The whole will he or won't he thing with Roger Clemens has grown pretty stale in his second year. He won't decide if he's going to play until May, which could be too late for the Astros, and will only grace a handful of teams with his presence. Until then he and his agents will just try to push up the price for a handful of starts and he'll continue to pitch batting practice to his kids in between telling people that he just doesn't know if he's got another season in him. As Murray Chass wrote in yesterday's Times, he should do whatever he wants "but let him remain quiet on the subject of his major league future."
The uncertainty, the exorbinant price tag and the closed bidding won't stop teams from dreaming, though, and should Clemens look outside the Sox, Yanks and 'Stros, Cardinal GM Walt Jocketty would be happy to have him.
"I guess you would always have interest in a guy like that," Jocketty said. "He's someone we've expressed interest in before. I'm not sure it would be mutual, though. There are so many factors involved it would be pretty tough to do any deal with them. You never know."
The Cards who, to their credit, didn't get involved in the inflationary starting pitching market this winter have some money to spend and several rotation holes to fill. How many holes?
Non-roster lefthander Randy Kiesler also has left a strong first impression, said Duncan, who challenged the notion that he is working with little safety net should someone falter this spring.
So many holes that Randy Kiesler has a shot to make your team, I guess, which is however many starters they're going to use other than Chris Carpenter.
- "Manny is at peace with his situation in Boston," said Gene Mato, one of Ramirez’ representatives, yesterday. "He has indicated to me that he would look forward to the opportunity to retire in a Boston uniform." I'll take under June 15 before the first Boston paper reports Manny's requested a trade.
- "Rudy is one of the great hitting coaches for many, many years," Sammy Sosa said. "All the mechanics that I didn't correct in 2005 are going to be corrected." Old dogs and new tricks have never been fast friends.
- "I think I can," Shawn Chacon said. "Obviously, getting the velocity was the big thing. It had been a couple years, actually, since I threw as hard as I did that night in L.A. But that's why Colby's good. I can't attribute it to anything but the work he did with me on my mechanics. He maximized my power."
- The Kansas City Star likes to give a positive rub to the local ballers. "Royals left-hander Odalis Perez sure looks primed to reclaim his status as a dependable starting pitcher as he enters the last season of a three-year contract."
- "If he needed a PR guy, I might be it," Scott Hatteberg said of Kirk Saarloos. "I'm a huge fan of his. He's just one of those guys that make a team better silently, is undervalued and under-appreciated." It's amazing how little appreciation the public has for pitchers with a 4.79 career ERA.
- Lou Piniella's got a new approach to try with the Cub pitching staff. They're going to try not to walk people this season. "We've talked to our catchers about getting them out on three, four pitches, as opposed to working the count. Not too many good things can come from long counts. First of all you're letting the hitters see all of your pitches. Second of all your infielders aren't going to be as attentive so they aren't going to make as many good plays behind you. Third of all you have pitch counts and there are guys who will be out of games sooner than you would like. Fourth of all you're in running counts all the time, so you're opening up holes for the hitters to hit the ball through. And finally the manager is not going to be very pleased."
- "I love Buddy Bell like he’s my dad,” Mike Sweeney said. “This move, I understand it from his point of view. I just don’t agree with it because I’ve come here in great shape and I want to play." His great shape made it all the more shocking when that elephant trampled him. It's the third trampling of Sweeney's career.
"I'm not getting on the mound till I can help the team," he said. And then Mike Hampton walked away for good.