Festivus is long past, but Andy Pettitte is still participating in the Airing of Grievances. He rejected a $10 million contract offer from the Yankees and hasn't found another one forthcoming, which has upset the 36-year-old lefty.
According to Ken Davidoff of Newsday, Pettite's issues are threefold. He feels that the Yankees aren't appreciative of the work he's done for them in the past, he feels their pay cut is out of proportion to his 2008 performance and he thinks the team has no financial reason to offer the cut in the first place. All three complaints are misguided.
We can lump the first two together and tie them with a nice little bow. To the bow, we'll attach a card that reads "The Yankee contract offer is for 2009, not for 1995-2008." If Pettitte didn't have such a long history with the team, he may not have even gotten a $10 million offer for next season, and it's hard to think that a pitcher of his age and injury history is going to be spectacular next season. Yes, Mike Mussina rebounded from 2007 to 2008, but he was paid a salary equal to his expected performance.
That's the way it works. Your salary is for the work currently being done, not for the work that you've done in the past. Unless you've got a long-term deal that carries you through a dip in performance, those are the breaks of the game. Pettitte might not think his 2008 season was that bad, but if the Yankees do that's really all that matters.
Another break of the game is being a free agent in a bad market for free agents. Pettitte can point to CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett all he wants, but he's ignoring the fact that he isn't in their league. Players who had better 2008 seasons than Pettitte, like Pat Burrell and Milton Bradley, are signing for depressed figures because that's where they fit into the current market. It's an agent's job to keep their clients expectations in line with reality, but it appears Pettitte's aren't doing that.
Pettitte's only leverage is history, so it isn't surprising that he's working it as hard as he can. Times and rosters change, though, and the Yankees will be fine marching on without Pettitte.