Friday, May 25, 2007

Houston We Have a Problem [Aaron DeRosa]

A lot of hype for Roger Clemens can only mean one thing: disappointment for Yankee fans. I’m sorry, but I’m just not stoked to see Clemens back. There are too many problems in this equation to make him worth the money (or the shattered dreams). I’m putting Clemens final numbers in 2007 at 17 starts, 100 innings, 8 wins, 3.9 ERA, 1.3 WHIP, and 70 K. Obviously, this is a far cry from his stellar performance in Houston over the past few years. Why, you might ask?

For starters, Roger was never much of an ace for the Yankees. In five full seasons, his ERA wasn’t really something to shake a stick at. Even in his best year, 2001, his ERA was at 3.51.

1999 NYY 30 187.2 14 10 4.60
2000 NYY 32 204.1 13 8 3.70
2001 NYY 33 220.1 20 3 3.51
2002 NYY 29 180.0 13 6 4.35
2003 NYY 33 211.2 17 9 3.91

While he was certainly a force the past few years for Houston, I’m not sure that we can reasonably expect him to switch back to the AL in an environment that he never excelled in and expect him to produce the type of numbers that his hype is suggesting.

While we like to think Roger is immortal, he IS 44. And while he’s not the oldest player in the league (see: Mr. Julio “forgot to take your medication this morning” Franco”) he’s not far off and we can’t discount the fact that eventually he must decline. Over the past 10 years, the number of pitches he’s thrown per game has declined, as one would expect. Even last year when he pitched a half-season, he was still throwing less than the previous season. So time is taking its toll slowly but surely.

As for the low wins column, while Clemens put up about 6 innings per start with Houston who sported Dan Wheeler and Brad Lidge (who, while wild, only blew a handful of saves last year), that won’t be enough for the Yankees whose bullpen has been torn asunder. I think we’ll be more likely to see Clemens put up 5 innings of 2 run ball with 3-4 Ks than anything else, and that’s not going to be enough to make any impact on the wins column.

All this being said, is his return a positive for the Yankees? Absolutely. If for no other reason than that it will be nice to see a familiar face, a clubhouse presence, etc. Oh wait, Roger generally flies home to Texas on his off days. Regardless, he will be inspirational for the Yankees, of this I have no doubt. But I think we need to temper our expectations in terms of the type of start we’ll see out of him.

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