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Andy Pettitte, Don Mattingly, Jon Niese and the big Madoff case

Gosh, from the way we're covering Andy Pettitte's return, you'd think it was a big deal or something.

--Mariano Rivera helped convince Pettitte to come back, Mark Herrmann writes. Herrmann also writes about Pettitte's impact on the starting rotation, and I think Joe Girardi's quote nails it: Just pitch well and don't worry about it.

It just doesn't make sense to sweat a great deal, for the guys actually involved and for the rest of us watching, at this point. It's too early. We've seen too many instances in past years of teams seeming to possess tremendous starting rotation depth, only for that depth to blow up. The Red Sox of the last few years come to mind.

If everyone does stay healthy and perform well, then the obvious, easiest, first solution to alleviate the crowd would be to trade Freddy Garcia for either salary relief or a half-decent prospect (but not both, I'd think). From there, well, you see where you are in the season. Maybe a six-man rotation would fly for a little while. Or maybe someone like Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova or Michael Pineda sucks it up and becomes a short-term reliever, with the understanding that either Pettitte or Hiroki Kuroda won't be back next year.

--My Sunday Insider leads with Pettitte and his Hall of Fame candidacy, and how much this comeback could help that. There also are items on Roy Oswalt and Steven A. Cohen.

--Robinson Cano hit a bomb on Saturday.

--Interesting piece by A.J. Cassavell on Jesus Montero, who's adjusting to life with the Mariners. I spoke recently with a non-Yankees, non-Mariners official about the Yankees-Mariners trade, and here was his take: He doesn't think Montero will make it as a catcher. Therefore, the only way Montero can validate Seattle's decision to give up Pineda would be by becoming one of the top five or 10 hitters in the game for an extended period. A DH with the impact of former Mariner Edgar Martinez, for instance.

--Another interesting piece by Cassavell, this one on Don Mattingly, who is on far more solid footing as he enters his second year as Dodgers manager. Well, unless the new owner wants to clean house. But that's unlikely.

--Jon Niese is pitching well in spring training, and as you look at the Mets' starting rotation, Niese is certainly the top breakout candidate.

--Zack Wheeler impressed in a Double-A game.

--Anthony M. DeStefano offers a primer of the Wilpon-Madoff trial, which begins tomorrow in Manhattan. I won't profess to know for certain whether Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz knew of the epic crime that Madoff was committing, but one defense point is nothing short of laughable.

DeStefano notes the Mets ownership's argument that "even government watchdogs had failed for years to uncover (Madoff's) scheme." Well, there's a heck of a difference between bringing charges against Madoff and simply pulling out from his funds. The former requires a considerable burden of proof. The latter requires the simple notion of smelling a rat.

In any case, the trial should be a fun one.

--The greater than great Vin Scully is cutting back his broadcast schedule a touch, as he'll no longer travel to Denver for the Dodgers' games against the Rockies. That still leaves him with 81 home games; nine road games each in San Diego, San Francisco and Phoenix; and three road games each in Anaheim and Oakland, minus national broadcasts. At age 84, that's pretty darn good. I watched him work an exhibition game against the Giants last night on MLB Network, and he's still a pleasure.

--Self-promotion alert: I'll be on WFAN at 5:22 this afternoon, chatting with Richard Neer, and at 10:30 tonight on Fox 5 in New York, I'll be on "Sports Xtra" with Duke Castiglione.

--Have a great day.


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