After agreeing to one-year deal, Pettitte says Yanks don't need Santana, Haren

Updated: December 13, 2007, 12:47 AM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Andy Pettitte thinks the New York Yankees would do just fine without Johan Santana or Dan Haren.

"If you add one of those guys, that would be great. I mean, they both have unbelievable arms and they're unbelievable pitchers," Pettitte said Wednesday. "But to say that we need that to be successful, that's going to be hard for me to sit there and say, because I think that we have the talent to be able to contend."

Pettitte and the Yankees agreed Wednesday to a $16 million, one-year contract, a formality after the 35-year-old lefty decided about 10 days earlier to pitch for New York next year rather than retire.

He followed the team's negotiations to acquire Santana, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, from the Minnesota Twins. The Yankees said last week that they had ended trade talks, but it's always possible they could resume. In addition, Oakland was said to be inquiring about what it could receive for Haren.

Pettitte thinks the Yankees will do just fine because of Chien-Ming Wang, who went 19-7 during the regular season but lost twice to Cleveland as New York was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

"I think Wang is an absolute stud," Pettitte said on a conference call. "An ace."

Pettitte, 15-9 with a 4.05 ERA this year in his return to the Yankees following three seasons with his hometown Houston Astros, had turned down a $16 million player option last month, saying he needed more time to make his decision.

Now he might stay with the Yankees through 2009 -- primarily because the team will be moving into its new ballpark that season.

"That could draw me back for another year," he said. "That's definitely in the back of my head."

Pettitte got stronger in the second half last season, going 11-3 after the All-Star break and ending the season pain-free, a contrast to the elbow problems he had during his time with the Astros. Even though he's committed to playing in 2008, he feels "extremely, extremely close to just feeling like I'm ready to be home and being with my wife and my kids."

"It was such a hard decision for me to come back because I was concerned about my arm," he said. "I think I might have built myself up to think that there was no way I was going to get through this year without having several cortisone shots."

Pettitte didn't sound concerned about Thursday's release of the Mitchell Report on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. The Los Angeles Times reported in 2006 that Pettitte was among the players former Yankees pitcher Jason Grimsley accused of using performance-enhancing drugs, according to a federal agent's affidavit. Pettitte denied the allegations, and a federal prosecutor said the newspaper report contained "significant inaccuracies."

"I've not heard a word from anyone on that," he said.

One of the reasons he returned to the Yankees was to play again for Joe Torre, who supported Pettitte during tough times in the mid-1990s when New York considered trading him. His decision to play next year came after the club replaced Torre with Joe Girardi.

Pettitte and Girardi were teammates on the Yankees for four seasons, winning three World Series titles. Now Pettitte's former catcher will be running the team.

"That will be a little weird," Pettitte said.

Notes
New York still has incomplete deals with third baseman Alex Rodriguez, closer Mariano Rivera and reliever LaTroy Hawkins. The Yankees opened three roster spots Wednesday night when they failed to offer 2008 contracts to RHPs T.J. Beam, Matt DeSalvo and Darrell Rasner. New York also didn't offer a contract to OF Bronson Sardinha, who was designated for assignment last weekend. All four became free agents.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press