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Free Agent Profile: Andy Pettitte

Andy Pettitte

To retire or not to retire — that’s the question on Andy Pettitte’s mind right now.  The southpaw had an off year in 2006, after many seasons of excellence, and Andy Pettitte must be wondering if his stuff is finally starting to escape him.  At 34 years of age, Pettitte could certainly pitch another season, or two, or three, or more, but he clearly would rather call it a career now than dwindle for 2-3 more years before retiring on a sour note.  The problem for Pettitte is can he retire knowing that there’s so much still left in the tank?  He can definitely still pitch and pitch well — perhaps 2006 was just an aberration — but is Pettitte willing to put his body to the test for another (or several more) full campaign(s)?  If he is, here’s a look at what might happen.

Pettitte’s 2006 numbers do not do justice to the quality he brings to the table, but here they are anyway…

  • Record: 14-13 — fewest wins in a season with 30+ starts since 1999
  • ERA: 4.20 — worst since 2000
  • WHIP: 1.44 — worst since 2000
  • BA Against: .284 — worst of his career
  • Games: 36 (35 starts) — career high
  • Innings Pitched: 214.1
  • Hits: 238 — worst of his career
  • Runs: 114 (100 earned) — worst of his career
  • Walks: 70 — his control really suffered this year
  • Strikeouts: 178 — career high…at least he got the punch-outs
  • Homeruns allowed: 27 — worst of career…by far

As I pointed out earlier, 2006 was very likely the worst season of Andy Pettitte’s career.  Whether it was a fluke or sign of declining abilities is hard to determine, and the only person who may know the answer is Pettitte himself.  Even so, Pettitte won 14 games this season, his ERA was a semi-respectable 4.20, and he struck-out more batters this year than ever before.  Still, the .284BAA and 1.44WHIP are a sign that Pettitte isn’t the dominating ace he once was. 

For some more evidence of potential decline, let’s turn to Pettitte’s situational stats…

  • Bases Empty — opponents BAA: .283 — shaky
  • Runners On — opponents BAA: .285 — uh-oh
  • RISP — opponents BAA: .283 — bad
  • RISP w/2 outs — opponents BAA: .229 — terrific
  • Bases Loaded — opponents BAA: .241

Pettitte really didn’t do particularly well in any situation, and he had tons of trouble with runners on base — a sign that his stuff suffers when he throws from the stretch.  He did well with 2 outs and RISP, but that was really the only situation in which Pettitte was successful. 

Here are Pettitte’s split numbers…

  • Vs. Left-handed hitters: .259
  • Vs. Right-handed hitters: .290 — 22HR allowed…OUCH
  • Home — Minute Maid Park (ERA/WHIP/BAA): 3.83/1.35/.277
  • Away (ERA/WHIP/BAA): 4.60/1.53/.292 — home sweet home
  • Day Games: 4.50/1.42/.286
  • Night Games: 4.07/1.44/.283

My advice: keep Pettitte at home and pitch him after sunset exclusively.  All of his other numbers are not pretty.  Pettitte’s line is especially ugly on the road, particularly when there’s a righthanded hitter at the plate.  Of course, as a starter, Pettitte can’t be a lefty specialist, nor can he control where and when he pitches.  That means the bad end of the splits need to improve or his line will be ugly for years to come. 

Is Andy Pettitte going back to the Bronx?

If Andy Pettitte decides to stick around, there’s one team that will certainly come calling.  That’s the New York Yankees, and the Yanks could definitely use some depth in their starting rotation, which is injury prone to say the least.  Not that Pettitte is especially healthy, but Brian Cashman would be wise to add to his starting crew this offseason.  The Astros will also probably work to keep the veteran southpaw in Houston, but GM Tim Purpura may not have the funds to do it if the Yankees offer top dollar.  Pettitte could be one of the better pitchers on the market if 2006 was a fluke, but he could also decline sharply and have a terrible 2007.  That’s the risk you take in signing Pettitte, and I think the Yankees and Astros are the two teams that are most willing to take it.  Keep an eye on the Mets, Giants, Padres, and Rangers as potential sleepers to bid for Pettitte’s services, but I think Houston and the Bronx are the two most likely destinations if Pettitte does not retire. 

My prediction: Pettitte will sign a 2year deal worth 16Million with the New York Yankees. 

Stats prediction: I think Pettitte will do about as well as he did in 2006.  Something to the tune of 15-12 with a 4.20ERA and a 1.33WHIP sounds appropriate, with 160-170K’s rounding-out his numbers. 

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Tomorrow’s Profile: JD Drew

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Trivia Time!

Yesterday’s question (see — Free Agent Profile: Mark Loretta) was…

Mark Loretta played for 2 teams before coming to the Padres in 2003.  Can you name them?

The correct answer…

Mark Loretta was drafted by and debuted with the Milwaukee Brewers before being traded to the Houston Astros in 2002.  He left for San Diego as a free agent in 2003. 

Today’s question is…

When Andy Pettitte started Game 2 of the 2005 World Series, he tied Christy Mathewson and Waite Hoyt for 2nd on the all-time World Series starts list with 11.  Who is at the top of the list with double that number?

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