Clemens likely to pitch again, but for which team?
Posted: Friday December 22, 2006 12:10PM; Updated: Friday December 22, 2006 3:20PM
Roger Clemens bid farewell after his Game 4 start in the 2003 World Series only to resurface with the Astros a year later.
Roger Clemens won three Cy Youngs and an MVP award with the Red Sox from 1984-96.
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Roger Clemens' representatives are saying to interested teams that Clemens is currently in "retirement mode." As if Clemens knows the first thing about what it means to be retired.
"Retirement mode," if I'm not mistaken (and I'm sure I'm not), means nothing more than the time before Clemens decides to return to pitch. Since "retiring" in 2003, Clemens has gone 40-18, struck out 505 batters and made $36 million, give or take a dime or two.
He's pitched three years and counting since formally retiring, and he's pitched as well or better since retiring as he did before. So the question now becomes: How many years does he pitch now, after going into "retirement mode?"
I wouldn't venture a guess. But I'll say this without a moment's hesitation, as his friend Andy Pettitte suggested on a teleconference announcing the completion of his Yankees deal on Thursday: Clemens definitely will pitch in 2007. As Pettitte put it, "Why wouldn't he?"
Clemens just isn't the retiring type. Not when there are records to be broken and millions to be made. Actually, tens of millions in his case.
And while I can't say for sure where he'll wind up (and neither could Pettitte), Pettitte's move from Houston back to the Yankees could impact Clemens -- even if the extent of their friendship has been slightly exaggerated in the press.
It may just be a matter of appearances. Clemens used Pettitte's move from New York to Houston after the 2003 season as an excuse to return to pitch after he'd gathered in all the congratulations and retirement gifts (the Yankees gave him a Hummer, which he still apparently has in his collection). And there's nothing to say it won't happen again: This time Clemens could use Pettitte's return to New York as an excuse for him to go back to the Bronx and a way to reduce any hard feelings in Houston.
Both are sensitive to how they are viewed in the cities in which they have pitched, Pettitte in New York and Houston and Clemens in New York, Houston and Boston. (Clemens also pitched in Toronto, but the Blue Jays are one former team not in the mix now.)
But it's no foregone conclusion Clemens will be a Yankee, and some folks believe Clemens would prefer to end his career as a Red Sox. However, there's no certainty that means he'll end it in 2007. Clemens could pitch until 2008 or '09. Why put a limit on it now?
I may be getting ahead of things here, as Clemens probably isn't ready yet to start his usual multi-team tour or circuit -- or should I say, circus -- to determine which organization he'll grace with his presence. And it may be quite awhile.
People around the game see another midsummer launch for The Rocket, giving him time to assess the needs and chances and, yes, the desperation of the main competitors, which are expected to include his recent team, the Astros, as well as the Yankees and Red Sox. And also time for him to gracefully move out of "retirement mode."
The Rangers, frustrated to have been played as a pawn in Clemens' previous games, are not expected to come calling again, even if they should fall short in their spirited efforts to land free agent Barry Zito. But that still leaves three teams panting for more. Here's an assessment of where the expected pursuers stand: