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January 12, 2007

Rasner To Be Rocket's Seat Warmer?

From Tony Massarotti -

According to one evaluator with the New York Yankees, the team traded Johnson largely because his performance was far too erratic from one start to the next. The Yankees reasoned that they could get that kind of inconsistency from a younger pitcher while simulateously allowing the youngster to develop.

By trading Johnson, the Yankees shaved $16 million from their projected 2007 payroll, bringing their current number down to the $180 million range – only about $20 million more than the projected payroll of the Red Sox. New York still could add Roger Clemens at midseason – the Red Sox and Houston Astros similarly remain opions for Clemens – and it is telling that the Yankees would rather have a half-season of Clemens than a full season of Johnson.

Reading this, along with the comments about Clemens from Pettitte and Cashman at the Pettitte press conference yesterday, make me believe that the Yankees plan for their rotation this season will be to have Darrell Rasner hold the fort on a spot (assuming they can trade Pavano or if "the Duke of the D.L." remains unable to pitch) until Clemens decides he wants to pitch again this year.

What will make this whole thing interesting is if Rasner is something like 6-2 at the end of May with an ERA near four. What does Cashman do then - considering he's always saying that the Yankees need to get younger and cheaper? If Rasner (or some other youngster) does act as a placeholder for Clemens, and he does well, when you factor in the projection for Rocket this year, I hope the Yankees really think about what it is that they want to do on this situation.

Posted by Steve Lombardi at January 12, 2007 08:57 AM


The Clemens situation will get even more interesting f some of the young pitchers show they belong in the Majors. You also have to wonder whether the plan will be to let Pavano prove himself and then revisit the Sexton trade with the Mariners, especially if the Yanks feel they have Clemens in the fold...

Posted by: dave [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 12, 2007 09:40 AM

I think Clemens is not going to go into the season without an agreement in principle already in place, if unsigned. So say that the Yanks & he agree to a June - October contract (perhaps $15 mil). Is it ok then to drop the unsigned contract if Rasner's pitching decently (I'm not sure who this "Pavano" person is). Or do you stash him back in Columbus for when Moose's elbow, Pettitte's elbow or Wang's shoulder needs a rest.

I'd rather have one too many starters than one two few. And from a buisness viewpoint, I think all of Roger's starts at the stadium will be over sold out.

Posted by: rbj [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 12, 2007 10:05 AM

Heck, they sellout just about every game at home now these days anyway.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 12, 2007 10:11 AM

You have two question marks in the back of the rotation. Even Pettitte is a semi-question mark as the three starter because he's coming back from the NL, he had elbow pain last year, and as much as we talk about his second half in '06, his first half was horrid (which he admits and can't explain). Three questions marks plus an ace in Wang who saw an insane innings-pitched spike and a guy in Moose who nowadays usually needs a month off at the end of the year to rest his elbow or groin.

A bit of the "pessimist's view" there. When you look at it like that, you can understand why the Yankees wouldn't mind having Rocket for half a year.

When they traded Randy Johnson, it showed a little faith in Carl Pavano. If they trade him during spring training, you'd have to essentially have two rookies in the rotation (Igawa and someone else). I don't see that happening. We still have no idea what Igawa will do in America. What happens if he only shows himself to be a lefty reliever? (That is not something I believe, by the way.)

Here's the more interesting scenario: what if it's June, and Philip Hughes is dominating AAA? What if he has an ERA of 2-something and has thirty more strikeouts than innings pitched? The Rocket is waiting in the wings to re-sign with the Sox or Yanks, but you have Hughes right there. THAT, to me, is the more interesting scenario.

It would probably take a gift from God for both Igawa and Pavano to pitch effectively this year. I'm sure one of them will have numbers that allow them to get stuck in the bullpen for the Rocket.

And if Pavano and Igawa ARE effective? And Hughes is tearing up AAA? Then just say no to the Rocket and let him pitch for the Sox.

Cashman has the right idea with lowering the payroll and stockpiling arms. Getting Rocket doesn't totally blow up that philosophy, but it does beat it up a bit.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 12, 2007 10:40 AM

Yeah, rbj, I agree that Rocket will most likely make his commitment prior to opening day, which would render this discussion moot.

I'm also of the belief that Roger to the Sox would hardly be the end of the world. Sure, it would benefit the Sox insofar as it would enable Papelbon to return to the closer's role; but Clemens at 44 in the AL East could very well end up being a glorified version of Jaret Wright.

Posted by: brockdc [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 12, 2007 01:29 PM

There's zero chance that Roger will have a deal in place before the season starts. Why should he? He's guaranteed a job -- if it's with the Astros, Sox or Yankees.

Roger is all about the money. The Astros might be in bad shape and need a boost; Beckett might still be Beckett and Papelbon might be needed in the bullpen and Schilling might have a 5 ERA; Pettitte might be hurt and Igawa getting lit up every five days. Roger wants a bidding war. He's going to wait because if one of these teams is desperate he can make even more money.

It would be silly for him to put a deal in place before the season starts. If the Sox or Yankees don't need him, he'll definitely have a place with the Astros, where he's a God.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 12, 2007 02:21 PM

I agree, and, don't be shocked if, say, the Yankees, Red Sox, and Astros are all out of it, and the Rangers are in a tight race, that he goes to the Rangers. He'll sell himself to the highest bidder. He always does.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 12, 2007 02:51 PM

The Yanks and Sox BOTH out of it? In June? Seriously?

Posted by: brockdc [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 12, 2007 06:25 PM

I think I would be too shocked that the Yanks, Sox, and Astros were out of it in June then to think about being shocked about Clemens going to the Rangers

Posted by: JeremyM [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 12, 2007 08:47 PM