Hero Today, Gone Tomorrow

Matsui, Pettitte may not be back next season

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    Hideki Matsui celebrates on the field after their 7-3 win against the Phillies.

    Baseball, like time, waits for no man. The business side of the sport can often collide with the emotional side at the worst possible moment with teams making decisions about the future before the memories of the recent past have begun to yellow.

    That's the case with World Series MVP and Game 6 hero Hideki Matsui. His contract is up and it has long been assumed that he would not be back with the Yankees in 2010. His bat is still dangerous, but his knees have betrayed him in recent years and left him unable to play the field. With Brian Cashman saying he wants the Yankees to get younger and more versatile in the offseason, presumably leaving designated hitters to some combination of regular players getting a day off from duties in the field and not as the exclusive domain of Matsui.

    It was a no-brainer of a decision all season, and remains one on any paper that doesn't include Matsui's October exploits. You'd imagine that the Yankees will have to make at least a cursory effort at keeping Matsui at this point, something similar to the half-hearted move they made to re-sign Bernie Williams after the 2007 season. They weren't overly sentimental then, and if Bernie couldn't prey on the heartstrings to loosen the pursestrings,  it's hard to see Cashman allowing Matsui's October to sway him too much.

    Matsui's not the only guy with an uncertain future in the Bronx. Heck, he's not the only guy who played hero on Wednesday night.

    The Yankees Win! World Series Celebration

    [NY] The Yankees Win!  World Series Celebration
    Pure joy and elation in the moments after the last out in Game 6 of the 2009 World Series. (Published Thursday, Nov 5, 2009)

    Andy Pettitte: He's got a spot on this team if he wants one. The Yankees have only two sure things in next year's rotation and Pettitte was as good and more reliable than A.J. Burnett for most of the season. The question is whether or not Pettitte wants to walk off in the sunset. You'd hardly blame a guy for being content to call it a career after winning a fifth ring and his 18th postseason game, although there's been a lot of Hall of Fame chatter about Pettitte in light of his playoff exploits. Might that be enough to get him back for another trip on the merry-go-round?

    Johnny Damon: A very similar case to Matsui. He still swings a good bat, but seems to always have some ache or pain causing him trouble. He gets progressively worse defensively, has a mediocre arm and, in Scott Boras, has an agent who isn't likely to cut the Yankees a deal as a free agent. The Yankees would probably entertain Damon's return at the right price, but the guess here is that they'll pretty quickly hit a number that makes them turn their attention to the younger Matt Holliday. The good news for Boras is that Holliday is his client too so where one door closes...

    Chien-Ming Wang: You may remember Wang from such early season lowlights as getting shelled every fifth day and going on the disabled list for the season in July, but he may have a future yet. It would have to be on a make-good contract with limited up-front money, but the Yankees certainly have questions at the back end of the rotation. 

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.