Sunday, March 11, 2007

Defuse the Rocket

By now everyone knows about the famous fan that slipped into the crowd for the Yankees spring training game this past Wednesday. As if he needed any more attention he has to go show up and pow-wow with The Boss, while watching his old buddy Andy Pettitte pitch. Personally, I am sick of the whole Clemens dog and pony show of the past few years. Will he pitch or not? If so, when will he decide to start his season? Will he make every road trip or not? If I’m Brian Cashman I would lay down the lay right now and pull the Yankees out of the running.

First of all, for a player that fancies himself on baseball history and respecting the game, Clemens sure does a good job making a mockery of the baseball establishment. Sure, the talent is still there, though maybe not as much as people are led to believe. But since when can baseball players treat the job as if they were secretary coming back from maternity leave. Why does he need to mandate which days he’ll be at the ballpark and which days he decides to hang with the family? Throw in the fact that he doesn’t intend to make a decision on starting to play until May or June. I can live with some veterans skimping their way through the first few weeks of training camp, but the first few weeks of the season? This is the epitome of the modern selfish player. He may need 6 of his own lockers and his own staff, but even Barry Bonds shows up every spring and at every game.

The other side of the debate, which seems to be often overlooked while discussing who is going to sign the Rocket, is if he is worth it. Clemens is reportedly asking for a King’s Ransom of almost $16 million for his part-time schedule. Yes, he did post sub-3 ERA’s each of the past seasons with the Astros, but this was the NL Central. And he was exactly dominating down the stretch the past two seasons as he seemed to run out of gas. Throw in the fact that he is basically a 6-inning pitcher at this point in his career and I think you have to question if he is worth the highest pitchers salary (about $20 million annual) at this stage of his career, even if he didn’t need his special accommodations.

Personally, I was done with Clemens after 2003 when he played up the farewell tour, then decided to come back again. When you take a bow on the road after being removed from a crucial World Series game that was still very much in the balance, you don’t come back. Wait 5 years and show up in Cooperstown. Rocket is definitely a better option that Igawa or Pavano at the 4 slot in the rotation, but for the sake of team chemistry, salary, and the unknown of how he well he would pitch in the offensive dominant AL East. I’d rather throw a Jeff Karstens or Darryl Rasner out there to see what we have, than bring in yet another old, expensive pitcher. That should not be the goal for the Yankees anymore.

Please Mr. Cashman, defuse the Rocket talk now.


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