Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Is Pettitte Going to Retire?

According to Yankee first baseman Mark Teixeira, starting pitcher Andy Pettitte may be leaning towards retiring instead of coming back to help bolster the Yankees questionable starting rotation.  Teixeira has been trading text messages with Pettitte, who is 38 and has been contemplating retirement each offseason for the past few years.  Last season, he went 11-3 with a 3.28 ERA, but missed most of the second half of the season because of injury.  He made it back for the postseason, in which he went 1-1 with 2.57 ERA.  Over his 16 year career, Pettitte is 240-138 with a 3.88 career ERA and 2251 strikeouts.  He has been great in the postseason, compiling a 19-10 record through 42 playoff starts.

If Pettitte does indeed decide to retire, the Yankees could be in trouble.  Without Pettitte, the New York starting rotation currently consists of ace CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, AJ Burnett, Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre.  Those five are far from the best in the league.  Sabathia is a legitimate ace and last season went 21-7 with a 3.18 and 197 stikeouts.  The rest of the rotation is a question mark. 

Hughes, while great during the first half of the season, struggled as his innings piled up and ended up with an ERA of 4.19.  Over his last ten starts during the regular season, Hughes posted a 4.91 ERA and limped into the postseason, where he posted a 6.32 ERA in three starts.  Can he adjust to more innings and actually be a solid number 2?  So far he hasn't shown that he is capable of doing that.

New pitching coach Larry Rothschild has his work cut out for him when it comes to AJ Burnett.  Burnett has some of the best pure stuff in the majors, but he has always struggled with mechanics and actually pitching well for an entire season.  2010 was a disaster, as Burnett posted a 5.26 ERA to go along with an equally dismal 10-15 record.  In 186.2 innings, Burnett only struck out 145 while walking 78.  Batters also hit .285 off of him.  Burnett could be a big key to the Yankees success in 2011.  If Rothschild can work wonders and make Burnett a reliable starter, the Yankees could be in much better shape than people think.

The last two spots in the rotation are, at the moment, going to be filled by relative unknowns Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre.  Yeah, if I heard that my team's rotation was going to have those guys as four and five starters, I wouldn't be too happy.  Especially if my team's payroll was near $200 million every single season.  Last season, Nova and Mitre recorded respectable ERAs of 4.50 and 3.33, respectively, but they only combined for a total of 96 innings.  Who knows what they will do if they have to pitch more innings.  The most innings Mitre has pitched in one season is 149, with the Marlins in 2007.  He recorded a 4.65 ERA while pitching in the NL East that season, so just imagine what will happen if he has to start in he AL East.  2010 was Nova's first season, which makes his spot in the rotation even more questionable.

Pettitte's decision will affect New York's outlook on the 2011 season.  If he comes back, the Yankees will have a much stronger rotation.  If he doesn't, the Yankees will have a weak rotation to combat a revamped Boston team and a still dangerous Tampa Bay team in the AL East.

1 comment:

  1. I can't believe you are trash talking Ivan Nova. Nova is an amazing pitcher that will thrive this season, likely posting somewhere around 15-16 wins. Mitre won't last long in the rotation, one of our guys in the minors will take his spot and we've got some talent down there.

    The Yankees aren't as screwed as you think... OK, yes they are but it doesn't hurt to dream that Nova will get that many wins.