Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Can't let Andy Pettitte go

The four main candidates for the last two spots in the New York Yankees rotation are doing incredibly well so far this spring. So why can't I let Andy Pettitte go?

I can't bring myself to turn off my Andy Pettitte Google alert, even though it's pretty thin most days. The stories that do mention Pettitte usually refer to him in the context of which of the four candidates – Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre – will replace him. But I think that’s the problem. I’m still not convinced any of these guys can truly replace him. I worry about Colon’s weight, Garcia’s injuries and Nova’s youth (I think Mitre will end up in the bullpen because Joe Girardi loves his flexibility).

Yes, they are all pitching well now, but the real test will come in April when one of those guys has to start against the speedy and powerful Boston Red Sox lineup. Sure, it will only be the second week of the baseball season, but Yankees/Red Sox games are epic battles, even in April. We all know how good Pettitte was in big games. Can one or two of these guys consistently step up to help the Yankees beat their archrivals and the other beasts of the American League East?

In my head, I know the chances of Pettitte coming back this year to help the Yankees are slim. But I can’t help wondering if the lefty will feel compelled to unretire if he turns on the television in May to find his team struggling because the guys chosen to replace him can’t do the job. Pettitte was pretty firm in stating he would not play again this year, but that could change if he feels he has to save his team from ruin, especially if his family gives him their blessing to head back to the baseball field.

Maybe one or two of the candidates for those spots will pitch so well that this all becomes a moot point. But the Google alert stays on for now, just in case.

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