The math is simple. The Astros don't have money for Ty Wigginton, and the same goes for Randy Wolf. Logic would suggest the same goes for Pettitte, who will be 37 in June and amassed a 14-14 record with a 4.54 ERA in '08.
So while Pettitte may be "softening his stance," the Astros aren't doing the same when it comes to their budget.
Have the Astros reached out to Pettitte? Has Pettitte contacted the Astros?
According to general manager Ed Wade, no and no.
"We haven't had any discussion with Andy or his representatives and we don't see a scenario where he would fit into our payroll scenario at this time," Wade said.
And an e-mail inquiry sent to Pettitte's agent, Randy Hendricks, was not returned.
The Newsday report lays out several reasons why Pettitte is mad at the Yankees: he believes they should show more appreciation after everything he's done for them; the Yankees are spending lavishly on other free agents but not him; and he believes his 2008 season wasn't as bad as the Yankees are making it out to be.
But here is a different list -- one that details why a Pettitte return to Houston is improbable:
If Pettitte is upset with a perceived lowball offer of a mere $10 million, he probably wouldn't be happy with a fraction of that amount, which still might be too rich for the Astros' cost-conscious blood.
If -- just for argument's sake -- the Astros did have more than $10 million laying around to spend, which they don't, they'd probably prefer to spend it on Wolf, who's four years younger than Pettitte and was at his strongest in the final third of the season. Pettitte, by contrast, seemed to tire toward the end of the year.
Pettitte really doesn't want to be in Houston.
Sure, he enjoyed his time here, and he was one of the most popular teammates to pass through the home clubhouse at Minute Maid Park. He also endeared himself to the fans, media and front office, and he proved to be one of the best big-game pitchers in Astros history, which is what he'll be remembered for, regardless of how ugly his exit was.
But there were hard feelings on both sides the last time Pettitte left, and while he said all the right things when the Yankees were here last June, it was clear Pettitte was all about the Yankees or nothing. It's likely he still feels this way, even though this recent revelation that he may be amenable to returning to Houston -- an innuendo likely planted by his representation -- is likely keeping the lines busy at sports talk radio stations around town.
Pettitte needs leverage, an element essential for any player going through the negotiating process. Pettitte has been casually linked to Joe Torre's Dodgers and was rumored to have been offered three years by an unnamed team, but ultimately, Pettitte wants the Yankees and the Yankees know that. Hence, a drop in leverage.
The Yankees also want Pettitte, and many industry insiders believe the two sides will eventually strike a deal. In the meantime, Pettitte needs options, and that's where the Astros entered the picture, perhaps unwittingly.
Is Pettitte softening his stance? Maybe. But the Astros are maintaining their hard line, which makes a reunion highly unlikely, if not impossible.