Billy-Ball Daily: 2007-5-7

5/7/2007
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Top of the 1st
NUMBER ELEVEN IS NUMBER 22
Friday evening, the Yankees jumped out to quick 5-0, 1st inning, lead against the Mariners. By the time the game ended, the Mariners had scored 15 runs, had 20 hits, had an 8-run inning, and had burned through four Yankee pitches. Around that time, they had also probably secured a contract for Roger Clemens.

Saturday, at the Stadium, don’t let the 8-1 score fool you, the fans are on the edge of their seats as Chien-Ming Wang carried a perfect game into the 8th inning before Ben Broussard hit the only changeup he threw all day for a one-out homer. As the wire services told us, catcher Jorge Posada said, “As soon as he threw it, I was just hoping the guy didn’t swing at it.”

After that game, the Yankees could probably have had losing pitcher Jeff Weaver back in pinstripes and all the Yankees would have had to given the Mariners in return was a sponge and a pail and some disinfectant so that they could wipe away any memories of this awful acquisition that they have made.

Speaking of awful acquisitions, the Yankees started leaking the news from Dr. Andrews that Carl Pavano needs Tommy John elbow surgery and that would sideline him for most if not all of the remainder of his four-year contract. That’s five wins for their $40 million investment. Just one year and $4 million plus a month is what it would take to sign Clemens.

Then came Sunday.

Darrel Rasner was on the mound for the Yankees, another starter, taking the place of another injured starter, taking the place of another starter. That’s what the season has been like for the Yankees. The fact that Rasner (1-1) struck out four and walked two in 5 2/3 innings wasn’t the story. Nor were his first-pitch strikes to 15 of his first 18 batters and 17 of 22 overall. It wasn’t even the story that five Yankee pitchers combined on a four-hitter for New York’s first shutout of the season.

Hideki Matsui’s 610th Yankee hit wasn’t the story even though it gave him 2,000 hits in his Japanyork career.

The almost brawl in the bottom of the 6th inning that resulted in Scott Proctor and Joe Torre’s ejection, was a sideshow, not the story.

The story came after the 7th inning stretch; just as the fans were getting ready to sit they heard the Voice of God, public-address announcer Bob Sheppard, who told the fans to direct their attention to the owner’s box behind home plate. I can only imagine what fans were thinking. Could George Steinbrenner have resurrected Billy Martin?

There he was, in a suit, looking like the Texas multi-millionaire that he is, “Well, they came and got me out of Texas and I can tell you it’s a privilege to be back,” Roger Clemens said. “I’ll be talking to y’all soon.”

There were 52,553 fans actually there (my guess it will ultimately be 273,591who will claim that they were there) and they must have been stunned. Clemens had signed a contract, for one-year, for $28,000,022, the last two digits representing his uniform number, the first two digits representing the history, the fantasy, the hope.

Roger’s agent, Randy Hendricks told the New York Times that the Red Sox and the Astros wanted Clemens to return in mid-June or later. But Cl*mens is apparently clean and ready now.

He followed the money, not his heart. My sources say that Clemens first choice, his choice to get a ring, was with Boston. But the Sox didn’t want to go over the salary cap for him and Roger didn’t want to leave money on the table. Both parties were right. Clemens made a cognitive choice. The Sox made a fiduciary choice. But don’t fool yourselves, if the Sox could have, they would have.

Clemens is a better investment than anybody else available and ultimately the Yankees realized that. Picking up someone’s trash and being stuck with a two or three year contract commitment is ultimately less expensive than one and done with Roger, particularly if he stays healthy. Particularly if he teaches the youngsters how to pitch. Particularly if his presence results in post-season dollars. Particularly if he if he brings home a ring.

Tonight, the Yankees have Matt DeSalvo on the mound. He is their sixth rookie starter this season and their 10th starter over all. Number 22 will be number 11.

Top of the 2nd
THE PRINCE OF MILWAUKEE
Prince Fielder hit a pair yesterday in Milwaukee’s 6-4 win over the Pirates. At 21-10, Milwaukee, has the best record in baseball and is 11 games above .500 for the first time since 1992. J.J. Hardy extended his career-high hitting streak to 17 games. It was Fielder’s fifth career multihomer game and second of the season (his daddy had 11).

.The Brewers have won three straight and seven of the last eight.

Top of the 3rd
D.U.I. = D.O.A.
Cardinals relief pitcher Josh Hancock was legally drunk last Sunday when he plowed his car into the back of a tow truck parked on Highway 40, officials announced this morning. He also was talking on a cell phone at the time he crashed and was traveling at 68 miles an hour in a 55 mph zone.

Hancock had a blood alcohol level of 0.157 percent, more than the legal driving limit of 0.08 percent, according to Dr. Michael Graham, the St. Louis medical examiner. Police Chief Joe Mokwa said 8.55 grams of marijuana and a glass pipe were also found in Hancock’s car.

Top of the 4th
ZUMAYA’S SCREW-YOU INJURY
The Tigers relief star Joel Zumaya suffered a painful injury to the middle finger of his pitching hand. The Tigers are calling it a “right middle-finger strain” and put him on the 15-day disabled list after the game. The injury occurred Saturday while Zumaya was warming up to pitch the 8th inning. On the first fastball I threw, I heard a loud pop in my finger,” he said. “I thought it was my knuckle cracking.

“I went to a curve, and I couldn’t grip the ball. I threw another fastball, and it popped again and the sharp pain ran through my finger. … I had shocking pain.”

Manager Jimmy Leyland expects Zumaya to be out for an extended time.

Top of the 5th
THE SOX ON ROGER
Sox CEO Larry Lucchino said, “I personally will have no comment.” The Red Sox issued a statement., “We met with Randy Hendricks earlier this week and, at Randy’s request, made an offer to Roger Clemens. We offered a substantial salary and suggested, for health purposes, that Clemens return on approximately the same timetable as last year. Today, we learned from Randy that Clemens has signed elsewhere.” According to Gordon Edes of the Boston Globe, Lucchino believed this Thursday was the operative date – leaving the Sox time to tweak their $18 million offer if they chose.

The Sox wanted Clemens back in late June or early July rather than have to pay that $18,666,666, the Yankees will be paying in June. You can’t blame them for that. They also offered Clemens the opportunity to pitch in a six-man rotation. That was probably also taking into consideration that Dice-K pitched in Japan every six days.

”I think they were going to get better,” Mike Lowell told Edes. ”We’ll see. I don’t see how you can become a worse team if you add Roger Clemens, let’s be realistic. But does that mean they’re going to win the division? No, because I don’t think we’re just going to sit and fall flat on our face, as well as any of the other teams in our division. He still has to perform.”

But the Senator, who is already in the shadow of Dice-K, already in the shadow of Josh Beckett’s potential Cy Young season, already trying to get the Sox him to a Clemens-like extension, said, “It would have been nice to have him, but we didn’t need him. We DON’T need him,” Schilling told the AP. “It’s May, a long way to go, but I like the way this team is comprised right now. This team has incredible makeup, it’s got great chemistry and I feel like we were a legitimate World Series contender without him, so it doesn’t change my mind.”

Top of the 6th
THOSE OLDIES BUT GOODIES
This will Clemens 24th season. Roger’s three seasons with the Houston Astros:
Year GS IP W-L ERA
2004 33 214.1 18-4 2.98
2005 32 211.1 13-8 1.87
2006 19 113.1 7-6 2.30

According to our friends at Elias, Clemens ERA was the lowest in the majors from the time of his season debut (June 22) to the end of the year. His ERA was more than one-third of a run lower than that of the runner-up, Erik Bedard (2.67).

Only eight pitchers have competed in as many seasons: Nolan Ryan (27 years), Tommy John (26), Charlie Hough (25), Jim Kaat (25), Steve Carlton (24), Dennis Eckersley (24), Phil Niekro (24) and Jesse Orosco (24).

Top of the 7th
PROBABLE PITCHERS
The Cards nights are long, so are the days
Won’t get any easier, tonight with Reyes

Oswalt tonight for the `Stros
The Clemens era ends, so it goes, so it goes

Away Home Time (ET) Away Probable Home Probable
Indians Orioles 12:35 p.m. Carmona (2-1) Trachsel (1-3)
Dodgers Marlins 7:05 p.m. Penny (3-0) Nolasco (1-0)
Padres Braves 7:05 p.m. Young (3-2) James (3-2)
Mariners Yankees 7:05 p.m. Batista (3-2) DeSalvo (0-0)
Astros Reds 7:10 p.m. Oswalt (4-2) Lohse (1-2)
Nationals Brewers 8:05 p.m. Chico (2-3) Capuano (4-0)
Rockies Cardinals 8:10 p.m. Francis (1-4) Reyes (0-5)
Phillies D-Backs 9:40 p.m. Garcia (1-2) Davis (2-3)
Mets Giants 10:15 p.m. Perez (3-2) Zito (2-3)

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
San Diego’s Jake Peavy allowed one hit in seven innings and struck out 10 batters in a 3-1 win over Florida. It was Peavy’s third straight double-digit strikeout performance, despite pitching only seven innings in each of those games.

Top of the 9th
IF THE HAIR DON’T FIT…
For the first time since he had it trimmed for the World Series, the Tigers’ Magglio Ordonez has gotten a haircut.

Magglio had said in spring training that he wasn’t going to get it cut all year, but as it got longer, it also got more difficult to contain, “I couldn’t fit it all under my hat,” he said.
So, he got it cut before Friday night’s game. “Don’t worry, Maggs,” said manager Jim Leyland. “We’ll get the guy who did this to you

Bottom of the 9th
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Information provided in Billy-Ball has been gathered from A.P. reports, espn.com, sportsline.com, mlb.com and numerous other e-sources. Opinions expressed in Billy-Ball are obviously solely the opinions of the author of Billy-Ball and do not reflect those of source material no matter how off the wall they may be.