A familiar face is on the mound tonight in Atlanta. Or is it really all that familiar at all? Mike Hampton was officially on the Braves’ roster for about 6 seasons, but barely made an appearance on the mound.
I remember shuddering when I’d see his name on the projected starters list, once he finally recovered enough from his bevy of injuries enough to convince people he was ready to pitch. More often than not though, that still didn’t mean he would actually take the start. Whether it was a strained pectoral muscle in warmups, or a sprained ankle, or a fingernail scratch on his cheek that just stung a little to much to have to work that night, we never really saw Mike Hampton on the mound all that often.
Tonight, when he takes the start at Turner Field, Mike Hampton will be wearing a Houston Astros jersey. I must say, the only thing that I’d like to see more than Hampton on a different team is Hampton walking away from Atlanta with the loss. Maybe I’m just being harsh, but I feel like he owes us that at this point.
Tags: Mike Hampton
Posted in General | 1 Comment »
Mike Hampton is suffering from Tom Glavine Syndrome. He accepted a contract with the Houston Astros for less money than the Braves were offering to be closer to his kids. While we can’t fault him, we sure can make fun of him for taking just over $95,000 each inning. And by make fun of him, we do mean “be jealous of” him – wouldn’t we all take that job? Hope he can stay healthy for the Astros. Looks like it’s a one year, $2 million contract. We wish him nothing but the best. The Braves now need to fill 3 spots in the rotation.
ESPN is reporting that the Braves are not likely to get Jake Peavy, but it could be revived at any time. Speculation is that our offer is still on the table and that if the Padres decide to play ball, we’ll end up with Peavy after all. Sounds like they’re just being unreasonable with what they want for Peavy.
ESPN also said that with $40 million to spend, the Braves will upgrade their starting pitching. No duh. That was helpful. I could have a TV show if that’s all I needed to say.
Looks like the Braves didn’t land Junichi Tazawa, the 22 year old Japanese phenom. Two separate newspaper reports indiciate he’ll sign with the Red Sox on a 3 year major league contract soon. That’s a shame – I’d have loved to see him pitch here in Atlanta. Here’s hoping two major newspapers are full of crap.
What do you think the Braves can do from this point forward to make the best of the offseason? No CC? No Peavy? No Tazawa? Should we forget about pitching and just buy all the offense we want? If not, who do we want?
Tags: Jake Peavy, Junichi Tazawa, Mike Hampton
Posted in Speculation | 3 Comments »
Mike Hampton had made it nearly all the way through a rehab assignment successfully. He just needed to make one more rehab start. After trying to come back and pitch in the majors for so long, surely, finally, something would go his way. Maybe he’d be back in the Majors pitching against the Marlins next week.
And then he had to leave last night’s game at AA Mississippi in the second inning with a strained left groin.
It’s only a mild strain, and he’s expected to make at least one more rehab start and then they’re re-assess him. He’s only Day-to-Day – it’s not like his leg detached. But that’s how the story goes. Mike, we wish you the best and truly hope to see you come back strong in Atlanta. Just be careful and have someone drive you everywhere you go. And have someone else brush your teeth for you too. Ya know what, just go ahead and buy a giant plastic bubble.
Tags: Injury, Mike Hampton
Posted in Injuries | 14 Comments »
Back to the regular sized blog post.
So, we haven’t posted in a while, but this would be a good time to discuss the break and such. Chipper, McCann and trainer Jeff Porter are in New York as I write this enjoying the sites, including Yankee stadium, as well as enjoying their four days off. Chipper and McCann have been THE most consistent presences in this line-up, everyone knows that. While they do deserve these four days off, I doubt either would trade in a trip to Yankee stadium to play the final All-Star game their for those days off.
The Braves played San Diego and the Dodgers last week, coming away with their first .500 road trip of any length since WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY back last season when they went 1-2 against the Mets and 2-1 against the Nats from September 10-16, seriously. But going into the break with a road trip like that, even if it is against the worst team in the league in San Diego, is still something to build on.
Looking more into those six games, the Braves pitched out of their mind amazing, they gave up eight runs to LA in three games and eight runs to the Padres in three games. Against San Diego, only seven of those runs were earned and against LA only seven of those runs were earned as well, bringing the team ERA for those six games down to a ridiculous 2.33, yet we only went 3-3, sad.
The two teams we played, from before the season even started, were supposed to be slightly offensively challenged, yet the Braves looked like the team that needed a bat or three or four. In the first five games in the series, the Braves went 1-54 (0.019) in the first four innings, THEY HAD ONE HIT IN FIVE GAMES IN THE FIRST FOUR INNINGS! Throwing in the final game doesn’t make it that much better either, the Braves had three hits in the first four innings Sunday, bringing the grand total up to 4-67 (0.059). That’s just pathetic offensively.
With the Mets heating up and Florida not going away any time soon (they just got Josh Johnson back for the homestretch), this won’t be easy. Philly’s ball park isn’t miraculously going to get bigger and allow them to hit less home runs, and the Mets and Marlins aren’t going to stop hitting either. This team needs some sort of a wake up call and they need it fast, whether it is waving the white flag to trade guys away and tell them, “we’re not invincible,” or get a new guy in the clubhouse and infuse new energy. Heck Mike Hampton pitching might put enough energy into this team to give them some new life. Who knows?
Looking ahead to past the break, the Braves have a sweepable series against the Nats. The pitching matchups have already been set. Aces duel in the first game when Tim Hudson (9-7) takes on Tim Redding (7-3), Jair Jurrjens (9-4) gets the ball in game two against John Lannan (5-9) and Jojo Reyes (3-8) will face off against Odalis Perez (2-7) in the final game of the series.
Btw, was it just me or was taking Reyes out of his Friday start against the Padres after four innings because we had guys in scoring position a serious desparation move by the Braves? Buddy Carlyle came in and did a good job finishing it up, but seriously. For whatever reason, Reyes always seems to have a shorter leash than any of the other guys out there.
Tags: All-Star Break, Brian McCann, Chipper Jones, Jair Jurrjens, Jeff Porter, Jo-Jo Reyes, Mike Hampton, Tim Hudson
Posted in General | 8 Comments »
This is how the conversation between myself and one of our writers, Akshay, went:
Akshay: ok, so Hampton got through his first rehab start (45 pitches) fine
Me: Is there a punch line?
All I’m saying is we’re not holding our breath, but Hampton had no body parts separate unnaturally from the rest of his body in his first rehab start. He pitched 2.2 innings and allowed two hits and struck out two.
He’ll have two more class A starts before going to AA and then maybe being activated. If he comes off the DL, we may send Morton down to let him keep honing his skills, or even spell Reyes for a bit. It could also give us the opportunity to let Jurrjens or Campillo get a rest to heal blisters every now and then for the rest of the season.
Will he actually make it back this time? I dunno, last time I wrote one of these things on Hampton he got injured later in the day. So watch out Mike, I’m gonna hit the publish button anyways. We’re rooting for you.
Tags: Mike Hampton, Rehab
Posted in Injuries | No Comments »
The Braves came out strong behind Jair Jurrjens and 7 2/3rds innings of one-run ball to beat the Rockies last night 7-1. Chipper went 2-4 and started the scoring in the fifth with two RBIs. Jurrjens’ extra five days of rest due to his sprained ankle seem to be paying immediate dividends – “I got my changeup back,” Jurrjens said. The extra rest helped a blister heal.
Up in Queens, the Queens have fired longtime sucky manager Willie Randolph. I don’t mean that in he was their manager for long, but that he has sucked for most of his time as Mets manager.
Jerry Manuel will replace him as interim head coach. The Mets also cleaned out some of their other manager positions. For more info, check out our buddy Andrew’s site over at TheRopolitans.
The Braves are finally up to 10 road wins, taking three out of the last four on the road. Do you think they’ve turned a corner? With the starting pitching looking great its last time around, will they continue their improvement?
And as Mike Hampton heads down to the Gulf Coast League for a couple rehab starts, will he ever pitch in Atlanta this season?
Tags: Chipper Jones, Colorado Rockies, Jair Jurrjens, Jerry Manuel, Mike Hampton, New York Mets, Willie Randolph
Posted in Game Analysis, General | 8 Comments »
Mike wrote our mailbag recently asking:
What is the status of Mike Hampton? I can’t find any updates on his recent injury and/or his rehab status. Anything would help – thanks.
Mike, let me help you with this one. Expecting Mike Hampton to be back at Turner Field anytime soon is probably setting yourself up for disappointment (not saying I’ve done the same thing time and time again).
I was one of the biggest Mike Hampton believers coming into this year, and as much as I’d like to believe that he can come back from this injury and pitch effectively for the Braves from the starting rotation, I have to caution you against buying into it. Until we actually see Hampton on the mound for the Braves, I’m in doubt that it’ll happen. And I sure won’t count on it.
That said, Hampton threw on flat ground Saturday, and there were no issues or re-straining of the pectoral muscle that has been giving him trouble all year. Hampton said “It felt good; I didn’t feel anything.” Hampton has another set of flat ground throwing Monday, where he’ll throw more than he did Saturday. He’s expected to have a few more similar sessions before he throws off a mound – that’ll come in the next week or two.
As far as a timetable for return, nothing has been said. I hate the cynicism that has crept into my thinking on Hampton, but it’s there nonetheless. I think we’ll see him in Atlanta sometime this year, but I can’t tell you when. I would love to see him come back from this and anchor the back half of the rotation for the remainder of the year, but that’s a long shot. Let’s all hope he can make it back and stay healthy. The guy’s worked hard and he deserves it.
Tags: Mike Hampton
Posted in Injuries, Mailbag | 22 Comments »
This rotation can’t win the division.
There, I said it. With John Smoltz and his bum shoulder pushing him to the bullpen (hopefully if he can heal), our starting rotation looks a wee bit tattered. Think I’m kidding? Take a look at the starting rotation. Hudson has been the Ace so far, with six wins. Jurrjens has been great with four wins and 41 strikeouts in eight starts. And then we have Glavine, who is better than his record shows, deserving better than a 1-1 record, but concerning with a 4.41 ERA and a 1-1 strikeout to walk ratio.
Past that, it’s not a rotation. It’s a random weekly game of bingo that decides between Chuck James, Jo-Jo Reyes, and Jeff Bennett and they rotate out as soon as one of them sucks it up. And it’s not something that will let us compete into September. At least Chuck’s out of the consideration for now, but that just leaves room for another Joe Somebody to try.
We had depth, supposedly. But Smoltz has had shoulder issues – and he’s had those sporadically at the end of the season in seasons past. And I can’t even discuss what happened to Hampton without feeling like I’d be suggesting he could heal. And until he proves me wrong, I won’t believe it’s a possibility. But can we make it to September? I’m doubtful. Something has to be done.
Sure, we’re first in the league in ERA and BAA, and second in OPS allowed and third in WHIP, but does that mean jack diddly when we have three starters? It won’t last long, I tell you. We’ll miss Smoltz as long as his shoulder keeps him pitching two innings late in the game. We need a strong starter. And unless Jo-Jo Reyes can keep it up and start pitching like he pitches in AAA ball, where there’s less pressure, or Jeff Bennett turns a page for the rest of the season, we’ll be a team with three consistent starters and two fillers. It concerns me.
Do we make a move? We have tons of young outfielders in the minor league system. Do we bring up Charlie Morton from AAA and see if he is ready for the big time? I’m just an armchair GM, sure, but I’m not the only one in Atlanta who is a little concerned about our rotation.
Tags: Charlie Morton, Chuck James, Jair Jurrjens, Jeff Bennett, Jo-Jo Reyes, John Smoltz, Mike Hampton, Tim Hudson, Tom Glavine
Posted in General | 25 Comments »
With Peter Moylan on the brink of season ending reconstructive surgery, we here at BravesBlast thought it would be a good idea to profile the surgery itself as well as some of the Braves that have had the surgery: the list isn’t short.
The surgery itself was developed in 1974 when the now infamous Tommy John developed a pain in his elbow as well as a noticeable drop in velocity. After tests, Dr. Frank Jobe diagnosed John with a torn UCL, ulnar collateral ligament. The UCL is the ligament in the elbow that connects the upper arm bone (humerus) to the ulna and radius of the forearm.
At the time, there was no reconstruction and recovery procedure for the injury and pitchers that suffered from a torn or “compromised” (like Moylan) ligament were doomed to sit out the rest of their days. Dr. Frank Jobe decided to try a new, unheard of procedure on John. He hypothesized that if he could use a tendon from another part of the body (most likely the arm or leg) and attach it to the elbow, it would grow into a ligament. Jobe tried the procedure but had to wait an entire year to witness the results of the surgery.
Jobe was delighted to see that the surgery was a success. John went on to a 10-10 record in his first season back, 1976. John went on to pitch 13 more seasons in the bigs and compiled a 288-231 record and had a 3.34 career ERA.
With John being the first to successfully complete a rehab from the UCL surgery, the reconstructive procedure took on his name and to this day is considered a pitcher’s best friend.
Now as far as its ties to the Braves go, several pitchers on our staff have had the surgery already:
John Smoltz – In 1999 Smoltzie started throwing with a side-arm and three quarters-arm delivery. I don’t know if this is what caused the UCL tear or if he pitched that way because of arm troubles, but it was fairly effective. Smoltz went 11-8 with a 3.19 ERA. Smoltz pretty much lost all or part of five years with the surgery as a starter. It’s probably that he would be a 300 game winner, or at least within reach of the milestone. But there’s another one he can get to at this point: 200 saves.
Mike Hampton – Wow…what more is there to say about Hampton. He was off to what looked like a career year for the Braves before having fore-arm soreness in May on 2005. He made one more start that year towards the end, before electing to have the procedure. He sat out all of 2006 rehabbing from the injury, but unfortunately tore another ligament in the same elbow.
Rafael Soriano – Soriano was supposed to be a great relief pitcher for the Mariners. He struck out 68 in 53 innings in 2004 with a 1.53 ERA, but had to have the surgery late in 2004. He pitched well in 2006, but had to sit out the last month with a severe concussion after getting hit with a line drive in the head. The Braves then traded for him and he has had mixed success in his time with the Braves. Luckily the MRI on Soriano’s elbow came back negative for anything serious.
Jorge Campillo – Campillo also pitched for the Mariners (what is with us and getting players from AL west teams, a few from the A’s and a couple from the Mariners and one big one from the Rangers). He debuted in 2005, but quickly required the surgery after just two appearances. He was released after rehabbing because the team was not pleased with his progress. He signed with the Braves this past offseason and has been a great addition to the roster.
Jeff Bennett – Bennett pitched one season with the Brewers going 1-5 in 60 appearances. Bennett required the surgery in 2006 after spending 2005-06 in the minors. Bennett signed with the Braves after the 2006 season and spent much of 2007 in the minors. During the September call-ups, Bennett proved he could pitch in the majors and won a spot as the long-reliever/spot starter in spring training.
Among other pitchers in the Braves organization, Anthony Lerew underwent the surgery after two starts last season and is currently rehabbing.
Kelly Johnson also underwent the surgery after a tear on a throw from the outfield during the 2005 season. Braves personnel decided to shift him to second base (he was originally drafted as a short stop) to avoid any further injuries to his arm. He sat out the entire 2006 season, but has returned the Braves lineup as an asset as the leadoff man.
With more and more pitchers electing to get this surgery on a regular basis, it poses the question, “what’s the best way to pitch?” Pitchers get hurt pitching overhand, side arm, whatever. Is there really a perfect way to pitch to avoid injuries? So far Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux may be the best examples of two pitchers that have avoided pitching-related injuries for as long as they have.
Tags: Anthony Lerew, Greg Maddux, Jeff Bennett, John Smoltz, Jorge Campillo, Kelly Johnson, Mike Hampton, Rafael Soriano, Tom Glavine, Tommy John
Posted in Injuries | 2 Comments »
After his latest injury in Richmond, reaggravating his strained pectoral muscle, Mike Hampton found himself in a far too familiar position. On the disabled list with a recommendation of not touching a baseball. An MRI confirmed that it was just a strain and that the pectoral muscle was not actually torn. Shortly after the reinjury, Hampton pondered whether or not retiring at the end of his current contract would be the best option.
Hampton’s in the final year of his $121 million contract. Since 2005, he has made 12 starts in the majors and made $56 million dollars. On that fact alone, he’ll always have the critics against him. I don’t think he takes satisfaction in making multi-millions and not pitching at all, but rather he just is injury-prone and has had a series of bad luck. He’s not giving up on it yet and is planning to continue working throughout the season before making a final decision on what to do after this season. If he doesn’t pitch this season, however, I feel like he’ll have a tough time finding a new contract somewhere.
More to come on this one as we hear it, but I doubt there will be any developments on it anytime soon.
Tags: Injury, Mike Hampton, Retirement
Posted in Injuries | 1 Comment »
Mike Hampton was injured yet again to the point where he might as well legally changed his middle name to “Injury-prone.” Turns out he re-injured the pectoral muscle he injured warming up earlier this year. They had him on a 75 pitch count and Hampton exited his start after throwing just 71 pitches into the fourth inning. He allowed one run on four hits, four strikeouts and two walks before his premature exit. The injury is not believed to be as serious as it was the first time and may only set Hampton back two to three weeks. Of course, with Atlanta’s injury woes at the major league level, that seems like an eternity.
Chuck James replaced Hampton in the fourth inning, leading fans to believe that Jo-Jo Reyes will get the start against the Reds this weekend in place of the fifth starter. Reyes has been spectacular at Richmond, going 1-1 with 1.17 ERA in 23 innings, his most impressive stat might be that he has walked only eight hitters in the 23 innings pitched.
Tags: Chuck James, Jo-Jo Reyes, Mike Hampton
Posted in Injuries | 10 Comments »
John Smoltz was placed on the 15-day DL today after his shoulder was examined and biceps tendinitis was discovered. Smoltz, who had issues with control and speed in his last start in New York, visited Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, who found a very inflamed biceps tendon and also inflammation in his rotator cuff.
This is Smoltzie’s second trip to the DL this season – and leaves Tim Hudson to ace the staff while Smoltz is recovering. The Braves hope that a few weeks now will let Smoltz finish out the season strong, assuming the inflammation doesn’t come back. The problem with that is I’m not 100% confident it’ll go away – it’s been an issue on and off now since the end of last season.
Can the Braves win without Smoltz? It’s a good question. We need him and Hudson at the top of the pitching staff in order to allow Jurrjens and whatever other starters are healthy to anchor the back end of the rotation. The good news is that Glavine is ready to pitch tonight and was activated from the DL as Smoltz went down. Hampton is scheduled to make a start at AAA Richmond tomorrow and may be activated immediately after that if he can stay in one piece.
Not good for the Braves’ starting rotation, which has seen much more turbulence this season that previously expected. We’ll keep you posted as we hear more.
Tags: John Smoltz, Mike Hampton, Starting Rotation, Tim Hudson
Posted in Injuries | 1 Comment »