Despite the arrival of Hunter Pence, the Astros are decidedly earthbound after nine losses in 10 games, and at this rate, the only Rocket ride they can look forward to is on Kiss Alive II. Owner Drayton McLane, GM Tim Purpura, president of baseball operations Tal Smith, and manager Phil Garner confer, deciding that Garner's mustache is trimmed to the optimal length to inspire Craig Biggio in his deathless march to 3,000.And that's without even considering the state of the Yankee rotation, which we'll get to momentarily. Late in my Friday afternoon chat at BP, I made reference to a bit of sarcasm passing me by like a Clemens fastball, and then shortly afterwards, fielded a question about the Rocket:
The Animal (Boston): Speaking of Clemens... got a prediction?Sunday afternoon, during the seventh-inning stretch of the Yanks' 5-0 win over the Mariners, the cameras cut to Clemens as he made a surprise announcement from owner George Steinbrenner's private box: "Well, they came and got me out of Texas and I can tell you it's a privilege to be back. I'll be talking to y'all soon." Terms were not immediately announced, but ESPN's Buster Olney reports that Clemens' salary will be a pro-rated $28 million -- not a bad guess on my part, I must say -- or about $4.5 million per month. Not a bad living for possibly the greatest pitcher of all time.
Jay Jaffe: Yes. With the Red Sox lacking a defined need and the Astros going nowhere fast, I think this is the Yanks' play if Clemens comes back, and my guess is that he heists them for something like a prorated salary of $30 million.
Clemens and [agent Randy] Hendricks made it clear to everyone, even into late April, that he wouldn't make his decision until late May. But as Mike Mussina got hurt and then Carl Pavano, the Yankees felt they could and should become more aggressive. After landing in Texas, Cashman wanted to set up a meeting with Hendricks -- only to learn, to his horror, that the agent was meeting with the Red Sox, which the agent confirmed to Cashman with a text message on May 1. Hours later, Phil Hughes hurt his hamstring. The Yankees' need for pitching was acute.The past week-and-change has intensified the need for stability in the Yanks' rotation. Last Saturday, Jeff Karstens was drilled by a line drive that fractured his fibula. On Tuesday, Philip Hughes broke hearts just as he was winning them over, popping his hamstring while chasing a no-hitter. On Friday, Kei Igawa, who had come out of the bullpen to fire six innings of shutout ball in relief of Karstens, pitched like the guy who got sent to the pen in the first place. And as the week wore on, doubts about
Cashman and Hendricks e-mailed back and forth on Tuesday and Wednesday, kicking around the idea of meeting during the day Thursday in Houston, but there was a terrible storm in Arlington that forced the postponement of the game. The Yankees and Rangers were scheduled for a doubleheader Thursday, and Cashman felt that if he was away from the team during the game, then the media might get an inkling of how he was trying to make an aggressive move on Clemens. He had used the same approach in signing Johnny Damon: Make a very aggressive offer quickly and force a decision.
So Hendricks and Cashman spoke on Thursday night, and the financial parameters were laid out: Clemens would cost a prorated salary of $28 million. Hendricks got off the phone and called Clemens, and told him that the time was nearing for the pitcher to make a decision, and that if he was going to go to the Yankees, now was the time. "Let's do it," Clemens responded.
W-L IP/GS QS% ERA K/9 SNLVARThe Yanks aren't even averaging five innings per start, they're getting a Quality Start less than half as often, allowing about 1.50 runs per game more; the three wins above replacement level difference (according to BP's numbers) seems to be an underestimation given the superiority of the Yankee offense thus far, but the difference in bullpen performances has been even steeper, and there's no question the latter fact is a product of the former. As the Yanks have spent the past decade reminding us, the soft underbelly of long relief can make for quite a feast.
BOS 17-9 6.25 60% 3.79 7.2 4.1
NYY 8-8 4.97 28% 5.25 5.3 1.2
Year W-L IP K/9 ERA ERA+Despite the drama of the announcement and the Yankees' obvious need, as a fan I've got mixed emotions about Clemens' return. I was no fan of Clemens when he came to New York -- I screamed myself hoarse at some of his early starts -- but I came around. I was in the House That Ruth Built watching him nail down the 1999 World Series clincher, an indelible moment in my time as a fan. I was also at his stellar Game Three performance in the 2001 Seres, where he held off the Diamondbacks in a tense game played under tense circumstances. For all of his checkered history in big games -- a history I've explored several times -- his best big-game performances have come as a Yankee: "In 17 pinstriped [postseason] starts, he had a 3.24 ERA and won two World Series rings; with the other two teams, his ERA is 4.19 with no championships," I wrote in 2005. And I've held that when he retired for the first time, he owed the Yanks and their fans nothing except perhaps the return of that Humvee, which is just more Steinbrenner money anyway.
2004 18-4 214.1 9.1 2.98 145 Cy Young #7
2005 13-8 211.1 7.9 1.87 221 Led NL in ERA
2006 7-6 113.1 8.1 2.30 197
June 2001 July 2001 August 2001 September 2001 October 2001 November 2001 December 2001 January 2002 February 2002 March 2002 April 2002 May 2002 June 2002 July 2002 August 2002 September 2002 October 2002 November 2002 December 2002 January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010
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