By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Roger and out

I’m not a Roger Clemens-basher. I wish he’d never left the Red Sox. But now that he’s signed with the Yankees, I’ve got to hope that he’s trying to push his incredible career one season too far. Here are his stats from last year. Pretty good for an old man, but he averaged just a hair under six innings per start. Think that’s going to work out with the Yankees’ bullpen?

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With money, John


  1. Anonymous

    I think you have to factor in that last year Clemens played in the National League and on a poor hitting team, so I would suspect he was pulled from some games mainly for hitting reasons rather than pitching.The thing that may make Clemens look his age with the Yankees this year is that the American league has a stronger hitting lineup up and down each roster compared to the National League.

  2. Wes

    In this division one thinks that hitters are salivating at the chance to pump up their averages. More than anything that’s happened to the once dreaded NYY, this signing is the tombstone.

  3. A.J. Cordi

    As much a die-hard Yankee fan I am, I never really liked Clemens. I thought it was insulting when he left both Boston and New York. I also thought it was crazy how Houston allowed him to pitch last year, and under HIS terms nonetheless!But he’s a Yankee again, and like any good fan, I’ll be cheering for him.

  4. R. Scott Buchanan

    A number of pitchers have commented over the years that pitching in the NL buys most guys 30 pitches a game (weaker lineups, double subs, pitching to pitchers, etc. all factor into this). This is taken as gospel by so many baseball men I know and respect that I assume a kernel of truth. This is bad news for the Texas Con-man.We know that he didn’t want to travel with the team last year, and the Stanks have announced that he’ll enjoy similar privileges in the Bronx. So they’re really not getting a 5th starter, so much as a 5th-and-a-half starter (not that they couldn’t use even that right now).Finally, did anyone else notice that this is technically a minor league contract deal? How many other minor leaguers do you figure are going to make $20m and change this season? Where is Brian Daubach these days, and how can he get some of that action?

  5. Cody Pomeray

    Isn’t this a classic case of “if he’s pitching for MY team than he’s still the best pitcher in baseball and we’ll definitely win the WS. If he’s pitching for THEIR team then he’s a fat old traitor jerk?”

  6. Steve

    Clemens will probably be pretty good to great. If he is (and if other starters get healthier), the bullpen will improve markedly (by being used a lot less).An added side benefit for the Yankees might be that Pettitte will start pitching better. Last year he had a horrible start. After Roger joined the Astros, he got a lot better. This year, Pettitte has a decent ERA but his WHIP and opposing BA is way up (3.00 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, .342! OBA). If Pettitte improves on these numbers, it’s bad news for the Sox.And all that conventional wisdom about the NL being easier to pitch in than the AL: yes, it makes sense (the #9 and even #8 hitters in NL lineups are weaker). But the league ERA gap, which used to be around 7% or so, is just not there the last couple of years – it’s down to about 2%.Better to compare performances of pitchers who switch leagues. Mike, you got that data around anywhere? I’ve got 2 reference points – 2007 Pettitte (better), 2006 Beckett (worse), but the plural of “anecdote” is not “data”, for small values of “plural”.

  7. Dan Kennedy

    Steve: I believe Mike has data showing that Bronson Arroyo would have been 4-18 with a 7.28 ERA last year if he’d stayed in the American League. 😉

  8. Steve

    And Arroyo would have hit fewer HRs here, too. Like Mike, I’m still on the Pena side of that deal, and it’s certainly looking better this year than last – especially if Lester gets back.I was mistaken on Pettitte’s opposing batting average – it’s .257 (.342 is the opponents on-base pct). That’s the same as last year, but last year includes a horrible start.

  9. Don

    Yes, Dan, and I wish the Tigers still had Al Kaline, who isn’t much older. Kidding.

  10. Anonymous

    Meanwhile, as usual, the coverage has been terrible. Questions I’d like to see some intrepid (i.e., nonexistent) sports reporter address:1. Did Sox brass REALLY tell Clemens’ people they wouldn’t let him pitch until late June/early July? If so and if that’s what broke the deal, that’s just incredible.2. Or are Clemens’ people citing item 1 because they don’t want to admit it really was all about the money?3. Clemens may well have wished to return to Boston, where it all began. But was he held back by the knowledge that many Sox fans have never forgiven him for leaving and then winding up on the Yankees? The Red Sox probably offered the best shot at the World Series this year, but could he and his family stand all the boos and taunts and harassment?

  11. Steve

    It might be interesting to get some digging into Anon 1:47’s first two questions, but hasn’t the third one been done to death? I’m sure it’s been the subject of at least 100 hrs of WEEI programming over the past couple of years. And I bet a Nexis search would bring up at least 10 articles over the same time period.

  12. mike_b1

    Steve, I can get the rest of that data. On the point about opponent’s BA, aka BABIP (batting average on balls in play), it can vary dramatically, and team defense can have a measurable affect. Because of this, I typically look at it as a benchmark for how lucky a pitcher was over a given period, versus an indicator of pitcher ability.

  13. man who is a clemens basher

    I don’t see enough said (either here or elsewhere) about the fact that the Yankees bullpen is still pretty weak. If Clemens is only expected to go six innings, that’s acceptable if you’ve got a rested, decent bullpen to carry it to Rivera.Trouble is, the Yankees don’t got that. Their bullpen is looking like the 2006 Sox’s…a lot of question marks but a fabulous closer (remember, Rivera was weak at the beginning of 2006, too…look how that turned out).WEEI’s Mikey was saying he couldn’t believe Clemens would win even 10 games with the Yankees and I think he’s right. It’s entirely possible Clemens will be a dominant pitcher but it’s all for naught if his bullpen coughs up the lead in the seventh or eighth every time.FWIW, though…I love the Sox, and I’d still despise Clemens even if he played for the Nation. Even more than Schilling or Pay-dro, he’s a money-grubbing bastard…and that’s saying something. But I don’t have to like him to respect his ability. And I think that (objectively) his abilities would be a better fit in Boston…especially given how well Okajima, Donnelly, Romero and (of course) Papelbon have been doing this season.Ah well, if the Sox win it will be all the sweeter, eh?

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