The Mike Hampton Hangover

Mike Hampton is like the hangover that won’t go away. In the latest news relating to the Atlanta pitcher, Hampton has strained his right hamstring in the first inning of his first (and now set to be his last) stint in the Mexican League.

So another year, another injury. The critics and doubters (myself included) that have been hounding against Hampton for the last two years can bicker some more. About the only good news with regard to the latest injury is that it has nothing to do with his stupid left elbow which has sidelined him the last two seasons.

The Braves had hoped that by sending Hampton to play seven games in the Mexican league, he would regain some of his strength and be ready to go full-time come Spring Training. But this latest injury just gives more and more reason to believe that Hampton’s insane contract (he is owed $15 million in 2008; when Hampton was acquired before the 2003 season, the Braves became responsible to pay him $48.5 million over six seasons) is one of the most ridiculous in the league.

There is some optimism, and it is that his hamstring will be healthy in a month or two, so the Braves still believe that he will be ready to pitch when Spring Training comes.

The Braves are cautiously optimistic, but I think the sentiment is shifting toward cautious pessimism. Braves GM Frank Wren said, “Now we just have less of an indication of where Mike is in his comeback.”

Hampton would like to pitch again before Spring Training begins. But with just four months left in the Mexican League, it seems like that the next time Hampton faces live hitters will be in a Grapefruit League game.

“He would love to pitch again [in the Mexican League],” Wren said. “It’s just a matter of if he has enough time to come back.”

Hampton is entering the final year of the insane, eight-year, $121 million deal that he signed with the Rockies before the 2001 season. His first two years with Colorado created a belief that it was a monstrosity of a contract. The last three seasons haven’t helped shape Hampton’s reputation.

This is a 35-year old man who has missed the entire 2006 and 2007 seasons and started only 12 times in 2005 before undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery.

I remain pessimistic that Hampton will be healthy in 2008. Even if he is healthy come Spring Training, I envision him being injured again early in the 2008 season. It is rather depressing that the Braves are still “optimistic enough” to not try to sign an additional starter to bolster the current rotation which consists of John Smoltz, Tim Hudson, and Tom Glavine. Currently the Braves are thinking that if Hampton’s injury woes continue, Jair Jurrjens, Jeff Bennett, Jo-Jo Reyes, and Chuck James will be the top candidates to compete for the final two rotation spots.

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~ by mlb2007playoffs on November 29, 2007.

One Response to “The Mike Hampton Hangover”

  1. […] injuries define Prior. He’s possibly even worse than Mike Hampton. Let’s quickly go over Prior’s injuries since 2004. In 2004, Prior was forced to miss […]

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