The decision, announced by Purpura, but of course initiated by McLane, does two main things: a) it gives the Astros more control over what salary they'd be paying Clemens in 2006, assuming of course he decides at some point that he does want to pitch, and b) it prevents Roger from pitching for Houston before May the first. Again, assuming that he wants to pitch at all.
Jayson Stark thinks the decision was a bad one, but I think that I would have to say that I don't know enough about what it means to render an opinion one way or the other.
I do, however, think it's safe to assume that the decision, regardless of the long term ramifications to the relationship between Clemens and McLane, and therefore the Astros, takes to a new level the whispers you've been hearing about how Purpura and his underlings have disliked the way they've been left hanging by the Rocket.
We've got a baseball team to run here seems to be the first thing communicated.
And perhaps the question then asked is, do you forgive us?
Whether or not this damages things to the point where a deal can't be reached, I don't know. But the May First thing is not all that large an obstacle, not by itself anyway.
Clemens has for some time now expressed interest in pitching in that World Baseball Classic thing in March. And March, of course, also is when Spring Training occurs. So Clemens has basically put the Astros on notice that--even if he does decide to pitch--he would still rather not be in Florida come Grapefruit League time. Not to denigrate the World Baseball Classic or anything, but that just might mean Clemens wouldn't have been ready for Opening Day anyway.
And you don't have to be a cynic to think that Roger was only able to pitch five months in 2005 anyway, so maybe a May 1 start is best for all concerned.
I have said all along that I am in favor of Roger Clemens, the Houston Astro, in 2006, as long as it is done at a reasonable cost, and that if reasonable cost is not attainable, it would be best to let him walk, so that we can free up money for uses elsewhere.
At the very least, the announcement today says the Astros are concerned about that reasonable cost part of that model. So until I see some more fallout, I'll go on record as saying that I'm good with the decision. . .