If you know how important legs are to a pitcher, and if you know how cautious the Yankees are with injuries, it took you a millisecond after Andy Pettitte hopped off the mound Sunday to realize he was going on the DL. The groin injury will keep him down a month, maybe more.
Pettitte was in a good frame of mind as he met with reporters Tuesday:
Pettitte repeated a few times his focus being on getting healthy and helping the Yankees get back to the World Series. But it’s hard not to look at the 38-year old lefty and wonder what’s left in the tank after any kind of injury. Pettitte doesn’t seem too concerned with this one being the one that sends him home, and frankly neither am I. I would read a lot more into this if it were an arm injury. Thankfully for the Yankees this appears to be something relatively short term.
Forgetting the team aspect for a moment, and looking at it from a purely selfish standpoint for Andy Pettitte, this injury will keep him from posting 20 wins and perhaps taking home a Cy Young Award. In the grand scheme it might not seem like much, but for a guy sitting on the Hall of Fame fence, Cy Young hardware could make all the difference.
Since 1980, there have been 12 starting pitchers voted into the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America, and only one of them failed to win 300 games and/or a Cy Young Award—Juan Marichal. Pettitte’s 240 wins and .637 winning percentage are near identical to Marichal’s (243, .631), but that’s probably not good enough to get Pettitte a plaque. Even with his 18 postseason wins, Pettitte needs Bert Blyleven and Jack Morris to get into Cooperstown before he can step through himself.
There is an argument to be made for Pettitte, and it’s a valid one. But the past voting record of the BBWAA doesn’t work in Pettitte’s favor at this point. The era in which he played should—and will—be taken into consideration. So will the postseason win total. There is plenty of evidence that Pettitte belongs in the discussion, but he is not an automatic.
And the injury that just cut short what might have been his best season ever isn’t helping the cause.
*Paul O’Neill was absent from Yankee Stadium over the weekend, but was back in the Bronx Tuesday night broadcasting the Yankees-Angels game for YES. I caught up to O’Neill for a couple minutes to discuss the passing of George Steinbrenner and the nickname given him by the Boss, “The Warrior:”
Angels DH Hideki Matsui didn’t have as much personal interaction with Steinbrenner as some of the other great players of the past, but he chuckled as he recalled getting publicly called out by the Boss after his slow start in 2003, only to have Steinbrenner criticize his snub in the Rookie of the Year voting at the end of the year.
Matsui received another nice ovation from the Yankee Stadium crowd Tuesday night. Last year’s World Series MVP entered this series hitting .249/.329/.393. All three marks would be by far the lowest of Matsui’s career. He turned 36 last month.
*Finally, some thoughts from Joe Girardi on what exactly is wrong with Joba Chamberlain and how they are working to fix it:
Fans continue to get frustrated, and with good reason. But I don’t believe the Yankees can entertain any idea of trading him right now. I wouldn’t rule this out as an off-season move, when you have time to evaluate and make a win-win type of deal, but it’s too knee-jerk to just say, “Get rid of him” midseason.