Houston Should Give Roger Clemens a Spring Training Non-Roster Invite

Monday, September 10 , 2012

Sam Evans: The Houston Astros are most likely not going to win seventy games next year.  With a young starting rotation, it would make sense for the Astros to pursue a veteran starter for the 2013 season. Not because it would put Houston over the top and have them competing for a playoff spot, but because a veteran could have a positive influence on the younger starters and limit their innings. Roger Clemens has expressed in interest in returning to Houston and he has impressed in two starts for Sugar Land of the independent Atlantic League. Houston should give Roger Clemens a spring training non-roster invite to see if he can pitch in the majors in 2013.

In just his second start with Sugar Land, Clemens got the opportunity to pitch to his son Koby Clemens.   After the game, Clemens said “What a special game this is when you have opportunity at 50 to go out there and play a little catch with your oldest son.” That’s an awesome quote. Anyways, Clemens fastball was sitting at 86-88 MPH and he threw his curveball, changeup, and splitter as well. The Rocket pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings. In eight innings for Sugar Land, Clemens has yet to allow a run.

Something that often gets lost in all of the steroid talk is just how good Roger Clemens was. Roger Clemens pitched in twenty-four major league seasons. In only thirteen seasons has a pitcher recorded 10+ Wins Above Replacement. Roger Clemens has two of those seasons. Clemens has a career LOB% of 74.6 and struck out almost one batter per inning his entire career. I’m not sure where the argument can be made that Clemens is not one of the five best starting pitchers of all-time.

Handing out a non-roster invite to a player is not the same as making a big commitment to a free agent. Last season, the Astros handed out non-roster invites to Patrick Urckfitz and Koby Clemens among others. By giving Clemens a spring training invite, the Astros would be able to evaluate him close-up for an extended period of time. Not to mention, Clemens probably has a lot of knowledge that he would be willing to share with some of the younger Astros. Just because Clemens supposedly took performance-enhancing drugs doesn’t mean he can’t have a positive influence on a clubhouse and he doesn’t know a ridiculous amount of information on pitching in major league baseball.

Clemens should be thrilled if the Astros invite him to spring training. With a solid performance in spring training, Clemens could win either a spot in the Houston starting rotation or the bullpen.

Personally, I believe that if Clemens pitches in the majors again, he will be most valuable pitching in relief. It’s a long season and I don’t think Clemens has the stamina to go more than five innings consistently. If he pitched out of the bullpen, Clemens would be able to pitch in shorter outings and could occasionally pitch in a spot start.

The Houston Astros are going to have a very rough season in 2013. For Astros’ fans, having a pitcher like Clemens on the roster could make the next season a little more enjoyable. Clemens still has something to give back to major league baseball. By pitching in the majors in 2013, perhaps fans would change their feelings on Clemens as a competitor and a human being. Houston should invite Clemens to spring training because he deserves a second chance and he could help the young, rebuilding team next season.

(* The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com *)

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter. (@RJA206)***

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About samevans87

I love writing, talking, watching, and playing baseball. I am a baseball writer for MLB Reports and Fish Stripes. "No game in the world is as tidy and dramatically neat as baseball, with cause and effect, crime and punishment, motive and result, so cleanly defined." -Paul Gallic

Posted on September 10, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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