January 20, 2009
The Case for Andy

The search for starting pitching is dominating the Mets rumor mill right now. Omar Minaya has reportedly shown interest in pitchers like Ben Sheets, Oliver Perez, Randy Wolf, Jon Garland, and Freddy Garcia. One name that hasn’t been widely discussed is Andy Pettitte. For whatever reason, Pettitte hasn’t been shown much love this offseason and I don’t understand why. I think he would be a perfect fit for the Mets. Let’s take a look at some of the factors surrounding a Pettitte-to-the-Mets scenario.

1) Performance

Here are the predicted 2009 stats for various pitchers, based on CHONE and Marcel projections:
Derek Lowe: 178 IP, 3.69 FIP
Andy Pettitte: 175 IP, 3.96 FIP
Oliver Perez: 171 IP, 4.75 FIP
Ben Sheets: 161 IP, 3.73 FIP

Pettitte is not as valuable as Lowe, but it’s pretty close. The 4.54 ERA Pettitte posted in 2008 is misleading, as the Yankees’ defense was pretty horrific. Pettitte’s BABIP of .339 was high as well. Look at the list of defensive stiffs who saw significant time in the field for the Yanks in 2008: Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Jason Giambi, Bobby Abreu. The Mets defense is not spectacular, but Carlos Beltran is the best defensive CF in the game, David Wright is strong at 3B, and Jose Reyes projects to be better than his 2008 performance. For those who think it’s absolutely necessary to sign another lefty to deal with the Ryan Howard-Chase Utley-Raul Ibanez trio (for the record, I don’t), Pettitte meets that requirement. Additionally, he has a season’s worth of strong postseason experience, should the Mets make it that far: 218 IP, 4.18 FIP. I’m more concerned with the 162-game path to the playoffs, which Pettitte could be a big a big part of.

2) Durability

I would love to see the Mets sign Sheets, but I understand why Omar Minaya would be apprehensive to do so. Sheets has injury concerns, as do Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, and John Maine (in varying degrees). The missed starts of Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez over the last couple seasons might also make the Mets hesitant to sign a pitcher with such injury risk. Meanwhile, Pettitte has averaged 214 IP over the last four seasons, never throwing less than 204 IP during that span. This kind of consistency would be more than welcome in the Mets rotation, especially considering the high quality of all those innings. Yes, Pettitte is 36 years old and had elbow surgery in 2004, but he will probably not require any more than a two-year commitment. I think he’s a safe bet to remain injury free over the next two seasons.

3) He’s a “true Yankee”

I don’t buy this reasoning against signing Pettitte at all. The days of player loyalty to teams are long over (see: Jackie Robinson choosing to retire rather than accept a trade to the crosstown rival Giants). If Pettitte was some kind of outspoken Mets hater, or true Met villain a la Roger Clemens, Jimmy Rollins, or Chipper Jones, I would say no thank you. However, he’s a quiet, hard-working guy who doesn’t seek out the spotlight. The Mets signed Tom Glavine from the rival Braves, and he had a decent run in Flushing, his first and last starts notwithstanding. Yankees fans forgot Johnny Damon was a member of the Red Sox once they realized he’s still a valuable player. The Rays signed Pat Burrell, a member of the team they lost to in the World Series. The hardcore Yankee haters among Met fans may not be able to forget Pettitte’s eleven seasons in the Bronx, but I can.

4) Contract

Pettitte reportedly turned down the Yankees’ offer of one-year, $10 million. Yankees discount or not, this offer is much lower than Pettitte’s actual worth. Fangraphs pegged his 2009 value at about $15 million while Beyond the Boxscore says $14 million. Having offered Lowe three years, $36 million, I think the Mets could make an offer to Pettitte in the neighborhood of two years, $24 million, and he just might accept it.

Ollie Perez is apparently first on the Mets’ list of free agent starting pitchers, and I don’t understand why. He’s a fine pitcher, but he’s not worth more than a three-year, $27 million commitment. Having already offered him three years, $30 million, I think the Mets negotiations with Scott Boras will drive that already fair offer into the ridiculous stratosphere of $12-to-13 million per season. Why overpay for Perez when you can underpay for Pettitte? The 2009 Mets need consistency and high-quality starts from their starting pitchers. Andy Pettitte can provide that, at a reasonable price.

16 Responses to “The Case for Andy”

  1. Comment posted by Nj on January 20, 2009 at 9:18 am (#921556)

    I have said to many Mets fans we should get Andy. If we could deal with Glavine as an ex Brave we can certainly welcome Andy. He would be a great 1 or 2 year deal IMO.

    get er done

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  3. Comment posted by Peter H on January 20, 2009 at 9:49 am (#921561)

    Pettite would be a good pickup, but there’s no way the Yankees will let the Mets get him.

  4. Comment posted by Ed in Westchester on January 20, 2009 at 10:01 am (#921566)

    The problem is that Dandy Andy, the bestest, most honest cheater in baseball, is a short term solution. Do we really see him pitching for 3 years?

    While Ollie may be maddening, he is a consistent 170+ innings guy, and is under 30. IF (yes, I know, BIG IF) he is able to finally get over the hump, he would be a better option than Andy. Even if he remains a fringe #3, he is still a better long term solution than Andy.

  5. Comment posted by skyhappysal on January 20, 2009 at 11:13 am (#921582)

    The deal the Mets are trying to sign Perez for is only a 3 year commitment – not the 5 or 6 years that Boras is fishing for. SO Ollie is not necesarily a long term solution either.
    I would prefer ANdy, SHeets, WOlf for a two year commitment instead of 6 years of maddening uncertainty with Perez.
    The Mets can reasses their needs in 2011, I am sure there will be pitchers available then as well. Or maybe a Mets youngster could assert himself, before Pelfrey’s 2008 I thought I may never see it again but now I have renewed optimism.

    Is there any chance the Mets could sign two of these fellows? I noticed today that Wolf turned down $5 million to pitch for Arizona.
    Signing Wolf and Sheets may not cost the Mets too much- Wolf could be had for 7ish and Sheetsis probably looking for a 1-2 year deal to boost his value and try free agency again when the market rebounds. Redding in the long role to guard against a Sheets or Maine injury would be superb, admit it.

  6. Comment posted by littlefallsmets on January 20, 2009 at 11:23 am (#921592)

    A washed-up eighty-year-old?


    Just another former star batted around as an idea not because they’re going to be effective but because he’d’a been a great add on your fantasy team five years ago?

    Another obsession with “name”?

    Oh God, pass.

    ALSO: to “guard against a Sheets injury”?

    That’s like guarding against the sunrise.

  7. Comment posted by skyhappysal on January 20, 2009 at 11:35 am (#921606)

    Ok 1 vote on pass, 2 votes FOR, and 2 votes who believe he could help us in 2009 but don’t care if he is a Met as long as the Mets DO sign one or two pitchers who would help us.

    I am really not looking at 2012 here (and not becaus ethe ancient Mayan calendar AND the i-ching callendar are predicting the end of an age). I am wondering who will help us in 2009 and NOT screw us in future years as a long contract to an underwhelming or mangled pitcher would.

    Sign Oliver Perez, great, don’t sign him for too long though.
    Sign Sheets or Wolf, or Pettite (with the first two the Mets could sign two I think- moneywise) – don’t sign any of these guys for long term either.

  8. Comment posted by stylesP on January 20, 2009 at 12:21 pm (#921618)

    he Mets signed Tom Glavine from the rival Braves, and he had a decent run in Flushing…The hardcore Yankee haters among Met fans may not be able to forget Pettitte’s eleven seasons in the Bronx, but I can.

    I don’t want another True Brave or True Yankee here. The Glavine deal DID NOT work out for the METS. It felt wrong from the start, and he performed under the value of his contract, as you can check at Fangraphs.

    And let’s not forget Willie. That also felt wrong from the start, and it was. Him and his Torre-dk-riding “Yankee professionalism” ways. That BS doesn’t fit with the Met’s identity. K-Rod does. Manny would.

    Besides, what is this, 1999? Forget Pettitte he’s old news. Sign Sheets.

  9. Comment posted by stel og stem on January 20, 2009 at 1:24 pm (#921636)

    Not a big fan of Pettitte but if Omar can sign any 2 of the following: Ollie, Sheets, Garland, Pettitte, Wolf and Garcia (as long as it’s not Wolf and Garcia) I’ll be happy.

  10. Comment posted by argonbunnies on January 20, 2009 at 2:53 pm (#921659)

    One rumor has Sheets asking for $18 mil over 2 years + incentives and 3rd-yr vesting option.

    I’d happily guarantee Ben the $18 mil and cross my fingers rather than spend the $14 mil it’d take for one year of limited-upside Pettitte.

    Of course, this is based on my understanding of Sheets’ medical condition as of last October… anyone with more up-to-date knowledge, please chime in.

    If we can’t get Sheets, I’m not sure whether I’d prefer Pettitte (more innings) or Wolf (better innings).

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  12. Comment posted by James Kannengieser on January 20, 2009 at 4:04 pm (#921683)

    I’m not as down on Wolf as most Met fans, but I’m not sure you can say Wolf would provide better innings than Pettitte:

    Wolf’s FIP
    2007: 3.99
    2008: 4.17
    Projected 2009: 4.41

    Pettitte’s FIP
    2007: 3.87
    2008: 3.71
    Projected 2009: 3.96

    It’s not by a wide margin, but I think Pettitte’s innings are of higher quality. Plus he is a workhorse.

    If that rumor about Sheets ($18 mil guaranteed plus incentives and a 3rd year option) is true, which I doubt it is, there is no reason not to sign him.

  13. Comment posted by stel og stem on January 20, 2009 at 4:38 pm (#921685)

    Jon Garland is not a high upside guy but if he can be had for 2 years at 15M or something that should definitely be done. He is durable and pitches alot of innings and he’d be moving to the NL. I hate his low K-rate but he is a decent #4 and a very good #5.

    I think Garland and Sheets is the best realistic combo of all the pitchers out there. If you can get those two for about 16M/year combined for 2 years that is a great job by Omar and would be much better than just getting Lowe for 15M or Ollie for 10M or 11M.

    I’m not sure if you can get them both for 16M/year but with each passing day it becomes more likely.

  14. Comment posted by argonbunnies on January 20, 2009 at 4:53 pm (#921690)

    James, thanks for the info, Pettitte’s recent FIPs are better than I thought. That 4.41 projection for Wolf seems overly harsh, though — is that based on him pitching in Houston?

  15. Comment posted by argonbunnies on January 20, 2009 at 5:02 pm (#921691)

    Here’s what I think would be a sensible Plan A for the Mets rotation heading into spring training:
    1. Santana
    2. Sheets
    3. Pelfrey
    4. Maine
    5. one of Wolf, Garland, Pettitte, or Ollie
    6. all of Pedro, Garcia, and Redding

    So that’s 8 pitchers. By the end of spring training, we’ll be ready to go with 5 in the rotation, 1 as long man, and 2 optioned to AAA (and figure on one of those declining the assignment). The long man and the AAA guy both need to be rotation fill-in options for when injuries occur (e.g., I’d rather have Garcia for that job than Niese).

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  17. Comment posted by James Kannengieser on January 20, 2009 at 5:07 pm (#921692)

    That 4.41 projection for Wolf seems overly harsh, though

    Agreed, argon. It seems a bit high. Marcel has him at 4.29 and CHONE says 4.55. CHONE seems to be very conservative, both with playing time and performance. I like your plan for the Mets rotation, I just hope they have enough $$ to make it happen.

  18. Comment posted by dogcatcher on January 20, 2009 at 6:27 pm (#921716)

    I dont even know where to start..

    1) Mussina pitched in front of that horrific defense and won 20 games without a fastball. AP did not pitch well last year…no excuses.

    2) When Glavs left Atlanta, he wanted to leave, bc it looked like the Braves were cycling down, changes with ownership approach, etc…
    AP will never value being a Met, and I dont want a guy on my team who’d rather be pitching for the Yanks

    3) Given AP’s age, and reliance on fastball, and steroid use, his 2nd half performance last year concerns me. It went against his career trends, and occured when the Yanks really needed him. Coincidence? Or off of Roids? Who knows..but Lowe can be expected to age better bc he throws sinker

    4) I was a proponent of signing both Lowe and Ollie, but did not think Lowe would get 4/60. I dont blame Omar for refusing that – Tho it sounds like he didnt get a chance to counter Braves offer (Boras didnt want Lowe w Mets bc w have killed Ollie’s market)

    5) If Ollie really wants 5/60, I wouldnt sign him either. LT deals for SPs rarely work out…Sheets offers major upside and is only 31…

    6) In sum, I think AP’s age and steroid history make him fairly risky – the fact that he is a Yankee doesnt help. Sheets is the best pitcher available – and makes sense for us.

    How about Manny? If he can be had on a 2 year deal with 3rd year vest option, I think you’d have to jump on that if you’re the Mets….and yes, Im serious, he is the best RH Hitter Ive ever seen, an all time great. We need a RH corner OF bat

    The Wilpons need to get over Mo Vaughn…

  19. Comment posted by metz247 on January 23, 2009 at 3:28 pm (#922768)

    I think this article makes a stronger case for Sheets, with those predictions, he is only 14 IP behind Petite with a much better FIP. Factor in 4-5MM less in guaranteed cash and he is a down right steal.

    Manny would be a great addition to this team… lets all hope the Dodgers decide to sign Dunn, rightfully so, as he can be had for ~8MM rather than ~23MM. Really a no-brainer for the Dodgers you would think

    That being said, I want the better hitter and the righty