MLB

Pettitte, Yankees make a gamble

Share This Story

Jon Paul Morosi

Jon Paul Morosi is a National MLB Writer for FOXSports.com. He previously covered baseball for the Detroit Free Press and Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He began his journalism career at the Bay City Times in his native Michigan. Follow him on Twitter.

MORE>>
 
   
 

Here we have baseball irony at its best: In 2011, when the Yankees needed Andy Pettitte to rescue them after whiffing on Cliff Lee, he retired. In 2012, with the Yankees in possession of a much more capable starting five, he’s coming back.

PRIDE OF THE YANKEES

Which pinstripe greats made the list of the best Bronx Bombers ever?

Really, though, did you expect Brian Cashman to say no?

On one hand: No team — not the Phillies, not the Giants, not the local slowpitch All-Stars — can turn away a credible arm. Pettitte, last we saw, has one of those. He went 11-3 with a 3.28 ERA in 129 innings during the 2010 regular season. He was good enough that the Yankees badly wanted him to return.

On the other: Don’t you get the sense this exercise may be better in theory than practice?

Sure, there’s the best-case scenario: Pettitte starts Game 7 of an epic World Series and hands the ball to Mariano Rivera for the last three outs. The close friends announce their retirements (for real this time) at a champagne-soaked news conference, just after Derek Jeter collects Series MVP honors.

If that sounds farfetched, it shouldn’t. The Yankees are good enough to write the storybook ending.

But since this is New York — with the attendant egos and media scrutiny — there’s at least as much of a probability that Pettitte’s endeavor will be, shall we say, counterproductive.

CAN'T STAY AWAY

For some players, retirement just doesn't stick. See which athletes mounted a comeback … or two.

Pettitte isn’t the future of the Yankees’ rotation, just as Rivera is no longer the long-term closer, nor is Jeter a player to build around. The Core Four — if we include the now-retired Jorge Posada — is entering its baseball dotage. The roster is churning. Cashman, through his emphasis on young players, seems to understand this.

Pettitte has been a low-maintenance superstar throughout his career. He won’t change now. The worry, though, is that Pettitte’s presence might affect the young starters who may fret that their jobs are in jeopardy.

Let’s say Pettitte is ready to pitch by mid-May. How nervous might Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda and Phil Hughes be right around then?

Coming home for a heartfelt goodbye sounds like a great idea. But Ken Griffey Jr. and Tom Glavine might tell you it’s best to let the first draft of one’s legacy stand as the final version.

It’s not as if Pettitte needs to look far for a cautionary tale: Posada’s farewell season of 2011 wasn’t a happy memory for all involved, because of manager Joe Girardi’s growing belief that there were younger, better options at designated hitter. Posada, a proud player, naturally disagreed. Public disagreements followed.

STARTING POINT

A mound of evidence places these pitchers at the top of the heap. Who are the all-time best starters?

Posada didn’t hurt the Yankees last year. In fact, he batted .429 against the Tigers in the American League Division Series. But the story of his season, on and off the field, underscored the difficultly in shepherding a franchise icon into retirement without bruising his psyche.

Pettitte managed to get it right the first time, walking away after two quality starts in the 2010 postseason. Just before retiring, the ol’ lefty burnished his image as the most reliable October starter of his generation.

It’s a nice legacy — quite perfect the way it is. Now he’s taking it out of the display case. He must be careful not to drop it.

Tagged: Yankees, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte

More Stories From Jon Paul Morosi

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



MLB Videos

Bautista talks Derek Jeter's final All-Star Game Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Jose Bautista discusses Derek Jeter's career and his final appearance in the MLB...

Jeter honored to play in last All-Star Game Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Derek Jeter compares his first All-Star Game experience with his last, Mike Trou...

Matheny defends Wainwright: He's out there to compete Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Mike Matheny comments on the media's reaction to Adam Wainwright's joke about le...

SimLeague Baseball - Simulation Baseball Game

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike New York Yankees Practice T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_York_Yankees/browse/featuredproduct/606363/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_606000/ff_606363_xl.jpg&w=100 27.95 Nike New York Yankees Practice T-Shirt - Ash
    Majestic Detroit Tigers 2012 MLB American League Champions Clubhouse Locker Room T-Shirt - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Detroit_Tigers/browse/featuredproduct/1064043/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1064000/ff_1064043_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Majestic Detroit Tigers 2012 MLB American League Champions Clubhouse Locker Room..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room T-Shirt - Gray http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067359/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067359_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker R..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room Pullover Hoodie - Steel http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067382/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067382_xl.jpg&w=100 54.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker R..
    New Era San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room 39THIRTY Flex Hat - Charcoal/Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067785/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067785_xl.jpg&w=100 31.95 New Era San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Ro..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Glory T-Shirt - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1068294/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1068000/ff_1068294_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Glory T-Shirt - Bl..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Batting Practice Performance Jersey - Black/Orange http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1068787/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1068000/ff_1068787_xl.jpg&w=100 94.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Batting Practice P..