Thursday, December 10, 2009

Yanks bring back Pettitte, but still looking to build starting rotation

Yanks bring back Pettitte, but still looking to build starting rotation
December 9, 2009 by KEN DAVIDOFF /

INDIANAPOLIS - Andy Pettitte served as the Yankees' "first priority" this offseason, Brian Cashman said Wednesday, and that's why the general manager spoke happily of bringing back Pettitte for a 13th season in the Bronx.

But Cashman wants to build upon his starting rotation, and that looks to be a far greater challenge than bringing back the veteran lefthander.

"The starting pitching market is a headache," Cashman said at the winter meetings after the team completed both the Pettitte re-signing - a one-year, $11.75-million deal - and the three-way trade for Curtis Granderson.

The Yankees continue to engage the Blue Jays on Roy Halladay, yet the same potential roadblocks exist; the Yankees don't want to give up prospects and pay him a huge extension, and Toronto will likely charge a premium from its AL East neighbors. Toronto wants catching prospect Jesus Montero and either Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes as the nucleus to a deal.

Throw in the fact that the Yankees just weakened their farm system with the Granderson trade, and one person in the loop said the Yankees would likely not wind up with Halladay. The other high-end option is free agent John Lackey, and Cashman met Wednesday with Lackey's agent, Steve Hilliard. An agreement there, however, appears unlikely.

The Yankees will consider Ben Sheets, who missed all of 2009 after undergoing right elbow surgery, but they didn't go after him last winter because of concerns about his health. So they likely won't be very aggressive.

Pettitte, meanwhile, said he briefly considered retiring after winning the Yankees' clinching games in all three postseason series. "I could not have written a script any better after last year ended," he told reporters in a telephone news conference. "I was like, 'What else is there to do, man? Why would you even continue to play?'

"Then you start talking to guys. I want to make sure I'm done. I want to make sure I fully exhaust myself. I don't want to regret not playing. I want to try to come back and help this organization win another one, basically. That's what you play for."

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