Clemens to Houston a possibility
With Andy Pettitte now a member of the Astros, it's a real possibility Roger Clemens could soon be joining him.
NEW ORLEANS -- It isn't just idle offseason talk. It isn't just one high-profile baseball player doing his best to talk a buddy into trying on the same uniform.
Nope. As easy as it might have seemed to dismiss that chatter about Roger Clemens joining his pal, Andy Pettitte, next season in Houston as just another hey-wouldn't-that-be-something conversation for your favorite talk-show host, indications are growing that this is a real possibility.
Three days before Pettitte signed with the Astros, we began hearing these Clemens-to-Houston rumblings from an NL executive who was one of the first to tell us that Pettitte looked headed to the Astros.
Then, on the first day of the winter meetings on Friday, we heard the same message from an official of another team, an official who has ties to Houston -- and one who had predicted Pettitte would be an Astro nearly two weeks before it happened.
When the subject of Clemens to Houston came up, the official said, almost matter-of-factly: "Oh, I think that's happening. These two guys are working out together, right? Why are they working out together if the one guy is retired?"
Hmmm, good point. But what about Clemens' emotional, flashbulb-popping "final" World Series pitch? If that wasn't the end, it sure fooled a whole lot of people, from New York to the Rio Grande.
"I never thought that was his final pitch," the official said. "He'll be back. And I think he'll be back in Houston."
We've been hearing this talk as far back as the World Series. Even then, friends were suggesting all kinds of scenarios that could interest Clemens in firing up the engine to pitch another year. And a Pettitte-Clemens reunion back home in Texas was one of them.
But now, baseball people who are hooked into Astros owner Drayton McLane say McLane is openly discussing finding a way to add Clemens to his growing collection of local heroes.
One of those people says McLane has already let Clemens know that even if he doesn't come back to pitch, he is always welcome at Minute Maid Park -- to do anything from shagging flies to tossing batting practice to hanging out in a suite with his kids, eating ribs. But of course, if Clemens does decide to pitch, McLane has made it clear the crack in that door is as wide as the whole state of Texas.
|“||He'll be back. And I think he'll be back in
|— A National League executive
on Roger Clemens
Clemens is a lonnnnngggg ways from deciding he's going to come back, though. And that is just one of the hang-ups that could prevent this fascinating reunion from ever taking place.
Just as messy is the fact that the Astros are already over their projected payroll -- and Clemens isn't dusting off the old splitter for the same money McLane is paying Eric Bruntlett.
But McLane loves his Houstonians. And remember this: Not only are he and Pettitte and Clemens from Houston, but so are both players' agents -- Alan and Randy Hendricks.
So as crazy as this might seem on one level, "don't discount it," says a baseball man who ought to know. And that's good enough for us.
At the same time, they haven't told Sheffield the three-year, $39-million contract he thought he'd negotiated was officially defunct -- but only because they aren't telling Sheffield anything about anything at the moment.
"Greg has told me he wants to pitch at least three years," Boras said. "So we're looking at a three-year or four-year deal" (and, at least for now, at more than double those dollars).
In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution this week, Maddux mentioned all of the NL West teams except Colorado as options, because they'd all be within a one-hour flight, at most, of the home he's building in San Diego. But Boras said it wouldn't necessarily be geography that determines Maddux's next destination.
"Greg has said there are two things that are important to him," Boras said. "One is geography. Two is winning. And sometimes you don't get both."