"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Hot Seat

Andy Pettitte spoke to the media yesterday in Tampa. He was flanked by Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi. Teammates, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera sat nearby in the audience. Here is Pettitte’s prepared statement:

I just wanted to say, well, I’m happy to be back here and again looking forward to giving the Yankees every ounce of energy I have this season. I want to thank the New York Yankees for giving me a few extra days with my family. I think they realize this has taken a toll on my family, and other than my relationship with God, my family is the No. 1 priority in my life.

I want to apologize to the New York Yankees and to the Houston Astros organizations and to their fans and to all my teammates and to all of baseball fans for the embarrassment I have caused them. I also want to tell anyone that is an Andy Pettitte fan I am sorry, especially any kids that might look up to me. Since graduating from high school, I have spent my life working with young kids at my church and in my community. I never want a young person to do what I did.

Anyone that has followed my career knows that I have battled elbow problems the entire time. Again, like I said before, I never took this to get an edge on anyone. I did this to try to get off the DL and to do my job. And again, for that, I am sorry for the mistakes I’ve made.

I have been put in a situation that I think no one should ever be put. Being put in the middle of a situation between two men I have known for a long time has been a very difficult time for me over the last couple of months. I have never tried to take sides in Roger [Clemens] and [Brian McNamee’s] situation, but I’ve only been honest.

Roger has been one my closest friends in baseball over the last nine years. He has taught me more about pitching than I ever could have imagined. Mac has pushed me in my workouts harder than anyone I’ve ever worked with. I have been friends with Roger and Mac for a long time and, hopefully, will continue to be friends after this.

As far as the situation with my dad, I am sorry for not telling the whole truth in my original statement after the Mitchell Report was released. I am human, just like anyone else, and people make mistakes. I never wanted to bring my dad into a situation like this. This was between me and him, and no one else. I testified about my dad in part because I felt in my heart I had to, but mainly because he urged me to tell the truth, even if it hurt him. Most of you know that my dad has had numerous health problems, especially with his heart, and he was just trying to do anything to help himself feel better. He is a private individual, not a professional athlete like myself, and his privacy should be respected.

I hope with the help from y’all that I can put all this behind me and continue to do what I’ve always tried to do — that is to help bring the New York Yankees another world championship.

Most of the columnists I read this morning suggest that the drama is far from over for Pettitte.

Meanwhile, Rob Neyer had a post about Posada yesterday at ESPN. He writes, in part:

Is Posada the best “old” catcher ever? No. That title clearly belongs to Fisk. Best mid-30s catcher? I don’t think I’m prepared to say that; it’s a great battle between him and Howard. Which is appropriate because those two have a great deal in common. Both were Yankees. Both weren’t worked particularly hard in their 20s; Posada because of Joe Girardi, Howard because of Yogi Berra.

How good was Elston Howard? In his Age 34 season (above) he was the American League’s MVP; in his Age 35 season (ditto) he finished third in the voting. If he hadn’t gotten that late start he might be in the Hall of Fame.

But you know what happened to Howard after he turned 36? He stopped hitting. Howard’s OPS+’s from ages 32-35: 153, 113, 140, 128. Over those four seasons, his 133 OPS+ is No. 1 all time for catchers in that age range (minimum 500 games). And No. 2? Posada (130 OPS+), followed by Hall of Famers Hartnett (127), Berra (118) and Fisk (117).

Howard’s OPS+’s from 36-39: 77, 98, 42, 92. That last number, while constituting an impressive rebound, 1) came in only 71 games, and 2) came in Howard’s last season.

Will the same fate befall Posada? Almost certainly not. Howard’s a sample size of exactly one, and certainly doesn’t predict Posada’s future. On the other hand, Fisk is essentially the only catcher who’s remained a truly productive hitter into his late 30s. Who is Posada more likely to resemble, Fisk, or the many other good-hitting catchers in the game’s long history?

The answer seems obvious.

More obviousness: Posada was incredibly lucky in 2007. Perhaps it goes without saying that when any player puts up numbers that are both historic and out of character with the rest of his career, he had a bit of luck on his side. It was more than a bit, though; when Posada put the ball into play he batted around .390, far higher than his career norms. This year he’ll be back to normal, and should post numbers something like his outstanding performance from 2004 through 2006. But can he keep it going for more than another year or two? Historically speaking, it’s terribly unlikely. And as great as he’s been, one wonders if he’ll really be worth $13 million per season from today through October of 2011.

I expected Posada and Alex Rodriguez to come back down to earth some this year. But they will still likely be All-Stars (though it’ll be interesting to see how the third base voting goes now with Cabrera in the league), even if their numbers understandably fall off.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
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