With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report in less than a month, free agent Andy Pettitte remains undecided on whether he will pitch another season for the New York Yankees, which has crippled the team’s efforts to round out the starting rotation for 2011.
Prior to succumbing to the Texas Rangers in the American League Championship Series, the Yankees’ top offseason priorities were to lure Cliff Lee to the Bronx and re-sign Pettitte, shortstop Derek Jeter and closer Mariano Rivera.
But plans to hit for the cycle went painfully awry when Cliff Lee signed with the Philadelphia Phillies and the 38-year-old Pettitte balked at returning for a 17th season in the majors, including number 14 with the Yankees.
In the first half of the 2010 season, Pettitte, Major League Baseball’s all-time postseason wins leader (19), went 11-2 with a 2.70 ERA to earn the third All-Star selection of his career.
However, a groin injury limited Pettitte to only four starts after the All-Star break, where he posted a record of 0-1 with an ERA of 7.47.
Nevertheless, after such a strong overall season (11-3, 3.28 ERA), the Yankees were fully prepared to welcome Pettitte back into the fold this year, to the tune of approximately $12-13 million.
Apparently though, the grizzled left-hander, who’s been with the Yankees for five World Series Championships, seems more inclined to quietly ride off into the sunset than to take the mound to pitch another game in pinstripes.
The quandary for New York is that Pettitte has neither committed to pitching at any point during the upcoming season nor filed his retirement papers with MLB, drawing comparisons from Yankees general manager Brian Cashman to another professional athlete notorious for being a central figure in this type of melodrama.
“Being from Texas and having to be in New York for six months out of the year can be hard because he has kids and he’s missing important time with them,” Cashman said at Tuesday’s Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting.
“He’s opting not to play right now but that might change it might not. I told him don’t ‘Brett Favre’ us. You got to be all in and fully dedicated to play. Do I need him? I need him, but I don’t want him to play if his heart’s not in it.”
"Brett Favre" us.
It does sound like a dirty phrase when context is taken into consideration, doesn’t it?
Arguably, Pettitte is already "Brett Favre-ing" the most valuable franchise in baseball today, a position, no innuendo intended, the Yankees have not found themselves in often, if ever, in their storied history.