(from The Dugout)

Steve Phillips, as heard on Monday’s “Outside The Lines”, queried by Bob Lee about Roger Clemens being allowed to skip Yankee road trips when his start isn’t scheduled : “I would not bring a player in and make those sort of special dispensations. It tears apart the fabric of the team…” (sorry, I hit the mute button).

Though I was critical of Clemens’ cushy deal in Houston, who really gives a hoot in 2007 about what-Steve Phillips-would-do? Flushing’s former chief executive of Zipper Problems hasn’t run a club in a long time and doesn’t appear to be in line for a job with another, not unless you count Bristol U’s softball team.

“OTL” is only half over, so I’m still hopefull we’ll be hearing the results of an ABC/ESPN scientific poll to determine how support for The Rocket breaks down over racial lines.

The New York Sun’s Tim Marchman, though lacking the GM credentials of Phillips, takes a fairly pragmatic approach to Clemens’ true value, insisting “as shrewd a bit of marketing as this is, it’s a lot more impressive as a baseball move.”

Clemens, who agreed to a $28 million, one-year deal yesterday, is still just about the best starting pitcher in baseball, at least per start. During the last three years, he’s pitched 539 innings with a 2.40 ERA; by comparison, Minnesota’s Johan Santana, universally acknowledged as the best starter in the game, has pitched 693 innings with a 2.93 ERA

That innings difference is, of course, massively important. Clemens is ” as one would expect of someone who would have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer had he retired a decade ago ” a six-inning pitcher, and his body can’t handle the grind of pitching from spring training through October. Still, the various concessions and accommodations he and the Houston Astros made because of his age had the unexpected effect of allowing him to pitch at an unparalleled level when he was able to take the mound. Assuming that the Yankees concede and accommodate appropriately, there’s no reason to expect much less of him over the last four months of the season. Tack a run onto his ERA to account for the switch from the less difficult league in which pitchers hit to the league in which David Ortiz and Travis Hafner hit, and you still have a pitcher capable of allowing 3.40 runs per nine ” exactly what Santana has done so far this year.