Houston Astros: Would a Roger Clemens Return Be a Smart Move?
The 50-year-old seven-time Cy Young Award winner has eyes for the big leagues, and there's rampant speculation that he and the Astros are destined to hook up.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (via Danny Knobler) that the Astros are scouting Clemens as he pitches for the independent Sugar Land Skeeters.
A reunion would almost certainly result in sellouts in whatever ballpark he pitched in. It would also result in a media circus following the team and the former big league superstar.
It remains to be seen whether this reunion will actually happen.
Here are few reasons why a Roger Clemens return to the Astros would not be a smart move.
The potential signing of Roger Clemens offers little upside to the organization. The move wouldn't fit in with the current direction of the club.
The Houston Astros are out of contention. The organization is using their remaining games to figure out who can help the team in 2013.
The Astros have a few arms in Triple-A who would be better served pitching in the big league rotation in September. Edgar Gonzalez, Jarred Cosart and Rudy Owens are all worthy of looks before the season ends.
Providing big league experience for these pitchers would benefit the organization more than a few home-game sellouts when Clemens pitches would.
It's also hard to imagine Clemens being able to throw more than 80 pitches per start. That doesn't translate to many innings, which would only put an unnecessary strain on a bullpen that has struggled all year.
No Guarantees of Success
If Roger Clemens were to take the mound at Minute Maid Park this month, it's possible the on-field results could be a disaster.
While velocity isn't everything in the big leagues, it's hard to imagine Clemens having success with whatever stuff he has left right now.
Clemens had his fastball clocked at 87 mph during a three-inning simulated game, according to his agent Randy Hendricks (via ESPN.com).
For a pitcher who relies on dominating hitters with his fastball, he'll likely need to add more velocity if he's going to have big league success.
Clemens works off of his fastball with a hard splitter, which loses its effectiveness as his fastball velocity drops.
Clemens lived off of his splitter in his previous stint with the Houston Astros. He will have difficulty repeating that success with low fastball velocity.
What Happens Next Year?
The potential return of Roger Clemens to MLB in 2012 only sets up the offseason-long question of whether he'll pitch in 2013.
The Houston Astros will have young arms to develop in 2013. They'll likely have rotation spots committed to Bud Norris, Lucas Harrell and Jordan Lyles, barring offseason trades.
The Astros will have several young arms competing for the remaining two rotation spots, and adding Clemens to the mix would further complicate the situation for the front office.
There likely isn't room for Clemens in Houston's rotation now, and there will be even less room in 2013.
At this point, it's going to be difficult for any organization to commit a rotation spot to a 50-year-old who likely won't be able to pitch more than five innings per start.
The Astros could make it easier on themselves now, and down the line, if they pass on signing the former ace.