If you saw Roger Clemens pitch against the Orioles on Wednesday, you saw him stink up the joint. He wasn't completely, absolutely, without redemption terrible -- is he ever? -- but he certainly wasn't Clemensesque, allowing four runs in six innings while striking out none. The last time the Rocket failed to strike out a batter in a start was June 14, 2000, when he left the game after one inning.
So Clemens being Zitoesque in his last start got me to thinking: Is he the worst use of megadollars in baseball this year? Is anything else even close? I mean, we knew that Clemens would have to be unbelievable to make this half-year, pro-rated $28 million crapshoot defensible. (Not that the Yankees, who manufacture their own money, are heading into foreclosure anytime soon.) Instead, the Rocket is 1-3 with a 5.32 ERA, the Yankees are 1-4 in his five appearances (he came out of the bullpen once) and the team is worse off now than it was before he signed. The Yankees are 11 games behind the Red Sox in the American League East. They were 10 1/2 back the night before Rocket's first game three weeks ago. Difference maker? The guy hasn't made a dent.
Sure, it's early to be calling the Clemens signing a bust. Maybe he wins every start from here on out. Maybe he imparts so much wisdom on the Yankees' young players that they see the light and turn things around. And, really, keeping Clemens away from the Red Sox might have been worth something.
Still, the Yankees' investment is definitely not working out yet. If it's any consolation to the Yanks, they're not alone in discovering that past performance does not guarantee future results. For example ...
Julio Lugo, SS, Red Sox
What do you think the Sox would give for Alex Gonzalez or Edgar Renteria about now? Boston has a lot of things going for it, but the performance of its new shortstop isn't one of them. Lugo's numbers -- .190 average, .256 on-base percentage, .283 slugging -- are embarrassing for a big-league player, the worst among regulars in the game. Yet the Sox are stuck paying him $36 million over the next four years.
Juan Pierre, CF, Dodgers
It's hard not to admire Pierre's work ethic. It's also impossible to overlook his funky routes in the outfield, his Raggedy Ann throwing arm and his lack of power. Pitchers refuse to walk the light-hitting Pierre, so if he doesn't hit, he doesn't get on. And if he doesn't get on, he can't steal, and then he doesn't score ... well, you get the picture. He's exactly the kind of no-hit player the Dodgers don't need. And yet they gave him five years and $44 million last winter.
Jim Edmonds, OF, Cardinals
Even Edmonds was a little surprised when the Cardinals signed him to a two-year, $19 million extension last November. Health issues have been a huge question with this four-time All-Star for a long time. He had shoulder and foot surgery in the offseason. He's had the concussions. Now he's on the disabled list with a case of sciatica. Edmonds' numbers have been diving since '04 -- he currently has a .308 OBP -- and he has, at times, looked lost in the outfield. He turned 37 on Wednesday. He's playing a lot older than that.
Kei Igawa, SP, Yankees
The Japanese league veteran made five starts for the Yanks, appeared in relief in another game, had a 7.63 ERA, put up a terrible walk-to-strikeout ratio and gave up eight homers in a little more than 30 innings before the team sent him down to the minors for a seven-week tune-up. He looked OK in his comeback start last week against the Giants, though nothing close to dominant. The Yankees bought five years of this last winter, for a $26 million posting fee and an addition $20 million in salary. Again, they can afford it. Doesn't make it smart, though.
Jason Schmidt, SP, Dodgers
Many questioned Schmidt's health in the winter, and many stayed away. That's one reason why the Dodgers were able to talk him into a shorter deal than most free agents, at a mere three years for $47 million. Maybe Years Two and Three of the contract will work out -- maybe -- but Year One has resulted in a 1-4 record in six starts, a 6.31 ERA and season-ending shoulder surgery.
The Orioles' bullpen
Baltimore had the right idea in beefing up its bullpen. The Orioles just picked the wrong guys to pull it off, and paid them way too much money. The team shelled out around $42 million for Danys Baez (three years, $19 million), Chad Bradford (three years, $10.5 million), Jamie Walker (three years, $12 million) and Scott Williamson ($900,000 for '07). Baez was ineffective (6.52 ERA) in his 31 appearances and he's currently sitting on the disabled list with a forearm injury. Williamson made a brief stop on the list, too. And the bullpen, as a whole, has a 5.16 ERA, 11th in the league. That's a lot of dough to pay for below-average results.
Barry Bonds, LF, Giants
His major contribution to this team, right now, is walking to first base. Opponents, even with Bonds striking out more than he has in years and hitting just three homers in his past 96 plate appearances, are still giving him the free pass. Why? Because no one else on this team can hit. That means the Giants, in effect, are paying Bonds $15.8 million to walk and play a bad left field for a team with almost no chance of going to the postseason. His contract has weighed down the Giants for years. It's pulling them all the way under this time.
Barry Zito, SP, Giants
I'm of the opinion that a pitcher who unfailingly takes his turn is worth a lot of money, and Zito, unlike most others, at least does that. He has never missed a start. The problem is that he has the richest contract in the history of throwing a ball -- $126 million for seven years -- and, somehow people expect him to be really, really good, too. At 6-8 with a 4.61 ERA, he hasn't been. His wildness (42 walks) and the way lefties are abusing him (a .312 average) have been his biggest faults. Still, for what it's worth, he's there. Every time.
J.D. Drew, OF, Red Sox
June (an .898 OPS) is going a lot better than May (.552 OPS), but Drew still has a lot of convincing to do to make that five-year, $70 million deal look savvy. The biggest concern surrounding the team's new right fielder -- health -- already has proven to be a valid one. Drew has started only 61 of Boston's 77 games, though the Sox are 42-19 in those starts. A good second half and four more years of solid play will make this signing look good. But Drew's history suggests it won't be a smooth ride.