The more I think about the Pettitte conundrum, the more I feel like the Yankees need to make this deal happen. Take a trip with me through the logic zone. The Yankees just signed three big free agents to $161 million, $82.5 million, and $180 million deals. As a result they've added a solid bat, and two front of the rotation pitchers. It should be noted that the Yankees outbid the competition for these deals, and in the case of Sabathia, outbid themselves to steal him away from, well, themselves. Now the Yankees have a good offense, with some of the best front end starters in the league. So why would we ever need Andy Pettitte, especially if it means paying more than the $10 million he's worth? Well, I have no doubt that we can fill the 5th starter role from within by one or several candidates. And when we get to the postseason the 5th starter doesn't matter anyway, because teams drop to a 4 man rotation. Sabathia, Wang, Burnett, and Joba would be an amazing 4 man rotation. However, there is no way Joba makes it to the post season as a starter. His inning limit is pretty low, and will probably need to be pushed into the bullpen come August. Now, I believe in Philip Hughes, but Hughes will be coming back from an injury plagued season, where he was largely ineffective. I did not forget his last start of the season which was a gem, but to say he's ready to jump into a 4-man post season rotation, especially considering that Hughes also has an inning limit, is quite the stretch. So who should the Yankees 4th starter be? Alfredo Aceves? Jason Johnson? Sydney Ponson?
Now let's consider what we know about Pettitte. A known gamer whose been as good as ever in the post season. Torre used him as his stopper, and for good reason. Let's also consider the fact that Sabathia has a 7.92 ERA in 5 post season starts, Wang's last two post season starts against the Indians ended with a final line of 5.2 innings, 16 earned runs, and 3 homeruns (he had given up 9 all season), and Burnett has not thrown a single pitch in the post season. Pettitte, out of all these pitchers, is the one you want in your rotation come playoff time, and you definitely want him over Aceves, or Hughes. That's not a knock against Aceves and Hughes, who are both extremely talented and I am excited to see pitch in the future, but for 2009 Pettitte is the best option.
The beauty of a Pettitte deal is that its 1 year. In 2010 you have a mature Hughes with a inning limit closer to what a starter should have, likely taking his spot. I can see Pettitte's side of the argument. A team that just outbid itself by $20 million to land a pitcher whose only known offer was already $40 million lower than their previous offer, can't turn around and start talking about not having any money to spend. Even after they told Pettitte that there was no more money to offer him, they turned around and signed Teixeira to a $180 million deal. If I'm Pettitte, I'm thinking that this team is trying to cheat me.
I've already written about the Yankees side of the deal in a previous post, and I acknowledge that the Yankees already overpaid Pettitte over the last 2 years, and that the $10 million deal is a fair deal, but the Yankees don't make fair deals. When they want a player they make it happen. Consider this scenario:
Say you work at a company and have been getting paid $100,000 a year for the last two years, a good $20,000 above what other people with similar skill sets are making. Then you're ready to negotiate a new contract, but your work kind of slipped off in the last year, and your product wasn't as good as it once was. You expect a decrease in pay, but you want to stay with the company to see their new office building open up across the street. Now the company comes and offers you $62,000. They tell you to think about it, but that they're going to be hiring some new personnel so you should try to come to a decision soon. Next thing you hear is that the company just hired someone at an annual salary of $144,000, but you don't much mind because you know that person is worth it. However, you later find that the $144,000 a year was $54,000 more than that persons previous offer and that your company had added $3,000 per year to their first offer to sweeten the pot a bit. The company quickly thereafter brings in another employee for a more reasonable sum, but still slightly more than what you made even when you were being overpaid. So you're looking at the $62,000 offer, and may feel a little slighted at this point. You meet with your boss and ask if he would consider raising his offer. Your boss tells you no, because they just spent all this money hiring these two new guys, and they have no money left to spend. So you think long and hard about his offer wondering if you should take it, when suddenly you hear of a new employee they just brought in. This one is making $140,000 per year. You go back to your boss and say that you thought they had no money. He responds, "Well, we don't now. What do you think of that offer?." How are you going to respond? Are you going to take the $62,000? Even if you love the company you work at you're going to feel slighted, and you know that you would never be okay with this if this was your life. What if this happened to your spouse? Your mother? Your father? Brother? Would you tell them to just take the deal?
Do I think Pettitte should take the $10 million? Yes I do, but I can see why he rejected it. I think both the Yankees and Pettitte are being stubborn in this case, and both need to budge. As it stands though, it doesn't look like a deal will get made.