The Houston Astros are trying to redefine the culture of an organization that has endured three straight 100+ loss seasons. In the midst of the paltry hitting, questionable defense and lackluster pitching that has marred the team for over five years, the organization is now dealing with a host of off-the-field issues such as first base prospect Jon Singleton’s recent confession of marijuana addiction. To combat all of this negative energy and attempt to turn things around the club’s brass have called a trio of legendary pitchers back to the Houston Astros. They will not be on the mound anytime soon, but Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens and Roy Oswalt have all worked with the team this spring in one capacity or another in an effort to bring the club back to respectability.
Ryan, who is actually business operations president Reid’s father, has officially taken on the role of executive adviser. In this setting he will not only advise his son on business matters as well as the organization’s owner and general manager on baseball-related issues. Ryan was CEO and part owner of the Texas Rangers until 2013. Under his leadership, the Rangers advanced to back-to-back World Series appearances for the first time. After last season’s heart breaking collapse, however, he sold his stake in the team and resigned his post.
Before leaving for the Rangers in 2008, Ryan had pitched in Houston for nine years and spent the following four years under a special services contract with the team. After mulling the decision, he says he is ready for the challenge and intrigued in the opportunity to work with his son.
Serving as a special assistant to the general manager, Roger Clemens hopes to bring a sense of urgency to a pitching staff that has been significantly bolstered since losing 111 games last year.
“If you need to stay and do some extra work, conditioning, whatever it might be, that will make you mentally tougher than the next guy,” Clemens said. “I think with all the conditioning I did throughout my career, that made me feel like I had an edge.”
Clemens pitched for the organization for three seasons, even winning the ERA title in 2005 when he helped the club win the pennant. In order to turn things around, the Houston Astros have turned to Clemens and other legendary pitchers to make the team realize that defeat and a losing culture are not acceptable.
Unlike Clemens and Ryan, Roy Oswalt is not on the Houston Astros’ payroll. The recently retired three-time all-star was simply visiting the club at their Kissimmee, Florida spring training complex shortly after the full squad had reported. Oswalt, who along with Clemens, led Houston to its only World Series appearance in 2005, spent over nine seasons with the club before making stops in Philadelphia, Texas and Colorado the last three seasons. He will sign a one-day contract with the club on April 5 so that he can officially retire as a member of the Astros.
Will the influx of legendary pitchers help turn things around for the Houston Astros? Only time will tell. With a farm system packed with prospects that will be joining the major league team sooner rather than later, however, it definitely couldn’t hurt.
By: Jeremy Mika