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Tom Verducci
May 15, 2006
WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE (AGAIN)?
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May 15, 2006

Tom Verducci's View

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Games AB Runs Hits HRs RBIs Avg.
Jeter (1995-96) 153 552 87 167 8 71 .303
Cano (2005-06) 153 604 89 182 16 73 .301

WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE (AGAIN)?

Roger Clemens (right) will have substantial incentive to come out of retirement this summer. The Astros, joining the Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers last week in what promises to be a full-blown bidding war, told Clemens's agents, Randy and Alan Hendricks, that they are prepared to pay prorated full value for the pitcher who earned $18 million last year while leading the majors with a 1.87 ERA. It will be difficult for the 43-year-old righthander, who has been keeping his arm in shape by throwing batting practice to his son Kory's high school team, to turn down about $10 million to pitch half a season for a contender.

"The Astros dealt themselves into the picture," Randy Hendricks said by e-mail last week. "All four teams are competitive, on and off the field. Roger will decide what he is going to do by early June at the latest." If Clemens decides to return under that timetable, he is prepared to make two or three minor league starts and move up to the big leagues around July 1. His hometown Astros, off to one of the best starts in franchise history (19-12), are the front-runners, with New York the most likely option if those negotiations break down.

CANO CAN DO

The Yankees were not quite sure what kind of player they had in Robinson Cano (left) when they promoted the second baseman to the majors on May 3 last year. But in his first calendar year in the big leagues, in which he played 153 games, Cano made a first impression similar to that of his heralded double-play partner, Derek Jeter, in 1995-96. Here's how they compare in their first 153 games.


THE RUNDOWN

?It's time to give pitchers a chance to reclaim the inside corner of the plate by banning the protective gear hitters wear on their elbows and arms. Last week Jason Kendall of the A's charged John Lackey of the Angels (right) after Lackey jawed at the armored Kendall for attempting to turn his body into an inside pitch from Lackey.

?Just when it appeared the Royals could not embarrass themselves further, they started a lineup last Saturday in which no player was younger than 28--and seven starters were 31 or older. Nothing like being bad and old.

?Think it's hard to find a closer? Think again. Eight of the top 10 save leaders at week's end were not regularly closing games before 2003: Jonathan Papelbon, Brad Lidge, Bobby Jenks, Derek Turnbow, Frankie Rodriguez, Jose Valverde, David Weathers and Danys Baez. (The exceptions: Tom Gordon and Jason Isringhausen.) What's hard is finding one who can hold the job.

Extra Mustard
by Baseball Prospectus

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