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A bombshell today in Tampa: Lefty Andy Pettitte is coming out of retirement to rejoin the Yankees. Jack Curry of YES Network broke the news. Apparently, Pettitte came to Yankees camp as a guest instructor, got the bug, and decided to give it one more try at age 39 (he turns 40 in June). Pettitte quit last February after going 11-3 with a 3.28 ERA in 21 starts for the Yankees in 2010. He was part of five World Series championships with New York, in addition to playing on two losing World Series teams with the Yankees and one with the Astros).
Obviously, there’s no way for Pettitte, who signed a minor-league contract, to be ready for the start of the season. If all goes well, he could join their rotation by late April or early May, I’d think. It will be interesting to see if this has any effect on Michael Pineda, whose conditioning and velocity has been a concern so far in camp. There has been speculation that Pineda might start the season in the minors. If Pettitte thrives, it might be harder for Pineda to find his way back to the majors (or to stay there if he makes the team but struggles early). The Yankees already have C.C. Sabathia, Pineda, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia and Hiroki Kuroda competing for rotation spots (C.C. is not really competing, but you get the idea), so something has to give.
One aspect of Pettitte’s return I find interesting: With a 240-138 career record, Pettitte now becomes one of just two active pitchers with 200 or more victories. The other is Jamie Moyer, fighting to make the Rockies’ staff after sitting out last year to recover from Tommy John surgery. Moyer has 267 wins, 36th on the all-time list.
Last season, with Pettitte’s retirement and Moyer’s injury, was the first one since 1968 to open with no active pitcher possessing at least 200 wins. Tim Wakefield joined the 200-win club in September when he (finally, after six weeks of trying), earned the victory in Boston’s 18-6 win over Toronto. But Wakefield recently announced his retirement.
It’s possible, if the 49-year-old Moyer doesn’t make the Rockies staff (and I’m pulling hard for him to do so) and Pettitte starts the year in the minors, that this season could also begin without a 200-game winner. But it probably won’t end without one, no matter what happens with Pettitte and Moyer. Roy Halladay is sitting at 188, and I like his chances of getting 12 wins this year.
Also knocking on the 200-win door:
Tim Hudson, Braves, 181
C.C. Sabathia, Yankees, 176
Livan Hernandez, Astros, 174
Derek Lowe, Indians, 166
Javier Vazquez, free agent, 165
Kevin Millwood, Mariners, 163
Mark Buehrle, Marlins, 161
In 1968, Whitey Ford had just retired, taking his 236 wins with him. But Don Drysdale of the Dodger achieved his 200th win on June 26th. The last full season to not have any active 200-game winner was 1949. Bobo Newsome, a 205-game winner, didn’t pitch at all that season because of injury. Bob Feller picked up his 200th win on July 2, 1950. Newsome resumed his career in 1952, but with him inactive in 1949, that entire year went by without a 200-game winner.