Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pitcher Andy Pettitte Announces Retirement

As widely speculated, pitching great Andy Pettitte will announce his retirement at a news conference at Yankee Stadium at10:30AM on Friday.  The report is confirmed by the Yankees organization.  In what seemed to be a decision that Pettitte has been welcome to since the tragic end of the 2010 season for the Yankees losing the ALCS to the eventual World Series loser, Texas Rangers.

Pettitte, who will turn 39 in June, had mulled over the idea of retirement for the last few seaons, but it never seemed more evident that he'd finally retire than after the end of the 2010 season.  He's following through on that decision on Friday.  Pettitte has stated that he has had a strong desire to hang up his cleats and spend more time in Deer Field, TX with his wife and 4 children, all of which are still in school.

The announcement of Pettitte's retirement was a blow to the New York Yankees 2011 pitching staff prospects.  Pettitte was one of the 2010 season's best pitchers for the Yankees, finishing 11-3 with a 3.28 ERA in just 21 starts in a season where he had to miss the final two months due to a groin injury.  Pettitte returned for the postseason finishing 1-1, defeating the Minnesota Twins in game 2 of the ALDS but losing to the Texas Rangers in game 3 of the ALCS despite giving up only two runs in 7 innings pitched.

Since the Yankees were unable to land blockbuster free agent, Cliff Lee in the off-season it leaves a giant hole in the rotation. Rookie Ivan Nova will likely serve in the number 4 spot while the number 5 spot may be filled by one of three pitchers the Yankees have signed in recent weeks, two of them former elite pitchers, but each past their prime in Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia. 

The only question that remains now is will the baseball writers vote Pettitte into The Baseball Hall of Fame?  Pettitte's resume includes a respectable 240 wins to just 138 losses with a 3.88 ERA.  He had two 20 win seasons for the Yankees and a 19 win season in Houston.  He had a highly respectable five, top 5 finishes in the Cy Young award voting in '96, '97, '00, and '05.  His win totals and ERA are nice but nothing very hall worthy, however, it may be his 5 World Championships in 6 World Series appearances and a Major League Baseball record 19 wins in the postseason, 4 more than second place(John Smoltz - 15) that will likely solidify his place in Cooperstown.

Andy Pettitte won five World Championships with the Yankees and is the MLB record holder with 19 postseason wins

It is doubtful that Pettitte will be voted in as a first ballot Hall of Famer because his numbers are not such a slam dunk that he will earn a spot on his first vote and if anything could keep him out completely, it could be his admission to using a performance enhancing drug, HGH, to recover from an injury.  The discovery of his use of the drug was revealed in a highly publicized federal investigation into former teammate and former friend, Roger Clemens' use of HGH when his former trainer came out and accused Clemens of HGH use and that he had injected Clemens on several occasions.  Pettitte was forced to reveal his own use when he had to give a testimony under oath in the Clemens case.  In the case, Clemens vehemently denied his use of HGH and with that testimony, Congress feels they have enough evidence to perjure Clemens on his testimony and Andy Pettitte will have to serve as the prosecution's key witness.

Andy Pettitte faces the media in a press conference where he admits the use of HGH to recover from an injury

It's possible that the impending perjury case against Clemens, in which Pettitte is subpoenaed to be the prosecution's key witness, was a contributing factor to his decision to retire because he may not have wanted the distraction of having to testify in a case where he may be sending his former great friend to prison in a federal court while trying to be focused on helping his Yankee teammates win another world title.  Either way, Pettitte is now a retiree and he will be sorely missed in New York where he was revered for his clutch performances in big games for the Yankees.

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