Think what you will about Roger Clemens. He can come across as arrogant, egotistical and self-centered. The bottom line to Clemens though is that he is dominating. Even at an age where many have retired and entered their post-baseball lives, Clemens can dominate the toughest hitters in either league. At age 42, Clemens posted the lowest ERA of his career with the Astros in 2005. He could have easily won 20 games - he finished 13-8 - had the 'stros not been shutout in nine of his starts. He was perhaps the reason why Houston went to the World Series.
Now, Clemens finds himself mulling retirement, which he and everybody else knew that he would do. He also finds himself mulling a different employer for the 2006 season. There are plenty of scenarios and plenty of choices for Clemens to make. Perhaps the best would be to simply wait until May 1st, which is the earliest that he can re-sign with Houston, and join their club as soon after that as he can be ready. Clemens has signed up to pitch in the World Baseball Classic in March, so he'll likely be in pretty good shape come May 1. It may not take him much more time to be ready and to rejoin a club that could well battle for a playoff spot and perhaps a return trip to the World Series. It wouldn't be a bad Memorial Day boost for the Astros to have Roger Clemens return. Pitching in Houston was a dream for Clemens, since it's close to home. It also worked perfectly because they were willing to accommodate his every whim, including not making Clemens be with the team on days when he wasn't scheduled to pitch. There are few situations that would allow a player to go that far.
The Rangers are geographically close for Clemens and may offer the same sort of perk. It could still work since he wouldn't be that far from home and he could boast having pitched for both Texas teams in his career. Wouldn't it be interesting if he could also have led both to a World Series appearance? Boston would be another sort of trip home for Clemens, returning to where he started his illustrious career. The Yankees? Well, they're the Yankees and perhaps another Subway Series could be in Clemens' future.
Well, financially, the Phillies might be able to pony up the money, especially since they have some deals in the works to clear some more salary from the books. The Dodgers are known to be interested in David Bell and if they could find a way to take Mike Lieberthal as well, that would clear about $12 million. Find a cheap, stopgap catcher or perhaps get free agent catcher Brad Ausmus, who was Clemens' personal catcher with the Astros to agree to a cheap deal and maybe things could work out. Hey, the Phillies wanted a top-of-the-rotation starter and they don't come much more top than Clemens. Since the Astros didn't offer Clemens arbitration, it wouldn't cost the Phillies any premium draft choices either. That's always a plus.
Giving Clemens time away from the club whenever possible would be a possibility, but his home in Texas isn't exactly a short drive from Philly. The club may have to pony up for airline tickets throughout the season and that could get to be a pretty pricey added expense. Family is important to Clemens and at this point in his career, he can afford financially and professionally to do whatever he can to be close to them. If that is the most important thing to Clemens, then it comes down to Houston or Texas and there wouldn't be much that the Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies or any other team could do to get him in their uniform.
Since he's going to pitch in the WBC, a return to Houston might not be the worst thing for Clemens. There is a comfort zone there for him, the team and its players are used to his perks and quirks and the added time away could make Clemens that much stronger late in the season and into the post-season. Texas would be a decent second choice and would give him a final tour around the American League where he spent most of his career. Philadelphia doesn't offer much in the way of perks for Clemens. He wouldn't be close to his family, he wouldn't get a victory lap in the American League, except for matchups against his buddies in the A.L. East that dot the Phillies schedule in 2006. He also wouldn't be returning to any sort of roots in Philadelphia. The home angle is strong for the Astros and Rangers and returning to his younger days could be a lore in Boston or New York. Philadelphia just doesn't make sense even if there is a way of crunching the numbers to get it done. Roger Clemens in Philadelphia will only happen with him coming to town as a visiting player, not as a new home team favorite.