Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
May 7, 2007
BASEBALL: In Which I Lose The Very Brief Momentary Sympathy I Had For The Hated Yankees
$28 million dollars for Roger Clemens. The deal made the most sense of his three suitors; the Red Sox aren't as desperate for pitching as the Yanks, and the Astros aren't really in the running for the postseason, plus the Rocket's buddy Andy Pettitte is back in pinstripes. Clemens is nothing if not an accomplished tease...we see here the full market power of a guy who is, even at 44, one of the few dependably elite starters in the game and was willing to at least give the appearance that he'd be just as happy to sit at home if he didn't get his dollar. Much as I dislike Clemens, though, you gotta respect him as a pitcher (not until he retires for good will I entertain seriously the "greatest pitcher ever"/"greatest pitcher of the post-1920 era" questions, but he's got an argument) and it's good for the game for a guy with his talent to keep going.
So, how much money is Clemens making for what he will give the Yanks? I decided to use some assumptions to project him out. If he returns at the beginning of June, the Yankees will have 111 games left; a healthy Clemens taking roughly a fifth of those would start 22 games. But the Yankees aren't paying Clemens just for the regular season; a reasonably optimistic assessment says that he could throw anywhere from 1-5 starts in the postseason; I assume 4, since he has started 4 postseason games three times, 5 twice and 3 twice (he averaged 3.4 postseason starts per year from 1999-2005, plus the relief win in the NLDS clincher in 2005). I assume 6 innings pitched per start. For his wins, I looked at Clemens' wins per start over his years with the Yankees and Astros, including the postseason (126 wins in 265 starts), which projects neatly to 12 wins including October on these assumptions.
Here is the chart showing Clemens' salary per start, per inning and per win over the course of his career, including the postseason (I used baseball-reference.com salary data except for his rookie year, when I assume he made the MLB minimum of $40,000).
There's a fair bit of the financial history of the game in that chart, but you can also see that Clemens' price has risen very sharply the last few years, partly because teams are paying for less than a full season, partly because his credible threat to retire gives him such leverage, and partly because the market for starting pitchers has just gone over the edge.
Something for Johan Santana's agent to ponder.
UPDATE: It is pointed out in the comments that the last two years are inaccurate because those are annualized salaries that are reduced for the portion of the season that Clemens is off the roster. Which proves once again why I avoid business-of-baseball issues...
Clemens isn't actually going to make $28 million - he's going to make a pro-rated percentage of that based on when he starts pitching (which was also true last year). His price is still quite high, though.
Crank, I am not sure why you focus on the monetary aspect of this deal. Watching the news conference it was obvious Roger just wants to compete, and win. And spend time with special friends like Andy and Derek. He loves New York, jumped at the prospect of one last summer in the city.
One of the guys over at Highbrid Nation wrote a very interesting post about Roger Clemems and and the "real" reason he has come back to play for the Yankees. Good Stuff.
Clemens sitting out the beginning of the season is the perfect match for the Yankees. If you assume a hypothetical team that is guaranteed to have the best record in baseball, their optimal deal with Clemens would have him pitching ONLY in the playoffs. The Yankees are as close to that as we have.
From a business point of view, it's the Yankees this time competing against the Red Sox and the Matsusaka signing.
I like the Highbrid Nation comment. Is Clemens using something. I don't know, nor does anyone else. Was Nolan Ryan?
Clemens averages, to this day, over 8 Ks per nine innings, and a bit under 3 walks a game. More Ks than Seaver, but more walks too. They paid a lot for a guy who will give them 6 inning games a lot. I think we are going to see a change, more to pitchers who can go into the 7th innings more. Probably more full windups, which takes stress off arms, and puts them where they belong, on the legs. It's getting to the point where you have starters going 6 and thinking it's a full day. But the rosters stay at 25, and 12 pitchers is just too many to carry.
I have no love lost for Clemens. In many Sox fans' minds he is just short of the anti-Christ. In this case I am glad he is going to the Yankees as it will make it that much sweeter when they still fail to make the playoffs (or go out in the first round if they do).
I would recalculate though based on his pro-rated salary AND the 40% luxury tax the Yankees will carry on his salary.
I've been a Met fan since 1962, but part of me wants a Brewers - A's World Series, just to tweak Cashman and King George.
Clemens only had 24 wins in 86..
The whole spectacle makes me iller than ill.
As a pitcher Clemens is great. He makes the final round in my battle-for-spots 4 & 5 on the all-time rotation -- after 1) Johnson, 2) Grove, & 3) Alexander -- along with Seaver, Young, Matthewson, & Spahn. But, man do I LOATHE him as a human being.
How much has really changed? On Saturday the Yankees biggest issue was their starters pitching so few innings that it was generally acknowledged that the bullpen would be going on fumes by mid August. On Sunday they spent 20 some million on a 44 year old pitcher who averaged less than 6 innings a start last season. Clemens will be better than Igawa or Rastner or whoever, but in August will it even matter when every reliever is pushing 70 + games pitched?
Just realized you were including the postseason - my bad -- its just that his 24-4 record is etched in my mind with a lot of other stats, plays, memories that I care not to explore on a Mets website.
I think he did it because he still wants to prove Dan Duquette wrong for saying that Clemens was "in the twilight of his career" over ten years ago.
You have to include the luxury tax that the Yanks will pay.
Clemens is one of the greatest pitchers ever, but a moral scumbag. He has taken advantage of a sentimental old fool - Steinbrenner.
To make the post-season, the Yankees have to win a lot of games. All of the games that they didn't win in April will count against them.
At some point, Clemens will cease being a dominant pitcher...right? I realize Nolan Ryan was still effective at age 45 and that 42 year old Barry Bonds (not a pitcher, I know, but bear with me) is still great, but isn't there a chance Clemens will be just OK and not be the galvanizing force to the Yankees rotation everyone says he'll be?
Well, as an Astros fan, I was frankly glad the deal with Roger is finally over. I'm tired of every offseason being "will he?" We certainly have a lot to thank him for, as a franchise, no doubt...I respect his abilities, even when he was in that other league...I was thrilled my only game at Fenway was Clemens pitching against the Blue Jays...memory with me forever...but the dude is so arrogant.
I also think there is something a little odd about the relationship with Pettite...not sure what that's all about. "Not that there's anything wrong with that".
As for his effect on the Yankees, I think the team will improve. Roger has a way of making other pitchers better. His intensity is contagious...but it is also after while I imagine annoying and intimidating. So I say he will improve the Yanks, but they overpaid and gave him too many perks. Days off with family is one thing...days off to go to a premiere of Spidey 3 is another...