So far, the Astros new ownership group and management team has been a breath of fresh air that most Astros’ fan needed after being stuck in the smog that was Drayton McLane’s last few years. Even with the club struggling badly, light is breaking through and very visible at the end of the tunnel. That is in a large part due to the new group of gentlemen running the show. That all said, this Roger Clemens joke of a publicity stunt, even if they say it isn’t, has me very worried. I wrote earlier in the week that the road for Clemens to return to the Astros as a coach was being paved but not as a pitcher. I had so much confidence that the new men in charge would make the obviously right choice and use Clemens’ brain and experience that the idea they’d be interested in his arm never seriously crossed my mind. With reports that they’d be interested in bringing back a 50 year old pitcher, with an interesting history, it reeks of a minor league stunt to draw that extra 500 fans to the game.
Honestly, the Astros have very little to lose in this whole circus besides their self-respect. The team is horrible and there really isn’t a stud pitching prospect or intriguing guy like Dallas Keuchel to showcase in September, so a spot can be made. Would his experience on the mound help out the young guys, I’m sure it would. The issue I see here is – while having the big guy around a big league mound might help the young guys, their motives reek of something else. If he pitches well, Saturday night and he throws a decent bullpen session, what would it truly mean? That he can get players out that couldn’t make it at the higher levels of minor league baseball and can still throw in the mid 80s? We all saw the Jaime Moyer experiment and his stuff equated better to pitching into his late 40s. The Astros appear to be after the name Roger Clemens not the player, which isn’t what this should be about.
I actually have no problem with him pitching again for the Sugar Land Skeeters. To them it makes all the sense in the world and should be something special to watch Saturday night. They’re an independent minor league team that has done very well in their first year of existence and the national attention and live TV crews that will surely be present Saturday night is fantastic exposure. For a minor league organization without a connection to a big league team, you can’t buy this kind of publicity. While for Clemens, he can pitch again and show the world that at 50, he can still get people out. While this may be an unfair statement, had the Astros been only a bad team in the middle of their rebuilding phase under Jim Crane then this would be different. However, given how bad the team truly is and how early it is in the Crane regime, this reeks of publicity stunt and a minor league ploy at the major league level.