Andy Pettitte hasn’t exactly been blowing away minor-league hitters, but the 39-year-old left-hander said over the weekend he was ready to return to the big leagues, and apparently the Yankees agree.
General manager Brian Cashman just announced that Pettitte will be called up to start Sunday against the Mariners, which will be his first major league action since the 2010 playoffs.
Seattle ranks 12th or worse among AL teams in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS, so it’s a nice welcome back matchup for Pettitte.
In four starts in the minors, he threw 17 innings with a 3.71 ERA and 13/2 K/BB ratio while opponents hit .284. And in his final tune-up, Pettitte allowed five runs on eight hits in five innings at Triple-A. None of which will stop the Yankee Stadium crowd from going nuts when he takes the mound Sunday afternoon.
His last start versus the Mariners? July 8, 2010. Pettitte threw eight innings of one-run ball with Jorge Posada as his catcher and Mariano Rivera closed out the victory.
In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.
“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.
“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.
Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.