Those with 20/20 hindsight likely didn't wait too long after Andy Pettitte left Sunday's game before criticizing Brian Cashman for not pushing harder to get Cliff Lee from Seattle just before the All-Star Game. If Lee was in pinstripes, losing Pettitte wouldn't be cause for much alarm at all and the team would just keep rolling along toward the playoffs.
Those who live in the rational, reasonable present realize that losing Pettitte for as much as six weeks doesn't do much to stop that train from heading down the tracks. The Yankees have a six-and-a-half game cushion over the Red Sox, a lead that won't be threatened solely by losing Pettitte for five or six trips through the rotation. Sergio Mitre, who will start in place of Pettitte this week, isn't any great shakes but he isn't going to cause the entire team to go down the drain simply by taking the ball once every five days.
That doesn't mean there's no reason to show concern about Pettitte's injury, it just has nothing to do with Pettitte. A.J. Burnett's inability to provide reliably good starts and Phil Hughes's innings cap are the reasons why losing Pettitte might force the Yankees to make a move for another rotation option before the month or year is out. Just don't expect it to be a big-name pickup.
Think someone along the lines of Chad Gaudin, which is to say a guy who can pick up a few starts down the stretch and potentially help in the bullpen come the postseason as opposed to Roy Oswalt, Dan Haren or some other name that will cost some serious treasure from the farm system. Lee was a special case, a pitcher worth shooting the moon for because of both the circumstances with his contract and his talent, but there isn't another one of those on the market. A pitcher like Gaudin, who cost the Yankees only cash, would help keep things under control while allowing Cashman to use prospects to bolster the bullpen or bench this month.
One pitcher who might make you rethink the above path is Brett Myers of Houston. The former Phillie is having a nice season with the Astros as they circle the drain in need of young players to help build another contending team. He's got a ton of experience in pennant races, is a free agent after the season and has also done a lot of bullpen work in the last three years. That's an appealing trait for the Yankees since Myers, or any acquisition, would likely wind up in the pen before all is said and done. The drawbacks are that he's going to be a target for a bunch of teams and that he hasn't always dealt well with media scrutiny, much of it stemming from an incident where he hit his wife.
Right now, Cashman is saying that Mitre is the only plan to replace Pettitte. That makes a lot of sense because improving the bullpen and bench would go a long way toward making sure Pettitte's absence doesn't hurt you in the standings. Things can and do change quickly around Yankeeland, though, so it's worth being aware of what's out there while hoping for the best with Pettitte's recovery.