Monday, January 12, 2004
INSERT ROCKET RELATED PUN HERE
Back on November 9th I said, "In no way do I think Roger Clemens is done. A lot has been made about the Wagner deal clearing out salary for Pettitte but I think it could be just as well Houston making room for Pettitte and/or Clemens. Last time I checked Clemens and Pettitte were pretty good buddies with Pettitte looking up to Clemens as a mentor of sorts. I think the fact that the US team failed to qualify for the Olympics will give Roger further incentive to come back.".
Today, Roger made it official. Really for five million dollars this is a good deal for the Astros, similar to the Juan Gonzalez deal, and a decent way for Roger to go out. The Astros have a great bullpen that will be able to protect the aged, though fit, Clemens from logging too many innings. If it works out this year I could see this being like the Nolan Ryan situation with the Rangers, where Roger may actually stay on for a couple of more years and pitch into his mid-40's.
At first glance I do worry about Roger, being the flyball pitcher that he is, pitching in that park. Clemens has a career groundball to flyball ratio of 1.45, and while that may seem like cause for concern at first, keep in mind that Roy Oswalt's ratio is a nearly identical 1.41 and he's pitched pretty well so far in his short career. I don't watch the Astros enough to make a judgment on this, but my guess is that the short 315' LF is more than evened out by the cavernous 435' CF. Roy's home ERA is actually almost a full run lower than it is on the road. (2.46 at home vs. 3.43 away) Wade Miller, similarly, has a home ERA almost a half run lower than his road ERA. (3.94 vs. 4.30)
It may be that the CF in Minute Maid Park actually makes it more of a pitcher's park*, and certainly not as bad for righties, than the shooting gallery I initially thought it was. (Perhaps it helps remove some of those "left over the plate" mistakes?) And really, Yankee Stadium's LF is only 318' and the CF area is 35 feet shorter than Minute Maid Park, so, all in all, Roger is probably going to a better pitcher's park where he'll have a, debatably, slightly better OF defense, so my guess is he'll be able to improve a bit on last year's ERA of 3.91.
* I did consult with park factors to try and corroborate this but I find park factors to be about as reliable as defensive statistics. ie. They can be somewhat useful but they can also be somewhat misleading.