Talking Baseball

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Posted by Mike on Saturday, January 17, 2004

The Anti-Christ

For seven years Roger Clemens has been in exile. He departed following the 1996 season because our great and wise general manager, Dan Duquette, wasn’t about to rest the future of the Red Sox on a pitcher who was, “in the twilight of his career.” Sure, injuries had slowed him down in 1995 but even with the extra wear and tear he remained one of the best pitchers in the A.L. His 10-13 record in 1996 was the fair product of finishing in the top 10 in ERA, strikeouts, IP, WHIP, and complete games. Red Sox fans turned on Clemens once he had departed for Toronto and hatred only grew when he forced a trade to join the Yankees before the 1999 season. For the five years since that trade Roger has enjoyed the position of being the most hated of all the Yankee players. Forget about Captain Intangibles and his overrated ability, Roger Clemens became the anti-Christ for Boston sports fans. Seven years, three Cy Young awards, and two World Series titles later Clemens is entering into what will likely be the last year of his career. Maybe now that he’s left the Yankees we can look back at what we had and admit that we never appreciated him.

With the additions of Clemens and Andy Pettitte behind Roy Oswalt the Astros might have built the best rotation in baseball. On paper they look great but there is one problem that may pop up again as it did last year, they have to rely on Oswalt to stay healthy over the course of a full season, something his mechanics may prevent him from doing. Roy has what is possibly the most violent and self-destructive windup in baseball, on any pitch it seems as if he may all of a sudden tear his arm off at the shoulder and fling it over the catcher to the backstop. He has proven he can pitch as well as any other starter in baseball but with him there is always a higher than normal risk of injury, minor or even career threatening. Still, they have front-to-back depth in the rotation now that they didn’t have the last couple years and that may be the difference that they need to finally put them into the playoffs. Tim Redding and Wade Miller certainly make for a stronger 4-5 slap than did last year’s Ron Villone and Jeriome Robertson. As for Minute Made Park, I’m not convinced the short port in left field will hurt Clemens or Pettitte as much as has been predicted. The opposing pitcher will be stepping into the box against them at the bottom of every lineup as opposed to the DH, this easy out may help mute the park effects of Tropicana.

And another thing...
The Tigers have offered Ivan Rodriguez a 4-year, $40 million contract. Apparently they do not have the sense to show some discretion. The obvious solution is to cut their losses and burn the stadium to the ground as a desperate but understandable scheme to collect insurance money. I’m sure Ivan would produce stellar numbers if the Tigers moved the outfield fences in 30 feet all around but as that isn’t likely it looks like they’re wasting their money. Cheers to losing another 100+ games.

And one last thing...
Looks like Trot Nixon will soon be signing a 3 year, $20 million extention with the Red Sox. Sounds like a reasonable cost and length so he's to Theo Epstien. A successful offseason looks like it will be capped by the promise of some stabilty after 2004.

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