Astros owner says he’d welcome Roger Clemens back in the organization

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On the heels of Roger Clemens being acquitted on all charges in his perjury trial, new Astros owner Jim Crane told Brian McTaggart of MLB.com last night that he would welcome the seven-time Cy Young Award winner back into the organization in some capacity.

“I’m happy he got a good result, and we look forward to talking to him soon,” Crane said. “Any time you get a Roger Clemens in the mix, you’d have to welcome him back with open arms.”

“We want to see what he wants to do,” Crane said. “I’m sure he’ll need a little time. He’s been busy, but we definitely want to talk to him. He’s got a contract with us, and he could add a dimension we might need somewhere down the road or immediately. As soon as he’s ready to talk, we’ll be ready to talk to him.”

Clemens posted a 2.40 ERA in 84 starts with the Astros from 2004-2006. “The Rocket” won his seventh Cy Young in his first season with the club and played a major part in the team’s World Series run in 2005. He was signed to a personal services contract under former owner Drayton McLane, but hasn’t been involved with the team since 2007.

There is, indeed, an MLB-to-Portland group

Associated Press
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On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”

There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.

It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:

On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.

“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”

One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.

None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”