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Pettitte Retirement Due to Injury?

By Frank Russo ~ February 3rd, 2011. Filed under: Rumor Mill.

Despite the feeling from the mainstream media that Andy Pettitte is retiring to spend more time with his family, there is buzz the real reason behind his decision is due to his health.

I was informed by a Tampa source there are rumors that Pettitte’s arm “is shot,” and he realizes surgery will be necessary. Instead of going through the rehabilitation process he has decided to hang it up.

Think about it. Why would Pettitte reportedly be throwing just a week ago, only to retire this week? Sounds like he was testing his arm and the final diagnosis was negative.

If this is true, the decision by Brian Cashman to conservatively wait on Pettitte looks even worse. The good news is the Yankees are monitoring the starting pitching market. Derek Lowe continues to be available, and members of the organization believe he would be a great fit due to his makeup. I realize some fans are down on Lowe because advanced metrics like ERA+ have not been kind to him during his Atlanta days. The fact remains that Lowe has a pedigree of big game pitching. Last year he won 16 games and pitched well in the playoffs. In the second half he was 7-4 with a 3.49 ERA. He was even better in September, winning 5 games and pitching to a 1.17 ERA. Without him the Braves do not secure the Wild Card.

I believe Lowe would be the perfect fit to replace Andy Pettitte. All indications are he wouldn’t cost much in terms of prospects. The Yankees should not fear taking on the final two years and $30 million dollars owed. Lowe is a big game pitcher who has proven he can succeed in the American League East.

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Frank is a resident of East Brunswick, NJ and former radio announcer. He is a 4th generation Republican and Yankees Fan. He also enjoys listening to talk radio. His favorite announcer is Shawn Hannity of “Hannity” on FOX and enjoys reading about military history. In addition to rooting for the Yankees, he also has a passion for the New York Islanders. You can enjoy Frank’s work at The Dead Ball Era and his book “Bury My Heart at Cooperstown”. Check out his “Rants and Raves” on New York Baseball Digest.

12 Responses to Pettitte Retirement Due to Injury?

  1. Michael Maggi


    What other names are out there as of right now? I’m thinking Scott Kazmir, Fausto Carmona, Lowe, Barry Zito, and Joe Blanton can be had right now. Be interesting to see if Rothschild can turn a guy like Kazmir around. I’m also hearing Dontrelle Willis is in the best shape of his career. I know none of these are “sexy” names but what are your thoughts? I cannot imagine the Yanks start Opening Day with CC, AJ, Phil and two of Nova, Mitre, Colon, and Garcia.

  2. Russ

    I thought that Pettitte has a lingering back injury involving an issue with his sciatic nerve that hasn’t gone away. I was under the impression that the workouts were to see if it healed enough for him to pitch because the problem had, by the end of last season, starting running down his leg?

    As for Lowe, I’m convinced he’s the best available option right now, if the Braves are still looking to dump the 30 million dollars over 2 years left on his deal. He threw 190 IP and went 16-10 with a 4.00 ERA last year which, outside of the money and his age (37) seems to be just what the doctor ordered. The problem is that Cashman seems to want no part of his deal, nor tying up a rotation spot for 2 years with a guy who will be 37/38 when there are so many stud pitching prospects so close to the big leagues. The other issue with Lowe, is that the Yankees may have waited too long and he may not be available any more. Ken Rosenthal reported on Hot Stove, that the Braves have offers from two Japanese teams to buy Kenshin Kawakami for 6.75 million dollars. If they make that deal, then there is no longer a need for Atlanta to salary dump Lowe. If they are looking solely for salary relief to offset the Uggla extension, then unloading Kawakami and his 1-10 5.10 numbers from last year, may better suit their needs since Lowe should be more valuable an asset for a team expected to compete for a wild card in 2011.

    Finally, I have a question regarding who deserves credit for breaking the Pettitte retirement story. I was out today and when I returned I discovered a podcast in my iTunes from WFAN of Mike Francessa calling in to Joe & Evan to break the story. Then later, every other report I’ve read credits Michael Kay with breaking the story first. So, does anyone know who actually had the story first? It would be quite ironic if WFAN was “pulling an ESPN” and taking credit for breaking a story that someone else (in this case 1050 ESPN) had first. What’s the real story here? Does anyone know the true time line?

  3. Frank Russo


    I was told that the Yanks have no interest in Willis. Zito is quite interesting. I don’t think the Yanks would do it, but my friend, Tony Siegle of the Giants, told me that Zito is available if the Yanks take on a majority of the remainder of his contract. I just don’t see Cashman doing that. They love Lowe, as I mentioned, but as Russ stated above, the longer Cashman waits, the more Lowe will probably cost.

    The Yanks have inquired about Carmona, but as always, Indians managment wants more from the Yanks than from any other club because of his age and affordable contract. Forget about Blanton. He would get murdered in the Al East.

    Kazmir is interesting, but I don’t think the Angels will deal him, and secondly, his elbow issues are a big red flag, so I don’t see it. When I spoke to my main guy down in Tampa on Thursday, he told me that things right now are “very quiet,” and there is a suspicion that Cashman is again working on some kind of trade. If and when I find out somthing, I will post it up immediatly.

  4. Frank Russo


    You are definately correct about Pettitte’s back pain, but as I wrote, there is talk about his arm giving him problems as well. Remember, he has had elbow problems in the past. As I wrote, I was toild that there is “speculation” about his arm, nothing concrete. I do know, for a fact, that Andy’s sciatic nerve problem has never gotten better. Once the back goes, it’s very hard for a player to return to form. Just ask Don Mattingly, or Mike Bossy of the Islanders who had to retire at 30 from a bad back.

    BTW, Pain running down the side of the leg is typical of sciatic nerve problems.

    As far as who broke the story, Mike Silva told me that Michael Kay, who is very close to Andy, broke the story with a tweet. Since Kay works for YES and is an insider, I would go with Kay over Francesa.

    As far as Lowe goes, the Braves are definatly going to look to move some salary, but as you mentioned, the longer Cashman waits, the tougher it becomes to obtain Lowe. The Yanks are still talking with the Braves, but who knows what will become of it.

  5. Mike Silva

    By all reports Michael Kay broke the news.

    I love Joe and Evan (Evan was on my show), but this kind of inside information would only come from someone like Kay. Pettitte is not about to leak anything to WFAN. That, quite simply, is Francesa not giving credit where credit is due.

    Francesa and Kay do not get along – that is probably where this behavior stems

  6. Stu B

    I’m not sure it really matters why Pettitte is retiring, other than as a basis for criticizing Cashman…

  7. Frank Russo


    I disagree that it’s a basis for criticizing Cashman, although the Pettitte retirement once again shows how ill prepared Cashman was this off season. The thing is, everytime someone like me or Lisa Swan over at Subway Skwakers criticizes Cashman, we get roasted by his defenders, who love what he is doing. Waiting on Pettitte was a bad move by Cashman, and having no real backup after Cliff Lee was even worse.

  8. Russ

    Here’s my issue with those critical of Cashman for not having a Plan B.

    I simply don’t see where he had any viable options. Any quality starting pitchers who were traded either came with serious possible baggage like Zack Greinke or were guys who were simply not going to be traded in an inside the division deal, as in Shawn Marcum or Matt Garza. Who that actually was moved was truly a SP option for Cashman?

    As for free agents, this was, without a doubt, the weakest free agent class for starting pitching in years and perhaps since the advent of free agency in 1976 outside of Lee. I don’t know what else people wanted Cashman to do that he didn’t in his pursuit of Lee. He was aggressive and offered him more money than anyone else. Now, I don’t know this for sure but after putting the pieces together, I think Lee’s decision to go to Philly had a lot to do with his son’s health. Supposedly, his son has leukemia that is in remission and it seems like the doctors that treated him work out of a major cancer hospital in Philadelphia. So, I believe that he and his family simply felt more secure in Philadelphia for reasons having to do with managing his son’s future health needs. That’s bigger than either a baseball or financial decision and something that he simply couldn’t compete with.

    Now, there is the issue of the failure to make the Lee trade last July but again Cashman is being unfairly blamed for that as well. That deal did not fall apart due to his stubborn refusal to include Nunez or Nova as some media people repeatedly say. That deal fell apart because Jack Z behaved like an unscrupulous horse’s ass and backed out on a handshake deal. That’s some morally reprehensible behavior right there, as a man is only worth as much as his word. Jack Z’s word means nothing and I’m sure a lot of GMs, including Cashman, are leery about dealing with him in the future as he’s clearly a guy who can’t be trusted.

    The other issue is that what few quality SPs that were available via free agency signed shockingly early. You simply can not blame Brian Cashman for not foreseeing this development. Does anyone truly believe that for example, if he hadn’t already signed when the Lee deal fell apart, that Cashman wouldn’t have gone after someone like Ted Lilly to be the 4th starter? I just can’t see who was available that these people ripping Cashman wanted him to get after Lee signed.

    If anything I think he should be applauded for not panicking and making a stupid move where they gave up a ton of money, or worse premium prospects for some washed up veteran. In the old George/Tampa Contingent days, couldn’t you see them doing something rash and trading someone like Benuelos for Barry Zito or throwing a bunch of money at a Brad Penny type?

    My one complaint, is this idea that Ivan Nova is a lock for the 4th starter spot. The guy hasn’t proved anything and I believe that he shouldn’t be just handed the job. What they should do, barring a trade, is throw the 4th & 5th starters slots open to a full bore competition this spring between ALL the kids and the vets on make good deals like Garcia & Colon (maybe even take a flier on one more) and let 8 or 9 guys battle it out and may the best men win. Sergio Mitre shouldn’t even be in the race, he should be the long man because there is no upside to him. If someone who hasn’t pitched higher than AA is the best man in the spring, give him the job, we’ve seen guys make that jump before so it’s not an outrageous concept.

    So, to sum things up, that’s my issue with the anti-Cashman people, for all the talk about his lack of a Plan B, none of them has come up with a solution that doesn’t come with some baggage. These same people who are imploring him to take a risk (and every name mentioned is a risk in some fashion) are going to be the first one’s to rip him if he gives up top kids who pan out and become legitimate big league arms for some other team.

    Maybe there is a solution that no one has come up with yet. There are teams with young quality SPs who lack quality catchers in their system so maybe the answer is to package Austin Romine and one of the non-Killer B pitching prospects to Oakland or San Diego or Arizona or some team for a young arm who is on the way up and under team control. I don’t know, but it’s an idea I came up with that no one else in their rush to take on a Joe Blanton, Barry Zito, Fausto Carmona or even Derek Lowe type despite all their varying baggage has thought to explore.

  9. Russ

    I forgot one more part of the No Plan B problem that goes unmentioned…the two top young SP potential trade targets, Wandy Rodriguez & Ricky Nolasco signed contract extensions. This isn’t Cashman’s fault and he could do nothing about it.

    Who knows? Maybe if John Danks continues to refuse to sign an extension or if the Cardinals can’t sign Adam Wainwright to an extension because of the impending Pujols contract they may become available down the road. Stranger things have happened.

  10. Frank Russo


    Good points all the way through. As I wrote about a while back, Cashman contacted the White Sox about both Danks and Buerle, but Chicago is not interested right now.

    Both Waintright and Chris Carpenter could go on the block because of the Pujols mess. I see Carpernter being shopped first. I still like Lowe, despite what people think Blanton and Zito….let’s not go there.

    I agree totally with you about Nova. He has done nothing to deserve a rotation spot. I don’t understand the whole Mitre thing either. Yanks should only use him as a long man, period, especially now that Aceves is out of the picture.

    I totally agree about Jack Z.. All the people I spoke to thought he acted like a jackass, pardon the pun, when he changed his mind on the Lee trade. Although I still think negotiations could have and should have continued, I understand how ticked off he was.

    One last thing. If you saw the interview with Cashman at the Pettitte press conference, he was pretty open about how he is exploring trade possibilities. There are lots of rumors floating down in Tampa that Cashman has somthing big cooking. It’ll be interesting to see what happens down the road.

  11. noooooooo

    You leave Derek Lowe where he is. You are not bringing him to NY. He is too good for your pathetic organization full of cheaters.

  12. Stu B

    What’s up with the hostility, nooooooo?

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