Saturday, December 09, 2006

Andy Pettitte

Did anyone expect Andy Pettitte to land a 16 million dollar contract two months ago? I certainly did not. Of course, I didn't envision Ted Lilly being paid more than Mariano Rivera either.

The contract with Pettitte is a 1 year deal with a player option for the same amount in 2008. Pettitte reportedly has a gentleman's agreement with Cashman not to exercise his option if he is injured.

I like the Pettitte signing, a lot. If Pettitte is healthy, he is an effective pitcher. A very effective pitcher. Of course, health is a problem.

SG over at RLYW posted an excellent projection for Pettitte next year. He predicts 194 innings, a 4.30 ERA, and 31 starts for Pettitte.

I think that Andy is capable of better, but that is a pretty safe prediction. A 4.30 ERA may not sound great, because it isn't, but it is above average. Hell, that might be 18 win stuff with the Yankee's offense.

Any short term deal is a good deal for the Yankees right now. We won't need these expensive, barely above average free agents in a couple of years. For now, Pettitte will pitch in to the 7th and 8th innings for the most part every 5th day and keep the Yankees in the game. It's easy to forget that Andy is only 34 years old.

What does this deal mean? Well, it means one of a few things. Pavano could be gone (the likely conclusion at this point). Randy Johnson could be injured worse than we think. Or, more likely, the Yankees just don't trust their farm to step in to the 5th starter role. Our starting rotation will probably look like this on April 1st:

Chien-Ming Wang
Mike Mussina
Andy Pettitte
Kei Igawa
Randy Johnson (He'll miss a few starts, but a 5th starter won't be needed for a few weeks)

Those are five guys (maybe except for Randy Johnson) who are all pretty good bets to put up ERAs between 3.80 and 4.30, and a lot of innings. All things considered, that's pretty good.

There have been talks about sending Pavano to Colorado, Pittsburgh, and San Franscisco. I think that if we subsidize his contract a little bit, Pavano will be a nice little trading chip. I mean, Jason Marquis just got a payout larger than what is remaining on Pavano's contract.

At this point, it's impossible to determine what the bullpen will look like, but my best guess is:

Mariano Rivera, 1.80 ERA
Kyle Farnsworth, 4.36 ERA
Chris Britton (although he has options, I am betting that he stays in the majors)
Scott Proctor, 3.52 ERA
Mike Myers, 3.23 ERA
Damaso Marte (rumored trade for Kevin Thompson), 3.70 ERA
Darrell Rasner (long relief), 4.43 ERA

Jeff Karstens, who still has plenty of options, will be sent down to Scranton while Brian Bruney will be traded away. I included their 2006 ERAs to point out how effective this bullpen would probably be. I think that Farnsworth and Britton are also better than their 2006 ERAs.

Pitching in Scranton will be:

Phil Hughes (first call up)
Humberto Sanchez
Jeff Karstens
Steve White
Tyler Clippard

J.B. Cox
T.J. Beam
Jose Veras
Jeff Kennard
Sean Henn (if he clears waivers)
Charlie Manning
Justin Pope
Colter Bean (although the Yankees have him starting lately)

I think that this is going to be a big season for New York Yankee pitching. Why? Last year we were pretty good - in the top third of the majors. However, we lost a lot of runs to guys like Shawn Chacon (7.00 ERA), Tanyon Sturtze (7.59 ERA), Octavio Dotel (10.80 ERA), Ron Villone (5.01 ERA), Aaron Small (8.46 ERA), Sidney Ponson (10.47 ERA), T.J. Beam (8.50 ERA, he'll improve), Kris Wilson (8.64 ERA), and Scott Erickson (7.94 ERA). Joe Torre somehow let those guys combine to pitch 165 innings! It wasn't entirely his fault, because the organization had few average depth guys for him to work with (although he failed to use guys like Jose Veras and Colter Bean, who could no doubt be better than these scrubs). Instead of Sidney Ponson and Kris Wilson, we have a near-endless group of good prospects to take the reigns. I really believe that Sanchez, Hughes, Cox, and maybe even Beam could step in almost immediately and be better than anyone on the staff other than Mariano Rivera.

Tomorrow I profile the 19 year-old 1st baseman Geraldo Rodriguez.