New York Yankees Desperately Need Andy Pettitte Back in Rotation for 2011

Doug Rush@Doug_RushSenior Analyst IFebruary 1, 2011

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 18:  Starting pitcher Andy Pettitte #46 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Texas Rangers in Game Three of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium on October 18, 2010 in New York, New York.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

As the month of February is upon us, baseball season gets a step closer to returning.

In a few short weeks, pitchers and catchers will be reporting for teams in Florida and Arizona.

In Tampa, the Yankees will begin their 2011 season with a few question marks, mostly residing in their starting rotation.

They wanted Cliff Lee, but lost out on him when he returned to the Phillies in perhaps the biggest surprise move of the winter.

The Yankees have been scrambling and searching all winter for a Plan B.

We all heard the ideas and suggestions tossed around on this site and many other sites.

Brandon Webb: he went to the Rangers.

Justin Duchscherer: he just signed with the Orioles.

Armando Galarraga: he was traded to the Diamondbacks.

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Jeff Francis: he went to the Royals.

There is still Jeremy Bonderman, Kevin Millwood and Freddy Garcia out there who the Yankees have been linked to, options that might not sound too attractive to Yankees Universe.

There is still one name out there that would be the best option and may in fact always had been the best option after Lee.

Andy Pettitte.

As of February 1, Pettitte still has not decided on whether he wants to pitch in 2011 or completely hang up the spikes and retire for good.

We've heard all the rumors and speculation on Pettitte.

Mark Teixeira said when he last talked to Pettitte, he thought Pettitte was leaning towards retiring.

Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman feel as if he might be leaning towards retiring when Pettitte told them to go on without him.

But then there have been reports that Pettitte's family has given him the go-ahead to pitch this season.

There are also reports that Pettitte has been working out in Texas to get himself into baseball shape.

Here's my question, if he was leaning towards retirement, why would he be working out now? Seems like maybe Andy has had a change of heart.

The 38 year old left-hander has been drawn towards retirement for the last couple of seasons, but the passion of playing and winning a championship has drawn Pettitte back every time, which is why he left Houston after 2006 to return to the Bronx.

Pettitte did in fact win that championship with the Yankees in 2009, and nobody would have blamed him if he retired after that year, but he came back.

He pitched extremely well in the first half of 2010, earning himself a trip to the 2010 All Star Game. A two-month trip to the DL was the only thing that stopped Pettitte, but he still finished with an 11-3 record and a 3.28 ERA in just 21 starts.

In the playoffs, Pettitte went 1-1 and went inning for inning with Lee in Game 3 of the ALCS against the Rangers, but because Lee shutout the Yankees for eight innings, Pettitte left the game losing 2-0.

If Lee were not pitching that night, Pettitte and the Yankees win that game, so despite being away from two months with a groin injury, Pettitte still showed the world why he is a big-game money pitcher, and has been for 16 years.

This is why the Yankees still need Pettitte back for this season. If he couldn't pitch anymore it would be one thing, but Andy still has capability to help the Yankees win.

If the season started right now, the Yankees rotation would look like CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett as the guaranteed starters with Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre as the possible back-end of the rotation.

While the first three of that rotation look good, the back end doesn't, especially with Mitre, who is not a good starter at all. I'd be all for giving Nova that fifth spot and getting Andy back.

A rotation of Sabathia, Hughes, Burnett, Pettitte and Nova would be 100 times better going into the 2011 season. That rotation right there nearly got the Yankees to the World Series last season if not for Lee and the Rangers.

Aside from re-signing Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, the biggest move the Yankees made was signing Rafael Soriano to be the set-up man to Rivera, and to eventually take over as the future closer.

Until Soriano signed, their biggest moves were signing Russell Martin, Pedro Feliciano and Andruw Jones. Getting Soriano was a big move.

Getting Pettitte back would be the best move and the last one needed for the winter.

Some wonder if the potential Roger Clemens perjury trial has anything to do with holding up Pettitte's decision.

It could, but honestly, I think if Andy wants to pitch, he'll find a way to put those pinstripes on one last year.

And that's all the fans are really hoping for out of him, one last season.

For the many fans of Yankees Universe, they are patiently waiting to hear his decision.

A decision that many hope will see number 46 throwing off a mound in Yankee Stadium in 2011.

One more year, Andy. No matter what happens, the fans will still love you no matter what, mostly for what you have accomplished in your 16 year career, 13 of them in the Bronx.

Hopefully, he'll want to be a Yankee for the fans, his family and for himself one last time.

One thing is for certain though.

The Yankees need Andy Pettitte in 2011.