Mike Hampton Rumors

Astros Unlikely To Be Significant Players in Free Agency

Richard Justice of The Houston Chronicle writes that the Astros are "unlikely to be significant players in free agency this winter." The team is trying to lower payroll and get younger, something signing free agents generally won't accomplish. Justice does say that the club would like to retain relievers LaTroy Hawkins and Jose Valverde, both of whom will be free agents after this year.

Houston started the season with close to a $103MM payroll according to Cot's, but they could shed $17.75MM by letting Miguel Tejada, Mike Hampton, and Darin Erstad walk as free agents. However, a significant chunk of those savings will probably end up being redistributed to Wandy Rodriguez and Hunter Pence, both of whom should receive big raises in arbitration (Pence will likely qualify as a Super Two).

In their effort to incorporate more youth into their lineup, Justice says we could see third baseman Chris Johnson, shortstop Tommy Manzella, second baseman Edwin Maysonet, and catcher Jason Castro in the Opening Day lineup next year. The team will also probably ask reliever Wesley Wright to come to camp next year prepared to compete for a rotation spot.

Odds And Ends: Yankees, Wagner, Byrd

Some links to start the week off…

Odds And Ends: Rolen, Butler, Braves, Yanks

More links for the morning…

Odds And Ends: Hinske, Pirates, Astros

Links for Tuesday…

Discussion: Replacing Mike Hampton

Richard Justice at the Houston Chronicle thinks Ed Wade's one-year gamble on Mike Hampton might come to an end soon. Hampton was "the guy they could afford, not the guy they really wanted," Justice says. The guy they wanted was Randy Wolf, who's sporting a nifty 3.02 ERA and 50/19 K/BB ratio for the Dodgers. After an ugly start today Hampton sits at a 5.62 ERA for the season and 7.04 in his last six.

Should a shakeup be in order, the 'Stros have their eye on Triple-A farmhand Bud Norris, who's pitching well for Round Rock. But as we noted here last week, Paul Byrd, Odalis Perez and Pedro Martinez are still waiting for a phone call–could they be a good fit? Or could Wade swing a deal?

And greetings folks, I'm one of the new guys in class. Feel free to throw spitballs if need be.

Astros’ Rotation Spots Open; Mets Sign Trio

A few notes popping up:

  • The Houston Astros will have tryouts for the starting rotation at Spring Training. Felipe Paulino and Fernando Nieve are both young arms that will be considered, Alyson Footer of MLB.com reports. The Astros are tentatively counting on Roy Oswalt, Mike Hampton, Brandon Backe, Wandy Rodriguez and Brian Moehler to fill out their rotation.
  • The New York Mets have finalized deals with utilityman Rob Mackowiak, right-handed pitcher Kyle Snyder and left-hander Jon Switzer to minor-league deals. The three will be competing for 25-man roster spots at Spring Training, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reports.

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Tigers, Braves, Red Sox, Pirates

Today is free agent Orlando Hudson’s 31st birthday and the 29th birthday of Garrett Atkins, the subject of many recent trade rumors.

Also, on this date 10 years ago, Kevin Brown became the first player to sign a contract worth at least $100MM, when he signed a seven-year/$105MM contract with the Dodgers. The deal came when Brown was 34, one season after going 18-7 with a 2.38 ERA. Brown’s first two seasons with the Dodgers (18-9, 3.00 and 13-6, 2.58) were solid, but he would only make 29 starts in years three and four combined. Since then, two pitchers have signed deals for at least six years. Mike Hampton and Barry Zito. That doesn’t bode well for C.C. Sabathia, but it’s a small sample size…With the winter meetings now wrapped up, let’s take a look at what is being said in the Blogosphere…

  • Take 75 North feels the Tigers are going to regret acquiring Edwin Jackson and lament the loss of Matt Joyce.
  • The Detroit Tigers Weblog does not get the Edwin Jackson/Matt Joyce deal noting that at least Joyce has shown signs of being a very good player.
  • When Sid Slid weighs the merits of acquiring Jake Peavy or A.J. Burnett and sees Burnett as the better option.
  • Infield Chatter warns the Red Sox about signing Mark Teixeira, feeling Theo Epstein should be more concerned with acquiring a pitcher and noting the Red Sox have Lars Anderson waiting in the minors.
  • Pirate Revolution feels the Pirates need to move Adam LaRoche, Freddy Sanchez, Jack Wilson and John Grabow to unblock the paths of younger players.
  • DraftInfo has a Q&A with Max Stassi, a high school catcher that is projected to be selected in the first round.
  • Fire Brand of the American League takes a look at the impact C.C. Sabathia will have on the AL East.

Cork Gaines writes for RaysIndex.com. If you have a suggestion for this feature, Cork can be reached here.

Odds and Ends: Griffey, Springer, Hoffman

Links for Wednesday…

Astros Sign Mike Hampton

WEDNESDAY: The Astros are having a press conference for Hampton in about 25 minutes, implying that he passed his physical.

TUESDAY: Dave O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says Hampton turned down a slightly higher offer from the Braves to be closer to his children, who are in Arizona.

MONDAY, 3:31pm: Ken Rosenthal says it’s a one-year, $2MM deal with another $2MM in appearance-based incentives.  Hard to find fault in that.

2:44pm: According to FOX 26 Sports in Houston, the Astros signed pitcher Mike Hampton today.  He needs to complete a physical to make it official.  Hampton pitched for the Astros from 1994-99 before he was traded to the Mets.

Hampton sought a one-year deal with no option, so I imagine that’s what the Astros offered.

Odds and Ends: Thorman, Sabathia, Pettitte

Links for Tuesday…