Friday, December 12, 2003




Cheer up, Yankees fans. So Andy Pettitte's gone. Big deal. Here's a tidbit. He never really was that good.

Here are four "mystery" pitchers, with their Support Neutral Wins Above Replacement numbers for the last three years:

Pitcher A
2003 5.6 SNWAR
2002 2.0 SNWAR
2001 5.0 SNWAR

Pitcher B
2003 4.9 SNWAR
2002 0.2 SNWAR
2001 2.7 SNWAR

Pitcher C
2003 2.6 SNWAR
2002 2.8 SNWAR
2001 2.2 SNWAR

Pitcher D
2003 -0.7 SNWAR
2002 2.7 SNWAR
2001 2.8 SNWAR

Any guesses? What if I told you the Yankees traded their best young hitter to get Pitcher A, Pitcher C just signed with the Astros, and the rumours are flying that Pitcher B is available in exchange for Pitcher D?

Pitcher C, aka Andy Pettitte, is dependable, but he's not worth Bartolo Colon money. I'm not sure I'd even give him Kelvim Escobar money (who had 2.8 SNWAR in his return to the rotation this year in 50 fewer innings than Pettitte; he's also 4 years younger).

Compare Pitcher C with Pitcher E (confused yet?):

Pitcher E--err--Colon
2003 4.5 SNWAR
2002 5.5 SNWAR
2001 3.9 SNWAR

If the rumours are true and Pettitte turned down $13M a year from the Yanks to play closer to home for $2M less, they dodged a bullet. Well, maybe not, since it's not like resigning Pettitte would have in any way impacted the rest of Steinbrenner's spending. But Pettitte is no longer a great pitcher... if he ever was one. And for all the doomsday analysts worrying that the Yankees rotation is now too right-handed, I answer that it doesn't seem to be a problem across the street at Fenway. Better a right-handed Vazquez than a left-handed Pettitte. (Does Yankee Stadium favour left-handed hitters that much more than Fenway?)

Here's some interesting info on those Pitcher B rumours, courtesy of Lee Sinins:

With Pettitte out of the picture, the Yankees are expected to aggressively pursue Dodgers P Kevin Brown.

According to ESPN's Peter Gammons, a 3 way deal that would feature Brown to the Yankees, Frank Thomas to the Dodgers and Jeff Weaver to the Whitesox, along with other players being involved, was discussed last week and has a good chance of happening.

I could see that happening.

Holy Crap. Wow, pardon me for a moment, but I can't see Frank Thomas in Dodger Blue. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure Frank would come around to the idea. He could tell himself that there would be no temptation for the manager to stick him at DH anymore. But even though the difference between Brown and Thomas' contracts means the Dodgers will save some money, they need to invest in a younger player, not another aging McGriff-like "let's cross our fingers and hope this works out". Now obviously, Thomas is about a million times the player McGriff ever was. (And that's not to disparage McGriff.) And Frank had a good year this year (.316 EqA) to cement last year's "comeback" (.291 EqA). But at 35 he's a long way off from his career .342 EqA average.

And from the White Sox perspective, there's no way I'd give up my Hall of Fame bound DH/1B, even if he is in decline, for an erratic basketcase of a starter unless I'm pretty damn sure that this is a reflection of the skill of my coaching staff, and not blind luck. Do the White Sox really believe they can now transform any hurler into Sandy Koufax? Kenny Williams is crazier than I thought.

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