Pettitte’s Dodger Dance Forces Yankees’ Hand

Columns — By on November 28, 2008 4:16 pm

Uncle Joe to the rescue.

Andy Pettitte has been waiting for the Yankees to make him an offer.  A few days ago, with no word from the Yankees, Pettitte spoke to Joe Torre about the possibility of playing for the Dodgers. At the time, word was the Dodgers didn’t have any interest.

And yet, a few days later, George King at the Post says the Dodgers might have “some” interest in Pettitte.

That sounds just vague enough to be absolute nonsense.

I don’t think Joe Torre has a chip on his shoulder and if he does, I’m sure he’s too smart to play it out publically.  At the same time, I have little doubt that Dodger’s GM Ned Colletti is throwing Torre and Pettitte a bone by making the Yankees life just a little bit more difficult.

If you’re to believe Andy Pettitte, Bible-thumping yet former HGH using Andy Pettitte, he wants to play in New York and nowhere else.  He said as much at the end of the season, dismissing even Houston because he didn’t like they way they parted ways after the 2006 season.  Sure, Torre makes the non-Anaheim part of Los Angeles more attractive than it would otherwise, but is Pettitte really looking to make that type of move at this point?  I can’t see him debating retirement, the Yankees, or the Dodgers.  Doesn’t add up.

I think Torre and the Dodgers know that, too, and they’re simply doing Andy a favor.

The problem is, as the good folks at River Ave Blues point out, just the Dodgers being in the equation forces the Yankees’ hand.  The Yankees must decide by Monday whether to offer Andy arbitration or not.  If they do and he signs with the Dodgers, the Yankees get a draft pick.  If he accepts arbitration, which is a strong possibility given that he’s repeatedly said he only wants a one year deal, he’ll probably earn more than the Yankees want to pay.

What to do, what to do…

There’s one factor in this whole equation that bears reminding:  THE YANKEES HAVE NO PITCHING.  Wang and Joba are slated for the rotation next year and Joba has an innings limit again.  They’re not going to sign Sabathia, Lowe, Burnett, and Sheets.  They’d be lucky to sign Sabathia at this rate, never mind Sabathia plus one.  If they sign two guys who aren’t named Sabathia, there is a more than reasonable chance that they’re making a mistake because they’ll likely be locked into at least four year deals that will look terrible in a few years.

Andy Pettitte wants one year.  He wants it for too much money, the same $16 million he made last year and he likely will not pitch like a $16 million dollar pitcher.  But despite all the talk about Pettitte’s elbow, he’s pitched at least 200 innings in each of the last four seasons, averaging roughly 34.5 starts a year.  He’s been at worst a hair below league average or a bit better.

Pettitte likely will see some regression this year, but if you’re the Yankees, what’s the better gamble?  $75 million over five years to fragile AJ Burnett?  Four years $50 million to fragile Sheets?  Five years and $75 million to old man Derek Lowe?

The Yankees have at least three rotation spots to fill, four if you count the back half of Joba’s season assuming he stays healthy.  For a team with oodles of cash, a new stadium, and pitching problems galore, isn’t the security of a one year contract worth a few extra bucks for Andy Pettitte?

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