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|Houston buddies Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens in their new set of pinstripes.|
|Pete Rose Rumblings|
Publicly, Selig says nothing has changed. Realistically, everything has changed since the commish met Rose in his office 14 months ago.
That meeting, remember, took place only 33 days after Rose's appearance on the field at Pac Bell Park during the World Series. And the ovation for the Hit King that night lasted -- what? -- about 29 days?
So back then, Selig viewed Rose's reinstatement as a move most fans would assign to the plus side of Selig's ledger sheet. Now, with Rose's public approval plummeting, the commish figures to sit back for close to a year, if not longer, and then retake America's temperature on this.
But with people in the commissioner's office openly scoffing at the credibility of Rose's literary account of when and how he gambled on baseball, it's hard to imagine now that Selig will ever give serious reconsideration to this matter.
People who have been around Rose in recent months say he'd been acting like a man who was doing more than hoping he would manage again. He seemed mysteriously sure he would some day manage the Reds again, for a huge sum of money, plus significant perks -- including attendance clauses.
But will that ever happen now? Don't (ahem) bet on it.
Without Rose, would there even be a place for the David Ecksteins and Joe McEwings in modern baseball? Don't be so sure.
"What saddens me is that this guy was a special player," says one longtime scout. "You'd actually write in your reports on a guy: 'He's a Pete Rose-type player.' And if you wrote that, everybody would nod in approval."
Nowadays, if you said a guy was a Pete Rose-type player, half the country would think that meant he's the kind of guy who took the "under" on the Chiefs-Colts game.
Health will be one issue. One long-time Clemens watcher predicts he will pull a quad muscle running down to first base some night. But the bigger question will be how Clemens' high-and-tight style will play out in a league where he has to bring his bat to the plate 60 to 70 times a year.
"He's already issued a challenge by saying it's not going to change his style," says one NL scout. "And I know that's part of his greatness. But he'd better expect some consequences. When guys with his control pitch that way, everybody knows it's intentional. I can see him getting knocked on his butt. And him being the competitor he is, I don't know what the reaction will be. It'll be fun to watch. I know that."
The Astros averaged more than six runs a game in Robertson's victories. And he wound up with the ninth-highest ERA (5.10) of any 15-game winner in the last 60 years. So it's actually more likely that job could go to Tim Redding, who allowed two earned runs or fewer in 10 of his last 15 starts.
"If they'd like to trade Redding," says one AL executive, "I'll be standing in line."
|Kelly Wunsch||White Sox||.127||.153|
|Damaso Marte||White Sox||.168||.199|
"They've got to be the favorite in the West," says one AL scout. "But they've still got questions. The scale will be an important factor for that team. Let's see what weight (Bartolo) Colon comes in at, now that he's got the big contract. The health of (Troy) Percival is a big factor. And let's see if Frankie Rodriguez can step it up another level now that everybody has had a chance to see him for a full year."
Garret Anderson hasn't played much in center field since 2001. And Darin Erstad hasn't played extensively at first base in five years. But one AL scout says: "Erstad is going back to the place he plays best, I think. And Garret Anderson is a real good center fielder. He's not as spectacular as Erstad, but I think he's better. He glides. He's not an ESPN highlight center fielder."
And then there are the two best corner arms in anybody's outfield -- Guillen in left, Guerrero in right.
"How about those two arms?" gushes one NL scout. "It's really abnormal to have an arm like Guillen's in left field these days. Those two guys will close down a lot of opportunities to take that extra base."
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Click here to send Jayson a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.