Pettitte joins Astros, would like Clemens as teammate
By MICHAEL A. LUTZ, AP Sports Writer
December 12, 2003
HOUSTON (AP) -- Now that Andy Pettitte is heading home to Houston, he'd like Roger Clemens to join him.
Pettitte accepted a $31.5 million, three-year contract with the Houston Astros on Thursday, leaving the New York Yankees after nine seasons and four World Series championships.
Now he'll try to convince his former Yankee teammate Clemens to come out of retirement and pitch for the Astros, too.
We'll see what happens,'' said Pettitte, who still works out with Clemens. ``I know the media's already hit him up on that, and if I feel there's a chance, I'll hit him up on it, too.''
The Yankees wasted no time in trying to fill the void left by the popular left-hander.
The Yankees and Dodgers agreed to the outline of a trade that would send Brown to the Yankees for right-hander Jeff Weaver, two minor leaguers and $3 million, two baseball officials said on condition of anonymity.
Brown, who turns 39 in March, has the right to block a trade and has not yet been asked about it, agent Scott Boras said. All players must pass physicals, and the Yankees want to review Brown's contract before signing off on the swap, the officials said.
``We hate to lose Andy Pettitte,'' Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said in a statement. ``We know the fans may be disappointed, but if you're counting us out next year, don't bet the house.''
Later, as he left the Yankees' minor league complex in Tampa, Fla., Steinbrenner said that the pull of being close to his family seemed to sway Pettitte.
``It's obvious to a lot of us from the start that he wanted to go home,'' Steinbrenner said.
Houston first baseman Jeff Bagwell wasn't so sure.
``Never in my wildest imagination did I think we really had a chance,'' Bagwell told Houston television station KRIV.
Sounding wistful at times, the 31-year-old Pettitte said the Yankees' failure to pursue him aggressively allowed him to turn his attention to Houston, which wound up signing him for $7.5 million less than New York offered.
``When I left there after (World Series) Game 6, I never really envisioned myself in a different uniform,'' Pettitte said. ``I thought that they would try to make a serious push to sign me then.''
Clemens sounded surprised by the Yankees' bargaining.
``This is their guy,'' he told Sporting News Radio. ``I think if they would have come and hit him hard early, no other team would have been able to sway him away.''
Clemens, who has 310 wins, lives in Houston and is represented by Alan and Randy Hendricks, also Pettitte's agents. The 41-year-old right-hander didn't say whether he'd consider joining the Astros.
``We've let his representatives know if Roger changes his mind about retiring, we'd be interested in talking to him,'' general manager Gerry Hunsicker said.
New York's initial proposal, made just before Pettitte could start negotiations for all teams last month, was for $30 million over three years, including some deferrals. The Yankees didn't make another offer until late Wednesday night.
Pettitte's agents told the club during the day that they should offer a $52 million, four-year contract to get the pitcher's attention. They couldn't guarantee Pettitte accepting it, however.
``At that level, we weren't comfortable,'' Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said.
New York countered with a $26 million, two-year offer with a third season at $13 million that would become guaranteed if Pettitte wasn't on the disabled list for much of 2005.
By then it was too late.
``Over the last two weeks I felt my heart was really tugging me to come back here,'' said Pettitte, who lives in nearby Deer Park.
Pettitte, who helped the Yankees win six AL pennants, was 21-8 last season with a 4.08 ERA, improving his career record to 149-78.
He will get $5.5 million next season, $8.5 million in 2005 and $17.5 million in 2006 -- with $7.5 million in the final season deferred until July 1, 2008, according to contract details obtained by The Associated Press.
In addition, the lack of a state income tax in Texas and not having a residence in New York will add to an annual savings of about $1 million.
With his departure, only Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada remain from the group that led the Yankees to titles.
``It's going to be a little strange,'' Yankees reliever Steve Karsay said. ``It's going to be sad to see him go.''
AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum in New York contributed to this report
Come on rocket at least give 1 more year plz