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Missing Links: Nova, Pettitte & Mattingly

3/19/2012

Let's do some Monday Missing Links:

1) Forgetting Andy Pettitte for a moment, the Yankees could just do the easy thing with their young guys and send Freddy Garcia to the bullpen to start the season. But if that is not how they open and there are no injuries, then the Yankees will end up doing something very hard. They could send Michael Pineda, Phil Hughes or Ivan Nova to Triple-A. None probably deserve to go there and it is possible Hughes could be a long man.

But the Yankees are going to want whomever comes in sixth place to be ready to go when the inevitable injury pops up. So a D.J. Mitchell or David Phelps or an Adam Warren could start the year as the long man if Garcia in the rotation.

It is intriguing and that is why Pineda, Hughes and Nova are all being watched a little more closely now. So that is why a headline like the one from the News, "Nova rips catcher for woes" gets your attention. This is from Feinsand from the News:

Nova, who gave up home runs to Adam Jones and Matt Wieters in the opening frame, said he felt great on the mound, but threw third-string catcher Gustavo Molina under the bus for a lack of communication.

“That affected my game too much, but I feel really good today, Nova said. “I was shaking (off signs) too much. That slowed my game. You start shaking and you get out of what you want to do. I think that happened out there."

Girardi spoke with Nova about the importance of being on the same page as his catcher, putting the onus on the pitcher to make it happen.

2) Andy Pettitte arrives in camp on Tuesday and Sherman from the Post thinks he could enhance his Hall of Fame chances.

And there is a weighty personal fringe benefit in play for Pettitte: The Hall of Fame.

Pettitte had said goals such as pursuing 300 wins or Cooperstown immortality did not matter to him when he “retired” after the 2010 season. He is 60 wins short of 300, so even if Pettitte can stretch a comeback beyond this year, his chances of eclipsing 300 are tiny.

And it is possible nothing he has done or will do would garner Pettitte the votes necessary to reach the Hall because he admitted using human growth hormone; albeit, in his telling, only briefly and only to accelerate healing of his elbow. To this point, a large enough bloc of voters has rejected the candidacy of any player associated with illegal performance enhancers as to prevent induction.

Over time, things could change, but right now I don't think Pettitte has any chance of getting in. Now, what must be realized is that the voters are always changing. To gain a vote, a reporter must have a Baseball Writers of Association of America card for a decade straight.

So as younger voters start gaining access to the ballot, perhaps the feeling toward PEDs change. Right now, there are too many writers who won't let known PED users in to think it is realistic for Pettitte, a borderline case to begin with, to get get in.

3) We all know that Joe Girardi finished just ahead of Don Mattingly as the Yankees manager. To me, Girardi is a pretty good manager, but Mattingly is developing into one, too. Here is Rosenthal from Fox Sports.

Mattingly, who turns 51 on April 20, might not be a great manager yet. But he showed signs of becoming one in 2011, and rival executives cite him as one reason that the Dodgers are an underrated threat in ’12.

Not bad for a guy whose only previous managing experience was with the Phoenix Desert Dogs of the Arizona Fall League in 2010. Yet not a surprise to the people who know him best, the people who believed he could manage long before he got the job.

Start with Joe Torre, who hired Mattingly as a coach with the New York Yankees and later included him on his staff with the Dodgers.

“I first crossed paths with him as a broadcaster,” says Torre, who worked as a color commentator for the California Angels from 1985 to ‘90, a period that roughly coincided with Mattingly’s peak as a first baseman for the Yankees. “I liked the way he carried himself.

“Then, when I took over the Yankees, he came to spring training as one of those celebrity coaches (from 1997 to 2003). When he did, he jumped in, rolled up his sleeves, helped on hitting. He was very involved. He wasn’t there to sign autographs, not that he didn’t. He was there to work.

QUESTION: Do you think Pettitte has a chance to get into the Hall of Fame?