Posted: Friday December 22, 2006 12:10PM; Updated: Friday December 22, 2006 3:20PM
A Randy Johnson trade might grease the skids for a Rocket reentry.
1. Yankees. They have six starting pitchers and almost that many questions about a talented-but-worrisome rotation. "They'd love to have him back," one person familiar with the Yankees' thinking said.
The presence of Pettitte probably helps their chances. And if they can make Randy Johnson go away -- which isn't completely out of the realm of possibility -- that wouldn't hurt, either. Yankees people say there's "nothing going on now" regarding Johnson. But that doesn't mean it can't change.
Yankees people say the Johnson and Clemens calls aren't related since Clemens isn't expected to be ready to pitch until May or June, but in one way they are: Clemens is said not to love Johnson (who does?), so a trade of Johnson might make Clemens feel even better about coming back to the Bronx.
The Yankees will do what they can to make Clemens feel comfortable, but it's still uncertain whether they'd consider giving him as flexible a schedule as he's enjoyed in Houston. They'd do just about anything else, though.
Yankees' odds: 7-5.
2. Red Sox. There might be a touch of nostalgia involved in Clemens' thoughts about Boston. But there's more than a touch of business sense in Clemens' thinking, and he well knows that Boston provides the best personal marketing opportunity. Boston is where there's the best buzz for him.
GM Theo Epstein wouldn't directly address the Clemens issue. But the team's acquisition of Daisuke Matsuzaka wouldn't necessarily discourage them, either, Epstein indicated. "You can never have enough pitching, and last year we pretty much proved it," said Epstein, referring to his trade of Bronson Arroyo last spring. "We went from seven starters to four in a week ... my fault, more than anything else."
If Clemens did go back to Boston, the story would be great, the theater would be grand. Can you imagine a matchup of Clemens vs. Pettitte in Fenway for the pennant? Even in "retirement mode,'' you can be sure Clemens is thinking about that.
Red Sox's odds: 9-5.
3. Astros. They took away both Pettitte and Clemens from the Yankees three years ago and have been in one more World Series than the Yankees since. However, it's possible they may be feeling just a little bit used right now. The Astros tried hard for much of the year to re-sign Pettitte but were put off by him until after they'd basically moved on. Pettitte's reps did give the Astros a chance to keep him for $14 million in 2007 plus a player's option for another $14 million, but that was either too rich for their blood, or too late.
In any case, Pettitte is said to be thrilled to rejoin buddies Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada and to go back to where there's a World Series atmosphere every day. And Houston has to wonder whether Clemens, who does have more reason to stay in Houston (son/third baseman Koby is in the organization), might want to do the same. As to the possibility of Clemens pitching for Houston next season, Astros GM Tim Purpura said, ""We'd certainly take a look at it. He's been somebody we've extended our budget for in the past."They're not alone there.