Hampton Worth Risk

Here’s the funny thing about Mike Hampton’s career (141-105): the guy could throw 10 more years in the bigs, make All Star teams, win post season games and capture a Cy Young Award but, he’ll always be remembered for signing that 8-year, $121 million dollar free-agent deal with the Rockies!

Apparently, that signing had everything to do with he and his wife approving of the Denver school system for their kids…surrrrre Mike.

But that’s beside the point. Starting pitching is so thin Hampton’s 3-4 record and lofty 4.85 ERA from a year ago has earned him a 1-year $2 Million dollar deal from the Houston Astros.

At the surface this is a surprising move. After all, the guy merely tossed 78 innings all of last year and that’s on top of missing the entire seasons in both ’06-’07.

Still, contrary to popular belief, I don’t believe Hampton is entirely the injury-riddled player he’s made out to be.

Prior to 2005 Hampton fell short of 30+ starts in a season just twice: 1996 (27) & 2004 (29).

Then, at age 32, arm troubles set in during the 2005 season while with Atlanta.

While the setback was unfortunate, it’s wasn’t all that unusual — an aging starting pitcher suffering from arm discomfort…geez, who’d of thunk it?

That said, they’re plenty of starters who’ve rebounded from arm trouble…like Hampton’s former teammate John Smoltz and current teammate Russ Ortiz.

Think about this though, Hampton is now 36-years old, he’s rested and rehabbed his arm for the past three seasons, the Astros gave up nothing to sign him, and the lefty’s six seasons in Houston (1994-99) was the highlight of his career.

Part of his run with the ‘Stros included a 22-win season in 1999 and second place finish in the Cy Young Award that same season plus, a 15-win season in 1997 which included 7 complete games and 2 shutouts.

Perhaps, the Astros catch lightning in a bottle with Hampton…if not, they dump him without losing much.

I’d say, pretty good deal.

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