Andy Pettitte: The $5.5 Million Dollar Bargain

July 4, 2009   ·     ·   Jump to comments
Article Source: Bleacher Report - New York Yankees

Where would the Yankees be right now if they hadn’t re-signed Andy Pettitte?

In the winter, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman made a vow to improve the starting pitching. He brought in the two most attractive names on the market, in CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. While doing so, Cashman almost forgot to re-sign one of their most important players over the last 14 years.

It wasn’t until January 26th that the Yankees finally re-signed Pettitte to a one-year, $5.5 million dollar deal with incentives.

How has Pettitte done thus far, being the oldest member of the starting rotation at age 37?

In 11 of his 16 starts, Pettitte has gone at least six innings. Pettitte has also reached seven innings or more six times.

He’s already gotten to 97.1 innings, with 66 strikeouts, and he’s 8-3 with a 4.25 ERA.

Sabathia has seven wins, as does Burnett. Joba Chamberlain only has four wins, while Chien-Ming Wang has one.

Imagine that, a 37 year old that Brian Cashman nearly didn’t bring back to the Yankees, is the current leader in wins for the Yankees pitching staff.

How is that possible?

It’s possible because Pettitte is still one of the best gamer’s out there. He has grown up in the A.L. East, pitched in every big-game spot, battled every possible adversity; yet still comes across a very humble man. Pettitte has four World Series championships with the Yankees and helped the Houston Astros get to one in 2005.

Pettitte lives for the big game situations.

Last year was one of Pettitte’s roughest, especially down the stretch. Pettitte was pitching with a sore arm, an injury nobody knew about except himself. Pettitte didn’t take the Carl Pavano route and hide out on the disabled list; he knew the Yankees were in a pennant race with the Rays and Red Sox, so he continued to take the ball on every fifth day.

Following the All-Star break, Pettitte went 4-7 and finished 14-14; some wondered if Pettitte was finished. The Yankees really had no other choice but to reward him for his gutsy efforts in 2008.

In 2009, Pettitte’s style isn’t like Sabathia, Burnett or Chamberlain; he doesn’t throw 93-95 mph and blow it past guys. He averages between 86-90, but relies on movement of his pitches and placement to get people out. He went from striking hitters out with his cutter to relying on a sweeping curve ball, a sharp slider and a good changeup to go along with the cutter that he still throws.

This strategy was successful last season of Mike Mussina, who went 20-9 last year before retiring. Mussina knew he could no longer blow by hitters, so he relied on great movement and changing speeds to fool hitters. Pettitte is taking the same approach in 2009 and thus far, it is paying off.

Because it is paying off, he’s having a possible All-Star season. Whether he is chosen to go to St. Louis is debatable, but the Yankees should know no matter how many players they get in free agency or trades, they can’t ignore what an old home-grown veteran has done for them thus far.

Again, where would the Yankees be without Pettitte?

Just look back to the 2004 ALCS against Boston in Games five, six, and seven. Bet they would have loved to have had Pettitte then, which is why they haven’t made the mistake of letting him go again.

$5.5 million; a sheer bargain for what Pettitte has accomplished.

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