Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Pettitte: Driving A Hard Bargain

After months of fruitless negotiations, Andy Pettitte and the Yankees have finally come to an agreement. And I think we’ve all relearned an important lesson: When the Yanks brass make you an offer and say, “Take it or leave it,” they mean it. And if you’re a thirty-six-year old pitcher, coming off of a mediocre season and that offer is for $10.5 million guaranteed, you take it.

Or you could just go with Pettitte’s strategy and holdout for months, have your people spread rumors about a three year $36 million offer from a “mystery team” and then eventually sign with the Yanks for half of what they originally offered. True, Pettitte’s new contract is filled with incentive clauses and he stands to make even more than $10.5 million assuming he is able to meet the criteria laid out in the contract. $4.5 million in incentives based on innings pitched, 2 million based on time on the active roster. It’s also true that, based on past performances, the incentives are fully within Pettitte’s grasp. However, given his age and his shoulder injury at the end of last year’s season, my prediction is that he walks away with less than what he would have gotten out of the first offer.

It’s like they always say: $10.5 million birds in the hand is better than $6.5 million in incentive clauses in the bush. Or something.

Not surprisingly, Pettitte was somewhat sheepish about the deal, saying, “Heck, the bottom line is I'm a man, and I guess it does take a shot at your pride a little bit.”

Note to Pettitte: Don’t say heck. Ever.

I have made no secret of the fact that I didn’t think that we should sign Pettitte, that having signed CC and AJ, we should give the kids a shot at the back end of the rotation. But now that we have, I’ll say this, though I’m sure that no one in the Bronx will hear me: Put Joba back in the bullpen. We have a rock solid starting rotation without him. With Joba as your setup man, followed by Mo, we’re dealing with a six-inning ballgame—most of the time. Then, eventually, when Mariano reveals himself to not be an alien and his body gives out on him, Joba becomes our closer. Unfortunately, however, Cashman seems pretty wed to the idea that Joba belongs in the starting rotation.

But in Cashman’s defense, these are hard decisions, and he has a stressful job. He said so himself just yesterday: "I feel the heat. I've always felt the heat. I've never not felt the heat. Do I think it's any hotter now than it was before? No. But do I feel it every day? Yeah, I do."

Does anyone else see a second career in tropical meteorology in Cashman’s future?

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