Andy Pettitte is scheduled to rejoin the Yankees today in Tampa. He’ll settle into the clubhouse, throw a bullpen and address the media in a 6 p.m. press conference — all of which seemed entirely out of the question just a few days ago.
Now that the shock has worn off, it’s time to find out what Pettitte has left.
Truth is, there’s very little risk involved here. For the Yankees, $2.5 million isn’t a massive commitment, and the team has plenty of rotation alternatives to cover them if Pettitte doesn’t work out. Like Brian Cashman said, “Why bother” is not a good excuse, and so the Yankees are happy to take this chance on one of their most popular players of the past two decades.
What surprises me is that the Yankees were willing to take on significant risk, and they seem completely convinced that Pettitte will be exactly what he was in the first half of 2010.
Cashman has admitted that he offered Pettitte $10-12 million in late December. That’s basically the Hiroki Kuroda contract, except Cashman was offering it to a 39-year-old who hadn’t pitched in 17 months and spent the second half of his final season on the disabled list before suffering a back injury in the playoffs. Joe Girardi has said he fully intends to have Pettitte on his big league staff this season, despite already having six starters who seem capable of doing the job.
“Our expectation is that he’s going to be who he was when he left,” Girardi said. “I don’t think we would have signed him if we didn’t expect him to be who he was when he left.”
Maybe Pettitte will make that happen, and if he does, the Yankees will have a proven, familiar, reliable starting pitcher to add to their rotation a month into the season. His first start at Yankee Stadium will be electric. Teammates will be thrilled to have him back. There’s no question Pettitte believes this team can win a World Series.
There is considerable optimism surrounding this deal, and very little downside.
“It’s only been a year, right?” Robinson Cano said. “Just put it in your mind when somebody gets hurt for a year and can’t play for a year or something like that. He was here (last month) and he was in good shape. You see how happy everyone was when he came in here. The energy, everybody likes him. Great guy. He’s funny. He’s got everything. That’s a guy that I’m happy to see him back.”
Associated Press photo