The big news this morning involves Andy Pettitte's decision to test the free agency waters. There is some speculation that the Yankees are not a lock to re-sign Pettitte, but I still think they are the front-runners. I expect that the Yankees will let teams like the Astros set the market before they overwhelm the southpaw with an offer of their own. Could he sign elsewhere? Of course. But again, Andy Pettitte will rue the day he signs with a team like Houston over the Yankees; he needs the Bombers as much as they need him.
Today's gossip revolves around Arizona's right-handed ace, Curt Schilling. Apparently, George would love to replace Rocket Clemens with the 37-year old Schilling. What the Yankees would have to part with (Nick Johnson?) is uncertain. I think Schilling is a loud mouthed shnook, but he is still a stud on the mound, and he probably has a few stellar years left in the tank. The question is: How many, and at what price?
Tyler Kepner has a good history of hitting and pitching coaches in the Steinbrenner era this morning in The Times (who remembers that Champ Summers once served as the hitting coach in the Bronx?). Boss George loves to tweek his managers by abusing their coaches. Rick Down offers some good insights.
Bob Raissman spoke with Yankee announcer Jim Kaat yesterday and as usual Kitty Kaat didn't pull any punches:
"I thought the Yankees overachieved," Kaat said over the telephone from his Florida home. "Go man-for-man with Boston, even the Marlins. Who would you rather have at this stage of their career? Well, a few years ago the Yankees would have had an overwhelming number of players you would pick. That's not the case anymore."
..."Because they are the Yankees, and they spend a lot of money, and because of the demands of George (Steinbrenner), everybody automatically thinks they should win the World Series," Kaat said. "A lot of the money being paid to guys is being paid for what they did in the past."
...'It's not that Yankee players don't have the right attitude, but there is such an atmosphere there that if they win it is a relief," Kaat said. "Lately there has been no joy. No enjoyment. Now it's like if you don't win the World Series you've had a miserable year."