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Learning to Trust Andy Pettitte, Elder Statesman

So far in 2009, we've doubted Andy Pettitte twice. Once was before the season even started: Pettitte had foolishly (or so we thought) turned down a $10 million offer from the Yankees, only to re-sign with the team in late January for a base salary of $5.5 million, plus incentives. After he won just two games after July 26 in 2008, we weren't so sure he should be pitching at all anymore, even as a fourth starter. But he'd go on to have a perfectly respectable 2009 regular season, going 14–8, and perhaps even more surprisingly, making 32 starts. With the incentives, he'd end up earning $10.5 million in 2009.

Still, we had our doubts. When the Yankees decided to go to a three-man rotation for the World Series, it was Pettitte's game-six start that concerned us the most. After all, 37-year-olds aren't supposed to pitch on three days' rest. Sure, Pettitte had pitched well in the playoffs — he'd earned the victory in the clinching game of the first two rounds — but this wasn't about being a True Yankee or a Clutch Performer. It was about whether his left arm could physically throw the ball well enough to be effective. It could, and they won the World Series. We were wrong again.

So, even though Pettitte's going to be a year older, and even though (as of now) he'll begin the season as the team's third starter, we're not going to doubt him a third time. The Yankees must feel the same way: This time, when he turned down their $10 million offer, he got a raise almost immediately. We're believers now: Andy Pettitte's still got some juice in that arm, even though we can think of plenty of reasons why it shouldn't. This time, though, we'd hate to be wrong.

Photo: Getty Images