WTNYJanuary 16, 2004
Coming Back Home
By Bryan Smith

When the Houston Astros signed Andy Pettite, I blasted the team for overpaying for an overrated southpaw. I was hoping to do the same when the team I hate the most signed Roger Clemens, another player I hate. But, the evidence proves me wrong here, Roger Clemens is still one helluva pitcher. For $5 million, the Astros got a steal. Here's why:

Overall: 17-9 3.91 199/211.2 190/58
Home: 7-7 5.22 115/108.2 110/36
Away: 10-2 2.53 84/103 80/22
Pre-ASB: 8-6 3.68 111/124.2 128/35
Post-ASB: 9-3 4.24 88/87 62/23

Well, his splits are very clearly defined. Roger struggled in Yankee Stadium last season, but he hasn't always done so. Here's a look at Roger's home splits the previous four seasons:

2002: 9-1 2.84 74/101.1 122/27
2001: 10-1 3.10 83/98.2 98/26
2000: 8-4 3.86 110/126 123/42
1999: 9-5 3.56 103/113.2 102/46

So before this season's glitch, Clemens had been fantastic at home, accumulating a 36-11 record from 1999-2002. So, was last season a hiccup? Well, we don't know. But, here's a look at where he succeeded:

@ANA: 2-0 1.06 11/17 11/1
@BAL: 1-0 1.88 12/14.1 9/3
@TB: 2-1 3.43 15/21 15/6

Fenway was the only other stadium that Clemens threw 10 innings at last season, and his ERA was 4.26 there. In the last three seasons, Clemens has had a 6.18ERA against his former team the last three years, and will be happy to get away from Beantown. But, consider that Clemens won't be facing the Twins (0.41 in 22), the Angels (1.78 in 30.1), the Athletics (1.82 in 34.2), and the Devil Rays (2.85 in 101). Roger's done fairly well in limited experience against NL opponents, and I doubt he'll be intimidated by the likes of Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati.

One point against Clemens is that his K/9 was 'only' 8.08 last season, which was his second lowest in the last nine seasons. Only in 1999 did he go lower (7.82), and that was his worst season of note. But, to Clemens' credit, he also got much better with walks. His K/BB was the best since 1997, his 2.05 ERA year, and it was the first time his OBP allowed was under .300 since 1998. His SLG against has been above .375 each of the last five seasons, and has sat close to .400 each of the last two years. His 24HR allowed were the second highest of his career, not a good sign for moving to the smaller Minute Maid Park.

Interestingly enough, Clemens has been much tougher against lefties than righties the last three seasons, largely because of his splitter. Against southpaws, Clemens has allowed a stingy .224/.300/.347, but a .276/.315/.438 line vs. right-handers. That will actually hurt him against the likes of the Cubs (Sosa, Lee, Ramirez, etc.), and the Cardinals (Pujols, Renteria, Rolen).

What Clemens role will be in Houston isn't quite defined yet. There are rumors that Clemens will solely pitch in Minute Maid, that he will seldomly pitch away, or that he'll aim for all 32 starts. The club has room to carry a swingman 6th rotation member, with Carlos Hernandez, Jeriome Robertson, and Brandon Duckworth all eligible for that role. Clemens will surely feel the effects of pitching in a smaller stadium, and should be effected to facing some great in-division right-handed bats. But overall, Clemens will be earning $2.5M less than Sidney Ponson next season, and will be considerably less than Greg Maddux.

How will Roger Clemens do in Texas? ERA above 4.00, a K/9 above 8.10, and 12-15 wins. And no, the drama of him batting every fifth day won't be as great as the media is hoping. That's it, I'm out.