March 16, 2012

Andy Pettitte signs minor-league deal with Yankees

Just as Bernie Williams gave fans hope by never officially retiring, Andy Pettitte never officially hung up his cleats. He just said, "I will not pitch this season," referring to last year. He didn't come back then, when the Yankees really lacked depth in their rotation. Now, when the Yankees have a surplus of starters, Pettitte is back, signing a one-year, $2.5 million minor-league deal.

The 39-year-old probably won't be ready for Opening Day, but he could certainly help them when he is at full strength.

Both Williams and Pettitte stopped playing at 38, but it just seemed like Pettitte had more juice left in the tank. He posted a 3.28 ERA in his final season but missed most of the second half.

So, what does the rotation look like now? Well, in order to make this fun I'm going to assume that everybody is at full strength. Here we go:

1. CC SabathiaNo explanation needed.
2. Hiroki Kuroda — At No. 2, I'm looking for the next most reliable pitcher behind the horse. The 37-year-old Japanese righty is that man, as evidenced by his 3.45 career ERA in four seasons (3.07 in 2011,  3.39 in 2010)
3. Andy Pettitte — He retired a little too prematurely. Now he's back, motivated and still is a smart pitcher. He won't have Jorge Posada receiving, however, and I think that's important to note considering their long history.
4. Michael Pineda — These last two sophomores are interchangeable, but I'll give the edge to the big guy. Although critics have jumped on his decreased velocity, I side with Joe Girardi, who says it's a little too early to judge (8.1 innings).
5. Ivan Nova — Tough call, but he wasn't nearly as touted as Pineda. Nova came out of nowhere, but the Yankees have to feel good about having a young, 16-game winner in the back of the rotation.

6. Phil Hughes — He's only 25! He still has a chance to be a top starter on a good team.
7. Freddy Garcia — Obvious trade bait, in my eyes. He's 35 and clearly could pitch in most rotations. The Yankees just happen to be stacked right now. However, keeping him as a Pettitte insurance plan would be nice.

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