Friday, January 9, 2009

The Mets and Andy Pettitte: Why Not?

With the Yankees and Andy Pettitte struggling to come to terms on a contract, it appears as though now would be the perfect time for another team to swoop in and offer Pettitte a contract.

Enter the Mets.

On the surface, Pettitte to the Mets makes little to no sense. The Mets seem to be focusing their efforts on Derek Lowe and Oliver Perez, both of whom performed better than Pettitte did in 2008. Also, Pettitte's numbers have been declining over the past few seasons and he can no longer be considered a top flight starter.

So why should the Mets make a run at Pettitte?

For starters, the Mets need a left handed pitcher. The arch rival Phillies are loaded with power hitting left handed hitters, who absolutely crush right handed pitching. In order to gain the upper hand against the Phillies, the Mets need to have pitchers who perform well against left handed pitchers. And whatdya know, Pettitte held left handed hitters to a minuscule .203 clip in 2008. That's the kind of production from a back end starter that could really benefit the Mets.

In addition, Pettitte is a near lock to give the Mets roughly 200 innings in 2009. That would give the Mets rotation another anchor to go along with Santana and Pelfrey and a consistent force in the back end of the rotation.

Most importantly, Pettitte would ease the burden from the Mets bullpen, who too often in 2008 were forced to pitch three or more innings in every game. As a fan, there are only so many times I can watch Pedro Feliciano enter a game! Having a fresh bullpen is vital to the team's success, especially in preventing late season collapses.

And finally, I think that Pettitte would fit great at Citi Field. The initial indications are that Citi Field will be a hitter's park, which means that fly ball pitcher will not have the same success in Citi Field that they did at Shea Stadium (I'm looking at you Oliver Perez). Throughout his career, Pettitte has been known as a ground ball pitcher, which could produce success at Citi Field. Pettitte only gave up 19 home runs in 2008, which is a low number for a starting pitcher.

It's worth noting that under no circumstances would I sign Pettitte for more than the 1 year/$10 mil that the Yankees are offering him. Hell, I would probably not even go that high. A deal in the 1 year/$7 million range with lots of incentive bonuses ($4-$6 mil) seems about right. If Pettitte wants more, then let him walk. No harm, no foul.

But the point is that this is an option the Mets need to at least explore. There is no telling how insulted Pettitte could feel by the Yankees offer or how interested he would be in pitching for the Mets in 2009, but he is worth the look. There is always the possibility that Derek Lowe winds up with the Braves and Oliver Perez prices himself into the "Yankee only" stratosphere, so Pettitte should at least be on the radar screen.

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