Depite having not allowed more than 2 earned runs in any of his ’06 starts for Houston, Roger Clemens’ return to the Astros, while undoubtedly lucrative, has done little to add to his legacy, nor vault Houston back into contention. The New York Post’s Joel Sherman rubs it in.

Faced with a four-team field from which to choose, The Rocket un-retired to the club looking the worst as the trade deadline neared.

However, Houston GM Tim Purpura said “zero” when asked if he either had considered dealing Clemens before tomorrow’s 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline or if the fickle righty had asked to be moved to avoid the risk of pitching in meaningless games in what is now his fourth “retirement season.”

Nevertheless, the Rangers called recently just to make sure, and the Yanks and Red Sox have stayed in touch, as well. Before signing May 31, Clemens had narrowed his final choice to Houston and Boston, and he threw such bouquets at the Red Sox upon signing with the Astros that a few executives spoken to in the last week said they wouldn’t be surprised to see Clemens wind up with Boston again. Clemens had liked the idea of mending fences in Boston, and finishing his career where it started and potentially going into the Hall of Fame as a Red Sox.

In an e-mail exchange, Red Sox GM Theo Epstein would not divulge any of Boston’s plans. Officials from other clubs cited Epstein among the most active GMs. One AL executive said “it is interesting the stuff he is trying to get done.”

The Astros were working hard to land either Alfonso Soriano or Miguel Tejada with the idea of sparking a feeble offense and, potentially, appeasing Clemens. But perhaps the industrious Epstein could acquire a power hitter and turn that hitter into Clemens. However, the Red Sox and Orioles have not re-generated their Tejada talks from the offseason.

Arizona have an early 1-0 lead on Clemens and the Astros today at Ken Lay Memorial Field, Luis Gonzalez scoring on Chad Tracy’s first inning double.

Despite leaving yesterday’s win over the Braves after taking a pitch off his right knee, the Mets’ Carlos Delgado (above, right) has 3 RBI’s so far today, two of ’em coming on a first inning, 2-run HR off Chuck James. Carlos Beltran hit a line-drive, grand slam into the left-field seats a shot time later, and New York leads Atlanta, 8-3 in the bottom of the 3rd. We’ve heard no chants of “bring in Baez” but that’s only because they’re a spiritual bunch at Turner Field.

With Bruce Sutter being inducted into the National Baseball Hall Of Fame & Museum today, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan would like to see Bill James and Buck O’Neil enter the same rarified air. While I have no argument with either man’s qualifications, for James, the dilemma is obvious. Which one of his biggest fans introduces him to the overflow Cooperstown crowd, Larry Bowa or Joe Morgan?