Even if youíve been vacationing in Zimbabwe for the last week, you know that Roger Clemens is coming back -- this time for the Yankees. Clemens is obviously still a heck of a pitcher and should be picked up in any league heís available in. (I tried to get him in an AL-only Yahoo! league, but missed out due to waiver priority. Damn!)
However, while Clemens will help any fantasy team, expecting him to be your savior would be a little bit much. We need to temper our expectations a tad.
My first semi-concern about Clemens is how the change in leagues will affect him. Going from the National League to the American is not easy.
Want proof? OK. Clemens pitched for the Yankees from 1999 through 2003. His ERA during those seasons: 4.60, 3.70, 3.51, 4.35, 3.91. Then he went to the National League, pitching for the Astros from 2004 through 2006. His ERA in Houston: 2.98, 1.87, 2.30.
Take a look at those numbers again. Based on his history, if Clemens had returned to Houston, expecting an ERA around 2.00 would not be ridiculous. However, with the Yankees, perhaps we should expect an ERA around 4.00. Thatís not bad these days, but obviously 4.00 isnít 2.00. Itís not the stuff of a fantasy savior.
Another worry about Clemens is that thereís actually been some skills erosion here, but itís been masked by the change in leagues.
Letís look at Clemensí dominance, for instance. Over his last three years in New York, Clemens had an 8.75 K/9. Then he went to the NL, and I would think his strikeout rate would go up. After all, he gets an easy K or two each time through most National League lineups, unlike in the AL. But the Rocketís K/9 during his Houston career was 8.43 -- it actually went down a little. The competition was easier, but Clemens was the same, if not a bit worse. Has his stuff slipped?
A similar phenomenon occurred in Clemensí strikeout-to-walk ratio and ground ball-to-fly ball ratio. He stayed consistent from the AL to the NL, but you look for a pitcher to do better in the NL, not stay the same. Consistency in this case may be masking skills erosion.
Another worry about Clemens is his age: 44. I know heís a freak, but still Ö this guy turns 45 in August. We always need to be careful when projecting a pitcher his age.
Maybe Iím being nitpicky here. And Iím not saying Clemens wonít be good. Heck, Iíd take him on any of my teams right now. But my point is simply that you shouldnít expect the world here. If your pitching staff is in shambles, acquiring Clemens will help, but it isnít a cure-all.