The Andy Pettitte Suspense Is Killing Us

It's getting harder to believe he's coming back next year

By Josh Alper
|  Wednesday, Dec 22, 2010  |  Updated 5:00 PM EDT
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The Andy Pettitte Suspense Is Killing Us

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Since the end of the season we've seen reports that Andy Pettitte is leaning toward playing in 2011. We've also seen reports that he's leaning toward retirement.

With all that leaning, it's a wonder he hasn't fallen over.

(Rimshot)

Try the veal and tip your waitresses, ladies and germs. Seriously, though, we're just about at the point where we're closer to the start of next season than we are to the end of the 2010 campaign and we've got no idea whether or not the Yankees will have Andy Pettitte in the rotation this season. Believe it or not, that's more problematic than missing out on Cliff Lee.

Adding Lee would have made the Yankees a better team, obviously, but they know where they stand with him. With Pettitte, they still have the team that went to the American League Championship Series last season. Without him, they have an obvious need for another reliable starter that can't be easily filled by players currently on the roster.

Brian Cashman, one of those reporting that Pettitte is leaning toward retirement, has said all offseason that he's approaching his job as if Pettitte wasn't coming back. It hasn't really looked that way. Even if you accept that there isn't a ton of top-end pitching talent on the open market, Cashman's asking you to swallow a lot when he says that Sergio Mitre and Ivan Nova are perfectly good substitutes for Pettitte in the rotation next season.

Other members of the Yankee organization aren't quite as sanguine about the whole thing. Team president Randy Levine doesn't have visions of sugarplums dancing in his head.

"I go to sleep every night hoping that Andy Pettitte makes his decision to come back and pitch another year," Levine said Wednesday on 1050 ESPN New York.

We're trying not to picture Levine thrashing about in his footie pajamas, although that's mostly because of a local football coach who shall remain nameless.

All the posturing should come to an end soon enough. As Buster Olney of ESPN tweeted on Wednesday, there isn't much time left for Pettitte to start preparing himself for next season. That means his Brett Favre impersonation, thankfully sans text messages, will have to come to an end in the next week or so.

The gut feeling is that he isn't coming back. If he was going to pitch, you'd think that he'd do whatever he could to assure optimal success in 2011. Less offseason preparation doesn't fit into that equation, especially not after his injury issues down the stretch in 2010.

Surviving a Pettitte-less future certainly isn't impossible, but it would be better for everyone to know if it is starting sooner rather than later.

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. You can follow him on Twitter.

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