Roger Clemens Rumors

Astros Notes: Norris, Bedard, Clemens, Draft

ESPN's Buster Olney relays (via Twitter) a stat from the Elias Sports Bureau, noting that the Astros have received just 15 1/3 innings from their starters over the past six games — tied for fewest in a six game span in the past 35 years. Offseason acquisition Brad Peacock will look to turn that trend around tonight when he faces a struggling Mariners offense. Here's more on the Astros in their first year in the American League…

  • General manager Jeff Luhnow told reporters, including MLB.com's Brian McTaggart, that the team's bullpen can't take much more of the past week's trends: "We can't take too many more hits before we have to go out and make some moves."
  • Luhnow has no plans to trade Bud Norris anytime soon, reports McTaggart. Luhnow told McTaggart that Norris is a "critical part of the team" and noted that the constant rumors are unfortunate for all parties involved. Norris hasn't been on the trading block for quite some time, according to Luhnow.
  • Luhnow also said that Erik Bedard is basically "going through the finishing touches of Spring Training" (Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle reporting via Sulia). The Astros have limited Bedard to four innings per appearance thus far, which has contributed to the aforementioned 15 1/3 innings stat.
  • McTaggart reports that the Astros have sent Roger Clemens out to scout potential No. 1 overall draft picks (Twitter link). The Astros seem to be focused on college players, as McTaggart goes on to list right-hander Mark Appel (Stanford), right-hander Jonathan Gray (Oklahoma), left-hander Sean Manaea (Indiana State) and third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant (San Diego) as players of interest.

West Notes: Upton, Bourn, Hairston, Clemens

The Giants expect to begin discussing a "blockbuster extension" with Buster Posey this spring, but that's not the only news coming out of baseball's Western divisions…

  • Grantland's Jonah Keri wonders if the Diamondbacks lost leverage in Justin Upton trade negotiations after their deal with the Mariners fell through. Keri also examines several trades from the past 30 years in which a well-regarded player who had fallen out of favor with the franchise was traded.
  • The Rangers are "keeping the lines of communication open" when it comes to free agent Michael Bourn and trade candidate Justin Upton, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. If either's price comes down to the liking of GM Jon Daniels, Texas is prepared to take action.
  • Jerry Hairston Jr. is in the final year of a two-year, $6MM contract, and he told Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times that he'll retire if the Dodgers win the World Series this season. Hairston already has one World Series ring, having been a part of the 2009 Yankees and says "you can't get any better" than retiring after a World Series win.
  • Roger Clemens sat down with CSN Houston's Steve Bunin to discuss his 2013 role with the Astros and confirmed again that he will not pitch next season. Clemens said he would've had to start training in November to make a serious run at a comeback. Instead, he'll help Houston by mentoring their young arms in Spring Training. For the time being, he's not interested in a full-time role with the organization, however.
  • Wendy Thurm of Fangraphs takes a look at a potential Posey extension and notes the risk involved in doling out a massive contract for a player whose career only includes 1255 plate appearances to date.

Clemens Leaves Door Open For Pitching In 2013

Speaking at today's Astros Legends Luncheon, Roger Clemens left the door open for pitching again next year according to Zachary Levine of The Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). Earlier this month we learned that the seven-time Cy Young Award winner would like to be with Houston in 2013.

Clemens, 50, has made two starts for the independent Sugar Land Skeeters in recent weeks. He threw eight shutout innings total and ran his fastball up into the upper-80s. The Astros did scout his outings and team owner Jim Crane did confirm that he's open to signing the veteran right-hander. Clemens is scheduled to appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time next year, but pitching in a big league game would rest his five-year waiting period.


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Astros Notes: Managerial Search, Clemens

The Astros have won 10 fewer games than any team in baseball, setting them up to have the No. 1 overall pick in the draft for a second consecutive season. Having already added Carlos Correa and Lance McCullers Jr. to his system, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow should have another opportunity to add some top tier talent to his organization. Here are some Astro-centric links for your Monday reading pleasure (all links go to Twitter)…

  • Owner Jim Crane told reporters, including MLB.com's Brian McTaggart, that the team has begun interviewing managerial candidates. The Astros' list of candidates contains six to eight candidates.
  • Crane also added that Craig Biggio, who spent 20 years playing for the Astros, is assisting in the interview process (McTaggart reporting).
  • Luhnow told reporters today that the team has scheduled out its rotation for the remainder of the season, and it doesn't include Roger Clemens, who won't pitch in the Major Leagues in 2012 (via McTaggart). Clemens recently told reporters he hopes to be with the Astros in 2013, though he conveniently neglected to specify whether that meant as a coach or a player.
  • Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports that Crane still wants Clemens to pitch in 2012, but not against a contender. Sullivan adds that Cubs manager Dale Sveum thinks it would be good for his team to face Clemens.

Roger Clemens Hopes To Be With Astros in 2013

Fifty-year-old Roger Clemens made his second start for the independent Sugar Land Skeeters last night, throwing 4 2/3 scoreless innings. He struck out one, walked zero, and allowed two hits while his son Koby was behind the plate. In his two starts for the Skeeters, he's allowed no runs on three hits in eight innings. Following the game, Clemens spoke to reporters (including Fran Blinebury of The New York Post) about what's next…

“Well, not this year,” replied Clemens when asked if he'll pitch in the big leagues this season, reiterating what he said a few days ago. “But we’ll see what happens after that. I’m not going to rule anything out. I don’t know what Koby is going to do, where he ends up. I hope to end up probably in February with the Astros, put on a uniform and help those kids. That’s probably next.”

He didn't specify if he would like to wear that uniform as a player or coach, though I think it's fair to assume he would prefer to be an active player. Astros owner Jim Crane is open to signing Clemens and they have been scouting his recent outings, but it doesn't sounds like the two sides have had any dialogue about a contract yet.

"I'd listen to [Crane], but I'd have to do some work again," said Clemens. "I just don’t think I'm close to pitching in a Major League game."

ESPN's Buster Olney says (on Twitter) that Clemens opened last night's outing by throwing 79 mph in the first inning, but that climbed to 84 in the second, 86 in the third and fourth, and then 87 in the fifth. That is obviously way down from his prime, ditto the 90.3 mph he averaged with the Yankees during his final season in 2007.

Returning to a Major League club as an active player (and appearing in a game) would restart Clemens' five-year waiting period for the Hall of Fame. He will appear on the ballot for the first time next year along with Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, and others. Despite his seven Cy Young Awards and historic playing career overall, Clemens seems unlikely to be inducted into Cooperstown on the first ballot due to the PED shroud. Delaying his candidacy five years could improve his chances for induction.


Stark On Yankees, LaRoche, Phillies

The Yankees will reach a crossroads with three of their most productive players this offseason when Nick Swisher hits free agency and Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano get a little closer to the open market. Jayson Stark surveyed MLB executives about the value of those Yankees and passed along the results in his latest column at ESPN.com. Here are the details and more notes from Stark…

  • Two National League executives had no reservations about spending on Cano. “Pay him what he's worth," one said. The other said Cano has a legitimate case for a $200MM extension.
  • The execs praised Granderson as a person but questioned his value on the field. A $100MM contract would be excessive in the view of one executive. Both Cano and Granderson will be eligible for free agency following the 2013 season, assuming the Yankees exercise their '13 club options.
  • Similarly, the executives don’t consider Swisher a candidate for a Jayson Werth-type deal (seven years and $126MM). Swisher may look to match Werth’s contract as a free agent this coming winter.
  • The Nationals have considered picking up their side of Adam LaRoche’s $10MM mutual option for 2013 and keeping Bryce Harper in center field, Stark reports. Alternatively, they could sign Michael Bourn when he hits free agency, move Harper to a corner spot and trade Michael Morse. I examined LaRoche’s option in detail last week, before his recent hot streak.
  • The Phillies are looking at third base and left field options for next year and that search includes players already in the organization. One scout has been impressed by 26-year-old Darin Ruf, who hit 38 home runs at Double-A this year. "He might be Matt Holliday," the scout said, praising Ruf's hitting ability.
  • An old friend of Roger Clemens doesn’t believe the seven-time Cy Young Award winner when he says he’s not thinking about playing at the MLB level. The person expects Clemens to sign with the Astros this month.

Clemens: No MLB In 2012

Roger Clemens said he doesn't expect to pitch for an MLB team in 2012, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter links). Clemens, who's scheduled to make his second start for the independent Sugar Land Skeeters three days from now, said he's just having fun. A comeback to the MLB level isn't on his mind, he said.

"I don't see it happening," Clemens told reporters.

The Astros will scout the 50-year-old's next start, but the Rangers and Royals don't appear to have interest. Clemens, who last pitched in the Major Leagues for the 2007 Yankees, could delay his appearances on the Hall of Fame ballot if he appears in an MLB game this year. Astros players have told their friends they think Clemens will sign with Houston, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reported last week.


Stark On Clemens, Dodgers, Red Sox, Mauer

In his latest column, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark writes that Astros players have told their friends on other teams that they already think Roger Clemens' arrival in Houston is a done deal.  An old friend of Clemens himself also told Stark that he is convinced The Rocket is gearing up for a big league comeback.  Here's more from Stark..

  • The Dodgers have $181.3MM committed to 17 players for next season, putting them at $3.3MM over the $178MM tax threshold. However, team president Stan Kasten says that he isn't terribly concerned about it.  "I don't know. It's not something we've focused on yet," he said. "To us, that's a secondary issue. First, we want to put the best team on the field now and worry about other things later. We're not focusing on that yet."  In the long term, Dodgers' brass wants to lean heavily on scouting and player development with a payroll close to what other teams in "similar markets" have, according to Kasten.
  • The Red Sox are giving agents and other teams the vibe that they aren't in a rush to spend just because of their new found payroll space.  People who have talked with Boston predict that they're more likely to make creative moves this offseason rather than eat an undesirable contract like that of a Joe Mauer or Cliff Lee.
  • Speaking of Mauer one exec that checked in on him says trade talk surrounding the catcher lately is "garbage."  As for Lee, Stark writes that he is also likely to stay as the Phillies made it clear earlier this year that they have no interest in moving him.
  • Stark asked an AL scout and an NL scout about their thoughts on Dan Haren, who will be a free agent after the Angels buy out his final option year.  Both said that while there are concerns about his velocity and his all-around stuff, he could be an intriguing one-year pickup at the right price. 
  • The scouts were also asked about Jeremy Guthrie and neither scout was terribly high on him.  The NL scout pointed out his high volume of mistakes over the plate but said that he would install him in the back of a rotation on a one-year deal.  The AL scout on the other hand said he would rather take his chances with Daisuke Matsuzaka or Haren.

Astros To Scout Clemens’ Next Start

The Astros plan to scout Roger Clemens' upcoming start for the independent league Sugar Land Skeeters on September 7th, General Manager Jeff Luhnow told Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (story by Danny Knobler).  Knobler writes that the strong speculation in baseball is that if Clemens pitches well, he will then pitch for the Astros five days later, on September 12 versus the Cubs.

The 50-year-old hurler last pitched in the majors in 2007 for the Yankees and can likely delay his Hall of Fame eligibility for another five years if he returns to the big leagues with Houston.  While the Astros have been linked to Clemens recently, the Rangers and Royals are reportedly not interested in his services.


Quick Hits: Swisher, Utley, Hamilton, Hairston

Chris Corrigan of the High-A ball Palm Beach Cardinals made history tonight by throwing a perfect game in his start against the Charlotte Stone Crabs.  Corrigan, 24, was a 30th-round selection for the Cardinals in the 2009 amateur draft and carried a career 4.04 ERA in 102 minor league games (25 starts) entering tonight.  Corrigan's gem was the first minor league perfect game since Jeanmar Gomez threw a perfecto for Double-A Akron in 2009.  As for the Stone Crabs, they're an affiliate of (who else?) the Rays, who have been perfecto'd three times in the last four years at the Major League level.

Some news and notes from around the baseball world…

  • Every team needs a guy like [Nick] Swisher,” an AL executive tells Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.  “You watch him play every day and you can see how much he cares. I wish every player cared that much.”  Feinsand suggests that the Yankees could re-sign Swisher and move Brett Gardner to center field, thus creating room to trade the more expensive Curtis Granderson.  MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith recently looked at Swisher's free agent stock.
  • Chase Utley took some groundballs at third base before today's game and he told reporters (including MLB.com's Todd Zolecki) that he had approached the Phillies about getting some reps at third in order to "create some more flexibility as far as the organization is concerned."  Utley spent a season playing third in 2002 in Triple-A before but hasn't played at the hot corner since.
  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. commented on Utley's trial, noting that "in a perfect scenario," Utley could hold down third base until prospect Cody Asche is ready, theoretically for the 2014 season.  Amaro cautioned reporters (including Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer) that it's hypothetical since Asche has yet to play above Double-A.
  • Billy Hamilton will "probably not" be called up for September, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty tells MLB.com's Mark Sheldon.  Jocketty noted that the decision wasn't finalized yet, however, and that he was going to watch Hamilton play in person this weekend.
  • Mets outfielder Scott Hairston believes the Diamondbacks claimed him off waivers, he tells Adam Rubin of ESPN New York (Twitter link).  The Giants were known to be interested in outfield help and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports speculated earlier this month that the D'Backs would likely try to block Hairston or Juan Pierre from getting to their NL West rivals.  Rosenthal also reported that the team that claimed Hairston did so as a blocking maneuver.
  • Roger Clemens is planning to start again for the Sugar Land Skeeters on September 7, according to a text the pitcher sent Mark Berman, sports director of FOX 26 KRIV (Twitter link).  Clemens, 50, threw 3 1/3 scoreless innings in his first start with the Skeeters on August 25.
  • Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston suggests a few moves the Red Sox should make this offseason, including re-signing David Ortiz and Cody Ross and trying to add Justin Upton and a top-tier starting pitcher.
  • Major League Baseball is investigating whether agents Sam and Seth Levinson arranged for former client Paul Lo Duca to meet with PED distributor Kirk Radomski, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today.