The Poor Man’s Analyst

Pettitte Considering Dodgers?

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Via MLBTradeRumors, we learn than Andy Pettitte is considering pitching for the Dodgers in 2009. Now this is probably just posturing on Pettitte’s part, as he might be just trying to get the Yankees to hurry up with their offer. It’s been rumored that the Yankee fan-favorite is looking to return for the same $16million that he played for the last two seasons in New York. The Yankees, however, seem to want him to take some kind of  pay cut.

So what is Pettitte actually worth on the free agent market? If you read the Mike Cameron post from a few days ago, the process is somewhat similar, although less complicated. Essentially what I’ll try to do is project what Pettitte’s 2009 will look like, compare that to replacement level, and then assign a salary figure to that performance level. Here’s the main tricky part: Pettitte will likely throw around 200 innings next season, if healthy. A replacement level pitcher (5.50 ERA) would never be allowed to throw that many innings, simply because of his ineffectiveness. As a rule, replacement pitchers are not projected to throw more than 160 innings.. The remaining innings (40 in the hypothetical case used here) are covered by a replacement level reliever, who is generally assigned a 4.50 ERA.

Projections show Pettitte having slightly under 200 innings next season, but he’s surpassed that total in each of the last four seasons, so we’ll project him for 200. Go down to the second section of that page, and you’ll see a column titled “FIP.” This stands for Fielding Independent Pitching, and is meant to imitate actual ERA using only strikeouts, walks, and home runs. FIP is actually a better predictor of future ERA than ERA itself, and is therefore more indicative of a players true talent.

If we project Pettitte to have a 4.00 ERA next season (his FIP in 2008 was 3.71) in 200 innings, that means he’s allowing 88 runs over those 200 innings. The next step is to look at how the tandem of replacement pitchers (described above) would fare in 200 innings.

  • Replacement starter: 160 innings, 98 runs
  • Replacement reliever: 40 innings, 20 runs
  • Total: 200 innings, 118 runs

All of that shows that Pettitte will likely be 30 runs above replacement next season, or three wins. It’s a complete coincidence that I found Pettitte to have the same exact value as Mike Cameron, by the way. So multiply Pettitte’s three wins by the $4.84million per win that is predicted for this winter, tack on the minimum salary of $400K, and you get $14.92million for next season.

It seems that Pettitte should indeed take a pay cut, just not by the large amount that has been floated.

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Written by dcn29

November 27, 2008 at 7:06 AM

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