Friday, January 7, 2011

Yankees must give Pettitte whatever he wants

I laughed when I saw a report that the New York Yankees were "willing" to pay Andy Pettitte $12-$13 million to come back for another year. The Yankees will give Pettitte whatever he wants, whether it’s as much time as he needs to make a decision or as much money as he wants.

A New York Post reporter seemingly violated unwritten baseball protocol by showing up at Pettitte’s doorstep uninvited to ask him the question that all of us Yankee fans are dying to hear a positive answer to: Are you coming back?

The Yankees are desperate for a yes on that one too. Brian Cashman is playing things unbelievably cool, not panicking and throwing tons of money at the lesser free agents still on the market just because he lost on out on Cliff Lee. But if Pettitte calls Cashman to tell the general manager he is on for another year, Cashman will be relieved and he will also have no choice but to give Andy whatever he wants.

Unlike with the Derek Jeter situation, Pettitte has all leverage and should use it to the fullest extent. If Cashman tries to say no on the money that Pettitte wants, the lefty can simply call it quits. And if he let people know that he was willing to come back, but the Yankees refused to acquiesce to his monetary demands, the Yankee faithful and the media will come down ultra-hard on Cashman and the Steinbrenners, perhaps even calling for Cashman’s head.

Don’t forget what happened the last time Pettitte left the Yankees. He pitched masterfully in the 2003 World Series, simply getting outdueled by a young Josh Beckett in Game 6 despite another great postseason performance. He then took a lot less money to go home to Houston and the Yankees suffered the indignity of blowing a 3-0 lead in the 2004 American League Championship Series and watching the Red Sox finally reverse the curse with a World Series championship. That happened in large part because Joe Torre didn’t have a reliably clutch Pettitte to stop the bleeding. With the retooled Red Sox gunning for the Bronx Bombers this year, the Yankees have to be desperate to avoid a 2004 redux.

So the Yankees won’t push Pettitte for an answer. They will just wait patiently and pray that he decides he has another year in him and then write a nice, fat check if his answer is yes.

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