Friday, January 23, 2009

Egos Could End Pettitte’s Stellar Career

As the Yankees plan to put together the pieces of another World Series puzzle, they may have also lost another centerpiece of the dynasty years for good.

No one knows for sure if Andy’s recent rejection of an offer in the neighborhood of $10 million for one year is truly the end. What we do know is that we are forever indebted to Andy and all that he has done for this franchise.

Granted, we stood by his side during the Mitchell Report, and refused to let an error in judgment soil a legendary pinstriped career. After all, he merely surrendered to the excruciating pain in his elbow, in order to find a way back onto a mound to help his team.

However, what cannot be overlooked is how good Andy Pettitte really was at his craft, or how equally great a man he is. Andy never once shied away from a microphone, even at the worst of times. He placed blame for every loss squarely on his left shoulder, and excuses were as valuable as dirt to him.

A two-hitter was not good enough if the Yanks lost 1-0, because if he only hit his spot with that last cutter, he could have given us a chance to win.

The most important aspect of Andy Pettitte’s career of course was that he never came up ‘petite’ in the biggest moments (sorry I couldn’t resist). He could always be counted on to deliver in the postseason, showcased by his 13-8 Yankee record in October.

Further analyzing the numbers, Pettitte went 6-1 with a 3.26 ERA in the postseason during the three-peat title run. He also carried an aging and deteriorating 2003 team to the World Series with a 3-1 record and a 2.10 ERA.

We are in the wake of an AJ Burnett signing that will have us all holding our breathe throughout the 2009 season, waiting for a ‘pop’ to send $82.5 million into the garbage can.

Meanwhile, Andy was a model of consistency, delivering 10 seasons of over 200 innings. This while suffering for many of those years with relentless pain that nearly forced him into very early retirement. Never able to blow hitters away, Pettitte did it all with guts and guile, able to battle through any situation on the mound.

Pettitte went 178-101 as a Yankee, producing a win percentage either similar or better than the unquestioned greats of our generation: Glavine, Johnson, Clemens, and Maddux. Pettitte was essentially an equal postseason/big game performer as this immortal group as well.

The only issue I have with the entire Pettitte situation is it seems that his ego, as well as that of his agents the Hendricks, is clouding his judgment.

Andy is a 36 year old coming off of a 14-14 season with a 4.54 ERA. This included a staggering 2nd half ERA of 6.23. As tough as he is, he’s also always one pitch away from retirement.

An offer of $10 million is actually an above market offer in today’s economy. Pat Burrell, a power hitter in his prime coming off back to back 30 home run seasons and a World Series ring, only received $8 million. Pettitte’s offer was also more than Josh Beckett’s 2008 and 2009 avg. salary.

The Hendricks may also forget what occurred in 2004, when Andy was coming off of a 21 win season at only 31 years of age. Pettitte received a 3-year deal worth the same annual salary that the Yanks just offered him.

Salaries have obviously gone up since then, but Andy’s velocity and effectiveness have not. Andy Pettitte has slipped to a 4th starter, and would have been a 5th starter in New York in 2009 if it weren’t for their desire to limit Joba’s innings.

Pettitte has been the perfect Yankee since he came up in 2005, and no one could have asked for anything more from him. If he decides to reconsider, we all would embrace him with open arms.

This is not a low-ball offer like the Yankees placed in front of Joe Torre, when they clearly wanted to save face while forcing him out the door.

This was a fair and competitive offer to a pitcher in the twilight of his major league career. It provided the opportunity to play in the new stadium, and piggyback a star-studded rotation into another October soap opera.

It appears that Andy Pettitte may be ready to hang up the pinstripes he wore with pride for 11 years. If that is the case…it has sure been one hell of a ride.

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