Sep 15, 2009, 6:07 PM EDT
The news couldn’t have been much worse for Mike Hampton on Tuesday, as the free-agent-to-be was diagnosed with a completely torn rotator cuff during surgery. He also needed work done on his labrum, and he’s expected to miss all of 2010.
Before going down in mid-August, Hampton had made 21 starts this year, his highest total since 2004. Still, he wasn’t very impressive in compiling a 7-10 record with a 5.30 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP. The Astros figured to have only limited interest in re-signing him for 2010. He probably would have had to compete for a rotation spot wherever he ended up.
Now he’ll miss what would have been his age-37 season, putting him in the unenviable position of attempting a comeback at 38. He was still getting pretty good movement this season on his sinking and cutting fastballs, but his velocity has declined with age and his once formidable slider has disappeared from his arsenal.
This could well be the end of the line for the one-time 22-game winner. Unfortunately, he will likely be remembered less for his status as one of the game’s best left-handers in the second half of the ’90s than for the hideous return he provided the Rockies on the eight-year, $121 million contract he agreed to after the 2000 season. It still ranks as the 13th-biggest contract ever signed by a major leaguer and fourth-biggest for a pitcher.
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