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51_game_thread_mike_hampton_supposedly_pitching_tonight | May | 2009 Articles

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5/1 Game Thread: Mike Hampton Supposedly Pitching Tonight

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UPDATE: B.B. Abbott, a sports agent who represents Chipper Jones and Brian McCann among others, has agreed to answer questions for the blog. He's one of the principals of Jet Sports Management, and like Chipper, he's a forthright guy in an industry not known for much forthrightness. Got any questions you'd like me to ask him?

If you don't think Mike Hampton is a good bet to pull a muscle during warmups, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you.

Hampton's already pitched 23 1/3 innings this year, which is more than he pitched in 2006 or 2007 -- during which he earned a combined $28 million -- and he's 1-1, with a 3.86 ERA and 22 K against 9 BB. That ain't bad. (It ain't as good as this Mike Hampton, but it ain't bad.)

The Astros aren't a good team, though. In fairness, we aren't a good team either, but we have more good players. They have 2 starters OPSing over .800, Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence, neither of whom is above .815. (Lee's OBP right now is .299.) Amazingly, Michael Bourn's OBP is .354, almost 50 points above his career mark and almost 70 points above his OBP last year. Pence, Lee, and Ivan Rodriguez are the only three hitters slugging over .400. Lance Berkman's at.162/.326/.392.

And our old buddy Russ Ortiz is in their rotation, pitching much as we remembered -- a 5.30 ERA and 15 walks in 18 2/3 innings. However, Wandy Rodriguez and Roy Oswalt are pitching well. So is 5th starter Felipe Paulino, who has a career 4.35 minor league ERA and who missed nearly all of 2008 with nerve damage. Wandy Rodriguez had something of a breakout year last year at age 29, putting up a 3.53 ERA, but he only completed 25 starts and suffered a few injuries himself. And he's the number-two ahead of injury cases Hampton and Paulino, and Ortiz, who's terrible.

So, like I say, they're not a good team. But Hampton's left-handed. That's why they play the games...

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