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May 1 has past and the biggest free agent in baseball is still without a home. Reporters from every newspaper across the country are anxiously waiting on a decision from the greatest pitcher in baseball history to decide what uniform he will wear next year. Boston fans are hoping for one last dance with the rocket man, Yankees fans want some youth in their rotation, Astros fans want Clemens to lead their rotation again, and Texas Rangers fans are saying their prayers and keeping their toes, fingers, and eyelashes crossed that Clemens comes to the other part of Texas.
Who really has the best chance in all of this though? Is it the Yankees who will hand Roger a free admission pass to the vaults of Fort Knox? Maybe the Texas Rangers with their ballpark that gives up home runs like Paris Hilton ---On second thought, I'll avoid that one --- Maybe the Red Sox have the best chance with Al Nipper, Cy Young's record up for grabs, and 2 million members of Red Sox Nation waiting to cheer on the man they booed less than four years ago?
I've got bad news for all of you Texas, New York, and Boston hopefuls. Not gonna happen. The Rocket Man wants to come back for one thing and one thing only. Well maybe two things, one last major payday and one more piece of jewellery. That definitely won't be happening in Texas playing for the Rangers and will be difficult with the Yankees and Red Sox.
The AL East is going to have some hard roads to travel to make it to the World Series because of the competitiveness in their division this year. The Red Sox and Yankees have about 100 question marks looming over their heads and not a whole lot of answers for them. The Yankees have zero depth and a lot of aging veterans. The Red Sox have a questionable bullpen and if I'm Roger, I don't want to have Rudy Seanez or Julian Tavarez pitching the eighth after I just gave my team a strong seven.
The Houston Astros may be the best team in their division and with Roger Clemens in their rotation they may be the best team in the National League. I'm not sold on the Cardinals, and the NL West sure as hell isn't going to produce any contenders. The Braves will absolutely not win their division this year either. The Mets are the only team I see with potential to take out Houston as it stands right now, but their rotation will not be lights out forever, and their age will eventually catch up to them. Right now, all systems are go for a Rocket return to Houston.
If we take a quick look back at the other three teams we can say that the Red Sox definitely beat out the Rangers and the Yankees when it comes to depth. The Red Sox have a solid farm system with a few guys on the verge of being promoted. This also gives them much needed flexibility come the trade deadline. There aren't too many people knocking down Cashman's door inquiring about a 37 year old player making 40 million a year and unless the Rangers want to give up that Teixeira guy they might be s.o.l. themselves.
Ultimately though, the Astros have this one won hands down. They have the closeness to home thing going for them, they have the team with the most potential to make it to the World Series as of right now, and they have his son in their farm system. So will he be an Astro at some point this year? I would have to say yes. I could be wrong, and for the sake of being a Red Sox fan I hope I am, but it's looking like Roger will be staying with the team he has pitched for the last two seasons.
I think it's time to start thinking about another pitching option Mr. Epstein.
Fri 05/05/06, 2:26 pm EST