December 11, 2003
Astros to sign Andy Pettite

I confess, I never really thought the Astros would have a shot at Andy Pettite, but it looks like I was wrong. It's a gutsy move on their part, though it does have a downside, as Pettite has benefited from a fairly pitcher-friendly park (especially for lefties) and a scoring-machine offense. You do have to admire them for the willingness to take a chance, though. I'm a diehard Yankee fan and I hate to see Pettite go, but kudos to the Stros on this.

Meanwhile, John Lopez goes one for three in his effort to say something useful about this.

It looks like Pettitte will get his last hurrah at home, feel the love and be a success, given the battery of big bats surrounding him and the fact he remains in his prime.

The Astros have a good offense, but it's not any better than the Yankees'. Houston was fourth in the NL in runs scored last year with 805 while the Yankees were third in the AL with 877. Some of the Yankees' total can be attributed to the DH, while the Astros get a boost from their tiny ballpark. I'd be a little worried about a drop in production in Houston, though, mostly due to age. Craig Biggio is on his last legs, and Jeff Bagwell is not the basher he once was, either. Especially if the Stros dump Richard Hidalgo (who had the best OPS on the team in 2003) and Jeff Kent loses more time to injury than he did in this year, they'll have some big holes in the lineup.

That short porch in left field at Minute Maid Park certainly could be an easy mark for the occasional fat pitch Pettitte might have gotten away with in Yankee Stadium.

There's that 4.00-plus home ERA Pettitte carried in New York and the fact he is not a strikeout pitcher. He gets outs by being a control man who keeps the ball in play. Here, some of those outs could well spell trouble.

The first part is correct. Pettite did benefit from pitching in Yankee Stadium, and he may well find himself cursing the Crawford Boxes on a regular basis. However, the "not a strikeout pitcher" comment is false, at least as far as recent history goes. Pettite had 180 Ks last year, which ranked him sixth in the American League. His 7.78 strikeouts per nine innings last year was the best of his career, while his 3.60 K/BB ratio was the second best. Both rates have improved markedly over the past three years, something which has no doubt helped him as the Yankees' defense has gotten steadily worse.

But never mind that. I have to tip my cap to Drayton McLane and Gerry Hunsicker for making a splash. (If only they were this aggressive in upgrading other positions.) I just better not hear about poverty and red ink next year, OK?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 11, 2003 to Baseball | TrackBack

Something to consider with Petite going to the National League is that control pitchers struggled last year (Gregg Maddux and Al Leiter come to mind as examples) due to way umpires were calling balls and strikes. He'll also have to be more careful with left handed hitters, as you indicate, due to the short porch in left.

It may be a great deal for the Astros, but they still need a catcher.

Posted by: William Hughes on December 11, 2003 8:55 AM

I love Andy and he has been the heart of this tema for a long time..It's a shame Steinbrenner just throws away quality people ( he should have his head examined..) better yet he should sell the tema because the fans are sick to death of him..

All we can hope for now is that Andy misses the only Stadium there is to play in and that's Yankee Stadium and comes back to us again..

Posted by: Barb on January 5, 2004 1:50 PM