Andy Pettitte is going to miss 4-5 weeks with a groin injury. That likely puts Sergio Mitre in the rotation. Does that transform the Yankees from a team that appeared like it was going to stand-pat at the deadline into a serious buyer?
I’m sure the rumors will start flying now, but I’m less interested in what people are saying the Yankees will do than what they should do. On the one hand, losing Pettitte is a big deal. He’s been fantastic this year, and has certainly been the Yankees’ most consistent starter. Losing him for an extended period of time will hurt. On the other hand, the Yankees did give Mitre nine starts last year — and Chad Gaudin six — and somehow managed to survive well enough to win the World Series, so there’s no reason to panic simply because the Yankees will need to use the second string for a while.
Is Pettite missing six of seven starts really worth parting with young talent and taking on a big contract like, say, Roy Oswalt’s? That answer may depend on A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes. If Burnett’s latest meltdown is evidence that he’s simply unable to get it together this season and if the Yankees are going to keep their word and limit Phil Hughes’ innings down the stretch, yeah, they may be pitching shy. If Burnett’s temper tantrum is a wakeup call, however, and if the team is willing to push the envelope on Hughes’ workload, however, they may very well be able to survive the year without adding a top starter.
I don’t know that I have an answer for the Yankees. At least not one that goes beyond saying, in hindsight, it sure would have been nice for them to have pushed a but harder on Cliff Lee trade a couple of weeks ago. But that’s water under the bridge. The Yankees now face some water in the roadway ahead. How deep is it? Do they risk driving through it, or do they take a detour?