ST. LOUIS (BaseballStL) – The Houston Astros are making things interesting as their final season playing in the National League continues to spiral into a major disappointment.
Jeff Luhnow, current Astros General Manager and former Cardinals Vice President of Scouting and Player Development, told reporters that the team sent scouts to watch former big-leaguers Roger Clemens and Scott Kazmir who both currently play for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League.
Clemens was a dominant starter in the 90s and the early part of the 2000s but has spent his recent years battling accusations of using steroids and was most recently found not guilty of perjury in June. He is expected to make his first start for his new team on Saturday.
Kazmir last played (albeit one game) in the majors in 2011 with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He was an effective pitcher as a member of the then-Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the mid-2000s and has posted a 0-5 record with a 7.89 earned run average in eight starts with the Skeeters this season.
So why are the Astros looking at these former stars? Your guess is better than mine, but we will settle with the idea that they just want to put fans in the seats. I suppose the big names of Brett Wallace and Jose Altuve are not marketable enough for the 39-win team to have fans show up to its games.
Needless to say the Astros will not be departing from the National League while on top. It has been a rather pathetic finale for a team that stood no chance to take down the NL Central’s top teams this season, but it did not need to come to the team looking at players in the Independent League to join their big-league roster.
It should be noted that Luhnow is not sure what Clemens is “trying to do” although his agent says the 50-year-old can still throw 87 miles per hour.
All of this is humorous or surprising to me because I would think the organization would be content with grooming their farm system rather than focusing on a 50-year-old and a former major leaguer struggling to get outs at the Independent League level.