As you know by now, the New York Yankees have reunited with fan favorite Andy Pettitte. In my first reaction I failed to clarify a few important points. The main one being that the contract is a minor league deal. This means that Andy Pettitte is not on the 25-man roster and won’t be placed on it unless he earns it. Now, I suppose we could say “earns” in this case because I think the New York Yankees will give him every possible chance to make a return to the Bronx. That does bring up what is probably the biggest question that New York Yankees fans need to ask though: how much does Andy Pettitte have left in his tank?
If I had to give you my honest opinion right now, I would have to say I’m erring on the skeptical side. My utter surprise yesterday probably made me come across a little bit more optimistic than I should have been, but that’s what happens. This isn’t to say that I think this move will yield zero return for the New York Yankees, but I’m looking at Pettitte’s age (40 in June) and year away from baseball as tough hurdles to overcome. Of course, on the flip side, 40 in 2012 is not what 40 was back in 2002 or 1992. I’m not even talk about steroids either. People know so much more about how to keep their bodies in shape and functioning at a high level than they used to.
If you take a look at Pettitte’s stat line from 2010 you can see that he was still very effective. He missed several starts with a back strain (if my memory serves me correctly), but he was still the Yanks’ No. 2 starter when he was on the mound. If you try to dig a little bit deeper, you can see that his fastball velocity (89 mph) is right in line with his career marks and the same is the case for the rest of his repertoire. This at least tells us that Pettitte was not in the midst of a significant decline when he decided to walk away – obviously a good sign.
Some people may argue that the year off is good for Pettitte’s body. I won’t make a strong argument against that line of thinking at this point, but I just don’t know how Pettitte will respond to the extended rest at his age. I’m interested to see if he’ll be able to maintain his high-80’s average fastball velocity along with the bite on his cutter and curve. More than raw velocity, I want to see if he can achieve the same separation between his heater and secondary pitches.
The fact that Andy Pettitte was never a pure power pitcher does give me more confidence that he’ll be able to provide the New York Yankees with some value in 2012. It’s not as if he was a guy who needed to overpower opposing lineups to achieve success. With all of that said, I am still going to keep my expectations in check.
For more reaction and speculation regarding the New York Yankees and Andy Pettitte follow me on Twitter @craigmwilliams.