Uncomfortable Scrutiny for Two Friends’ Pitching Partnership

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Uncomfortable Scrutiny for Two Friends’ Pitching Partnership

Post  RedMagma on Sat Jan 05, 2008 2:18 pm

Uncomfortable Scrutiny for Two Friends’ Pitching Partnership
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/06/sports/baseball/06friends.html?ref=baseball


Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte are thick-bodied starting pitchers who for years shared a trainer, an agent and a clubhouse. Clemens is an avid golfer, a father of four and a proud Texan, and so is Pettitte. Clemens was named in the Mitchell report on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, and so was Pettitte

But for all of their similarities, Clemens and Pettitte are also defined by their differences, notably in the way they react to mistakes during a game. When Pettitte makes a bad pitch, he will wince or shout, immediately blaming himself and doing the same later with reporters. Not so for Clemens.

“Roger would never let you see it,” said John Flaherty, a former Yankees catcher. “He was the Rocket, he was up on top, and if he was struggling, he was never going to show you any letup. That’s part of what made him so effective. He was the intimidator; ‘I’ve got it all together and I’m going to find a way to beat you.’”

Clemens is doing it again now, fighting to save his reputation while acknowledging no wrongdoing. He will appear on “60 Minutes” on Sunday, more than three weeks after George J. Mitchell named him as a user of steroids and of human growth hormone.

In excerpts of the interview released Thursday, Clemens said that his former personal trainer, Brian McNamee, who was Mitchell’s source, injected him only with the painkiller lidocaine and the vitamin B12. It is the latest step Clemens has taken to profess his innocence and undercut McNamee’s credibility.

On Jan. 16, Clemens and Pettitte will in all likelihood appear before a Congressional committee to testify alongside McNamee. For pitchers who have sat together in dugouts for hundreds of games, the new seats in Washington could be painfully uncomfortable.

The two friends had sharply contrasting reactions to the Mitchell report. McNamee told Mitchell he had injected Pettitte with human growth hormone to help Pettitte recover from a 2002 elbow injury. Two days after the report was released, Pettitte issued a statement through his agent, Randy Hendricks, corroborating McNamee’s account and apologizing if he let people down.

The obvious question is why McNamee would lie about Clemens when he told the truth about Pettitte, making it Pettitte, of all people, who helped put his mentor in a bind. Clemens’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, declined to also represent Pettitte because Pettitte said McNamee was telling the truth.

Hendricks did not respond to an e-mail request to answer questions on Pettitte’s behalf. But according to a friend of Clemens’s who has spoken with him recently, the Mitchell fallout had not strained the pitchers’ relationship.

“Since this has happened, they’re not as distant as one may think,” said the friend, who was granted anonymity because Clemens had not authorized him to speak publicly. “This hasn’t caused much of a rift. Rocket understands what kind of person Andy is, and he’s not mad at Andy. He respects what Andy has to do, and he’ll stand his ground.”

Clemens will hold a news conference Monday in Houston. Pettitte plans to meet with reporters in New York before the start of spring training next month, but the date is uncertain as he attends to his 13-year-old son, Josh, who broke his arm and sustained severe head lacerations that required about 100 stitches in a four-wheeler accident after Christmas.

Pettitte has told the Yankees that his son is lucky to be alive, and that the accident put his own troubles into perspective.

Pettitte’s career might not have lasted this long without Clemens to motivate him. They became teammates in 1999, when the Yankees acquired Clemens in a trade with Toronto, and Pettitte soon joined Clemens’s workout program with McNamee.

When McNamee visited Clemens for off-season workouts, Pettitte and other local pitchers would join them at Clemens’s gated home in Piney Point Village on the west side of Houston. The home is appraised at $3.2 million, according to the Harris County Appraisal District’s Web site, and includes a pool, a gym and a horseshoe pit Clemens installed after former President George Bush visited and wanted to play.

Pettitte lives in Deer Park, a working-class suburb east of Houston where he attended high school and met his wife. His home is not behind gates and was appraised at $700,000. Pettitte would drive about 32 miles each way to Clemens’s home to train.

“I got the impression from the workouts that Roger was taking a guy like Andy and getting him ready to do it for another 8 to 10 years,” said C. J. Nitkowski, one of the pitchers who joined in the workouts

“Roger had done it so well for so long, and he loved the workout and was really good about sharing it. He was sold on Mac. He was a believer, and he encouraged other guys to get on the program.”

Pettitte was established by the time Clemens joined the Yankees, but he had a soft body and was said to not know the benefits of training. It was easy for him to follow Clemens’s lead; Pettitte is 10 years younger and once had a poster of Clemens on his bedroom wall.

Clemens, 45, has no younger brothers and Pettitte has no older brothers. In some ways, they filled those roles for each other. But by 2003, the end of their first stint with the Yankees, Clemens had come to view Pettitte as a peer.

“Roger looked at Andy as an equal, and Andy looked at Roger like a big-brother type,” said Flaherty, who had played with Clemens a decade earlier in Boston. “I think Roger appreciated Andy because of how he was willing to do all the work Roger did, and he didn’t complain about it; he looked forward to it. I don’t think Roger ever had that before.”

Pettitte also smoothed Clemens’s transition to New York. Clemens had come off two Cy Young awards with the Toronto Blue Jays — the second, in 1998, was aided by the use of steroids, according to the timeline McNamee gave Mitchell. But Clemens slumped to a career-high 4.60 earned run average in ’99.

Clemens eventually found success in New York, with an 83-42 record as a Yankee. Teammates believe it was Pettitte, more than anyone else, who helped Clemens understand the expectations of his new fans.

“When you come to New York as a superstar, you’re not the main attraction anymore, and that humbles you,” the former Yankees reliever Jeff Nelson said. “Andy was big as far as telling him: ‘I know you’re Roger Clemens, but the fans here will let you know if you’re not performing at your best. They aren’t going to give you the benefit of the doubt, and they expect your best all the time.’”

At the end of that season, Clemens gave the fans his best, winning the World Series clincher in a sweep of Atlanta. He and Pettitte anchored four more World Series pitching staffs, including one for Houston in 2005.

Clemens announced his retirement after the 2003 season but decided to keep pitching when Pettitte joined the hometown Astros. “I wouldn’t be here if he wasn’t here,” Clemens said at his introductory news conference in Houston in January 2004.

The next month, at the start of spring training in Kissimmee, Fla., Clemens talked about his workouts with Pettitte, describing them as robots because of their strict regimen. Clemens boasted that Pettitte could still throw 94 miles an hour late in games for one main reason: “Andy jumped right into the program.”

McNamee created the program, and if he told Mitchell the truth, Clemens (and Pettitte, briefly) had an advantage in reaping its benefits. But Nitkowski said that should not detract from the pitchers’ legacy.

“Regardless of what decisions they made, it doesn’t take away from the fact that they still, absolutely, worked hard,” Nitkowski said.

“If they did those things, it gave them a little bit of an edge or helped them get through the workouts or gave them more strength and stamina during the season. But you can’t just take steroids and not do anything. They worked extremely hard, and it was impressive to watch Roger’s passion and energy.”

With no team to play for, Clemens is applying that passion to clearing his name, a task his friend has made harder..

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Re: Uncomfortable Scrutiny for Two Friends’ Pitching Partnership

Post  RedMagma on Sat Jan 05, 2008 2:22 pm

Putting the Quantity in Unknown Quantity

By MURRAY CHASS



http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/06/sports/baseball/06chass.html?ref=baseball

Mark down these names and check in the next few years to see how many appear in major league box scores:

Ryan Sweeney, Gio Gonzalez, Fautino De Los Santos, Brett Anderson, Dana Eveland, Greg Smith, Chris Carter, Aaron Cunningham, Carlos González.

They are the nine players the Oakland Athletics received for Nick Swisher and Dan Haren in the past month. The trades are nothing new for Billy Beane, the Athletics’ general manager. He and Larry Beinfest of the Florida Marlins have made more of these trades than any other general managers, swapping high-priced, established players for affordable-but-unproven prospects.

Other clubs have made such trades, but not with the frequency of the Athletics and the Marlins.

This winter, the Marlins traded Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to Detroit for Andrew Miller, Cameron Maybin, Mike Rabelo, Eulogio de la Cruz, Dallas Trahern and Burke Badenhop.

Two years ago, the Marlins traded Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston for Hanley Ramírez, Aníbal Sánchez, Jesús Delgado and Harvey García; and Carlos Delgado to the Mets for Mike Jacobs, Yusmeiro Petit and Grant Psomas.

In 2004, the Athletics traded Tim Hudson to Atlanta for Dan Meyer, Juan Cruz and Charles Thomas; and Mark Mulder to St. Louis for Kiko Calero, Daric Barton and Haren.

Even the Yankees have made such deals. A year ago, they traded Gary Sheffield and Randy Johnson and received Humberto Sánchez, Kevin Whelan, Anthony Claggett, Ross Ohlendorf, Steven Jackson, Alberto González and the only major leaguer in either deal, Luis Vizcaíno.

When a team decides to trade an established veteran for prospects, it will identify the teams it thinks are the most likely trading partners and make a list of prospects in those teams’ organizations. Teams interested in the established veteran will find out which prospects the other team likes and decide which ones they are willing to trade.

“I was going to cut the best deal I could,” said Brian Cashman, the Yankees’ general manager, discussing the Sheffield trade with the Tigers. “We put him in the marketplace and worked out the best deal on the table. We would’ve gravitated in any direction. You try to solve your needs.”

Pitching is everybody’s priority these days, and the Yankees acquired three pitchers for Sheffield.

“The Tigers were the most aggressive,” Cashman said. “It was a very limited trade market.”

Sheffield was coming off wrist surgery and also had a reputation for being difficult to deal with. But, Cashman said: “You try to work out a deal you’re comfortable with. You don’t do a deal you don’t think is a good deal.”

Sánchez, out all season after reconstructive elbow surgery, is expected to be able to throw in spring training.

Whelan (4-2, 2.98 earned run average) pitched in relief at Class AA Trenton last season. Claggett (9-8, 3.69) started 16 games and relieved in 16 for Class A Tampa. Both are prospects, Cashman said.

Of the three young players the Yankees obtained for Johnson, Ohlendorf relieved in six games for the Yankees after relieving and starting (3-3, 5.02) for Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Jackson (4-8, 5.87) did both jobs for Scranton, and González batted .266 for Scranton and Trenton.

The Athletics traded Hudson and Mulder two days apart in December 2004. They acquired a young pitcher in each deal whom they expected to blossom into a good starter, but injuries have slowed the progress of Meyer, a 26-year-old left-hander. In three starts and three relief appearances for Oakland last season, he had an 0-2 record with an 8.82 E.R.A.

Haren, a 27-year-old right-hander, was the key to the Mulder deal. He won 43 games for the Athletics in three seasons and he cannot be a free agent for three more years. But the Athletics traded him anyway.

“This whole winter we’ve been gauging the health of our club,” Beane said. “We were injured last year. When we got into the winter, we weren’t optimistic it was going to be any different. If we stayed status quo, we weren’t going anywhere anyway. I looked at the club and at best we’d be a 72-to-81 team.”

So why, Beane said, asking his own question, would you trade the one person who is healthy and is your All-Star?

“He was probably our biggest asset,” Beane said. “We didn’t need one player; we needed multiple players, and Danny was the best shot at doing that.”

Asked how he decides what players he wants in return, Beane said: “It changes each time. It depends on your organization. When we were talking about Danny, we needed as much depth as we could get in the deal. When we traded Hudson and Mulder, we were a little more myopic.

“We focused on the two teams we did because each had a starter who appeared to be ready to pitch in the majors the next year. We were correct with Haren. Danny Meyer had some injuries that delayed him.”

Beane said he graded himself on his trades. “You have to,” he said. “There’s plenty of people grading you even before the deal is announced. It would be foolish not to look back and see what we learned.”

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Re: Uncomfortable Scrutiny for Two Friends’ Pitching Partnership

Post  RedMagma on Sat Jan 05, 2008 3:47 pm

Source: Big Ten Player of the Year Mendenhall going pro

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=3182506
Updated: January 5, 2008, 1:31 PM ET



Illinois junior running back Rashard Mendenhall will enter the NFL draft, a source close to him said Saturday.

Mendenhall, the Big Ten Player of the Year, made his final case as a pro prospect in the Rose Bowl, where he gained 155 yards rushing and added 59 receiving yards in the Fighting Illini's loss to Southern California.

In 2007, Mendenhall rushed 262 times for 1,681 yards -- an average of 6.4 yards per attempt -- and 17 touchdowns.

Mendenhall's college coach, Ron Zook, told the Chicago Tribune that he expected he would turn pro.

"We all know he's a first-round talent," Zook said, according to the newspaper.

The Tribune also reported that his mother, Sibyl, said a news conference was planned for Thursday at Niles West High School, his alma mater.

Joe Schad covers college football for ESPN.

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Re: Uncomfortable Scrutiny for Two Friends’ Pitching Partnership

Post  RedMagma on Sat Jan 05, 2008 5:38 pm

Just finished watching a couple of his appereances from last season.

Side-arm arm slot (low 3/4's). Fastball in the 87-88 mph. Can sink it, cut it (83-84). Big sweeping slider. Major weapon against LHB's. 73-74 mph. Big looping curve 69-72 mph. Changeup 76-77. Go to pitch vs RHB's. Not very good.

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Re: Uncomfortable Scrutiny for Two Friends’ Pitching Partnership

Post  RedMagma on Sat Jan 05, 2008 5:52 pm

ANGELS Q & A


http://www.latimes.com/sports/baseball/mlb/angels/la-spw-angelqa5jan05,1,7087430.story?coll=la-headlines-sports-mlb-angels&ctrack=1&cset=true


From fan to 'spoiled' fans: Be grateful for a good team
Christine Cotter / Los Angeles Times
The Angels are committed to giving Aybar a chance to be a regular this season.
By Mike DiGiovanna, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
January 5, 2008
Last week's question and reply -- are the Angels are OK with winning the American League West each year and not competing for the World Series? -- drew several interesting responses, so I thought I'd post two of the best ones here:

I've been an Angels fan my whole life, or about 37 baseball-conscious years. My dad took me to games when the only things to root for were a great play by Mickey Rivers or watching Vada Pinson and Lee Stanton play out their careers. I lived through the Bobby Winkles era and survived the Donnie Moore debacle. Here's what I have to say to my grousing fellow fans who fret that the Angels are merely "competitive" but aren't a "World Series-caliber" team: Shut up, you ungrateful, spoiled fans.

Arte Moreno, Bill Stoneman and Mike Scioscia have transformed the Angels into a respected franchise that delivers great entertainment to us. For many years, almost every Angels game has been meaningful. As someone who spent about 20 years waiting for one meaningful game, I'm grateful for everything the Angels have done lately. And c'mon fans, after 2002, it's all gravy.

Jay Boyarsky, Palo Alto

I think the moves the Angels have made were very astute. While it's true that Jon Garland did not have a great year, it is worth pointing out that Orlando Cabrera did have a career year. To see him bringing that kind of offensive production again and again is not very likely. Although they give away a little defense, they just added an excellent pitcher whose numbers were no doubt affected by the poor offensive help he received from the dismal White Sox. The Angels were obviously looking past this year when they made the deal for Torii Hunter, knowing that Garret Anderson will most likely not be brought back. They will be set in left field with Gary Matthews Jr., center with Hunter, and hopefully Vladimir Guerrero in right. Will it be an older outfield? Yes, but very productive both at the offensive and defensive ends.

No one seemed to bring up the fact that Miguel Cabrera is not exactly the greatest clubhouse guy either. There have been several issues brought up of his lack of hustle. ... I am glad the Angels kept their young talent. Howie Kendrick is going to make the Angels very glad they didn't pull the trigger on that deal, both in the field and in the community. Cabrera's talent is in an elite class, but he is not worth the amount of proven and potential talent they wanted in return. Are the Tigers, Red Sox and Yankees World Series-improved? Absolutely. But the Angels just added 28 to 31 homers in Hunter, and who knows how many more with a healthy Juan Rivera off the bench. This team has improved in every aspect needed.

Teresa Miller

Now we return to our regularly scheduled Q&A. ...

Question: Are the Angels going to enter the Johan Santana sweepstakes?

Stan Lenguadoro, Iowa

Answer: It doesn't look like it. GM Tony Reagins said repeatedly at the winter meetings that he wasn't pursuing starting pitching, and that doesn't appear to have changed. Moreno also made it clear that he has already reached his budget for 2008--the Angels payroll is projected at about $125 million--and while he's willing to exceed it, I don't think he wants to obliterate it. Not only would the Angels, who have six quality starting pitchers, have to fork over a boatload of talent to acquire the Twins left-hander, they would have to commit some $150 million over seven years to secure Santana to a contract extension.

Q: Any chance the Angels can go after David Wright? I know he's almost untouchable, but the Mets need pitching, and we have it, as well as a lot of good young players. Wayne Gretzky was thought to be untouchable with the Edmonton Oilers, so why not go after Wright?

Don Atchison

A: Sure, the Angels could go after Wright, the Mets' outstanding third baseman, but the Mets have shown no desire to trade him. The only chance the Angels had of acquiring Wright was if the Mets signed Alex Rodriguez to play third, but Rodriguez re-signed with the Yankees, and Wright, considered a franchise player by the Mets, will remain in New York.

Q: A letter last week focused on Erick Aybar and Maicer Izturis and whether they can hold the fort such that the Angels don't regret the Orlando Cabrera for Jon Garland trade. What's your read on Brandon Wood? Is having him move back to shortstop an option that causes the Angels to feel they have a fallback at short in case Aybar doesn't work out? They can't really move Wood to third now. Figgins has to play.

Edward Lamoureux, Peoria, Ill.

A: The Angels believe Wood is ready to play defensively in the big leagues at either position, and I agree with their assessment. Where he eventually plays in Anaheim could hinge on injuries--if Figgins goes down, Wood could play third; if Aybar goes down, Wood could play short. And if Aybar struggles, Wood would be a fallback option. But for Wood to emerge as a major league regular, he needs to return to triple-A Salt Lake this season and make more consistent contact, especially with breaking balls and off-speed pitches. Wood has tremendous power but strikes out too much.

Q: What are the chances the Angels could re-sign Orlando Cabrera next year?

Ellen

A: Remote. The Angels are committed to giving Aybar a chance to become a regular this season, and if Aybar struggles, Wood could be ready to step in by the All-Star break. Plus, if the Angels are going to add another $10-million-a-year player, they will want one who hits for more power than Cabrera.

Q: I just read your Q&A about the Miguel Cabrera non-trade. I may be alone in this thinking, as I haven't read anything from any media source to validate it, but could the deal between the Angels and Marlins have broken down because of Dontrelle Willis as much as Ervin Santana? I looked at what the Tigers gave up and it doesn't seem near what the Angels were offering for M-Cab.

John Stacy, Olive Branch, Miss.

A: No. The Angels did discuss six-player deals (four-for-two) with the Marlins, but the Angels wanted Dan Uggla, the power-hitting second baseman, not Willis, the left-hander. The Angels never expressed serious interest in Willis, but because they would have sent second baseman Howie Kendrick to Florida in any package for Cabrera, they were interested in Uggla.

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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