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pettitteretired1106.jpgI'm beginning to think that lefties really are built backwards (no offense to our resident Lefty). It's not that they're bad people, or that they smudge ink on the page when they write, it's that there's always something weird going on with them.

Case in point, Andy Pettitte declined his $16M player option today. Everyone and their brother is saying, don't worry about it, he just wanted more time. The problem with that line of thought is that Andy's a lefty, and you cannot predict what a lefty will do in any given situation. Sure, he says he's going to pitch for the Yankees in 2008 or not pitch at all, but his best friend Skidmark has said he's retiring about 20 times now, and come back every single time.

I'm not going to pencil Pettitte into the rotation until he signs on the dotted line, and I'm not going to believe he's retired until September rolls around and he isn't pitching somewhere. This whole situation has me more than a little peeved. I'm not sure what his thought process is, I mean, he's 36 and coming off a strong season. 36 is practically a pitcher's prime these days. No one likes their family that much, do they?

Anyway, Pettitte is only one of the southpaws who has GM's all across the country and I scratching our heads today. If I told you Johan Santana (29), Scott Kazmir (24) and Eric Bedard (29) were all rumored to be available, would you believe me?

Santana we know about. 2008 is a contract year, and I assume he's expecting a MONSTER payday come 2009, so he's basically a very expensive rental, or someone is going to trade for him and sign him to a monster extension to keep him off the market. (Luckily, his agent is not Lucifer Boras). Santana's situation makes the most sense. But the other two? Let's take a look. Age before beauty, so we'll start with Bedard.

bedard1105.jpgThe Rumor: The Orioles are thinking long-term, and may be inclined to trade Erik Bedard rather than sign him to a pricey extension, from the Baltimore Sun, found via MLB Trade Rumors.

The Player: When I first read the stories, I thought Bedard was younger than the 29 he will be when the 2008 season starts. Bedard started in the Orioles farm system way back in 1999, and it took him some time to work his way up to the bigs. Since breaking into the rotation in 2004, he's improved every year until 2007 when he just might've been the best pitcher in the American League (until his season was cut short with an oblique injury in August). Bedard is a legit ace, whose age may be a bit misleading, considering the number of innings he has on his arm.

The Logic (or lack thereof): This one is a head scratcher. Bedard won't be a free agent until after the 2009 season. He made $3.4M in arbitration in 2007, and while he's going to get a bump, he's still going to be a bargain. If the Orioles are seriously considering trading him at this point, they're basically saying to their fans "There's no chance we'll be relevant in the next two years, but thanks for buying all those season tickets." That's not a statement they should be making, in my opinion. I'm wondering if this is going to turn into a Josh Beckett/Mike Lowell situation. The Orange Birds are desperate to get rid of Miguel Tejada, and his name is bound to be sullied by the roid investigation, maybe it'll be a "You can have Bedard, but you have to take Tejada too," scenario. No matter how you slice it, you're going to have a ton of angry Orioles fans if Bedard is moved for anything less than a major-league ready, impact bat and a top-shelf prospect.

A Fit For The Yanks?: The player, absolutely. In fact, I might even take Tejada and his contract back, move him to third, or put Jeter at third. The problem is the price. It would be easier to stomach giving up prospects for a two-year rental, than a one-year rental (like Johan Santana), but I still don't want to see the team moving in that direction. It would probably take Melky and Hughes, or more to get a deal like this done. One last word of caution: When teams start shopping aces, I start to wonder what they know that I don't. Meaning, maybe that oblique strain had a little something to do with his elbow.

And now, the Devil Rays...

scott_kazmir1105.jpgThe Rumor: The D-Rays are going to be keeping a close eye on the Johan Santana trade market, and may just put their own southpaw ace, Scott Kazmir, out there as well. Now, this rumor comes from the NY Post, so take it with a grain of salt.

The Player: There's no confusion about Kazmir's age, he'll be 24 when the '08 season starts, and he's already an ace. The only blemish on Kazmir's stat line is the high walk totals (89 in 206 innings in 2007), but he makes up for with an impressive 10.2 Ks/9. He's legit, he's an ace, and he's a lefty.

The Logic (or lack thereof): This may be a case of the seller's market dictating the D-Rays' moves. Carlos Silva is probably the best free agent pitcher on the market (if you consider Andy Pettitte off the market). GMs are going to be falling all over themselves to save Johan Santana from small-market hell. The Rays may see this as their best opportunity to move the lefty. The only problem with that logic is that the Rays may be one or two good pitchers away from contention. They have a ton of young bats, and the last thing they should be doing is trading away a legit ace. Kazmir won't be a free agent for three more years, and he's only 24. If they do in fact trade him, they're going to be asking a king's ransom, but why take the risk? Best case scenario, they get back two top-shelf pitching prospects and hope one of them turns into what Kazmir is right now, and should be for the next 5 or 6 years. It just doesn't add up.

A Fit For The Yanks?: Duh. Kazmir isn't as polished as Santana and Bedard, but he's also 5 years younger, and he won't be a free agent for one more season in Bedard's case, and two more seasons in Santana's case. I think Phil Hughes is going to be something special, but is there any guarantee he'll ever put up numbers like Kazmir has over the past two seasons? No, there is not. Add to that Kazmir's career numbers against Boston (2.66 ERA, 118 Ks in 101 innings). If Kazmir becomes available, I think he's the most attractive trade target for the Bombers. The only problem is that the Devil Rays are notorious rape artists when it comes to trades. After all, do you remember who they gave up to get Kazmir from the Mets? It would cost the Yanks at least Hughes and Kennedy to get him, probably more, I think. That price tag is enough to make anyone balk.