But I left him alone because it appeared that he was committed to re-building the team the right way, from the bottom up. He has spent wisely, focusing the Astros dollars on the farm system rather than quick-fix free agents. He has hired, in Jeff Luhnow, a General Manager who has publicly stated that he has no interest in making moves that would risk mortgaging the future.
Yes, the current Astros team is doing badly by any definition of the word. Some of the current players will be a part of the future and are slowly adjusting to the major league level. Some players are, to put it bluntly, placeholders until younger players are ready to stake their claim. Re-building is not for the faint of heart. But it appeared that Jim Crane and company were committed to the philosophy at hand.
Then the Roger Clemens circus came to town. I have no ax to grind with Roger Clemens. Leaving the unproven steroid allegations completely out of it, there have been other issues over the years that have kept me from really liking Clemens as a person. Whether it's fair or unfair, I'll admit it. BUT I can put that aside, and I will be the first to acknowledge that he is one of the greatest pitchers to have ever played the game. Hands down. And I will never forget the sight of him warming up in the bullpen to pitch the 16th, 17th and 18th innings for the win in the 2005 NLDS. It still gives me chills.
With that said, it appears I am in the minority when I say that Jim Crane should not sign Roger Clemens to pitch for the Houston Astros. It is a bad idea on several different levels. As a matter of fact, I think even Jim Crane knows it's a bad idea. In this article, Crane goes out of his way several times in saying that Clemens wouldn't be a part of the long-term plans. Then why do it? If it admittedly doesn't advance the long-term plans of the organization, what is the reason for doing it?
He would be doing it for money, pure and simple. Crane may protest that he will give most of the money to charity, but so many people would come to see Roger Clemens pitch that there would be a lot of extra cash coming in the door via concessions and the $250 specialty jerseys that I feel certain would be made available.
So what's wrong with that, you may ask? What are you, a communist or something? No, but I am a purist. Bringing in someone who in no way advances your long-term goals (or even short-term goals for that matter) just to bring people in cheapens the game of baseball, the Astros franchise and the efforts of those players who are working their tails off to be a part of the team moving forward. There is no shame in losing. There is, however, shame in bringing in an Eddie Gaedell or a Herb Washington or a Roger Clemens just to put butts in seats.
Another reason I am against the idea is that Clemens would, by necessity, take up a 40-man roster spot. I was presented with a whole list of individuals who some think could easily be removed from the 40-man roster to make room for him. That may or may not be true but it misses the point entirely. Here is just a short list of pitchers who should at least be considered for a September call-up and a 40-man roster spot over Roger Clemens:
Every one of those pitchers has the potential for being a part of the Astros' future. Roger Clemens does not. He should not be taking developmental innings away from any pitcher in this organization.
Roger Clemens can make a difference for the Astros and he can contribute to the Astros' long-term development, but not as a player. He can be coach, consultant, mentor or cheerleader under the personal services contract that is already in place and I would love to see that happen.
I'm sure that there are other teams that are in need of his services as a pitcher now. We are not one of them. Let another team deal with the circus atmosphere that would accompany a Roger Clemens comeback. Please. Let the Astros retain at least a shred of dignity.
I know there are many who won't agree with me, but I just wanted to let you know my reasons.