By Billy Fellin
“Houston, we have a problem”
“The Rocket has landed in New York.”
The move that rocked the baseball world on Sunday, the Yankees signed Roger Clemens to a pro-rated 1-yr/28 million dollar deal. This comes out to about $4.5 million every month. So will the Rocket’s coming to the Bronx energize the team and get them back from the darkness of the AL East? Or is there nothing to help save the Yankees’ sinking ship?
This has to be one of the more unique announcements in recent memory. During the 7th inning stretch, Clemens announces to all of Yankee Stadium, from GM Brian Cashman’s private box, that he would be back in Pinstripes. This surprised everyone in the stadium, including the Yankees players and coaching staff. Apparently, Cashman has a more private box than Roger Goodell’s private room at the Draft. Just as Steinbrenner likes, the Yankees were the talk of the sporting world, with the signing of Rocket.
However, this move, as much as I personally like it, has to be seen as a desperation move. The Yankees rotation is atrocious. Chein-Ming Wang is the ace of the staff; especially after the gem he threw against the Mariners, perfect through 7 and a third innings. There have been 10 different starting pitchers for the Yankees so far, an MLB record. Outside of Wang, Mussina has been here and there, when he isn’t on the DL, Pettite is getting back in his rhythm. Those are the big three right now, as the rest of the staff is a roll of the dice. Matt DeSalvo pitched a great game in his MLB debut, going 6 strong innings and only allowing 1 run and 3 hits. The Yankees have had other good outings from the farm system, but they can’t keep dragging them up from the minors. Kei Igawa wasn’t what the Yanks thought he’d be, and he was sent down to Tampa, the Yankees’ Single-A affiliate.
This is also is a huge power play move by the Yankees. The other teams that were looking at Clemens were the Astros and the Red Sox. Obviously the Yankees need the help of Clemens in their rotation probably more than the Astros and definitely more than the Red Sox, but at the same time the signing still keeps Clemens away from the AL East leaders. If Clemens had signed with the Sox, no doubt they would have found some way to fit him into the rotation and they would have the best rotation in baseball. The Yankees and Red Sox do this constantly, no surprise that it was pulled here by the Yankees.
The Clemens deal does bring a lot more intensity to the media spotlight that is always shining on the Yankees. Now that Clemens in back, everyone has started to associate the term “World Series” with the Yankees again, where if he were somewhere else the term “Wild Card” or “missing the playoffs” would fit the Yankees season much better. At 14-16, the Yankees are 2 games under .500 and 6 games back of the Red Sox, who seem perfectly at home on their perch atop the AL East. Many Yankees fans are excited about the move, and have hope about the season again. He is going to add a great arm to the rotation, add consistency, experience and best of all he will give the bullpen a much needed rest. He will probably pitch into the 5th, 6th, 7th inning, which has been Yankee bullpen territory as of late.
Clemens will undoubtedly help out this rotation. Adding a seasoned fourth arm, with Wang, Mussina and Pettite in there, will be huge. Not to mention he will be there for his start day, which is going to be about every 5 days, and the Yankees don’t really have too much worry that he will miss a start. He’s been a workhouse for most of his career and he will hopefully continue that this time around with the Yankees. Pitching has been the Yankees weak spot this entire year and has blown games that they should have easily won. The offense and defense are doing their job. Now with Clemens coming back in Pinstripes, he hopefully will kick-start the rotation into doing what they are paid to do.
I mean he can’t make it any worse.