Lusting for Clemens, Pettitte brings back old Yankee memories

Dreams of 2000 are dancing in the heads of Yankee fans.

Jon Heyman, sports columnist for Newsday, is the one to blame for these pipe dreams. In Monday’s column, Heyman wrote that the Yankees are trying to convince Roger Clemens to join them for the 2006 campaign.

If Clemens opts for retirement or another season in Astros, the Yankees are lusting after Andy Pettitte, a pitcher they never should have lost in the first place. According to Heyman, the Yankees recognize that Pettitte’s contract, like nearly every Astros contract these days, is heavily backloaded. The Astros owe Pettitte $10.5 million in 2006 and $17.5 million in 2006. If Houston falls out of contention, the Yankees would be more than willing to assume the financial risk to get Pettitte back in pinstripes.

At least, those are the plans, according to Heyman. But why not both of them? Hey, these are the Yankees we’re talkin’ about. They’re rolling in dough. They had Clemens and Pettitte a few years ago. Why can’t they have Pettitte, Clemens, Randy Johnson, and Mike Mussina all pitching together? It would be the geriatric pitching convention. But age aside, how would the Yankees’ finances hold up with Clemens or Pettitte or both on board?

Currently, according to the excellent Hardball Dollars site, the Yankees owe players a guaranteed $183.77 million in 2006. That does not include the approximately $3 million Shawn Chacon will make or the league minimum doled out to Robinson Cano and Andy Phillips for their services this year. With those three included, the Yanks’ payroll will probably hit $187.5 million on Opening Day. Considering that the 2005 payroll was over $210 million, this is clearly a step in the right direction for the Bombers.

That is, unless they sign Clemens. Last year, Roger Clemens made $18 million, the most ever for a pitcher. And he earned every penny of it. He pitched to a 1.87 ERA and brought the Astros to their first World Series appearance. Despite his age, there’s little reason to believe that Clemens would regress too much. Were he to sign with the Yankees he would be pitching in the offensive-rich AL East instead of the fairly weak NL Central. He would have to face the Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Devil Rays. And he would probably cost the Yankees upwards of $15-18 million, bringing payroll closer to 2005’s astronomical figure.

With Clemens, the Yankees would become even more favored to win the AL title. But they would be spending more money than they wish. General Manager Brian Cashman has expressed a desire to build a leaner Yankee team, but the Bombers are clearly willing to make an exception if it means landing Roger Clemens for one last tour of duty. And, heck, the Yankees already are paying Clemens nearly $1 million in deferred salary in 2006. What’s a few more million?

Now, what if Clemens decides to retire? What if he signs with Houston but falls apart midway through the season? The Yankee fans, according to Heyman, will be rooting for the Astros to struggle because Andy Pettitte awaits on the horizon.

But Pettitte doesn’t really fit into Brian Cashman’s masterplan either. For 2006, the Yankees could easily take on Pettitte’s $10 million. In fact, I still can’t get over the fact that they let him go in the first place following the 2003 season. So if they got him back this year, it wouldn’t break the bank. The Yankees routinely pick up bulky contracts at the trade deadline. Sometimes it pays off (David Justice); sometimes it does not.

The problem is for 2007. The Yankees would owe Pettitte $17.5 million ($10 million in salary and $7.5 million in deferred payments). This would mean that the Yanks would owe ten players $123 million. They would be 15 players short of a full roster and already just a few million behind the next highest salary. It would hardly be financially prudent for the Yanks to paying so many players in their mid- to late-30s a lot of money.

Additionally, the Yankees would have to ship away a highly regarded prospect to land Pettitte. Even if the Yankees were willing to assume the salary, Pettitte wouldn’t come cheap, and the Astros know that. As the Yankees are interested in rebuilding a depleted farm system, the acquisition of Pettitte could throw a wrench into those plans.

So as Spring Training approaches and reporters look for stories, I can believe that the Yankees are interested in acquiring Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, or both. But when October rolls around, I certainly won’t be surprised if neither of them are pitching in the Bronx. These are just dreams from a long-gone dynasty.

9 Responses to “Lusting for Clemens, Pettitte brings back old Yankee memories”

  1. 1 Marsha February 7, 2006 at 10:33 am

    NO, NO, NO. The Yanks do not need Clemens. Now Andy Pettitte is another story but his pricetag sure is high. Biggest mistake was letting him get away in the first place.

  2. 2 Wayne's world February 7, 2006 at 10:57 am

    Marsha has certainly proven that she knows how to spell “no.” Anyway, I think if the Astros dealt Pettitte, they could kiss goodbye to Clemens. I also don’t think that Cashman could be lured into doing something stupid like giving up a great pitching prospect for Pettitte even if they have one. And George never loved him anyway. The problem with Pettitte is that he could have another great season; but in any given start, he could also blow out his elbow and end his season. Too risky at this stage of his career.

  3. 3 Steve February 7, 2006 at 11:43 am

    Here’s the big problem. If the Yankees want to trade for a big name player, Cano or Wang seemingly would have to be involved. Cashman’s made it pretty clear this offseason that he’s not willing to part with Cano, and probably Wang, for that matter.

    The only way I see either of those two players being moved is if the Yankees are really struggling by the trading deadline.

  4. 4 J February 7, 2006 at 1:17 pm

    Clemens was extremely impressive this past season, but as Ben said it was in the NL Central… not the AL-East… Can he really last much longer at his age and the amount of money necessary to bring him over would be crazy…

    He should give it one more go around with the Astro’s and then hang it up…

  5. 5 Lee "Baby" Sims February 7, 2006 at 11:45 pm

    They Yanks did not let Pettitte go. He signed for less money than the Yanks offered to be closer to home. Pettitte later recanted his statements about the Yanks not wanting him or fielding a competitive offer. It was Andy’s choice to leave.

  6. 6 Benjamin Kabak February 7, 2006 at 11:48 pm

    I don’t recall Pettitte recanting those statements. Do you remember, Lee, where you saw that? The latest I remember on that front was that Pettitte left because he wasn’t impressed with the Yankee effots to re-sign him and he was willing to field the Astros’ offer because it was closer to home.

  7. 7 Lee "Baby" Sims February 8, 2006 at 1:45 pm

    It was during this season, if I remember correctly. I will try to dig up some proof.

  8. 8 Lee "Baby" Sims February 8, 2006 at 2:06 pm

    Here’s an aside from Steve Goldman on the Yanks having offered more money, 2nd pp:

    That’s all I have for now.

  9. 9 Lee "Baby" Sims February 9, 2006 at 2:27 am

    Sorry about the length of the piece but here goes from Buster Olney in 2003:

    The Yankees did try to work out a deal with him over
    the last six weeks, but now Pettitte is gone, having
    agreed to a three-year deal with the Houston Astros.
    According to a baseball source, the Yankees offered
    Pettitte a three-year, $30 million deal shortly after
    the World Series, telling Pettitte this was just an
    opener, and that the team was ready to offer more.
    Pettitte’s agents countered with a three-year concept:
    $51 million, with enough deferred money to take down
    the real average annual value to $15 million. The
    agents then informed the Yankees that Pettitte wanted
    to try free agency, and with that, Yankees’ executives
    decided to back off in good faith to honor Pettitte’s
    A Yankees’ official says the team did check in
    repeatedly with Pettitte’s representatives, nudging
    them to move things along — and when they did not get
    a response, they made the trade for Javier Vazquez,
    out of a growing concern that Pettitte ultimately
    would sign with Houston, to be closer to home.
    Finally, as Pettitte neared a deal with the Astros on
    Wednesday, the Yankees offered a three-year, $39
    million contract, about $7.5 million more than the
    Houston deal. The agents countered with a four-year,
    $52 million request, and told the Yankees that even if
    they agreed to those terms, Pettitte might still sign
    with the Astros; Pettitte was getting pressure from
    within his family to stay at home.

Comments are currently closed.

RSS River Ave. Blues

  • Thursday Open Thread October 8, 2015
    Normally the nightly open thread doesn’t go up until 7pm ET, but I’m going to post it a little earlier today because Game One of the ALDS starts at 3:30pm ET. Now that the Yankees’ season is over, I want to decompress and take it easy the rest of the week. We’ll start our annual […] The post Thursday Open Thread appeared first on River Avenue Blues. […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Manager Dave Miley will not return to Triple-A Scranton in 2016 October 8, 2015
    Longtime manager Dave Miley will not return to Triple-A Scranton next season, according to multiple reports. “Dave was great for the Yankees and did a lot of great stuff,” said Brian Cashman to George King. “Obviously, Gary (Denbo) is running (the farm system now) and is trying to put people in places. With new people […] The post Manager Dave Miley will not […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Cashman on Girardi’s status for 2016: “Nobody should be looking for anybody different” October 8, 2015
    Any time a Yankees season ends without a World Series title, the coaching staff and management will have their job security called into question. It happens every year. The Yankees didn’t win so changes need to be made, and it’s easier to get rid of coaches than players. That’s the general line of thinking. Don’t […] The post Cashman on Girardi’s status for […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Pineda and Eovaldi projected for largest arbitration raises in 2016 October 8, 2015
    Now that the season is over, we can start to look forward and figure out which direction the Yankees will go this offseason. They could go big with free agents, they could do nothing and continue to trust their prospects, or they could have another trade-heavy offseason. I’m sure there’s a middle ground somewhere. This […] The post Pineda and Eovaldi project […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Wednesday Night Open Thread October 7, 2015
    Your browser does not support iframes.I have to say, I still haven’t fully processed the Yankees being eliminated from the postseason. The one-game wildcard game is so weird. I still feel like there’s a Game Two coming at some point. Anyway, make sure you check out this Players’ Tribune piece by Francisco Cervelli, in which […] The post Wednesday Night Open […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Update: Yankees give Jorge Mateo time at second during Instructional League October 7, 2015
    October 7th: The Yankees have indeed had Mateo take ground balls on the right side of second base during Instructional League, but only to get him used to playing the shift, reports King. “He’s over there but only working on shifts,” said Brian Cashman. That makes sense. Again, I don’t see any harm in having […] The post Update: Yankees give Jorge Mateo time […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Sherman: Yankees were set to add Eovaldi to ALDS roster October 7, 2015
    According to Joel Sherman, the Yankees were planning to add Nathan Eovaldi to their ALDS roster had they beaten the Astros in last night’s wildcard game. That didn’t happen, so Eovaldi will go home for the winter like everyone else. For shame. Why is this important? Because it means Eovaldi is healthy. His season ended […] The post Sherman: Yankees were set […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Cashman confirms Yanks rejected Refsnyder and Warren for Zobrist at trade deadline October 7, 2015
    Given the way things played out this season, it’s only natural to sit here today and ask whether the Yankees should have approached the trade deadline differently. I wanted them to aggressively pursue upgrades because they were atop the division at the time, and also because 2015 might have been their last chance to win […] The post Cashman confirms Yanks re […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Thoughts following the Wildcard Game loss to the Astros October 7, 2015
    The Yankees season officially ended last night when the Astros walked into Yankee Stadium and shut the so-called Bronx Bombers out 3-0 in the AL wildcard game. The lethargic, uninspiring play we saw at the end of the regular season carried over in the wildcard game. It was not fun. Anyway, way I have some […] The post Thoughts following the Wildcard Game los […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Season Over: Yanks go out with a whimper in 3-0 wildcard game loss to Astros October 7, 2015
    In the end, the team-wide offensive inconsistency was too much to overcome. The limp to the finish line carried over into the postseason and the Yankees were knocked out by the Astros in the AL wildcard game Tuesday night. The final score was 3-0. The season is officially over. Everything sucks. Runs? They Didn’t Even […] The post Season Over: Yanks go out w […]
    Mike Axisa

Blog Stats

  • 61,112 hits


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: