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Andy Pettitte, Derrek Lee, Mike Cameron, defense and more thoughts on Francisco Rodriguez

Joe Girardi said that, if Andy Pettitte isn't up and pitching for the Yankees by the third week of September _ two weeks prior to the start of the postseason, in other words - then the Yankees' manager would grow concerned about Pettitte's readiness for the playoffs. 

That gives Pettitte about a month to fix his strained left groin. As he explained to reporters today, the MRI he underwent this week showed that, had he pushed himself more, he would've caused greater damage. So he's shut down for now.

Alex Rodriguez might be available to pinch-hit tonight, meanwhile, although I'd bet against it.

--Good job by the Braves, picking up Derrek Lee from the Cubs for the stretch run in what was essentially a money dump. Lee, who turns 35 in September, is having his worst season as a big-leaguer. He represents an upgrade over Troy Glaus, however, and there's always that hope - not wholly mythological - that Lee will pick up his game by joining a playoff race.

--Mike Cameron is done for the season. He'll try to revive his career next season with the Red Sox.

--Thanks to JE for alerting me to this Joe Posnanski piece on defense, featuring the great John Dewan.

--No, I can't get enough of the K-Rod stuff. First of all, the Players Association has formally filed a grievance I was chatting with one industry official to me, and here's a point made: If they're really determined to go after Francisco Rodriguez's entire contract, rather than just the money from the injury absence this year, they won't just have to take on the Players Association. They'll also have to take on Major League Baseball.

The last thing MLB wants is a bad precedent on the books. And that's what they'd be looking at if the Mets pursued this case all the way and lost, which they probably would. Better to settle on the $3 million from this season.

Here's another point this official made: The Mets' case will be hurt by their failure to record, in a legal sense, K-Rod's previous imbroglios - Brian Bruney and Tony Bernazard last year and Randy Niemann this year. By going for the baseball death penalty now, the Mets are going from 0 to 60, if you will. That's unlikely to fly.

On another note, is there a team this winter that would take K-Rod? It would have to be a club with a strong ownership, secure GM and a need at closer - and of course, the Mets would be subsidizing a large portion of what's left on the deal, including the possibility of the $17.5 million vesting option for 2012.

Tampa Bay?

A second official said, "Start stirring up talk of K-Rod for Carlos Zambrano." If I were the Mets, I wouldn't make that trade. I'd rather take my chances with the guy who still seems to have something left.

--Have a great night.

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