Tag: Andy Pettitte

Chuck Knoblauch Throws Shade at Andy Pettitte over Yankees Retiring Number

When an athlete gets his or her number retired, family, friends and former teammates usually have nothing but kind things to say.

That’s not the case with Andy Pettitte.

On Sunday, Josh Pettitte—one of Andy’s sons—broke the news that the New York Yankees would be retiring Pettitte’s No. 46 in 2015:

The Yankees confirmed the news Monday:

Pettitte went 219-127 with a 3.94 ERA in his 15 years (two stints) in the Bronx. The southpaw was a three-time All-Star and helped bring five World Series championships to New York. 

A resume like that looks worthy of getting a number retired, right? Former Yankees second baseman/left fielder Chuck Knoblauch, who was Pettitte’s teammate from 1998 to 2001, isn’t sure the left-hander deserves a spot in Monument Park:

If you recall, Pettitte was one of the players named in the Mitchell Report and later admitted to using HGH (human growth hormone). Knoblauch was also mentioned in the report.

Instead of just congratulating his former teammate, Knoblauch wants to make sure everyone remembers that Pettitte’s legacy is tainted. He did, however, explain his tweet:

Knoblauch had nothing but kind things to say about ex-teammates Jorge Posada and Bernie Williams:

While Pettitte will forever be a part of baseball’s steroid era, he was a beloved member of the Yankees during his playing days. Now, the team is rewarding him for all he did for the organization.

That doesn’t sit well with people like Knoblauch who believe Pettitte wasn’t honest enough.

[Twitter, h/t New York Post]

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Andy Pettitte Earns Complete-Game Victory in Final Start of 18-Year Career

New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte pitched a complete game in the final start of his career on Saturday night, as the Yankees earned a 2-1 win over the Houston Astros in the 41-year-old’s final appearance on the mound, per CBS Sports’ Eye on Baseball Twitter feed:

Afterward, Pettitte expressed his love for the game and sadness about calling it quits after 18 years, per Yes Network’s Jack Curry on Twitter: 

Pettitte, facing the only other team he played for over his career, struck out five, allowing five hits and just one earned run in his 11th win over the season and the 256th of his career. MLB.com’s Josh Vitale points out the significance of Saturday’s win:

On Sept. 20, Pettitte announced that he would retire at season’s end, thanking Yankees fans for their support over the years and acknowledging that the time is right.

However, this isn’t the first time Pettitte has retired. In February 2011 he announced his retirement before coming back midway through the 2012 season.

Pettitte has played 15 seasons with the Yankees since making his big league debut back in April 1995. He played three seasons with the Astros from 2004 to 2006 after signing with the team as a free agent after the 2003 season.

He returned to the Big Apple after the 2006 season.

The five-time World Series champion was a clutch performer for the Yankees in the playoffs during both stints. Pettitte went 19-11 in 44 postseason starts for his career, including four games with Houston in 2005.

The Yankees, who failed to qualify for the postseason for the first time in five seasons, will wrap up the regular season on Sunday afternoon against the Astros inside Minute Maid Park in Houston.


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Where Does Andy Pettitte Rank on Yankees’ Long List of All-Time Greats?

One of the greatest careers in New York Yankees history is coming to an end.

As first reported by Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Andy Pettitte has announced he will retire at the conclusion of the 2013 Yankees season:

The 41-year-old left-handed pitcher has two more scheduled starts—Sunday vs. the San Francisco Giants and next weekend in his hometown of Houston vs. the Astros—to add to his ledger of 255 career victories. Barring a miracle sprint to the finish by New York, Pettitte will not be afforded a trip to the postseason to add to his October legacy of 19 victories and five World Series rings.

Few could have predicted the success story of a 22nd-round pick in 1990, but as Pettitte prepares to depart from Major League Baseball for good, his career deserves celebration.

Competing for 15 of 18 seasons as a New York Yankee, Pettitte did more than enough to put himself among the all-time greats to ever wear the pinstripes. According to Baseball-Reference.com‘s Wins Above Replacement metric, Pettitte is the 12th-most valuable player in the history of the franchise.

Considering the 9.4 WAR he racked up, despite battling elbow issues, from 2004 to 2006 in Houston, it’s safe to assume Pettitte would be one of the six most valuable players in the history of baseball’s most successful franchise had his career not taken him away from New York for three seasons.

When you look at the top five names on that list, Pettitte’s career and achievements become even more remarkable. Between Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio and Derek Jeter resides the pantheon of Yankees greatness dating back almost 100 years. Pettitte’s value wasn’t quite in that category, but his longevity and ability placed him in the next tier.

Perhaps the most amazing aspect of the list above: the arrival, within a matter of a few years, of Jeter, Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Bernie Williams. After a difficult start to the 1990s, the Yankees called up four players who all ended up as top-15 contributors in franchise history.

The end of Pettitte’s career will conjure up many memories for baseball fans in New York, but nothing will stand out more than big-game performances and October success. Led by the four young, dominant stars of the late ’90s, the Yankees reeled off four World Series titles in a matter of five seasons.

A look through Pettitte’s video highlight archives at MLB.com reveals transcendent performances in the month of October. Considering the Yankees took their first step toward a dynasty in October of 1996, it’s hard to imagine a more memorable night for Pettitte than Game 5 of the 1996 World Series.

Against a future Hall of Fame pitcher in John Smoltz, the 24-year-old Yankees lefty put his stamp on the Fall Classic by pitching into the ninth inning and not allowing a single run. One of the greatest pitching duels in World Series history was a performance by Andy Pettitte.

Hundreds and hundreds of words from the start of this piece, the headline question still must be answered fully: Where does Andy Pettitte rank among the all-time Yankees greats?

As detailed, an objective look at his career puts him in the top 15 in Yankees history, but considering the success, longevity and championships secured during his career, acknowledging Pettitte as one of the 10 best players in franchise history is not a stretch.

Among starting pitchers, only Whitey Ford and Ron Guidry appear on the list along with Pettitte. The Bronx Bombers have been known for impact bats over the years, but the three left-handed Yankees pitching stars stood out and deserve inclusion among the great bats.

The following table puts the careers of Ford, Guidry and Pettitte into context using ERA-plus. Due to the vastly different eras they played in (Ford in the 1950s and ’60s, Guidry in the ’70s and ’80s, Pettitte since 1995), adjusting their career earned run averages to fit the time gives us an indication of who performed the best in their respective days.

Using ERA-plus, Ford is clearly the top starter of the three, but Pettitte and Guidry are very, very close. The greatest starter in Yankees history remains Whitey Ford, but given his slight edge over Guidry and 19 postseason wins, Andy Pettitte walks away from New York as the second-best starting pitcher in the long, storied history of the franchise.

In perhaps the most fitting tribute a team can afford a player, it will likely be a long, long time until the New York Yankees can develop, cultivate and keep a pitcher good and durable enough to provide over 50 WAR and multiple World Championships to their franchise.


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Andy Pettitte Will Retire at End of 2013 Season

Andy Pettitte has pitched in the major leagues for 18 years, but his career is coming to a close. The veteran pitcher announced that he would retire at the end of the season on Friday, per the Yankees’ Twitter feed: 

Joel Sherman of the New York Post had the scoop that the New York Yankees left-hander was reportedly planning to announce his decision to retire on Friday afternoon:

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Report: Andy Pettitte Will Announce Retirement Friday Afternoon

The New York Yankees are in the thick of a playoff race, but that may not stop left-hander Andy Pettitte from announcing his retirement Friday afternoon, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

Pettitte and the Yankees are fighting for the second of two American League Wild Card spots, though their chances seem slim given their recent skid. Throw in the fact that there are only nine games left on their schedule, and the Yankees really need some luck to get in.

Playoffs or not, Pettitte will be joining Mariano Rivera in retirement following the season. The two burst onto the scene in 1995 with the Yankees, and save for a few years from Pettitte, they have remained with the team throughout their careers.

Pettitte hasn’t been his usual self in 2013. He is just 10-10 with a 3.93 ERA over 169.1 innings pitched. More often than not, Pettitte has found himself in jams that he has been unable to come out of unscathed. Couple that with the Yankees’ stagnant (at times) offense in 2013, and Pettitte hasn’t really seen the results he’s used to.

Over the course of his career, Pettitte has compiled 255 wins, 3,300 innings pitched and 2,437 strikeouts. He finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting in 1995, was named an All-Star three separate times, finished in the top-six of the AL/NL Cy Young voting five times and even finished in the top 24 of the AL/NL MVP voting twice.

In the postseason, Pettitte ranks among the best in MLB history. He owns a career record of 19-11 and an ERA of 3.81. As the go-to guy for the Yankees in the late-90s and early-2000s, Pettitte was arguably the most important starting pitcher for the team.

The left-hander is widely considered one of the top Yankees starters of all time. In terms of left-handers, Pettitte and legend Whitey Ford are nearly interchangeable at the top of the chart.

Should this be the end for Pettitte, don’t expect a return like he made after sitting out the 2011 season. At 41, this is likely it for one of the best Yankees of all time.

It’s hard to foresee the future, but a spot in monument park for No. 46 could happen within the next few seasons. There isn’t another Yankees starter more deserving.

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How Andy Pettitte’s 2014 Return Would Impact Yankees’ Offseason Plan

Could Andy Pettitte be coming back for one more season?

According to Andy McCullough of The Star-Ledger, it certainly seems like a possibility:

“Look, as long as I’m healthy, I know now that I can pitch for a long time,” Pettitte said. “My velocity is up this year, compared to what it was last year. I’m taking care of myself. So that’s not even an issue.”

So, if Pettitte does come back, how does that impact the New York Yankees‘ offseason plan?


Things that won’t change

Two things that won’t change for the Yankees are the need to re-sign Robinson Cano and find a possible replacement for Alex Rodriguez, should his suspension stand.

That has to be the biggest focus for the Yankees regardless of what happens. 

If for some reason Cano doesn’t re-sign with the Yankees, that means big trouble, as there aren’t many good second basemen on the market this offseason.

Third base is not as pressing, as the Yankees could re-sign Kevin Youkilis or Mark Reynolds to take A-Rod’s place until Dante Bichette Jr. is ready to take on the everyday role.

Of course, that is assuming Rodriguez gets suspended. If not, hopefully the ruling will be early enough so that the Yankees don’t feel like they need to address the issue.

Pursuit of an outfielder or two will be important as well. Curtis Granderson is a free agent this year, and Ichiro Suzuki, Alfonso Soriano and Vernon Wells are free agents the following season. Prospects Tyler Austin and Mason Williams could make their big-league debuts late next year, but the Yankees know they still have to address the outfield a bit more. Frankly, Brett Gardner won’t cut it.

I also don’t feel like Pettitte will affect the Yankees’ attempts to convince Hiroki Kuroda to sign on for another year or their pursuit of free-agent starter Matt Garza. Regardless of Pettitte, the Yankees are going to throw a lot of money at Garza to get him to come to New York.


What will be affected

The main thing with Pettitte is that he’ll be 42 next year. That means that whether he likes it or not, he doesn’t have very many years left in him.

What the Yankees do have to decide is whether this year’s free-agent crop of pitchers is better than next year’s will be.

This year (other than Garza), the market could feature Josh Johnson, Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum, Paul Maholm, Tim Hudson, Ricky Nolasco, James Shields and Ervin Santana. But is that better than 2015’s class that so far includes Clayton Kershaw (for now), Chad Billingsley, Johnny Cueto, Max Scherzer, Jake Peavy, Justin Masterson and Yovani Gallardo?

Regardless of what the Yankees decide, Phil Hughes won’t be back next year. Currently sitting at 4-13 with a 5.11 ERA, there’s no way the Yankees bring him back.

I think Kuroda holds the key to everything. As it stands now, the Yankees will have CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova definitely slotted into the rotation. If Kuroda comes back, he will slot in to give the Yankees three, and Pettitte would make four. 

The Yankees could then make a huge run at Garza, Shields or Santana to complete their rotation, then add in one of 2015’s free agents for when Pettitte and/or Kuroda are done. By that time, Rafael De Paula or Manny Banuelos should be ready to start in the majors and take on the No. 5 role.

That way the Yankees don’t have to make a run on multiple starting pitchers like they did when they signed both Sabathia and A.J. Burnett in the same offseason. History has shown us that one of them is bound to fail.

If you don’t believe me, just look at the same 2009 season when the Braves signed Derek Lowe and Kenshin Kawakami. Kawakami failed the same way Burnett did in New York.


Pettitte won’t be enough

The Yankees will still have to make moves in their rotation even if Pettitte decides to come back. In fact, I’ll say the same for Kuroda.

The starters have a combined 4.13 ERA and a 51-54 record.

While some will point to the struggles of Sabathia and Hughes this year, it must be remembered that all starters (except for Kuroda) struggled at one time or another.

New York needs to get back to having a dominant starting rotation with two or three aces. It’s how they’ve succeeded in the past and how they’ll succeed again.

Offense may be the name of the game, but when it comes down to crunch time, good pitching will always beat good hitting. And regardless of whether Pettitte comes back or not in 2014, the Yankees have to prepare for the future without him.


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Reassessing Andy Pettitte’s Hall of Fame Candidacy After Win No. 250

Make it 250 for Andy Pettitte.

The New York Yankees left-hander finally got the 250th win of his career on Saturday, pitching 7.1 innings of one-run ball against the Seattle Mariners to lead the Bombers to a 3-1 victory.

He can put that career milestone in the bag. While he’s at it, the rest of us now have an excuse to discuss whether Pettitte’s career will ultimately be given the most coveted validation baseball has to offer: a ticket to Cooperstown.

It’s not the simplest of discussions. Pettitte is more a borderline Hall of Fame candidate than a slam-dunk candidate, and I know I didn’t have him pegged as a future Cooperstown alum when he initially retired back in 2010.

I suppose it pleases me to report that I’ve come around since then. If I had a Hall of Fame vote, Pettitte would get it. And either way, my best guess is that Pettitte will get in eventually anyway.

It’s just that “eventually,” in his case, is most likely going to mean a long wait. 

We’ll get to that in good time. First, let’s talk about why Pettitte’s Hall of Fame candidacy, while not ironclad, is strong enough.

We’re framing this discussion around 250th career win, but Pettitte’s win total is hardly the biggest feather in his cap. It’s my duty as a stat geek to remind everyone that pitcher wins mean jack-all, and Pettitte is a perfect example of why that is.

Pitcher wins are team accomplishments as much as they are individual accomplishments, and Pettitte has been very fortunate to have spent his entire career playing on good teams.

In Pettitte’s 18 years of service, he has yet to play on a sub-.500 team. The Yankees haven’t finished below .500 in over two decades, and the Houston Astros finished over .500 in each of Pettitte’s three years with the team between 2004 and 2006.

To boot, Pettitte has always had the luxury of a strong offense at his back. Per Baseball-Reference, Pettitte’s career run support amounts to an average of 5.4 runs per game. That’s compared to a league average of 4.8.

This is a sticking point for yours truly, and it will be a sticking point for some of the voters when Pettitte’s time comes. It’s tricky enough that his career win total doesn’t feature the magic 300 number, and there are bound to be voters who consider the teams Pettitte played on and conclude: “Heck, I could have won 250 games on those teams!”

Beyond the wins, Pettitte doesn’t have much in terms of accolades. He’s only been an All-Star three times, and he hasn’t won a Cy Young. He came darn close in 1996 when he finished second in the voting, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

Pettitte also doesn’t rate that well in light of everyone’s favorite performance indicators: ERA and WHIP. He went into Saturday’s start with a career 3.86 ERA and a 1.35 career WHIP. Among left-handed starters with at least 1,000 innings pitched, Pettitte’s 3.86 ERA ties him for 142nd place. In that same crowd, his 1.35 WHIP places him beyond the top 150.

Point being, Pettitte is far from an extraordinary pitcher, which is something that you knew already. He’s only ever been solid and consistent.

I mean that as a compliment—and a big one at that. Being extraordinary is all well and good, but many years of solid consistency can go a long way.

Consider where Pettitte ranks among the best left-handed starters in history in terms of WAR:

Rank Pitcher WAR
 1  Lefty Grove 110.0 
 2  Randy Johnson 104.1 
 3  Warren Spahn 92.8 
 4  Eddie Plank 86.5 
 5  Steve Carlton 84.0 
 6  Tom Glavine 74.0 
 7  Carl Hubbel  67.8 
 8  Tommy John 62.2 
 9  Hal Newhouser 60.4 
 10  Andy Pettitte 58.9

So as far as WAR is concerned, Pettitte is among the 10 most accomplished left-handed starters in history. “Most accomplished” is not the same as “best,” mind you, but you can see just how far being solid and consistent for so many years can go.

If you’re not into the whole WAR thing, there’s another stat that can vouch for Pettitte’s career: ERA+.

ERA+ is a version of ERA that’s park- and league-adjusted, which makes it handy in comparing pitchers from different eras. And if we dial up the list of southpaws with at least 3,000 innings pitched:

Rank Pitcher ERA+
 1  Lefty Grove 148
 2  Randy Johnson 135
 3  Whitey Ford 133
 4  Carl Hubbel 130
 5  Eddie Plank 122 
 6  Billy Pierce 119
 7  Warren Spahn 119
 8  Tom Glavine 118 
 9  Andy Pettitte 117
 10  Wilbur Cooper 116

Once again, Pettitte is among the top 10 and is very nearly on the level of Tom Glavine, who is likely going to get into the Hall of Fame on his first try next year.

Pettitte’s 117 career ERA+ also tops those of a few lefties who are already in the Hall of Fame, namely Steve Carlton, Eppa Rixey, Herb Pennock and Rube Marquard.

So if Pettitte were to be elected, he would hardly be out of place next to the southpaws already in Cooperstown. He’d actually be better than a few of them.

I’d be willing to send a vote Pettitte’s way based solely on that, but his career can’t be fully appreciated without also considering what he’s done in the postseason.

Pettitte has never been regarded as one of the elite postseason performers of all time, a la Curt Schilling. But his postseason track record is nothing if not extensive, and it’s uncanny how much his postseason numbers mirror his regular-season numbers.

Season GS ERA WHIP H/9 BB/9 K/9
 Regular  500*  3.86 1.35  9.3  2.8  6.7 
 Post  44  3.81  1.31  9.3  2.5  6.0 

*Not including his latest start.

While Pettitte’s never been an elite postseason performer, these numbers show that he’s never been one to wilt in the postseason either. Throughout his career, he’s essentially been himself in October. You can’t say the same about too many other pitchers.

And yes, there are Pettitte’s five rings to consider. I look at those the same way I look at Pettitte’s 250 wins, but the rings will undoubtedly help his cause with the voters. They alone won’t get him the requisite 75 percent of the vote, but they should serve to keep him relatively close to the magic mark until the support for his cause grows strong enough.

But as I noted way back when, that’s going to take time. The voters are going to have to come around to Pettitte’s unspectacular career numbers, and that’s not the only hurdle standing in his path to the Hall of Fame.

We found out when the Mitchell Report was released in 2007 that Pettitte used human growth hormone during his career. He owned up to it pretty much immediately, and to this day, there seems to be a general satisfaction with the explanation that he used it to recover from an elbow injury. 

But you know how it is with Hall of Fame voters and PEDs. They’re not fans, and it’s going to take both time and some turnover in the ranks for the stance on PEDs and the Hall of Fame to soften enough for Pettitte to get in.

Take the HGH drama and put it next to Pettitte’s unspectacular numbers, and you have the reason it’s going to take a while for him to get into Cooperstown. A generous guess would be a five-year wait, but I’d put the smart money on something more like 10 or even 15 years.

In the long run, however, that won’t matter. As long as Pettitte eventually gets in, he’ll be a happy man.

Here’s hoping. Pettitte’s case is as tough as they come, but he’s going to be worthy of Cooperstown when he finally hangs up his spikes for good.


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2013 MLB Predictions: Seasoned Veterans Who Will Have Major Impact

In Major League Baseball, veterans are always a key component to the success of a team, but there are some elder statesman who will have a major role for their respective clubs in 2013.

Guys like Andy Pettitte of the New York Yankees and R.A. Dickey of the Toronto Blue Jays will each be of vital importance to their respective team’s pitching staffs. Meanwhile, A.J. Pierzynski will have to make an impact on both sides of the ball for the Texas Rangers.

Age is just a number and these players certainly proved that with great statistics during the 2012 season.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these older vets and how they will benefit their teams in 2013.


Andy Pettitte, Starting Pitcher, New York Yankees (Age: 40)

When Pettitte takes the mound in April, he will be starting his 18th Major League season and is a huge piece of the Yanks’ starting rotation in 2013.

Pettitte unexpectedly returned to baseball last season and was rock solid before missing most of the season due to injury. When he was on the mound, Pettitte was 5-4 with a 2.87 ERA that proved he still has what it takes to be a force in the MLB.

On top of that, Pettitte was great for the Bombers in the postseason, giving them three good starters in October baseball.

This season, the 40-year-old will be New York’s No. 3 starter behind CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda. With the question marks behind him in the Yanks’ starting five, Pettitte must remain at top form during the 2013 season if his team is to have success in the regular and postseason.


A.J. Pierzynski, Catcher, Texas Rangers (Age: 36)

Now that the Rangers have lost slugger Josh Hamilton to free agency, this team has a ton of offense to replace in 2013.

Although Pierzynski won’t do it all by himself, his numbers from 2012 prove he can make a big impact in that regard. The 36-year-old hit 27 homers and drove in 77 runs while sporting a .278 batting average at the plate.

Behind the plate, Pierzynski will be tasked with helping bring the Rangers’ starting staff out of the dumps from a season ago. Texas’ rotation finished with a 4.30 ERA, which was good enough for No. 20 in the league.

So, not only will Pierzynski’s bat be needed in Texas, but he also must call good games and aid in the development of the younger arms in order to improve the Rangers pitching overall.


R.A. Dickey, Starting Pitcher, Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 38)

After winning the National League Cy Young award in 2012 as a member of the New York Mets, Dickey was shipped off to Toronto and is one of many new additions to the roster.

Dickey’s 2012 campaign was well worth the honor. The 38-year-old was 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA and that was with a lackluster roster supporting him in New York.

In 2013, Dickey will have a much better team around him with a great pitching staff and a dangerous lineup as well. That should help Dickey come close to his numbers from last season as extra run support should lead to plenty of games won.

The only thing that’s in doubt is if his success in the National League East will translate to the offensively potent American League East. Dickey will be facing much stiffer competition and the Blue Jays will need him to answer the bell if they hope to reign supreme in one of the most competitive divisions in the majors.

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Yankees Shore Up Rotation, but Huge Hole Remains at Catcher

The New York Yankees look to replicate the pitching success they enjoyed down the stretch and in the playoffs this past season.

They agreed to bring both starter Andy Pettitte and the greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera, back to the team for the 2013 MLB season.

Pettitte, who made his season debut on Mother’s Day, was limited to just 12 starts thanks to an ankle fracture. He pitched very well in his return to the majors after retirement in 2011, pitching to a 2.87 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and a 146 ERA+. He also pitched well in the playoffs, allowing just five runs in 13.2 innings.

Rivera pitched just nine games this season, out since May due to a freak accident during batting practice, tearing his ACL. However, he immediately decided that he would not retire and would work his way back. 

Both moves, along with Hiroki Kuroda returning last week, make the Yankees pitching staff again a threat when healthy. The pitching staff showed what it was capable of in this past postseason and hope to replicate this success for the entire 2013 baseball year

The offense, on the other hand, is still a work in progress, and now has suffered a setback.

Russell Martin, the replacement to longtime Yankee catcher Jorge Posada, left the Bronx for the Pittsburgh Pirates, signing a two-year deal worth $19 million. Martin spent the past two seasons with the Yankees, hitting .224 over a 258 game stretch. 

Despite the poor numbers, this a huge loss for the Yankees, as they also lose one of the best defensive backstops in the game. They must make a decision and perhaps some reactionary moves to solve this situation. 

The Bronx Bombers are now without a starting catcher, with the depth of catchers on the roster currently as follows:

Chris Stewart: .241/.292/.319/.611 in 2012 with the Yankees

Francisco Cervelli: .246/.341/.316/.657 in 99 games at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre

Austin Romine: Injuries cut him to just 31 games and 120 plate appearances

None of these players are suitable options to start, and only passable options as backups. The Yankees cannot afford to have this kind of depth on Opening Day. Martin only got a two-year deal, as did former Braves backup David Ross with the Boston Red Sox.

So, the best options that remain are former Los Angeles Angel of Anaheim and Texas Ranger Mike Napoli and longtime Chicago White Sox backstop AJ Pierzynski

Napoli is the cream of the free agent catcher crop, coming off five straight seasons with over 20 home runs. He had his best season in 2011, hitting 30 bombs and putting up a line of .320/.414/.631/1.046. He was an All-Star for the first time this past season.

Pierzynski had the best season of his 15-year career, setting new career highs in home runs, RBI, slugging percentage, OPS and OPS+. He also took home his first Silver Slugger award. 

However, there are problems coming if the Yankees bring either in. Napoli is a very poor defensive catcher, and you can’t put him at first base at all as long as Mark Teixeira is in the lineup. He can still double as a regular in the Yankees’ rotating DH system. But he also is looking for a pretty big deal.

Pierzynski is turning 36 next month, and is a huge risk given his age and the money he may want based on his contract year. Not exactly a guy the Yankees may want based on their plans for the future. 

However, it seems the Yankees may have to bite the bullet. In all honesty, nobody thinks either Napoli or Pierzynski are plans for the long-term future. Heck, neither is Russell Martin.

This has all been about covering the gap between the Jorge Posada era of Yankee catching history to his eventual heir. Jesus Montero is gone, and Austin Romine, Gary Sanchez and J.R. Murphy are still at least a year away from being able to step in as the starting backstop for the next several years.

The Yankees are an aging team with not too many prospects coming very soon. The organization also plans on spending even less than they have for so many years starting in the 2014 season.

This is obviously a reaction to the declines and long-term deals of Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia. The Yankees do not want anymore of those contracts on their payroll in the long-term.

However, the Yankees also have plenty of money to spend, with the departures of Martin, closer Rafael Soriano, and outfielder Nick Swisher, a grand total of almost $30 million between the three. 

That is the reason why not bringing back Russell Martin makes so little sense. He only got two years from Pittsburgh, and will only paid an average of $8.5 million, which is the same amount he earned this season. 

So now, the Yankees are forced to fill their spot at catcher with a high-priced free agent (Napoli, Pierzynski) or go with minor league talent (Stewart, Cervelli) in order to eventually bring up one of the three prospects they have still in their farm system.

The Yankees are in this dilemma because of themselves. They have time, but they cannot dawdle, because the remaining options could run out at any time. 

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Andy Pettitte Reportedly Set to Sign 1-Year Deal with New York Yankees

The New York Yankees and pitcher Andy Pettitte just can’t quit one another.

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported that “Andy Pettitte and the Yankees are finalizing an agreement for one year at about $11 million for him to return to the Bronx.”

After another fine season for the 40-year-old pitcher, Pettitte decided against retirement and the Yankees gladly signed him to a new contract, hoping to rekindle some of Pettitte’s magic from his limited starts in 2012.

In 75.1 innings, Pettitte went 5-4 with a 2.87 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 69 strikeouts. He battled an ankle injury that kept him limited to just 12 starts, but he was crucial for the Yankees down the stretch, going 2-1 in his September return to the club with a 1.62 ERA and 10 strikeouts.

With his return, the Yankees should have a solid rotation. You already know about that CC Sabathia guy. Like Pettitte, Hiroki Kuroda decided to return, signing a one-year, $15 million deal. Michael Pineda may not be back in time for the start of the season, but he’ll also be expected to be a stud when he returns.

And between Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova and David Phelps, the Yankees can nicely round out the back end of the rotation.

The question remains whether or not Pettitte can really be as effective as he was a year ago. While Jamie Moyer is an inspiration to us all—and Pettitte gets by on location and guile with the best of them—he’s on the wrong side of 40 and you could hardly blame him if he doesn’t have enough in the tank at this point.

Plus, can he stay healthy for the duration of the season? Can he even stay healthy long enough to give the team more than 12 starts? 

The Yankees are an aging club on the precipice of needing a fairly massive overhaul. If the old guys like Pettitte don’t come through, young and improving clubs like the Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays will leave them in the dust.

And no, I didn’t include the Boston Red Sox on that list. The one consolation for Yankees fans, if 2013 turns into a poor season, is that the BoSox won’t be very good, either.

Still, I wouldn’t bet against Pettitte or this Yankees team. One of the reasons they can’t quit one another is that their times together over the years have resulted in great success. 

We’ll see if the magic remains for one more season.


Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets never want to retire either.

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