While Roger Clemens can’t necessarily be termed a prospect, he is returning to the minor league ranks tomorrow night, as his Sugar Land (TX) Skeeters face off against the Bridgeport (CT) Bluefish. The 24 year veteran and federally accused PED user is 50 years old. Though it’s doubtful he will see the major leagues again, it is fun to speculate as to how good he can be after not pitching since 2007 for the New York Yankees.
The Rocket certainly won’t blow anyone away anymore with his fastball, but he has always been a tremendous pitcher and athlete. There are those who speculate that Clemens is returning to baseball because he wants his Hall of Fame clock to start later. That could certainly be a possibility, as perhaps he wants all the steroid and PED conjecture to stop swirling around him for a while before his name hits the ballot.
Clemens’ agent, Randy Hendricks, said that just days ago, Roger’s fastball was reached as high as 87, and that his off-speed pitches looked crisp. In an effort to ramp up his baseball activities, Roger Clemens has been found playing softball over the last few weeks, as well as a few simulated games, and training with his son.
Interestingly, the manager of Clemens’ newest team is former major-leaguer Gary Gaetti, who spent 20 years in the MLB with 6 different teams. While Roger Clemens probably needs very little coaching at this point, it will be very interesting to see how long he’s there, and how the relationship between the two 20+ year vets goes. Gaetti is said to be a very close personal friend of Clemens, according to Randy Hendricks.
Clemens, who was acquitted in June of charges he lied to Congress when he denied using PEDs, hasn’t played at all in the last 5 years. For the Yankees, he went 6-6 in 17 starts, a 4.18 ERA, 99 IP, and 68 Ks. It’s speculated that if he does in fact return to the majors that it will be with either the Yankees or his hometown Houston Astros.
Roy Oswalt told reporters earlier this week that he thinks that Roger Clemens will prove everyone wrong who believes he has used steroids or any form of performance enhancing drugs. He also went so far as to say that he half expects Clemens to be pitching in the majors late this year or early next season.
Clemens had 3 remarkable seasons with the Astros not so long ago, going 18-4 with a 2.98 ERA in 2004. He was 13-8 with a career-low 1.87 ERA in 2005, and his 2006 campaign saw him go 7-6 in 19 appearances with just a 2.30 ERA. Certainly, regardless of how the 50-year-old has done it in the past, you can’t ever count this guy out.
Just a look at his career stats demonstrates his durability. 24 years in the bigs, 354 wins, and 4,672 strikeouts. Let’s not forget the 7 Cy Young awards (most recently 2004), and 11 All-Star Game appearances!
There is no real time table on anything at this point, and that to me is the most intriguing thing of all. Clemens’ agent says it’s a game-by-game thing, and wouldn’t speculate as to whether or not Clemens is trying to make a return to the majors. If he were to appear in the big leagues, his Hall of Fame eligibility would be pushed back another 5 years. His minor league status won’t however have any bearing on his candidacy.
Are you one of those who believes he is doing this just to keep in shape, or are you among those who feel like there must be some underlying motive or ploy to what Roger Clemens is doing here? My personal opinion is the later, and it will be intriguing to watch it all unfold.