Monday, May 07, 2007

Rocket launch...

Back in March I called the Rocket a Band-Aid. Little did I know at that time how bad the pitching staff would be bleeding.

Let’s review:

Wang: Strained hamstring.
Mussina: Strained hamstring.
Igawa: Can’t get people out in America.
Pavano: Pain threshold of a field mouse.
Rasner: Broken leg.
Hughes: Strained hamstring.

Pettite has been the only reliable starter and he’s no sure bet to make it through the season without an injury. In short, if the Yankees hope to make the postseason for the 13th straight season, the Rocket will play a huge role.

Despite appearances, he had every reason to sign with New York. First, he gets to indulge his savior complex (which every professional athlete has, not just Clemens). By joining this squad, he sets himself up to receive copious amounts of credit if they do turn things around and make the postseason. This same situation simply doesn’t exist in Boston. The Sox have the best record in the game and a stacked pitching staff. In Boston, Rocket would have to settle for “contributor.” Add to that the fact that Boston is the only town that he didn’t leave by his own choice, and it everything makes sense. Sure, on May 7, Boston seems to give him the best chance for another ring, but how much sweeter if he’s the catalyst? And Houston? Not happening. Record-wise, they’re in a similar situation to the Yanks, but without the proven track record of willingness to do whatever is necessary to turn things around.

Second, he’s got friends and fellow competitors in New York. When Pettite left to go to Houston, Roger followed. When Andy came back to the Bronx, it makes sense that Roger followed. But Andy’s not all. If you listened at all yesterday, you know how much he admires Jeet and Mo, too. Basically, this is a team full of guys he feels comfortable going to work with for the next 5+ months. He believes in these guys and sees in them the fire he thinks necessary to make a run at October. Maybe that type of thing is present in Boston or Houston, but judging by the things he said yesterday, New York has a unique collection of such individuals.

Third, there’s the money issue. Yeah, the Yanks will pay him a ridiculous amount of money over the next few months, but if you’ve got it, why not use it? Boston likely could have come close, but why would they? Their pitching staff looks set, so why shell out that kind of money? The only logical reason to do so would be if they could keep him away from the Yankees, but even spite only goes so far when it comes to shelling out that kind of money for a player they don’t really need. And Houston…yeah, right.

Overall, it seems surprising that any mystery surrounded this situation. The Yanks offer the right combination of situation, potential, familiarity and money. In the end, the Rocket was bound to touch down in the Bronx. Let’s see if he turns into the tourniquet that the Yanks so badly need.

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