I've been onboard with most of what the Houston Astros have done this season. The team needed to be blown up. New blood was needed in the front office, the dugout and on the roster. All that has happened, and though the team has been bad, the promise of the future has kept me invested in this team.
It's a painful process, but those who think things would have been different if management hadn't started making changes really need to get a better grasp on how baseball works -- here's a good post from the excellent Astros County blog on just how bad the Astros would be this year if the Astros were still sending out the same roster this year as they had before the trading deadline in 2010. The result's not very pretty.
That said, I don't like what I'm hearing about the Astros and Roger Clemens, namely that the Astros are going to sign Clemens to a contract to pitch this season. Sure, the season's meaningless. And it's not like the over-the-hill Clemens would be taking starts away from a Cy Young winner. It's just that the move reeks of desperation. It's something Drayton McLane would do, and if there's anything this team should be doing, it's not doing something that Drayton McLane would do.
But I get that attendance is bad. I get that Jim Crane is leveraged up to his chin with the purchase of this club. I get that the sheep would be happy to pack the park and cheer on Clemens. And I get that Crane's getting desperate, which means the Clemens deal is probably already done.
Clemens can only pitch every fifth game, at most. So here are a few suggestions for some stupid Drayton-esque stunts to pack the park the rest of the season.
10. If Crane's going to sign Clemens, then why not go in and sign some more members of the Sugar Land Skeeters starting rotation? That way you get former Astros Jason Lane (last seen here as a rightfielder) and Tim Redding. That also brings in native Houstonian and former big leaguer Scott Kazmir.
9. There's talk that Brad Ausmus is going to be manager next season. But why stop with Ausmus? When Larry Dierker took over the team, his staff was stocked with former Astros. So hire Ausmus and do the same thing. Morgan Ensberg's been campaigning for the job in Oklahoma City, but let's forget that and put him on Ausmus's staff. Larry Dierker can be the veteran bench coach. J.R. Richard can be the pitching coach. Stick Jose Cruz back at first. Craig Biggio's been coaching high school baseball, so let's bring him back and stick him at third base.
8. Jose Canseco says the Astros can give his entire salary to charity if they'll sign him to play. So why not give him a shot, too? Maybe sign Barry Bonds and Manny Ramirez and have the three comprise the outfield.
7. I don't think Mindy McCready's too busy. So maybe the Astros can get her to sing the anthem the night Clemens pitches, then she can do a postgame concert.
6. If you're going to do a stunt to pack the ballpark, then don't rip off Drayton McLane. Rip off the master of ballpark stunts, Bill Veeck. Sign a dwarf and let him pinch-hit like Veeck and the St. Louis Browns did in 1951 when they signed 3'7" Eddie Gaedel to a contract. 5. Drayton's shortcut to packing the stadium was to retire a player's number. So you could finally get around to retiring the number of J.R. Richard. Or, of course, you could follow Drayton's path and just keep ignoring Richard.
4. How about dollar beer night?
3. Here's a great promotion: Fans who buy outfield deck seats are automatically moved into those empty seats behind home plate because what's the use of high-priced seats behind the plate if nobody's sitting in them?
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2. Sign Mike Piazza to catch. I'm sure he and Clemens will love getting to know each other again.
1. If you're going to sign Clemens, then why not just go ahead and sign Jamie Moyer? How many other major league organizations can boast a 50-year-old and a 49-year-old in the starting rotation? And neither throws the knuckleball.