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Pettitte’s Retirement Helps Phillies?

Pettitte’s Retirement Helps Phillies?

Andy Pettitte has announced his retirement after much deliberation. As of his Yankee Stadium news conference this morning, Pettite retires as a five-time World Series champion and the winningest postseason pitcher in MLB history. Pettitte had been telling the Yankees since the end of the season that it was likely he wouldn’t play in 2011. He became a free agent and has not attempted to negotiate a contract but there had been talk of bringing back the veteran southpaw by midseason, much as the Yankees once did with Roger Clemens. That speculation has been put to rest.

The 38-year-old left-hander is 240-138 with a 3.88 ERA in 16 MLB seasons. Pettitte excelled in the postseason, setting a major league record for wins by going 19-10 with a 3.83 ERA. Pettitte pitched 13 seasons with the Yankees, interrupting his career in New York to play for his hometown Houston Astros in 2004-06. He was a three-time All-Star, earning the honor in 1996, 2001 and 2010 and was a 20-game winner in 1996 and 2003 both times posting a 21-8 record. Pettitte was 11-3 with a 3.28 ERA in 21 starts last season, which was limited by a strained left groin that caused him to go on the disabled list from July 19 to Sept. 19. Age and injuries were contributing factors in Pettitte’s decision as was his desire to spend more time with his family.

Why is Andy Pettitte a story pertinent to the Philadelphia sports fan? Pettitte’s departure leaves a huge hole in the Yankees rotation, with no proven starters behind left-hander CC Sabathia, and right-handers Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett. Freddy Garcia and Ivan Nova will vie with Sergio Mitre, Bartolo Colon and a cast of castoffs for the remaining starters spots. This group consists of (but is not limited to) names like Mark Prior, Brian Anderson, David Phelps, Kei Igawa and Andy Sisco. So it is possible that after failing to land free agents Cliff Lee (PHI), Carl Pavano, Erik Bedard (SEA), Rich Harden (TEX), Justin Duchscherer (BAL), Jeff Francis (KC) or Jon Garland (LAD) the Bronx Bombers may find themselves in the market for more starting pitching. There are veteran free agent options such as Kevin Milwood, Ben Sheets or Jeff Suppan while the team allowed Javier Vasquez (FLA) and Dustin Mosely (SD) to leave via free agency. An odd situation for the team that all but invented free agency!

The Phillies wrinkle in all of this would be the prospect of Brian Cashman and Steinbrenner, Inc. actively seeking Joe Blanton and if so, what sort of deal could be arranged. The Phillies have been shopping Blanton and his $8.5M per season price tag (through 2012) since December. That was when Philadelphia made their big free agent splash regarding Cliff Lee and his return to a rotation already boasting three aces. Lee turned down the Yankees and took less money to sign a 5-year deal with the Phillies in the wake of Jayson Werth’s departure. This deal relegated Blanton to #5 starter. Brief history lesson. The Phillies traded 13 prospects and spent more than $255 million to obtain and retain the services of “Phour Loco” plus Joe Blanton. Halladay, Lee, Hamels and Blanton are all under contract for at least two more seasons. The Phillies and Oswalt have mutual options for 2012.

Not many teams pay $8.5M to their 5th starter but Blanton’s baseball value may not match his salary. In 7 MLB seasons, Blanton (30 years of age) has tallied a 72-60 record with 4.30 ERA and averages 212 IP, 24 HR, 137/59 K/BB and average WHIP of 1.343. Blanton is a mediocre pitcher who generally offers 6 innings pitched, roughly 1.5 HR surrendered every 2 starts and 34 starts per season. Millwood, by comparison, is 36 years old with similar average pitching statistics but seeking $12M per season to Blanton’s $8.5. How much is too much to pay for a second-tier starter?

Should the Yankees find themselves interested in obtaining Blanton, the Phillies would likely be seeking either prospects or perhaps an outfielder. The Yankees do not have a surplus of either but could possibly consider a combination of C Jesus Montero, OF Andruw Jones, Joba Chaimberlain, Boone Logan and recently acquired OF Justin Maxwell. What’s in it for the Phillies? Certainly they are shopping Blanton in order to shed some salary constraints, but what would $17M buy the Phillies in the way of a potential #5 hitter or OF? Jose Guillen? Gary Matthews, Jr? Garrett Anderson? Kevin Mench? Not likely as it makes sense that the Phillies would wait to try and shake someone else’s tree toward the end of Spring Training. As it currently stands, the Phillies are looking at a potential double platoon situation at their corner OF spots.

Left Field should be patrolled by veteran lefty Raul Ibanez with career minor leaguer John Mayberry, Jr. spelling him against lefty pitchers. Right field belongs to Ben Francisco with help from veteran first baseman Ross Gload attempting to work into the mix. Brandon Moss and Matt Rizzotti could also vie for Gload’s roster spot. Ideally the Phillies would want to package Gload and Blanton together along with burnout Danys Baez but no team is foolish enough to take all three. Blue chip prospect Domonic Brown looms on the precipice of stardom but is still a very raw hitter with all the tools to be a superstar. The Phillies will allow Brown every chance to make the club during spring training but expect that Brown will need more seasoning at AAA. Kyle Kendrick and Vance Worley lead a group of bargain basement options for the 5th starter spot should Blanton not be in that role.

Historically speaking the Phillies and Yankees have not made a lot of deals. The last successful deal was July 30, 2006. This trading deadline deal involved Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle heading to the Bronx in exchange for prospects SS C.J. Henry, P Matt Smith, P Carlos Bobby AbreuMonasterios, and C Jesus Sanchez. This deal was a salary dump as Abreu was owed $37M over the final two seasons of his contract.

None of those prospects made significant contributions to the Phillies as only Matt Smith ever made it to the Majors. Catcher Jesus Sanchez is the only remaining player from the trade. Smith and Henry are out of baseball. Smith had elbow problems. Henry is playing college basketball for Kansas. And the Mets selected Monasterios with the seventh pick in December’s Rule 5 Draft.  Sanchez, 22, looked like a lost cause, too. He had hit just .220 in parts of three seasons, and was hitting just .186 in 35 games for Class A Lakewood in 2008 when former Minor League field coordinator Bill Dancy pulled him aside and told him the club wanted to make him a pitcher.

“I was struggling with the bat,” Sanchez said. “I couldn’t hit. I was like, ‘I’ve got to hit. I’ve got to hit. I’m not going to make the big leagues if I can’t hit.’ I was working every day, but it never showed up.” Sanchez left Lakewood for instructional league in Clearwater to learn how to pitch. He returned to Clearwater the following March for Spring Training and impressed.

Related Article: Phillies Starting Lineup Projections

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Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me

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In response to “Pettitte’s Retirement Helps Phillies?”

  1. colin hammond Feb 4 20114:06 pm


    This is the first that I had heard that the Phillies were looking to dump Gload too. Where did you hear that bit of news? Why don’t they just dump Baez? Didn’t we go thru this with Adam Eaton? He can’t pitch anymore, so rather than let him eat innings from a guy like Scott Matthiewson or Zagurski, who won’t cost you more than the major league minimum, or David Hearndon, who won’t be much more, just cut him. You are going to pay him anyway, but why risk losing games with no gain. At least with those guys you might have a better chance at winning PLUS you get to develop them.

    1. Christopher Rowe Feb 4 20114:22 pm


      Agree than Herndon or Mathieson are better options – but the Phils have to pay Beaz regardless. You’re right this is an Eaton situation. Pay him and try tyo use him or pay him to pitch for someone else. No one is going to trade for him unless you pay part of the contract and you hate to use him because he doesn’t have it. Part of my pointy that when you sign bad contracts you usually wind up paying for them twice!

      Zagurski is not effective, nor is Antonio Bastardo – despite the fact that Romero remains the only lefty in the bullpen. Both Zagurski and Bastardo are out of options so they either make the major league club or they will get released (or they could clear waivers and wind up back in AAA anyway). They could have gone after Francis or Capuano or a littany of less expensive southpaws (and even traded one away for Cartwright.

      Gload will be packaged elsewhere if Moss or Rizzotti makes the club in Spring Training because they provide less expensive options with left-handed bats at the same position. Actually Moss is an OF whereas Gload is a converted first baseman who really can’t play OF. Rizzotti is a longshot to make the club but was protected on the 40-man roster for a reason. Naturally this is also contingent upon Domonic Brown

      1. colin hammond Feb 9 201110:40 am


        Not willing to give up on Zagurski or Bastardo yet. For some reason lefties take longer. Also, Zagurski has had injury issues that he seems to be over now. Of course, if they don’t make the club and somebody picks them up on waivers, then that is that.

        Do you have any idea what happened with the Reyes deal? I know it fell apart last second, but he just signed a minor league deal with Boston, so I am assuming that the Phillies pulled the plug, not him, but have never heard why.

        1. Christopher Rowe Feb 9 201111:46 am


          Reyes Deal 12/17/2010 “Reyes Signs with … Whoa Not So Much!”

          I’m not saying Zagursky or Bastardo CAN’T win the job, I’m saying each has had SEVERAL chances and both have failed to impress so far. This is their last shot before either getting released or having to go through waivers before another minor league assignment

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