which happens to be white?

      • bigharold - Mar 16, 2012 at 3:32 PM

        Start celebrating St. Patrick’s day a bit early or are you always this obnoxious?

        Like drinking and driving boozing and blogging don’t mix.

      • hittfamily - Mar 16, 2012 at 3:52 PM

        What did I say that leads you to believe I have been drinking? Are there any other admitted performance enhancing drug abusing athletes getting nationally televised commercials? Did I miss the soap commercials with Manny, Barry, Rafael, Jose, or Arod? But Big Mac is in a position of authority. Giambi was voted by the writers as the comeback player of the year. Andy Pettitte is hired to go on TV and say he is comfortable in his skin. There is such a double standard, and much of it comes from the color of the players skin.

        Pettitte’s cheating is overlooked, and the “better member” comment displeased me. Out of the core 4, the one I don’t want my children to emulate is the “better member”.

      • bigharold - Mar 16, 2012 at 4:49 PM

        It wasn’t so much what you said it was the level of vehemence you put in your remarks. Aside from you completely ignoring the context Len’s known facetious whimsical distain for Jeter and Posada your response is a bit over the top with your sanctimonious rant about PEDs which really have nothing to do with the Len’s post or the subject of Pettitte’s return to the Yankees and the subsequent consequences. Also, your suggestion that the color of Pettite’s skin is a factor in this topic, .. Len’s post or PEDs in general is completely unfounded. At a minimum you’ve not made on coherent argument in support of your assertion other than to point to other players as some vague proof.

        So, I apologise. You aren’t drinking you’re just obnoxious. And, if you’ve an argument to make about PEDs, and or player’s skin color and how they are treated differently than I suggest you do a better job of explaining yourself rather than just make incendiary statements.

      • hittfamily - Mar 16, 2012 at 5:42 PM

        I hate PED abusers. I am a former player. I saw many inferior athletes become superior because of this shit. I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my morals, my integrity, and most importantly my health to stay ahead of cheaters. Andy Pettitte was. Some kid who should have gotten a full season’s paycheck got a half a seasons, because Andy Pettitte cheated and shortened his recovery time. I hate that minor leaguers haven’t filed suit against guys whose careers should have been over at 35, but they illegally injected another 4 years of health into their bodies.

        I like that these cheaters are ostracised, as they should be. Pettitte for some reason isn’t, and I do not understand why he gets a pass. If his name was Andres, instead of Andrew, he would not be welcomed back with open arms by baseball fans.

        ” Hooray, Andy Pettitte is back. He is a True Yankee. He is the greatest post season pitcher ever”

        It is so tiresome. For someone to say he is a better Yankee than a non cheater angered me.

      • damnyankee13 - Mar 16, 2012 at 7:20 PM

        So what? Are you just pissed that you are a below average player and just couldnt make the grade?
        Even Jesus said forgive and forget..

      • hittfamily - Mar 16, 2012 at 7:45 PM


        No. I was an average D1 player, but I played with guys who had to compete with cheaters to make a living.

      • bigharold - Mar 16, 2012 at 10:20 PM

        “It is so tiresome. For someone to say he is a better Yankee than a non cheater angered me.”

        Clearly you are still missing the point that Len’s remarks are in the context to his facetious disdain for Posada and Jeter nothing more.

        Since I’ve no reason to think otherwise, I’ll take it at face value your statement regarding your baseball pedigree.

        In fact the one point you raise about some players never getting to the big leagues or never realizing their full potential because of those who decided to take PEDs was an acceptable if not at least necessary practice regardless of its legality or moral correctness. To me that is probably the only truly disturbing part of what surely will eventually come to be known as the steroid era. But, to keep things in perspective there have always been aspects of “cheating” in baseball that weren’t fair either starting with amphetamines. If you’ve read nothing but Jim Bouton’s ball four you know that they were institutionalized in baseball going back to at least the 50s. Or, scuffing balls, hell Don “Black and Decker” Sutton was renowned for scuffing balls and he’s in the HOF despite his reputation. The Giants supposedly beat the Dodger’s in 54 by stealing signs from center field and corking bats goes back to the 20’s. Not to mention segregation that didn’t change until 47. This is just one more facet of a long history or cheating or gamesmen ship that has occurred during baseball’s history. In time PEDs will be viewed that way too.

        “I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my morals, my integrity, and most importantly my health to stay ahead of cheaters.”

        Yet at the same time you, and every other player in college, the minors and MLB choose to ignore the fact that PED use was not only happening but was rampant and growing. Frankly that undermines any moral superiority. It would not have been possible for PEDs to become widespread unless players looked the other way and to date not one has once made an issue out of it, .. not in college or the pros. I’m not even talking about outing players, nobody has so much gone public and admitted that it happened, still does and needs to be eradicated. Not a nobody toiling in AA or a mega star with a 7 year guaranteed contract. Players knew first and did nothing. Eventually the teams knew, the media then the fans. The teams the media and the fans could only speculate but the players KNEW, they had to because you can’t live and play baseball together and not know, .. yet they did nothing. You even state;

        “I saw many inferior athletes become superior because of this shit.”.

        I’m guessing you didn’t do a thing except get mad. I get it, .. nobody wants to be known as a rat but only the players could have stopped this before it became widespread and not one tried. So while you might be outraged I don’t think a single player has the right to complain or be morally outraged.

      • hittfamily - Mar 16, 2012 at 11:04 PM

        I have had many posts not show up on here today, and before I write a thoughtful response to your thoughtful post, I want to make sure it will actually be seen.

      • bigharold - Mar 16, 2012 at 11:05 PM

        “I have had many posts not show up on here today, and before I write a thoughtful response to your thoughtful post, I want to make sure it will actually be seen.”

        I can see it.

      • hittfamily - Mar 16, 2012 at 11:59 PM

        I unfairly accused racism. In my heart, that is what I read. 2 upstanding hispanic guys, 1 upstanding black guy, and the white guy who did all the things I previously stated he did, who is avoiding possible federal prosecution who is testifying against his friend. But the white guy is one of the better ones. I have been posting here for over a year, but was unaware of Lens disdain for 2 of the players. For that, I apologize to Len profusely.

        You are right in so many ways about your critique of my being negligent.

        I am aware of the “greenies” used in previous generations, and til about 7 years ago. I am aware of corked bats, scuffed balls, and spitballs. No college kid in the country can throw a splitter, which is the only thing “spit” is good for. We used aluminum bats, so you couldn’t cork them. Scuffed balls…by the 4th inning, all our balls were scuffed. We didn’t have the luxury of using a few dozen per game. So, to me, steroids / HGH are in a different league. No one I played with took HGH. Steroids were rampant. I played Florida community college ball in 2000, and 3 years at one of the big 3 Florida schools. Roids were rampant. At the community college, 40% of the guys did it. At the University, only 25% did them. I was complicit. I hated it, but no good could come of ratting out 10 guys on a 24 man roster. It wouldn’t have resulted in a drug test, or suspensions, or expulsions. I chastised the guys who did it, but it was like telling someone not to practice, or lift weights. It was accepted, but not wholeheartedly, and not by everyone. The coaches had to have known. Players were so open about it.

        Amphetamines…..mmmmhhhhh. I never took them. It wakes guys up. 3 mountain dews would have done the same thing. Lots of my classmates took Ridalin to stay awake to study for tests. Ultimately, it was cheating, but not like stealing an exam or banging the prof. Corked bat, scuffed ball, spitball, are all cheating, but you can get caught for them. When Belle and Sosa got caught with corked bats, that was when I realized Roids went beyond the college level. Here were 2 pro athletes cheating at the only way they could be caught. It was cheating, but guys could only do it every once in a while….a few pitches a game, a few at bats per week, or they would be caught and disciplined.

        Steroids was different. It was undetectable with no testing. It didn’t only help with home runs. If a guy can now hit a ball 470 ft instead of 450 ft, it doesn’t just mean he is a show stopper, or a massive bomber. It means his bat is faster. If a guy has to time a 93 mph fastball from 60 feet away, he has x seconds (I don’t know exact time. Let’s call it .33 seconds). If his bat speed is improved because he cheats and uses steroids/hgh, he now has x+y seconds to react. His bat speed improved. It allows him to sit back and wait on my pitch y hundredths of a second longer than he would otherwise. He may as well make me pitch from 1,2,3,10? feet further away than I have to pitch to everyone else. It was cheating, and still is. Barry Bonds in 1991 had .33 (?) to decide and react if my fastball was a strike, if it was a curve, if it was a change up. He now has .38 (?) seconds. It is a massive advantage.

        I am sure us pitchers had an advantage, otherwise Clemen’s career wouldn’t have resurrected, but I don’t know what that advantage was. Speed probably. It is much easier to throw accurately at 97% than at 100%. If someone gets the same speed, but is given the luxury of accuracy because of only having to throw 97%, I feel cheated.

        I never used the stuff. If Andy Pettitte only followed Clemen’s advice 1 or 2 times, it is ashamed he ruined his career. However, I have seen PED’s used, and guys usually don’t stop once they see the results they get from it.

        Married men don’t start wearing a condom again once the experience the results, and PED users are no different.

      • protius - Mar 17, 2012 at 2:26 AM

        I’m just trying to figure out if you’re the scum or the bag.

      • hittfamily - Mar 17, 2012 at 3:43 AM

        Thanks for the comment. It added a lot to the conversation,

        The scum or the bag.

        That makes a ton of sense. 4chan would have found that hilarious.

        Is Julian Assange still kickin in Swaziland?

      • djpostl - Mar 17, 2012 at 3:26 PM

        Dude screwed up, but he didn’t “cheat” asshat. It wasn’t against the rules to use HGH, which is a healing treatment and NOT a performance enhancing drug dipwad, at the time (and quite frankly shouldn’t be…they get paid a ton of money to play a sport isn’t it a more intelligent choice to let them use it to heal faster to get back on the field).

        But at least he was man enough to come clean, fess up and ask for forgiveness…unlike Big Sloppy, Palmeiro, McGwire, Bonds, Sosa etc…

      • rhandome - Mar 17, 2012 at 5:55 PM

        I have no problem with PED users being suspended, but I just can’t understand all the moral outrage about a guy taking a pill that may or may not actually help him at the game of baseball.

    • Old Gator - Mar 16, 2012 at 3:30 PM

      Personally, I think that what’s most surprising is that people who really aren’t surprised are surprised to find themselves claiming to be surprised, when all they’re really surprised about is that they find themselves not being surprised at their lack of surprise, which I find kinda surprising, you know?

      • hittfamily - Mar 16, 2012 at 3:54 PM

        The ol’ catch 22, 22, 22, 22.

  2. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Mar 16, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    All of that makes sense. It’s just wild to see him back, and I’m interested in seeing how this all plays out.

  3. randygnyc - Mar 16, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    I’m glad he’s back. Recently, analysts have been referring to teams as regular season teams and teams built for the playoffs. Petite is built for the playoffs

    • hittfamily - Mar 16, 2012 at 2:09 PM

      Pettitte is built for whatever modern chemistry labs want him to be built for.

      • djpostl - Mar 17, 2012 at 3:30 PM

        Except it was human growth hormone moron…a naturally secreted substance that is generated in large amounts using Recombinant DNA technology, i.e. no chemistry.

        Sop run along and lick a window or do whatever it is a moron like you does every day =P

      • rhandome - Mar 17, 2012 at 5:57 PM

        I guarantee you that multiple guys on whatever team you root for have used “PEDs”. Get off your damn high horse.

  4. rob0527 - Mar 16, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    Even if he is an average pitcher, he could be the best 4th or 5th starter in the majors. Don’t think he will be average, plus he is an innings eater, which can make the bullpen even stronger as they won’t have to pitch as much.

    • hittfamily - Mar 16, 2012 at 1:53 PM

      My bet is Matt Moore as the best 4th starter.

      • djpostl - Mar 17, 2012 at 3:33 PM

        Except the part where he is penciled in as the 5th starter right now…but other than that you are so right

        Seriously, learn to Google and fact check before you spout off…it’s much better to keep your mouth shut and leave it up in the air as to whether you are a flaming dipshit than it is to open said mouth and remove all doubt.

  5. zidanevalor - Mar 16, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    Half of the Triple-A Yankees home games are at Frontier Field in Rochester, NY for one season only. I’m so happy I could cry.

    Seeing Andy pitch a game in April before he went to the majors would be spectacularly awesome.

  6. phukyouk - Mar 16, 2012 at 1:45 PM

    And its pretty obvious that Andy wanted to come back as opposed to the Yanks “trying to convince” him based on the money.

    Welcome back Andy. A Yankee forever

    • 18thstreet - Mar 16, 2012 at 1:55 PM

      Except for that time that he was an Astro. True story. They gave him a uniform and everything. Lasted three years, I think.

      • phukyouk - Mar 16, 2012 at 1:57 PM

        means nothing… true story

      • cackalackyank - Mar 16, 2012 at 2:11 PM

        Yeah I’m with Youk on this…those years in Houston when he got hurt and got led to believe ped’s were a good idea by his “buddy” Clemens are NOT what Pettitte’s career are about. That is about rings. Rings won in Pinstripes.

      • 18thstreet - Mar 16, 2012 at 2:47 PM

        The Astros paid him $16 million in 2006.
        The Yankees paid him $16 million in 2007.

        If someone had offered him $17 million, he would have gone there. Don’t delude yourself.

      • bigharold - Mar 16, 2012 at 3:38 PM

        “If someone had offered him $17 million, he would have gone there. Don’t delude yourself.”

        Perhaps not. Before he went o the Astros the Yankees in fact offered him more money. But, by that time he was already pissed off at the Yankees and decided to bolt.

        Money is certainly part of the equation, as it should be, but with Pettitte it’s not the deciding factor.

  7. randygnyc - Mar 16, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    Cashman just confirmed on Yankee telecast.

  8. Jason @ IIATMS - Mar 16, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    What this means? It means the fans get to enjoy having #46 back on the hill. The details will be worked out. They always do.

    Injuries happen. I’m not sweating the “OMG, who gets bumped?” panic right now. #46 is back and that’s good enough for a Friday afternoon, for me.

  9. cackalackyank - Mar 16, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    Well I am glad Pettitte is with the Yankees again. My paranoid self is a little concerned that maybe somewhere another “shoe is about to drop”. I think it was mentioned last week that he was in camp “visiting”. I hope this is born mostly or entirely out of a desire on his part to see if he can still contribute at a high level, and not out of an as yet unannounced need on the part of the organization. Another interesting possibility to consider though is that once ensconced on the bench at either AAA or Yankee Stadium he’s not at all a bad guy to have hanging around the up and coming “B’s” huh?

    • hittfamily - Mar 16, 2012 at 2:07 PM

      Does “B’s” stand for backne, because that’s what they’ll end up with if they hang around this “Role Model” and and his good bud The Rocket long enough.

      • cackalackyank - Mar 16, 2012 at 2:15 PM

        If you paid attention…Pettitte came “clean” on the PED thing…..and will most likely be testifying against The Rocket, who has never come clean and refuses to admit the truth. Different guy, different result.

      • hittfamily - Mar 16, 2012 at 2:25 PM

        Came clean?
        I think you are confusing coming clean, with only briefly lying to federal investigators. He didn’t come clean. He covered his ass.

        When someone admits cheating to clear a guilty conscience, rather than avoid federal prosecution, I will consider that “coming clean”.

      • damnyankee13 - Mar 16, 2012 at 7:23 PM

        another guy who is just pissed because Charley Brown, from”Peanuts”, is better then him.

      • hittfamily - Mar 16, 2012 at 7:49 PM

        Charley Brown wasn’t on Peanuts.
        Charlie Brown was.

        He wasn’t better then me.
        He was better than me.

        Thanks for trying though.

  10. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Mar 16, 2012 at 1:57 PM

    Garcia can be traded with his consent. Nova or Hughes can be traded no matter what. The Yankees could use a cheap young DH, or a backup at 3B better than Chavez, or a RF for next year

  11. 18thstreet - Mar 16, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    Wow — Andy Pettitte’s top similarity scores on B-R:
    1. David Wells (898)
    2. Kevin Brown (885)
    3. Bob Welch (879)
    4. Mike Mussina (875)

    That’s amazing. Also, Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln, and Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy.

    • phukyouk - Mar 16, 2012 at 3:15 PM

      I really miss moose!
      (sorry for duplicate comments. this damn site keeps crashing on me or doesnt show my comments for like 15 minutes)

  12. randygnyc - Mar 16, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    Cashman offered him a contract before the pineda trade. Andy refused. Andy went to spring training as a special instructor last week and got the bug. Andy kinda begged Cashman at that time. Fascinating.

    • cackalackyank - Mar 16, 2012 at 2:05 PM

      Interesting though..before the Pineda trade also means before the AJ trade……what did Cashman know and when did he know it…lol?

  13. j0ey15 - Mar 16, 2012 at 2:56 PM

    And everyone abuses Brett Favre lol stay on top Andy don’t come back

  14. gustavov8 - Mar 16, 2012 at 3:08 PM

    That’s what i call a vacation.. instead of making 15m in 2011, he just took a year off 😛

  15. mel47 - Mar 16, 2012 at 3:34 PM

    Pettitte was only healthy enough to pitch 129 innings as a 38 year old. Does anyone seriously expect him to pitch even 100 innings as a 40 year old and after being out of the game for well over a season? I think this is going to be a big problem for Cashman. Pettitte will be a marginal contributor but politically difficult to get rid of unless he quits again. If Garcia is gone, he’ll have to depend on the undependable Hughes. You can hear Red Sox fans snickering all the way to the Bronx.

    • phukyouk - Mar 16, 2012 at 3:41 PM

      “You can hear Red Sox fans snickering all the way to the Bronx”

      With their amazing rotation i can understand why
      /sarcasm done

      • mel47 - Mar 16, 2012 at 3:47 PM

        Exactly why they recognize a head fake when they see one.

  16. ssazz - Mar 16, 2012 at 5:05 PM

    I was just thinking a the other day how the young pitchers on the Yankees and in the minors would benefit from having Pettitte around. Especially a Pineda. There was and article the other day on how Nova was trying to help Pineda fit in and get acclimated, and that’s fine, it was good to hear. But Nova is still green himself, and hasn’t pitched in, let alone won, the number of big starts on the biggest of stages the way a Pettitte has. Nova needs to just take care of himself. I’m sure CC, and Mo or even Garcia are there for the younger guys as well. So, I think Andy will be a pretty nice addition to the rotation, but an even bigger one to the youngest guys on the staff and the ones whole be making their way up at some point this season.

    Welcome back to one of my favorite Yankees!

    • ssazz - Mar 16, 2012 at 5:18 PM

      Ugh, how come you only notice all of your grammar and spelling mistakes, after you hit “post”? …

    • cackalackyank - Mar 16, 2012 at 10:44 PM

      Glad to find someone that sees the value of experience under pressure. Also, nice to know that someone else isn’t afraid that Pettitte might have brought a steamer trunk of PED’s with him. Pettitte’s value to young pitchers will be huge. That PED stuff was in the PAST.

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