Is Andy Pettitte Done?

Milo Hamilton Interviews Andy Pettitte, some time during his Astros sidebar days.

Spring training 2011 is coming on like the dawn, but General Manager Brian Cashman of the New York Yankees is once more on hold for a decision from star lefty pitcher Andy Pettitte of Deer Park, Texas. The 6’5″ greatest winning pitcher in Yankees post-season play is again saying he may retire to be closer to his family and, this time, it sounds as though he may actually mean it. It could still turn out to be a way to avoid the monotony of spring training with a late signing, but we shall have to wait and see. Quit now or keep it up, the man has performed pretty darn well through 2010, no matter what happens next.

Over the course of sixteen seasons (1995-2010), Andy Pettitte has fired a regular season career mark of 240 wins against only 138 losses, with an ERA of 3.88 and 2,251 strikeouts. Although he has registered only two 20-win seasons, Andy has been consistently in the high to mid teen range on season wins over the course of things. Over the long playoff haul with numerous winners, even during his three Thomas Wolfe-ian Houston sidebar/sidetrack seasons as an Astros (2004-2007), Pettitte compiled a wonderful record of 19 wins, 10 losses, and an ERA of 3.83. in his (count ’em) eight World Series appearances, Andy Pettitte has registered a winning mark of 5 wins against 44 losses with a 4.08 ERA.

Along the way, Pettitte also has pitched in three All Star Games (1996, 2001, 2010),

Sadly, Andy Pettitte is a Houston area guy who wanted to come home when he signed with the Astros in 2004, after nine seasons in the The Bronx. It almost worked out. Then (and here’s where we only have public information to go by), after three years as an Astro, Andy couldn’t get more than a one-year contract offer from Houston at another of those times he was supposedly thinking about retirement, That changed when his old Yankee club came back to him with a two-year offer at better money to return to New York.

In the four seasons he’s marked into Yankee Career II (2007-2010), Pettitte has chalked up another 54 wins. Do you think the Astros might have been able to use that “54” productivity over the same course in time? Oh well. It wasn’t to be.

My memory of Andy Pettitte as an Astro will always be framed by the belief that he really wanted to be here. That isn’t true of every ballplayer who ends up with your club, nor is it always important, except in the sense that caring makes bonding and long haul commitments easier to generate. Sometimes, opportunity alone is the main attraction to signing with a club. Opportunity and matching performance can get it done in the short run of a brief contract for most players – and the same formula may even work for a few guys, long-term. It’s just undermining to the interests of a player who wants long-term commitment when he feels the club is only interested in him short-term at a cut-rate price.

I cannot help but feel that Andy Pettitte took the Astros’ one-year, low ball salary offer as a sign of disinterest back in 2007 – and that he then took the Yankees’ two-year, bigger bucks offer as a sign of come home to New York, where you are really wanted. – What else are we to think? Andy took the Bronx bucks.

I do think Andy really felt he was home for good during the time he actually played for the Astros. My signature memory of Andy Pettitte as an Astro came about while he sitting in the dugout. I’ll never forget the look on his face when Albert Pujols of the Cardinals hit that infamous bomb off Brad Lidge in Game Five of the 2005 NLCS game at Minute Maid Park. Andy was sitting on the home club bench when it happened – and as the camera zeroed in on his face for a closeup. In the real-time that the Pujols homer was happening, we got to see this unfolding expression on Andy’s face: First, the eyes get really big as the face drops to an open-mouthed, slack-jawed position. Then the lips start moving, ever so slowly, but the un-hearable words they speak are unmistakable: “OH. MY. GOD.”

As in all things over those three years (2004-2006), Andy Pettitte’s Pujols reaction was pure Astro. He had come home to play, but like Nolan Ryan before him, it wouldn’t be possible for Andy to stay forever. And he won’t be back as a player because, as everyone either already knows, or soon enough gets to find out: You can’t go home again.

That’s life.

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One Response to “Is Andy Pettitte Done?”

  1. Wayne Williams Says:

    Bill: I think Whitey Ford is the leading post season winner with ten wins and eight losses. The World Series is the post season. The LDS and the LCS are merely pennant playoffs and are part of the regular season just like the three-game playoff in 1951. But, I don’t know if Pettite is done.

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