Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Braves Collection: Mike Hampton

2008 Topps Gold Name Parallel #454 Two words: Len Barker. Len Barker is why I won't consider Mike Hampton to be the most disastrous starting pitching acquisition by the Braves since I've been a fan. More on Len Barker whenever I run across one of his cards. That will be a rant I assure you.
Once upon a time, many a year ago, Mike Hampton was considered one of the better young pitchers in baseball. The Rockies, desperate for competent pitching, signed Hampton to what was at the time the largest contract in history. (It is still the 25th largest sports contract ever.) Of course, Hampton couldn't cut it in either of his two seasons at Coors Field and was dealt to the Marlins who would deal him to the Braves two days later. Lucky us. (He wasn't necessarily an "awful" value at first since the Rockies were still on the hook for most of his salary.)
His first year in Atlanta wasn't so bad, and an excellent second half would redeem his 2004 season, but in 2005 his body would break down, and would continue to break down for the next three years. He had Tommy John surgery, which is rough, but the injuries in his comeback were just odd. He kept pulling things and straining things. Still, he kept trying to make it back. Braves fans would get their hopes up only to have them dashed, again and again. He wouldn't make it back until late in the 2008 season ... his last year on that expensive contract.
The Braves didn't really get anything for signing him. I suppose you could make the argument that his second half in 2004 helped the Braves make the post-season, but I'm not convinced he was a big player in that. He seems like a good guy and all, but what a frustrating experience he was for a Brave fan. The good news is that he's Houston problem now.
Any of you guys have any thoughts about Hampton?

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