Brian Cashman was a busy man yesterday acquiring Curtis Granderson, and today he finalized a deal to bring Andy Pettitte back to the Bronx. The contract is rumored to be a one year deal worth $11.75MM. We are all glad to see you back Andy!
UPDATE: 1:38 PM: Brandon here. I like the move for both sides. Pettite gets a ton of money to return to the Bronx and the Yankees get a solid #3 or #4 starter. I was sort of hoping that he would give the Yankees some kind of a discount….but no.
Prediction: Pettite goes 12-8 with a 4.35 ERA. He does not go on the DL at all.
The Yankees would have to part with quite a bit if, as Peter Gammons reports (MLB Trade Rumors), the Red Sox would have to part with both Casey Kelley and Clay Buchholz. I can only imagine that the Yankees would have to give up Austin Jackson, Ian Kennedy, and maybe one other prospect to get Doc and then an additional $20 million a year to keep him. That is a really hefty price to pay and while I do love the idea of having Doc in our rotation losing three top prospects is not easy to stomach. Add onto that the fact that the Yankees made three blockbuster deals last year and it seems a little unreasonable that they would need to sign Doc. The rotation is far from set but resigning Pettitte while tinkering with Hughes and Chamberlain as well as with a healthier Chien-Ming Wang sounds like a perfectly reasonable option. After all, the Yankees won the world series doing just that.
Would I love to have Doc? Absolutely. But is he worth giving up three top prospects and 20 million a year? If that is the case, Doc might not be the Yankees huckleberry, even if he wants to be.
It has not been more than a few weeks since the Yankees won the 2009 World Series but already the team well known for its off season acquisitions is making a splash in the free agent market. Rumors of pursuing John Lackey, Curtis Granderson, and Roy Halladay have permeated the rumor basins. These kinds of things are nothing new to any Yankee fan who has watched the team make major moves almost every off season this decade. The big announcement that I believe has the most impact on the team, however, is not the pursuit of big name players but Brian Cashman’s statement that Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain will be starters next season (NY Daily News). My question is, why?
Hughes for the most part of the season was nothing short of spectacular in the bullpen. He became the 8th inning guy that Chamberlain was before the experiment with Joba as a starter. Hughes had a stellar 2009 campaign in the bullpen, posting an ERA of 3.03, a WHIP of 1.12, and striking out 96 while walking only 28 in 86 innings pitched. If the Yankees resign Andy Pettitte and Chien-Ming Wang returns to be at least somewhat effective then Hughes’s presence in the starting rotation would not be absolutely necessary. But, if you absolutely had to put one of them back in the rotation it would be Hughes.
Joba simply isn’t cut out to be a starter with such stringent pitching limits. When he came up in the bullpen with the Yankees he was electric, energizing, and dominant. I watched his first save as a Yankee in a meaningless game against the Blue Jays late in the season a few years ago and the crowd went wild as Joba struck out the last batter on a fastball that clocked at 100 mph. His stretch as a starter ultimately ended with him traveling back to the bullpen so the Yankees management can say what they want but he was ineffective as a starter. Their unwillingness to pitch him during the playoffs speaks to that. Mariano cannot pitch forever and Joba is a better fit for being a closer than a starter with a pitch count.
If the Yankees go and get Halladay or even John Lackey putting Joba back out in the starting rotation would not be worth it if they were still going to protect him with a pitch limit. The only way it would make sense is if they simply let him pitch until his arm got tired the way Nolan Ryan has his pitchers work for the Texas Rangers. Otherwise he needs to be left in the bullpen where he is incredibly effective.
Tonight the Yankees come back home to New York after a fairly successful stretch in Philadelphia. I am curious as to why the mood has swung in the Phillies favor. The Yankees took two out of three as visitors to Citizens Bank Park and did so with one dramatic victory in game 4 and a sound victory in game 3. They lost game 5 but only because AJ Burnett imploded in the early innings. The Yankees fought back, scored 5 runs off of Cliff Lee who has been the most dominant pitcher this postseason and were in a position to win the game. Not only does this show that the Yankees have regained some offensive prowess that was lacking in the first two games but it also shows that the bullpen was able to hold things together and give the Yankees a chance to win. With Andy Pettitte working on short rest in game 6 the show of strength from the bullpen has got to count for something because it puts less pressure on Pettitte to get directly to Mariano Rivera. So my question is, why all of a sudden does every Yankee fan, anti-Yankee fan, Philly fan, or sports pundit all of a sudden think that the Phillies have the momentum in the series?
The only thing that really should make the Phillies confident is that Chase Utley has been a man among boys and that some, but not all, of the Phillies bats are starting to wake up. But has their pitching, both starting and in the bullpen, been any better? Has Ryan Howard stopped slumping? Did they demolish the Yankees at home and take a lead in the series? All of these questions are answered simply by saying no. Brad Lidge was given a mental health day in game 5. And how confident should the Phillies be if they win game 6? Are they going to start Cole Hamels who apparently doesn’t even want to be playing baseball anymore or are they going to mix and match Joe Blanton and JA Happ? Howard seems to be doing his best to tie the World Series strikeout record. Oh, and by the way, the Yankees lead the series 3-2! For all the questions being raised about the Yankees, shouldn’t there be more about the Phillies? The Phillies have a much tougher task than the Yankees do.
Certainly I would have liked the Yankees to win game 5 and end the series. But for seemingly the entire sports world to suddenly believe that the Yankees should hit the panic button after game 5 is fairly ridiculous. All we need to do, as fans, is have faith in the Yankee’s ability to win the series. And that is pretty easy to do considering the winningest pitcher in postseason history is taking the mound for the Yankees tonight.
After a ghoulish start Andy Pettitte & the Yankees’ bats come alive…it’s aliiiive, it’s aliiiiive!!!
FINAL SCORE: YANKEES 8 PHILLIES 4 (F9th)
- Bottom of the 2nd: Jayson Werth homers to left field (NYY 0, PHI 1)
- Bottom of the 2nd: Pedro Feliz hits a 1-out double to right field. Carlos Ruiz walks. Cole Hamels singles on a bunt to load the bases. Jimmy Rollins walks, Pedro Feliz scores (NYY 0, PHI 2)
- Bottom of the 2nd: Bases Loaded. Shane Victorino out on a sacrifice fly to left field, Carlos Ruiz scores (NYY 0, PHI 3)
- Top of the 4th: Mark Teixeira works a 1-out walk, Alex Rodriguez homes to right field. Mark Teixeira scores (NYY 2, PHI 3)
- Top of the 5th: Nick Swisher doubles to left field to begin the inning. After Melky Cabrera strikes out, Andy Pettitte singles to center field, Nick Swisher scores (NYY 3, PHI 3)
- Top of the 5th: Derek Jeter singles to left field, Andy Pettitte to 2nd. Johnny Damon doubles to center field, Pettitte and Jeter scores (NYY 5, PHI 3)
- Top of the 6th: Nick Swisher homers to left field (NYY 6, PHI 3)
- Bottom of the 6th: Jayson Werth homers to left field (NYY 6, PHI 4)
- Top of the 7th: Johnny Damon is issued a 1-out walk. Mark Teixeira strikes out, Johnny Damon steals 2nd base. Alex Rodriguez hit by pitch. Jorge Posada singles to left field, Damon scores (NYY 7, PHI 4)
- Top of the 8th: Hideki Matsui homers on a fly ball to left field (NYY 8, PHI 4)
STARTING PITCHING (from Yahoo Sports)
- Andy Pettitte: 6 innings, 4 hits allowed, 4 earned runs, 3 BB, 7 SO, 6.00 ERA
- Cole Hamels: 4 & 1/3 innings, 5 hits allowed, 5 earned runs, 2 BB, 3 SO, 10.38 ERA
KEY PERFORMERS: After giving up 3 runs in the first 2 innings of work, Andy Pettitte settled down striking out 7 hitters in 6 innings. Alex Rodriguez put the Yankees on the board with a 2-run HR that seem to ignite the Yankee offense, he was on base 4 times including a walk. Nick Swisher had the breakout game he’d been waiting for, he went 2-for-4 including a double and a HR.
COMMENTARY: Halloween’s origins can be traced to an ancient Celtic festival known at Samhain. The Celts celebrated new years on November 1st and it was believed that the night before the new year the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. Aside from causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts believed that these spirits made it easier for the Celtic priests to predict the future. Over 2,000 years later can the Yankees performance on Halloween night be a predictor of what’s to come in this series?
It was a harrowing start for the pinstripes, the hour and twenty minute rain delay seemed to have quite an effect on Andy Pettitte. The Phillies were able to strike early and throw Pettitte off his game, even giving up a walk with the bases loaded. Cole Hamels was sharp and for the first 3 innings seemed to be a reincarnation of the 2008 World Series MVP. A zombie-like version of the Yankees made an early appearance in game 3, they were sloppy on pitching, hitting, and on defense.
But in the dawn of the 4th inning, after a 1-out walk to Mark Teixeira the man they call A-Rod hit on opposite field HR that would have to be reviewed, and the Yankees lineup got a much needed shot of electricity that seem to carry to the pitching as well. In a 7 game series not every win or loss can be a defining one. After they even out the series in Game 2 there were very large questions remaining for the Yankees to answer. A-Rod was 0-for-8 with 6 strikeouts, there was no consistent contribution from the bottom of the lineup, and the bridge to Mariano was non-existent.Winning the first game in Philadelphia to go up 2-to-1 in the series was big, no doubt about it. But the way the Yankees secured this victory may be an indication of how they will fare the rest of the series.
Alex Rodriguez ends his 0-fer with a 2-run HR. Rodriguez was on base 4 times, did not strike out and drew a walk in his last at-bat. He looked like someone breathed life into him, his demeanor and approach at the plate was more relaxed and deliberate and it looked like the ALCS version of A-Rod had resurfaced. Nick Swisher who has been struggling all postseason long, took his benching like a man, and returned to make big contributions with his bat hitting a double and a home run in 2 of his 4 at bats and scoring the tieing run. Chamberlain and Marte were solid, I don’t know if the bridge is complete but these two may be the pillars on which the highway to Mariano are built.
This series is far from over and there is no indication that the defending World Champions will make it easy for the Yankees to win their 27th World Series. Every game has it’s own nuance, tempo and flow, but beyond the win Yankee fans should feel optimistic about the contributions that were made up and down the lineup and the performance of this much maligned bullpen.
From the time the Yankees stepped on the field last night to when they stepped off of it victorious, there was one particular question running through my head. Have there ever been four players who have stuck together as long as the Yankee’s core group has? Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, and Derek Jeter have been together since 1996, disregarding Pettitte’s vacation in Houston, and they have had unparalleled success together. I cannot think of any group of four or more players who have played together for the same team for such a long time, have had so much success, and all became integral parts of the team in the same year (1996)!
Jeter plays shortstop as well as any player in the league today, giving the Yankees consistency at a position that many teams struggle to find. Posada is the Yankee’s rock at catcher giving the team consistency at another position that is difficult to fill. Pettitte has had unprecedented and record-setting postseason success; being a dominant left-hander has given the rotation someone to rely on for over a decade. And, of course, Rivera has been the game-over guy who has been instrumental in the success the Yankees have enjoyed since 1996. For those who say the Yankees buy all their talent, these four men disprove that point. They play four critical positions and the Yankees management has done its job by putting in good talent around this core group.
Pettitte did leave the Yankees in 2003 but was quick to come back in 2007. Other than that it does not seem that any of the other three have ever considered leaving New York for some other place. This speaks to their loyalty, ability, and love of being Yankees. We as fans are blessed to have been able to see these players grow and succeed.
I was six years old when they won the championship in 1996 so I have grown up with these players. Though I do not remember much from the Yankee dynasty of 1996 to 2000, I do remember seeing the same four faces over and over while others left or retired or were traded away. I remember Derek, Jorge, Andy, and Mariano. Let’s hope that these brilliant players will lead the Yankees to their 27th championship and restore the Yankees to glory because this time around, I will be able to remember everything.
Born in New York City and raised in Connecticut, I have been a Yankees fan my whole life in a place where 50% of the people root for the Yankees and 50% of the people root for the Red Sox. My allegiances with New York sports teams runs as far back as my grandfather rooting for the Brooklyn Dodgers, a team he actually liked more than the Yankees. I have grown up in a time when Boston was the dominant team and have not had the opportunity to truly cherish and appreciate a Yankees World Series win. This had made me frustrated and like the Boss himself playoff appearances alone are not enough to satiate my need for Yankees dominance. I have not ever tried posting on a blog like this but I saw the opportunity to do so and took it. I hope to contribute to this site on a regular basis.
Without further ado, here is the interview in its entirety:
1. In a recent blog post I debated whether I would prefer Ryan Howard or Mark Teixeira for this series….which would you take?
Right now I would take Howard. He’s as hot as anyone not named Alex Rodriguez, and he’s even getting Rodriguez a run for his money. I got to see Howard hit quite a bit in Scranton, and he’s more than just a pull-the-ball power hitter. He can go the other way. He can move runners. He’s not awful at first base. On the whole, though, I think Teixeira is a more complete player. Just hard to overlook what Howard’s done this postseason.
2. With Pedro Martinez starting game 2, do you think the Yankees or Pedro have the upper hand? (Which has the advantage in that matchup)
I think Pedro’s a little different pitcher than he used to be. He’s still mixing his pitches, but this isn’t going to be the same Pedro that Jeter and Posada and the rest remember from Boston. I’m not sure the experience against one another plays a huge role, but certainly this is going to be a tough place to pitch for Martinez and this Yankees lineup is awfully dangerous. I’ll take this Yankees lineup over an aging Martinez, but I’ll say that respectfully. The guy can still pitch. Just ask the Dodgers.
3. Do you think the Yankees will go with a 3 man or a 4 man rotation for the World Series? Which would you do?
Four man. That’s what I think they’ll do and that’s what I would do. I would pitch Sabathia in Game 4 and Gaudin in Game 5. That leaves a fully rested Burnett/Pettitte for Game 6, and the off day between 5 and 6 means the Yankees can burn through a ton of relievers without losing them for the next game.
4. Do you think the set-up man role is open right now? Girardi has stuck by Hughes, but if Hughes struggles?
I still think Hughes has the job, mostly because Chamberlain hasn’t been lights out. He’s allowed some hits of his own. I’m a huge Robertson believer, and I think the eighth inning might be his one day, but I’m not sure a few big outs by Robertson and a couple of bad innings by Hughes is enough to swap roles. Hughes earned this spot and I’m not sure anyone has done enough to take it from him.
5. Having covered the Phillies farm system in the past, can you give us some background on their core players?
Utley is the best player I ever saw in Scranton. He and I weren’t especially close — he was never particularly comfortable with the media back then — but he’s a terrific, terrific hitter. I touched on Howard, who can do more than hit home runs. He has a lot of power to left-center. Victorino isn’t so underrated anymore thanks to the all-star game, but he’s had a lot of talent for a long time. Good speed. Good power. Terrific arm. I’ve said before that I think Victorino is the kind of player the Yankees hope Austin Jackson becomes. Don’t count out Carlos Ruiz. His numbers aren’t good, but he’s a dangerous hitter and does good work behind the plate. He works great with pitchers. That’s why he’s remained an everyday catcher.
6. What do you think is the biggest problem for the Yankees going into the World Series?
I think there should be a little bit of concern about the middle of the order, outside of Rodriguez. Teixeira and Matsui got it done this season, but both have been a bit cold in the playoffs and I think the Yankees need both of them to break out oit.
7. For the Phillies?
The bullpen. The rotation has some question marks, but the bullpen is full of them. Brad Lidge has pitched really well this postseason, but I don’t know any Phillies fan who feels particularly comfortable with him in the ninth. And getting to him is hardly a sure thing.
8. Any bold predictions for the series?
Nothing too bold, but I’ll say Teixeira snaps out of it and Utley gives the Yankees more trouble than Howard.
- Who wins, how many games? Yankees in six.
- Best starter? Sabathia.
- Best Hitter? Utley.
- Best Reliever? Rivera, with Hughes getting back on course in the eighth.
- World Series MVP? Jeter.