Some unexpected news came out of Yankees camp this week when retired Yankee legend, Andy Pettitte, got the “itch” for pitching and decided to come out of retirement to rejoin the already improved 2012 New York Yankees.
Pettitte said it was the Yankees or nothing, when explaining his decision to return to his old team. Despite New York’s already loaded pitching staff, they couldn’t say no to bringing another strong pitcher into the fray, especially one that has such a special relationship with the team. Now that Andy Pettitte is back, it simply feels like they should win the World Series, as was the feeling during many of his previous years with New York.
In 2009, Pettitte was a playoff hero. He won the clinching games in the ALDS (vs. Minnesota), the ALCS (vs. Los Angeles), and the World Series (vs. Philadelphia). In 2010, Andy was an All-Star, but battled injuries that limited him to just 129 innings. Likely prompted by those injuries, he retired after 2010 and hasn’t pitched since the 2010 ALCS vs. Texas. Now completely healthy, he can help a Yankees team that boasts the deepest rotation in baseball.
Sabathia and Kuroda still headline the Yankee rotation, but with most expecting a mild regression from Ivan Nova, newcomer Michael Pineda struggling with his velocity in Spring Training (throwing around 88-92 mph compared to the 94-96 mph he was throwing last year early in camp), Garcia injured, and Hughes working to bounce back from a sub-par season (I think Hughes can break through if given the opportunity this season) Pettitte can be of much more than sentimental value.
He gives the Yankees seven, that’s right, seven capable starters for 2012. It appears that GM Brian Cashman saw the team’s weakness and made a big point to fix it. This is the deepest rotation I can remember dating back to the 2005 Chicago White Sox. At the risk of jinxing the Yankees, I don’t see any way they’re unable to put together a reliable five-man rotation with their current roster.
So how does this affect the rest of the rotation? Garcia was likely headed to the bullpen before this news broke. Now that’s almost certain and he could potentially be traded, though it may not come right away, as Pettitte won’t be ready for the start of the reason. Michael Pineda has struggled this Spring and while we hope he picks up steam in the new few weeks, if he flops out of the gate this gives him an opportunity to get a little more seasoning in the minors. If not, Hughes will be the odd-man out and that I think is unfortunate. Hughes is having a strong Spring, he finished last year better than the way he started it, and I fear the Yankee brass will move him around the way they did Joba Chamberlain and wreck his still promising career. I hope they can find a way to keep Hughes in the rotation if he is pitching well. I’d love to see another 18 wins come from Phil Hughes this year.
Regardless of how it all plays out, I believe I speak for almost all Yankee fans when I say Andy Pettitte is always welcome, and we’re glad to have him. He’s in a select group of beloved Yankees with Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. With fingers crossed, I must mention that MLB’s all-time postseason win leader now has an opportunity to go out a champ with his sixth ring as proof that this comeback was no Michael Jordan effort.
For thoughts and reaction on the signing, check out MLBTradeRumors.com.
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