5: Attempting to replace Nolan Ryan with Jim Clancy
In the 1989 offseason, the Houston Astros made the difficult decision to let one of the greatest pitchers of all time and a hometown hero in Nolan Ryan walk. You can’t really blame them because he had just finished his age 41 season and who knew how much he had left in the tank.
So, they let him walk but that left a gaping hole in the rotation that needed to be filled. So, the Astros went out and signed Jim Clancy away from the Blue Jays. They gave him a pretty big deal for that time, a three-year $3.4 million contract.
Clancy “rewarded” the Houston Astros with a 9-25 record, a 5.02 ERA, and a 1.48 WHIP for his three years in Houston. His first two years were both worse than that with a 5.08 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in year one and a 6.51 ERA and a 1.75 WHIP in year two.
Halfway through his second season, the Astros were so disappointed in his performance in the rotation that they demoted him to the bullpen and it didn’t improve anything in 1990. Things began to turn around as a full-time reliever in 1991 but he wound up being waived and picked up by the Braves later that season.
Signing Clancy did not pan out at all for the Astros. What hurts worse is that fans got to watch their hometown hero pitch five more years for their cross-state rivals in Arlington. Ryan was still very good for those five years. Clancy was behind the eightball from the start but this was still a bad move in retrospect.