So here are the Bombers, dropping a large FA contract on a pitcher coming off his worst year in five years, a guy departing the lazy NL Central, a guy who was tagged but good in interleague, a guy who will be on the wrong side of 35 by the All-Star break, a guy with a suspect elbow, and—guess what—just about everyone in Yankeeland is happy about it. If the player involved was anyone but Andy Pettitte—or maybe Roger Clemens—there would likely be an uproar. What’s the deal? Well, Pettitte is a bona fide Yankee hero of yore. He has provided us with some great memories, and a lot of solid innings. (But let’s not kid either, he was never the team ace, and was practically run out of town by the Boss—wrongly, but still.) The deal is for only 2 years, the Yanks need pitching depth, they need a consistent innings eater (Pettitte has been over 200 in 3 of the last 4 years, nevermind the elbow), and they need a mentor, or at least someone to set a solid example, for the many young pitchers in the organization. Money is a consideration, but let’s face it, the team can afford it—especially after jacking up box seat prices. The arrival of Pettitte makes the status of Carl Pavano an even greater question mark than ever. Pettitte will walk into the clubhouse with huge respect from his colleagues. Pavano has lost that, apparently, and who knows if he’ll even be back. I’m interested to see which of the two has a better 2007—wherever Pavano plays. Meanwhile, the Yanks would do well to find a decent glove at first base. Between Wang and Pettitte, there will be a lot of ground balls at the Stadium this season.
Pettitte may always have been lukewarm about New York, but there’s no question as to his committment to the Yankees, or his work ethic. Here’s Tom Pettitte, Andy’s father, on the Houston/New York movement (courtesty Bronx Banter):
“I never wanted him to leave New York to begin with…lThe Yankees were always a special part of his life, no question. When he was deciding to pitch down here, he said: ‘I’m a Yankee. I’ll always be a Yankee.’ That’s how he understood it. Now he gets to go back and be a Yankee again.”