The Astros have a lot of problems. Have you seen the lineup they're running out there every night? It's Jose Altuve, Brett Wallace, and then a lot of quadruple-A players with no business sniffing a big-league starting lineup. Need Justin Maxwell? Astros got him. Need Scott Moore? He's a 'Stro. Wondered where Tyler Greene has found his way to? If you guessed the Houston Astros' starting lineup, you'd be right.
What can save the Astros? One answer is: nothing. They're damned. The other answer: 50-year-old Roger Clemens, who is, for now, the ace of the Sugar Land Skeeters. Here's the Associated Press:
Clemens' agent said the right-hander has been clocked at 87 mph, but [Astros GM Jeff] Luhnow discounted that talk because he hasn't pitched in a game yet.
"So, I think it's hard to evaluate," Luhnow said. "We did send a scout yesterday to look at him, since it's right there. There's a bunch of guys that have been in that league that have big-league time and Roger is still associated with our organization."
Luhnow said he wasn't sure whether Clemens was trying to make it back to the big leagues or just wanted to keep doing something he was very good at for a long time.
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So, the woeful, cash-strapped Astros sent a scout as kind of a professional courtesy, then?
A reader wrote in yesterday to say that Clemens was coming back in hopes of landing an inning or a start with the Astros, just so he could push his Hall of Fame clock back five years, so he wouldn't go on the ballot in December with Bonds and Sosa and all those messy questions. This is a good theory. Clemens figures that the moral panic will die down further if he gives it five more years, and he's probably right. Five years ago, the baseball establishment planned to forever scorn anyone who had appeared in the Mitchell Report. Now Andy Pettitte is a beloved veteran again and F.P. Santangelo is on the Nationals' broadcast team.
The Astros are just hopeless enough—and Jim Crane is just enough of a jock-sniffer—to help Clemens with his plan. And so what if the baseball team in Houston becomes a freakshow along the way? At least it's something to watch.