Andy Pettitte is the key to 2011

If Pettitte comes back, he's going to be a key cog in the AL East race. Getty Images

It's going to be an interesting summer in the AL East. The Boston Red Sox loaded up with Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, while the New York Yankees lost out on Cliff Lee. With the Tampa Bay Rays losing parts (i.e., Crawford) and the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles still a few parts off, it figures to be a two-horse race.

The Boston lineup is predominantly left-handed; Yankees ace CC Sabathia can help neutralize the Red Sox in key contests, but he needs fellow left-hander Andy Pettitte -- who is mulling retirement -- alongside him.

Plain and simple, if Pettitte does return to the mound in 2011, he will be a key player in the fight for the AL East title.