They watched his workouts and they’ll be watching his start tomorrow night, and today Astros owner Jim Crane said that, assuming things go well, he’d be totally open to Roger Clemens pitching for the Astros this season:
“If it goes alright and he comes to us, we’ll talk to baseball about it at length,” Crane said in an interview with FOX 26 Sports.
“The only thing we don’t want to do is make it a publicity stunt. If we did it, I want to try and take it and turn it into a positive, which would be Roger’s doing it for the good of baseball. The extra proceeds on the game might go to the (Astros’) community charity deal to build (baseball) fields, do something positive out of it.”
He said that he didn’t want to do it just for the extra gate, which is admirable. That said, I think Clemens would have to be extremely dominant from a scouting perspective tomorrow night, not just from a box score perspective, for the Astros to seriously consider it. Because these will be independent ball guys he’s facing and even a 25% Roger Clemens should be able to do well against them. For this to not be a farce, he has to have good velocity and command.
If they went forward with it, I also hope that Houston wouldn’t use him in a game that mattered. Sure, the Astros season is meaningless at this point, but they play the Giants, Reds, Pirates and Cardinals at home before the season is over, and all of those teams are in playoff fights. Really, the only time when it would not make a big difference is for the Cubs series September 10-12 and the Phillies series September 13-16.
We wrote a lot about Casey Kelly on this site circa 2010-12.
It was understandable. Kelly was a big-time draftee for the Red Sox and famously split time as a shortstop and a pitcher in the minors, with some people even wondering if he could do it full time. The Sox put the kibosh on that pretty quickly, as he became the top overall prospect in the Boston organization as a pitcher. He then made news when he was sent to San Diego — along with Anthony Rizzo — in the famous Adrian Gonzalez trade in December 2010.
He made his big league debut for the Padres in late August of 2012, holding a pretty darn good Atlanta Braves team scoreless for six innings, striking out four. He would pitch in five more games in the season’s final month to not very good results but missed all of 2013 and most of 2014 thanks to Tommy John surgery.
He wouldn’t make it back to the bigs until 2015 — pitching only three games after being converted to a reliever — before the Padres cut him loose, trading him to the Braves for Christian Bethancourt who, like a younger Kelly, the Padres thought could be a two-way player, catching and relieving. That didn’t work for him either, but I digress.
Kelly made a career-high ten appearances for a bad Braves team in 2016, was let go following the season and was out of the majors again in 2017 after the Cubs released him a couple of months after he failed to make the team out of spring training. He resurfaced with the Giants this past season for seven appearances. The Giants cut him loose last month.
Now Kelly’s journey takes him across the ocean. He announced on Instagram last night that he’s signed with the LG Twins in the Korean Baseball Organization. He seems pretty happy and eager about it in his little video there. I don’t blame him, as he’ll make $1 million for them, as opposed to staying here and almost certainly winding up in a Triple-A rotation making $60K or whatever it is veteran minor leaguers make.
This was probably way too many words to devote to a journeyman heading to play in Korea, but we so often forget top prospects once they fail to meet expectations. We also tend to forget all of the Tommy John casualties, focusing instead on the Tommy John successes. As such, I wanted to think a bit about Casey Kelly. I hope things work out well for him in the KBO and a baseball player who once seemed so promising can, after a delay, find success of his own.