I have the perfect pair of slippers. They are the kind of invaluable possession that you can replace with an identical item, but it wouldn’t be the same. I found them online four years ago when I was in college for $50, and it may have been one of the best apparel related purchases I have ever made. They slide on my feet so perfectly that I sometimes forget I have them on. When I’m wearing them, I can quiet the impossibly creaky floors of my apartment like a Amazonian tribesman hunting in a leafy forest. If only I had temporarily lost them at some point, they would be the perfect metaphor for what Andy Pettitte is to the Yankees.
If the Yankees are lucky, they could probably approximate Pettitte’s production by trading for Jarrod Washburn or cobbling together Phil Hughes, Alfredo Aceves, Ian Kennedy, recent addition Jason Johnson and Phil Coke. But it just wouldn't be the same. The lefty has endeared himself to the Yankees fan base to a near-Jeterian level, and was obviously a cornerstone of the late 90's dynasty. I remember seeing him pitch for the Albany-Colonie Yankees when I was 10 years old. He's seems like a humble, family guy and is almost Brett Favrerous in his interviews and press conferences.
Like Jeter, his timing was impeccable. He made his debut in Don Mattingly's final year in the Bronx. He threw 8 1/3 scoreless innings in Game 5 of the 1996 World Series. He's also been remarkably consistent, making 30 or more starts in 10 out of his 11 seasons in the Bronx and amassing 192 regular season wins for the Yankees behind only Whitey Ford and Red Ruffing. [Ed. note: I'd use better stats here, but I think an intangible (fan love), is best summed up by an arbitrary and incomplete stat (wins). See: Rivera, Mariano (saves)]
Despite his poor second half last year, the "two" times he admittedly used HGH or his hiatus in Houston, fans (like me) still love Pettitte to a fault. He wears #46, which was my favorite number before he ever put on the pinstripes. I don't want to see this guy go.
But the stalemate between him and the Yankees is giving me second thoughts. This situation reminds me of the stand-off between the cable providers and the NFL Network which is still keeping NFL-N out of a whole lot of homes who would like to have it. You know one or both of these sides is being irrationally difficult, and regardless of whose fault it is, the fans are getting screwed.
If you don't mind, I'd like to play arbitrator/Judge Judy real quick...
Mr. Cashman, et. al: This is not where you want to pinch pennies. We've been over this. Pettitte will almost certainly provide stability to the rotation and figures to throw 190-210 innings to the tune of a league average ERA. Why would you want to pass on this? In terms of fit with the team and flexibility via length of contract, there isn't a better pitcher on the market (or in the system). I know $10M is a lot of money. It's roughly 36,986 times greater than my net worth ($273.43), but you can probably see why he might take issue with his team committing $243.5M to the rotation this offseason and then quibbling over a couple of million bones with a guy who they drafted 17 years ago, right?
Mr. Pettitte: Dude, it's nothing personal. I know the three guys who weren't affected by the shitty economy this offseason were signed by the Yankees, but take a moment and survey the free agent landscape. Pat Burrell just took a 50% pay cut. Quality guys like Adam Dunn, Manny and Bobby Abreu are sitting out there unsigned and if they want to play next season, are going to have to take some pretty significant hits as well. But you want to make more than Derek Lowe is going to next year after he had a 3.24 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP last year as opposed a 4.54 and 1.41. You've publicly stated that you want to take the mound at The New Stadium and don't want to pitch anywhere else. If you go somewhere else, your Yankee Legacy (TM) is going to be forever tarnished.
Verdict: Give him $12M and let this discussion end. How a team and a player can be $6M apart is beyond me. This isn't probably going entirely one way ($10M) or another ($16M), and I think the Yankees position makes about $1M more sense. Come on Cash... step right in.