Groundhog Day seems as good a time as any to get into what has become an offseason tradition: wondering where (if) Roger Clemens will pitch next season. In case you didn't see the footage of Punxsutawney Phil this morning, the sagacious groundhog saw his own shadow, so get ready for six more weeks of winter. Incidentally, is Phil looking a bit pudgy these days? Judge for yourself.
Clemens is on record as saying he is considering four teams for what would be his 23rd major league season: Astros, Rangers, Yankees and Red Sox. I'm going to break down some plusses and minuses for each ballclub and then let you all chime in with where you think the Rocket should or shouldn't go. Or do you think it's time he finally crawls back into his burrow and gets his five-year Hall of Fame clock started?
Al Tielemans/SI (Astros); SI.com (Rangers, Illustration); Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images (Yankees); Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images (Red Sox)
Plusses: The Astros have a lot of things going for them. Tops is the extra family time Clemens can enjoy. He can even hang out in Spring Training with his son Koby, a youngster in the Houston organization, before sitting out April because the team didn't offer Roger arbitration. Clemens led the Astros into uncharted territory last year, the World Series, but they came up short against Chicago. With Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Roy Oswalt and a stout bullpen coming back, Houston would have a decent shot at returning to the Fall Classic.
Minuses: Is cash an issue? The Astros are so hard-up they are trying to get Jeff Bagwell to call it quits so they can hit up the insurance company for most of his $17 million salary. Are they going to try to skimp when it comes to the Rocket's salary? He made a cool $18 million last season and may not be keen on taking a paycut.
Plusses:Nolan Ryan defected from Houston to Arlington for the final five years of his career, and this would give Clemens a chance to follow in his footsteps. Once there, he can do for the Rangers what he did for the Astros: get them past the first round of the playoffs for the first time in team history.
Minuses: Ameriquest Field is brutal for pitchers. It's safe to say Clemens won't have a 1.87 ERA pitching in that park. The Rangers will have to settle for 1.88.
New York Yankees
Plusses: They didn't sign Mike Piazza. And this is the Yanks, so cash won't be a problem. Also, a couple of more years in pinstripes might help him avoid having a Red Sox logo on his Hall of Fame plaque, especially if he helps the Yankees win two more World Series.
Minuses: A couple of bad starts and the fans will want his head on a pike.
Boston Red Sox
Plusses: He can team up with fellow Texan Josh Beckett, who wore Rocket's No. 21 in Florida, and he can end his career with his original team, making nice with the franchise whose logo most likely will be on his Hall plaque. Also, he only needs one more win to break a tie with Cy Young as the franchise's all-time winningest pitcher.
Minuses: A couple of bad starts and the fans will want his head on a pike.
-- Jacob Luft (2:45 p.m.)
Who cares? Clemens is a selfish and arrogant person ... I allready want his head on a pike.
-- Dan, Beantown (3:06 p.m.)
As a longtime Red Sox fan, it would be nice to see the Rocket go back to Boston. You know when that girl breaks up with you, and even though you have a real hot girlfriend now, it still bugs you? But then when you find out she likes you again all is forgiven? Boston, meet your ex. It won't work out, but for some reason, you both had to try.
-- Ellis Beck, Minneapolis (3:11 p.m.)
I am torn. I'm a lifelong Houston fan, so of course the last two years were great for me to watch the game. I'm a huge Clemens fan, and I'd love to see him back in Houston. But at what price? Are the Astros going to pay him $20 million for next season, when they know Oswalt is going to have more innings, more wins and hold up better down the stretch? I don't buy the idea that Clemens led Houston to uncharted territory. Roy Oswalt led the Astros to uncharted territory. This is not to speak ill of Clemens -- I think he's the greatest pitcher in history. Certainly the best I've ever seen (I think Oswalt needs only more time to be that). Having Rocket back for a four-month season including October would be a great lift to the team. But not if it means Oswalt will demand Clemens salary before '07 starts.
-- Billy, Austin, Texas (3:11 p.m.)
When Roger comes back to the Bronx can he please bring our old friend Andy with him?
-- Crash, Syosset, N.Y. (3:21 p.m.)
As a huge Yankees fan , I loved having Clemens with the Yankees. I wasn't that upset that he came out of retirement, and instead of attributing it to "selfishness or arrogance" as Dan from Boston did, I would probably most likely attribute it to a love for baseball. While Clemens is obviously an amazing pitcher, I don't think adding another ancient pitcher to the Yankees' staff will help them that much. Clemens' best bet is either retiring on top with the deep respect of the entire baseball community, or playing one more year with the Astros, and his family.
-- Gibb, New York City (3:31 p.m.)
It depends on the Bagwell situation. If the Astros don't have to pay Bags, then they have the money to pay Rocket. If they have to pay Bags, then the Rocket is a Ranger or retires. I can't see him leaving Texas (the state) for long stretches at a time.
-- Frank, Leesburg, Va. (3:31 p.m.)
What? They won't put the Blue Jays' logo on his plaque after the excellent years he had in Toronto? I believe the best years of his career were with the Jays. (If you discount the wow factor of what he's done at his age in the senior circuit). And no, I don't seriously expect to see the Jays' logo on his plaque. But he could at least surprise people again by coming to Toronto.
-- Geoff, Toronto (3:26 p.m.)
He'll end up in Houston. He'd better be sure not to sprain his ankle, or the Astros may try to force him into retirement to collect on the insurance proceeds.
-- Jason, Columbia, Mo. (3:26 p.m.)
Retire already! And take Barry Bonds with you. These old geezers act like baseball won't survive without them. It will.
-- Jim, Littleton, Colo.x (3:46 p.m.)
I've been a Roger Clemens fan since the beginning, and as I have no particular allegiance to any of the cities where he will likely play next season, I can speak for what I think Clemens should do for himself and his legacy. He needs to go back to Boston. It is the perfect matching bookend to a spectacular career. Roger will be wearing a BoSox hat in Cooperstown, but it will be weird seeing that and remembering that every time he pitched in Boston since he played for the Yanks, the fans were shouting "Roger! Traitor!" Both Clemens and the Red Sox need redemption before the two are irrevocably married together in the Hall of Fame.
-- Phil, Jacksonville, Fla. (3:56 p.m.)
Two words: Domed Stadium. A shortened season in a cushy pitching job in Houston is the way to go. Climate controlled environment, nice commute home. He can even spend more time at his new restaurant on the west side. Maybe Bagwell can get a free hamburger from him every now and then. If he wins a World Series or another Cy Young, stick an Astros cap on that plaque.
-- James C., Houston (4:01 p.m.)
You're gonna have to wait for Biggio or Bagwell for your next Hall of Famer. -- JL (4:26 p.m.)
As a Cubs fan, I'd like him to wind up on an American League club, but honestly I don't think it matters. Clemens showed signs of his mortality in the World Series. Let me start the bandwagon of people who think the Rocket is finally "out of fuel."
-- Mark J., Chicago (4:06 p.m.)
Is Jacob Luft insane? The plusses to having Clemens pitch for the Boston Red Sox is that we will have many more chances to boo him mercilessly. You see, we don't forget the man who let himself go to the point of a barley above .500 pitcher and was severely bloated (ego and body) in his last four years with the team.
-- Jake, Boston/Atlanta (4:21 p.m.)
Right. How could I forget? -- JL (4:26 p.m.)
Roger Clemens should go to the Kansas City Royals. It would be nice to see top players go to teams where they are needed instead of going to teams that are already good.
-- Ajay Wadhwa, Milwaukee (4:21 p.m.)
Clemens in Boston? What the &%*#! Let's get Dan Duquette, Nomar and Johnny Damon back in town while we're at it. Like Michael said to Fredo, "Roger, you're dead to me."
-- Bumpo, Boston (4:26 p.m.)
Honestly, I would like to see Clemens end up with the Yankees. That way, they'll have an even larger payroll and still go out in the first round of the playoffs! Ha ha ha! Go White Sox!
-- Al W., Medinah, Ill. (5:21 p.m.)
People from Boston who are obsessed with Clemens' betrayal are short-sighted and aren't worth calling baseball fans. He would help this team immensely, just as much as he would help any other team. I would kill for Clemens to join this rotation, and it would break my heart to see him return to the Yankees.
-- Adam, Boston (5:26 p.m.)
Dan Duquette was a moron, plain and simple. Roger, we in Red Sox nation, acknowledge the man's inadequecy and formally extend our deepest apologies, and hope to God that you will find it in your heart to have one more run with our team. Some people may say that they don't want you here, but know that deep down every true Sox fan begs for your triumphant second coming. We all love you, so how about one last hurrah?
-- Cory, Raleigh, N.C. (5:31 p.m.)
To me it seems like the Rangers have it all:
1. Owner Tom Hicks will pony up the dough.
2. He's only about an hour flight away from home.
3. The Rangers have an excellent team to put around him, including a much-improved pitching staff (it's not Houston's staff, but they don't have our offense either).
4. Hicks will give him whatever he wants. You want to not go on road trips? Fine! You don't want to be at the park on days you don't pitch? Fine! Just come to Arlington and take us to the promised land.
I'll be in Arlington opening day, and I hope to see the Rocket man on the mound.
-- Patrick, Fort Worth, Texas (5:46 p.m.)
First off Roger is not selfish as most may think. Growing up around him and seeing him and his kids, he is a man's man and a father first. I see him sticking in Houston to be with Koby and watching the others play.
-- Kiah, Houston (5:46 p.m.)
I hope it's either Houston or Boston. JL, you quipped earlier that Houston "will have to wait on Biggio or Bagwell" for our next hall of famer. Well, that will be our first Hall of Famer, unless you count that pair of shoes. It can't come soon enough.
-- Mike, Houston (6:46 p.m.)