Roger Clemens Rumors
It was on this day in 1990 that the Athletics acquired Willie McGee in a trade with the Cardinals. McGee hit .274/.333/.336 in 123 plate appearances for the eventual AL champions but McGee still remained a presence in the National League. His .335 average in St. Louis stood up throughout September to win McGee the NL batting crown, making him the only player in history to win a batting title despite being traded to the other league partway through a season.
Here are some items from the AL West...
- The Angels are unlikely to add a reliever before the waiver deadline, reports MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez, and GM Jerry Dipoto discusses how the new collective bargaining agreement has limited the trade market for relief pitching.
- Despite Dan Haren's struggles and injury issues this season, Fangraphs' J.P. Breen still thinks the Angels should pick up Haren's $15.5MM option for 2013, as Haren provides a better value at $12MM (factoring in his $3.5MM buyout) than possible free agent options.
- Athletics right-hander Graham Godfrey cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. The A's designated Godfrey for assignment last week.
- Rangers president Nolan Ryan seemed to dismiss the idea of his team having interest in Roger Clemens. In an interview on the Galloway & Company show on ESPN 103.3 radio, Ryan said "I might call [Clemens], but I don’t think I’ll be calling him about a job.” Clemens has signed a contract with the independent Sugar Land Skeeters and is rumored to be considering a Major League comeback, though Clemens has said he is "nowhere near" Major League shape yet.
On this date 20 years ago the Mets sent right-hander David Cone to the Blue Jays for 24-year-old second baseman Jeff Kent. Cone helped Toronto win the first of two consecutive World Series titles and Kent went on to become a borderline Hall of Famer (though he spent his most productive seasons in San Francisco). Here are today’s links as we await the next major trade of the 2012 season...
- Alan Blondin of the Houston Chronicle writes that Roger Clemens called his recent performance for the Sugar Land Skeeters a favor to Skeeters manager Gary Gaetti. Clemens told Blondin he doesn't have plans for further pitching performances, but cautioned, "That could change in a couple days."
- Twins general manager Terry Ryan feels that now is the time for Trevor Plouffe to step up and establish himself as the team's long-term answer at third base, writes Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN. Mackey quotes Ryan as saying Plouffe "[has] the rest of the year" to show the Twins that third base isn't a position they need to address.
- Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson and general manager Kevin Towers told Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that they don’t regret trading Stephen Drew to Oakland, even though Willie Bloomquist experienced a setback in his return from a back injury. “No. We wanted to see what [Jake] Elmore was capable of doing,” Towers said. “He’s held his own, I think, defensively out there.”
- David Ortiz, a free agent this offseason, wants to re-sign with the Red Sox, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com. “This is what I know and this is something I want to be part of,” Ortiz said.
- The Athletics and Astros have improved their farm systems considerably in the last year, Jim Callis of Baseball America writes in this week’s edition of Ask BA.
- The Blue Jays should have publicly told the Red Sox that manager John Farrell is off-limits long ago, Shi Davidi writes at Sportsnet.ca. The Blue Jays have failed to limit speculation about the possibility of Farrell returning to Boston, Davidi writes. Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos has said the Blue Jays won’t announce an extension with Farrell, even if the sides agree to one.
Roger Clemens made his return to the mound for the Sugar Land Skeeters last night with two Royals officials in attendance. Senior pitching advisor Bill Fischer and independent league scout Ron Toenjes were at the game, but Royals GM Dayton Moore quickly doused any speculation of interest, according to MLB.com's Dick Kaegel.
Moore said Fischer, a former pitching coach of Clemens in Boston, was invited to the game by the right-hander and that Toenjes "wasn't sent there to scout the game. He was sent there to be along with Fish, and that's all. We were not there scouting Roger Clemens."
With Fischer with him in the dugout, Clemens allowed only one hit, no walks, and struck out two during 3 1/3 innings, reports Alyson Footer of MLB.com. Clemens hit 88 mph with his fastball as 24 of his 37 pitches went for strikes.
"It was good." Clemens said of his outing. "Everyone says it's like riding a bike. I just wanted to make sure I got out of there uninjured but still make a good showing."
Will this showing lead to a possible return to the Major Leagues? "It's a great deal of work," Clemens said, "and I'm not thinking that at this point."
Astros owner Jim Crane told Mark Berman of FOX 26 Sports in Houston that he is open to the idea of signing 50-year old Roger Clemens. The Astros have not been contacted about signing Clemens this year, but they’re preparing for the possibility, Berman reports. The Astros were in attendance at a recent workout to watch Clemens, who signed with the independent Sugar Land Skeeters this week.
Crane said he doesn’t aim to set up a publicity stunt for the sake of selling a few extra tickets. He’d seek approval from MLB before completing a deal with Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner. Clemens already has a personal services contract with the Astros, Berman notes.
A few notes from the NL Central to pass along ...
- Brewers outfielder/first baseman Corey Hart told Milwaukee he'd like to remain with the team beyond his current contract, which expires after next season, and is willing to play whichever position he is needed at most, writes Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. Hart, slated to make $10MM in 2013, also said that if the interest in keeping him in Milwaukee is mutual, potential extension talks would be best reserved for the offseason.
- Brewers right-hander Shaun Marcum, an impending free agent, is nearing a return from the disabled list and understands that he is auditioning for the 29 other Major League teams, McCalvy writes. He also notes that Marcum and the Brewers have not engaged in extension talks.
- The Cubs announced that they have transferred right-hander Matt Garza to the 60-day disabled list, and though his DL stint will expire before the end of the regular season, manager Dale Sveum added that Garza's been "shut down," according to Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com. Ending the season on the DL won't be good for Garza's trade value, but GM Jed Hoyer has said that the right-hander will be part of the team's 2013 rotation.
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said he recently sent scouts to look at Roger Clemens and Scott Kazmir of the independent-league Sugar Land Skeeters, according to the Associated Press. Clemens is rumored to be mulling a return to the Majors.
MLBTR extends its best wishes to Michael Weiner, who is undergoing treatment for a brain tumor. The executive director of the Players Association expects the treatment to last about one month, according to an MLBPA press release. Here are today's links...
- Roger Clemens told reporters he’s “nowhere near” the shape he’d have to be in to pitch at the MLB level, Alyson Footer of MLB.com reports (Twitter link). The seven-time Cy Young Award winner signed a contract with the independent Sugar Land Skeeters and will pitch on Saturday. One rival executive speculated that the Astros could be a fit for Clemens, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). The exec pointed out that Clemens has a good relationship with Astros owner Jim Crane.
- It’s unlikely but not impossible that the Giants will trade for Heath Bell this season, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (on Twitter). Bell would have to be placed on waivers for the Giants and Marlins to complete a trade. Approximately $19MM remains on Bell's contract, so it seems likely that he'd clear waivers.
- GM Kenny Williams built the AL Central-leading White Sox, but he doesn't expect to be named MLB's executive of the year, Toni Ginnetti the Chicago Sun-Times reports. "If you don't win it when you win a World Series, you ain't going to win it,'' Williams said.
Earlier today, Roger Clemens signed a contract to pitch for the independent Sugar Land Skeeters. Clemens had a full workout today, during which he hit 87 mph on the radar gun despite now being 50 years of age. The Skeeters weren't the only team in attendance, however. The Houston Chronicle's Zachary Levine reports that Astros scouting director Mike Elias was on-hand for The Rocket's workout as well (Twitter link). Levine and his colleagues David Barron and Jose de Jesus Ortiz offer the following quote from Astros owner Jim Crane:
“We don’t have any plans, we haven’t had any requests. We’d like to check and see where (Major League Baseball) is on the subject matter before we would do anything.”
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports adds, also via Twitter, that former Astros president and current Skeeters executive Tal Smith wouldn't put an attempted Major League comeback past Clemens. In this video piece for FOX Sports, Rosenthal notes that a 2012 return to the Major Leagues would reset Clemens' Hall of Fame clock. As it is, Clemens is eligible for the ballot following this season; pitching in 2012 would delay that eligibility for another five years.
2:11pm: Agent Randy Hendricks told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick that Clemens may only pitch in one game (Twitter link). "It is a fun thing and let’s just see how he does Saturday night," Hendricks said. "That will determine if he pitches for them again."
12:27pm: The independent Sugar Land Skeeters have agreed to sign seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, Mark Berman of FOX 26 in Houston reports. The Skeeters are based out of the Houston area, where Clemens pitched at the MLB level from 2004-06. The 50-year-old Texas native last pitched in the Major Leagues five years ago with the 2007 Yankees.
Clemens had a full workout today and reached 87 mph on the radar gun, Berman reports. Clemens will start Saturday's game, according to Berman. Earlier this summer, Clemens was acquitted on all charges that he obstructed justice and lied to Congress. Clemens was subject to a federal investigation after telling Congress he never used steroids or human growth hormone.
Of all the dramatic things Suzyn Waldman has ever seen, the comeback of Roger Clemens ranks pretty highly. On this date in 2007, the Rocket appeared in George Steinbrenner's box at Yankee Stadium during the seventh-inning stretch as the Bombers faced the Mariners. Clemens told the rabid crowd over the PA system, "Thank y'all. Well they came and got me out of Texas, and I can tell you its a privilege to be back. I'll be talkin' to y'all soon."
The return marked Clemens' fourth return from retirement, enough to make even the most indecisive boxer or professional wrestler roll his eyes. Coaxing the hurler out of the Lone Star State wasn't cheap either as he inked a deal worth the pro-rated portion of $28,000,022 (the "22", of course, for his jersey number). That worked out to $18.7MM in total, good for roughly $4.7MM per month and $1MM per start. The contract also included a "family plan" clause that excused Clemens from traveling with the club for trips in which he was not scheduled to start.
It wasn't hard to understand why the Yankees would back up a Brink's truck for his services - the club was in desperate need of pitching and Clemens had posted a 2.40 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 across parts of the last three seasons in Houston. The 44-year-old's final return from retirement wasn't quite as sharp. Clemens made 17 starts and one relief appearance in the regular season and registered a 4.18 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. The Rocket was then shut down for the final few weeks of the season as he was bothered with a left hamstring injury.
Clemens' first start in the postseason proved to be his final of the year and his career. In Game 3 of the ALDS against the Indians, the right-hander aggravated that same hamstring in the third inning and was pulled by manager Joe Torre. The severity of the injury led the Yankees to pull him from the playoff roster, leaving him ineligible until the World Series. Unfortunately for Clemens & Co., the Yanks didn't make it beyond the ALDS as Cleveland wrapped up the series in four games. Clemens' final go-round in the majors wouldn't net him a third championship ring, but it did add to his overall net worth. According to Baseball Reference, the Rocket made nearly $151MM over the course of his 24-year big league career.
SUNDAY: Dave O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reminds Braves fans of the plan for Smoltz. He will continue to rehab (sans progress reports for the media). If Smoltz is willing and able to pitch, the Braves want him back.
SATURDAY: Jesse Spector of the New York Daily News talked to John Smoltz's agent, Keith Grunewald. Smoltz, of course, would love to finish his career in Atlanta. The Braves figure to make an effort to re-sign him, but it's not a lock. Smoltz could be ready in May or June following shoulder surgery, and could sign late with a contender as Roger Clemens did a few years ago. It's not known whether he'll start or relieve.