I am starting to think that the Hampton acquisition was a bad idea

Hampton tears side muscle, faces weeks of recovery | ajc.com

Hooray, it’s eight days into March and we already have a great big hole in the rotation! He suffered the injury during batting practice, of all things. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Lance Cormier, starter.


(Sorry, I was away for awhile, and this is what happens. I should probably chain myself to my desk.)

73 thoughts on “I am starting to think that the Hampton acquisition was a bad idea”

  1. from previous thread and MLB rumors…

    Hampton Injury May Force Trade
    Mike Hampton injured his side this morning and could miss all of April or more. At the bottom of his article, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman mentions that the injury may prompt the Braves to scour the trade market for a starting pitcher. Right now the front four are Smoltz, Hudson, James, and Davies. Lance Cormier could fill in for Hampton if Schuerholz doesn’t find a reasonable trade.

    One available starter might be the Cubs’ Wade Miller, assuming he is healthy but does not win the fifth starter job. I imagine the Phils won’t send Jon Lieber over to the Braves. Brad Penny’s stock seems down lately, and he could be an option. And don’t forget that the Braves may have had someone on hand to watch Carl Pavano pitch a few days ago.

    The Tigers might have a small surplus with Zach Miner apparently pushed out of the rotation by Mike Maroth. The Braves sent Miner to the Tigers for Kyle Farnsworth in July of ‘05. Paul Byrd is another former Brave who might be available. And I’m sure Shawn Chacon could be had for a decent-sized bag of peanuts. Plus there’s the Rockies, with Josh Fogg or Byung-Hyun Kim seen as expendable. Finally, as mentioned in the comments, Mark Redman is still a free agent.

  2. That’s why they need the DH in the National League. Hudson better start being worth his salary. See, this wouldn’t have happened if Leo was still the pitching coach. (-:

  3. You are either awfully forgiving or oblivious to Hampton’s performance if you are just now starting to question his aquistion. I know it’s not the latter so it’s got to be the former. I hope this means my homeboy gets a spot in the rotation.

  4. I can’t wait to see what Retirement Home Schuerholtz raids for our 4th/5th starter mid-season so we can limp to being 4th in the Wild Card chase.

  5. If the sorness goes away, I think Soriano should try starting. He was a starter in the minors with pretty good numbers. But the mariners only gave him a handful of starts. Remember, the dodgers once had a young righthander with a cannon that was moved to the pen when he first came up named Pedro. The numbers are similar. Pitch selection may not be.

  6. Does this mean that we can get insurance money from his injury? Maybe he should just stay injured for the next two years so that we can resign Smoltzy with the extra money.

  7. I would still make the trade, but this sort of puts a different light on the Horam/Soriano trade.

  8. I think Al’s question(#8) is important. Will the Braves get any insurance money if Hampton misses any significant time? With their fiscal restraints, finding the right replacement may be difficult to impossible if they don’t get some relief from Hampton’s contract via insurance.

  9. AI, I can’t imagine the team can collect insurance on this injury, but I’m quite sure that not even last year’s insurance money has any bearing at all on being able to sign Smoltzie past this year. It’s a non-factor

  10. Frenchy threw some serious smoke when he pitched in HS…but with his current understanding of the strike zone we may need to laser guide his pitches from the dugout. I still think we’ll pick up somebody at the end of camp to plug the hole unless somebody makes an offer on one of our young guys. I just don’t see us being able to pay anyone who’s talented even if we could get a trade done.

  11. Just as long as the words “Tanyon Sturtze” and “5th starter” aren’t bandied about together, I think we’ll be okay.

  12. Yeah and Chipper took another 0-fer today.. He’s only hitting .250 for the spring..

    Might aswell wait til next year….

  13. I like the Zach Miner idea, could be had back on the cheap. Miller gets hurt even more then Hampton, so I have no idea about that one.

    I don’t want to touch our bullpen and that especially includes Soriano. We have to be positive and hopeful that between Davies and Cormier, ONE of these turkeys steps up and pitches respectively.

    I believe “Tanyon Sturtze” is Dutch for “Chris Woodward”.

  14. Sam,

    I’ve never suggested making Francoeur a pitcher before, so I’m not sure what you’re talking about, Sam.

  15. didnt Miner say some things about the org. when he was traded? I doubt we’ll get him back, but I like that idea also…

  16. If Miner dissed the Bravos, then I don’t want him back…I don’t know if he did or not, but I know I don’t want people who scorched the Earth when they left town.

  17. Sam,

    I don’t recall having ever said anything about it before. I’ll do my best not to sicken or bore you with any future comments, though. Sheesh.

  18. so much for kj’s perfect track record at 2nd. he had an error today, and also missed a fairly easy throw from mccann. lillibridge says he’s ready. i think a campaign should be started for liilibridge at short, renteria at second, and a double platoon of kj and diaz, and wilson and thorman.

  19. I really, really hope the Braves don’t panic. The last thing they need to do is run out and ship a bunch of talent to another team for some crappy starter. Surely the Braves wouldn’t trade more than a mid-level prospect, right? Don’t act like the Mets in 2004.

    Lance Cormier, Oscar Villarrel and Matt Harrison. There has to be a decent option in there. Hell, if you could get Mark Redman for something really low….as long at it’s not Jose Lima (still looking for work last I heard.)

  20. Didn’t we end up with guys like Shane Reynolds and Albie Lopez because we were afraid that our prosepects weren’t ready to be 5th starters? I definitely don’t want to lose a top prospect for a below 5th starter that lasts half the season.

    On the other hand, we would be okay with Cormier, Villareal or Harrison as our 5th starter if we had a reliable 4th starter. Unfortunately I still don’t have much confidence in Davies. I’ve said that we need another starter for a long time and I still think that’s the case. If not Soriano, we need to make a trade, but let’s get a decent prospect – not a washed up Steve Trachsel type!!!!

  21. If we can get an inning-eater who’s not, y’know, anything approaching Lima Time, we should be OK. I agree: Don’t go crazy about it.

  22. I wonder if it’s possible to win with a rotation of less than 5 men?

  23. we’d need a few vulture clones to eat up middle innings…i don’t see JS going that direction

  24. i think that between villareal (who looked surprisingly effective as a starter last season), rafa soriano, and matt harrison, we can scare up a fifth starter in house. gahd, at least hampton is gone after next season. that turned out to be a poor acquisition by schuerholtz.

  25. @28

    Yes, it is possible. I think that a study in BP’s Baseball Between the Numbers said it would be just as good an idea as a 5-man rotation. Not sure.

  26. I agree with Dan–the Braves should not panic. I would hate to see the Braves part with any real talent for short term pitching help.

    We have all known that the rotation was weak–without Hampton we have three established starters. Yet, the Braves won with Shane Reynolds and we could probably live with Cormier and the Vulture or possibly even Kevin Barry for a month or so. I might add that I hope the Braves do use Harrison to fill the gap unless he is really ready for the big leagues. The last thing we need is to have him get ‘devined’. I would keep Soriano where he is because the bullpen is now a strength and should be treated as such.

  27. Ken Rosenthal:

    The 2007 rotation is expected to improve from within, but the loss of left-hander Mike Hampton for at least two months will force the team to weigh outside options.

    Hampton, 34, suffered a left oblique strain that will delay his comeback from elbow-ligament transplant surgery. If he makes his projected return in mid-May, he will have gone two years since his last healthy start.

    The Braves might have no choice but to wait.

    Left-hander Mark Redman, the only remaining non-Clemens free agent of note, has been shunned by the other 29 other clubs. A trade would be more appealing, but the chances of the Braves adding a quality starter are slim.

    Dodgers right-hander Brad Penny and Phillies right-hander Jon Lieber are available, but each will earn $7.5 million this season, a salary that most likely would be too high for the budget-conscious Braves to absorb.

    What’s more, both the Dodgers and Phillies are prioritizing relief help, and the Braves aren’t in position to compromise their bullpen depth after spending most of the off-season upgrading that area.

    Another trade possibility — packaging top young position prospects for a young, affordable starting pitcher such as A’s right-hander Dan Haren — appears even more remote.

    For the moment, the Braves’ rotation consists of right-handers John Smoltz and Tim Hudson, left-hander Chuck James and righties Lance Cormier and Kyle Davies. Righty Oscar Villareal also is capable of starting.

    The Phillies’ rotation clearly is better. The Mets’ might not be much worse. Starting pitching — the Braves’ historic advantage — is again turning into one of the team’s biggest questions.

    I trust Schuerholz enough to think he wouldn’t do something retarded like trade Soriano or Gonzalez out of panic for expensive one year rentals like Brad Penny or Jon Lieber. The Braves really aren’t in position to compromise the bullpen.

    Go for internal options or Redman. No good talent for a short term fifth starter, please.

  28. Penny is probably a better pitcher than anyone in the rotation but Smoltz. If I could figure out a way the team could afford him, I’d say go for it, but I don’t see how.

  29. Redman’s 2006 numbers are pretty ugly, but he might pitch better in Atlanta (than KC) and worth it if he came cheap. Does anybody have an idea what Redman would cost? I don’t see the Braves going for Brad Penny or Lieber…

  30. I hope the Braves won’t panic and trade for or go after any of those above mentioned. Let’s face it: How good would Hampton have been anyway? Hi might not even be ready for the start of the season. I was really not counting too much on Hampton for the first few months. I don’t trust Cormier one bit however between him, Villarreal and possibly even Harrison, we should be fine. Someone mentioned Barry… why not?

  31. Mac, who would you give up for him? Penny is a free agent after 2007, so the Braves ain’t keeping him. If it’s a bullpen piece not named Wickman, Soriano or Gonzalez, then maybe. But I wouldn’t trade a possible future starter who the Braves control for another three years, or Gonzalez, who Schuerholz called on the radio “our closer of the future when Wickman wants to hang it up”, who the Braves also control for three years, for a one year starter.

    He’s owed, I think it’s 7.5 million. I don’t think the Braves even have one million available.

    Seriously, the Braves only need a starter until mid-May or early June. Can Cormier, Villarreal, Lerew or Harrison not handle it? What about 500,000 for Mark Redman?

    A ton of talent for a one year rental due to panic over Hampton doesn’t jive.

  32. Cormier, Villarreal–yes, but despite all of the favorable press, there is really no reason to think that Lerew is even close to being ready. Lerew may still have a good future and by all accounts he is the best athlete of the bunch, but he got pounded last year and ought to have at least half a year in Richmond to get his confidence back.

    Bringing Harrison up too early runs the risk of undermining his development–if that is the cost then he might as well be traded while he has top value.

    Half a million for Redman would be great, but since we are paying more for Sturtze (money which now seems even more wasted) and I doubt his agent would bite…

  33. Lerew got pounded before he was demoted. At AA he was very good and he was very good when they brought him back up to AAA at the end of the year. I read that he was pitching hurt at the begining of the year. I say if he has a good spring then he should get a chance.

  34. How close is Escobar to being ready? Can he play short? With Renteria’s production coming back last year and his cheap salary he may become one of our best trade pieces. That would be a huge loss of offense and may not be worth it. I guess I’m hoping Davies and Cormier can plug the hole and Hampton can come back by May 1st, I’m not very optimistic though

  35. I think it would be foolish to trade anything for a #5-type SP. We have several possible options in-house. But, if we could wrangle up a #3-4-type SP (like Penny) then I’d say we ought to work hard to do it. Maybe we can work up a trade to get a SP and Baldelli from TB? (That’s intended to be humorous.)

  36. money well spent…

    Lake Buena Vista, Fla. —- Four years ago, Mike Hampton missed his first scheduled start as a Braves pitcher because he strained a calf muscle running on a treadmill.

    Since then, forearm, back and knee problems have sent him back to the training room. Two Septembers ago he thought he had bottomed out with the granddaddy of pitching injuries —- ligament-replacement surgery on his elbow.

    But now, on the eve of returning from that surgery after 17 months, just three days before he was supposed to take the mound for his first outing of spring training, Hampton strained an oblique muscle on his left side.

    He injured it Wednesday taking batting practice and Thursday had to face the fact that he’s likely out of action for at least two months —- four weeks to rest the injury at best and four weeks to build back his arm strength.

    “The timing of this stinks,” Hampton said.

  37. The last thing we need to do is freak out. If he is only going to be gone for a couple months, then lets look within or at worst case sign Redman. I am not for trading away to farm for a pitcher who we will not keep past this season. If we were the Yankees then we could afford that, but we are not. Hampton will have a rotation spot when he’s healthy.
    I’m fine with James and Davies as 4 and 5 when Hampton is back. I still want to see something from Davies. He is still too young to give up on and I’d like to see him given every opportunity this year to grow up.

  38. I’ve liked Mark Redman for a long time as a league-average, innings-eating starter. If he can be had on the cheap, especially so as to protect the Babier Braves and let them stay in AA and AAA, I say go for it.

    Or, wait… couldn’t we coax Al Leiter out of retirement?

  39. I don’t necessarily think a trade would be tantamount to panicking — it might just be a realization that Hampton is sunk cost. Although the timing might stink otherwise, this is the perfect time to shop Escobar — he’s being squeezed out anyway, and he’s having a hot spring.

  40. Rosenthal mentioned Dan Haren. If there’s ANY WAY we could get Dan Haren (I don’t care if it means we move Salty and Escobar and Langy/Diaz) we do it. He’s is a very solid, very consistent guy, and in the NL, his ERA would be sub-4.00 easy. Hell, maybe move Campbell or Andrus. Haren is GOOD.

  41. People are panicking unduly. I’ll admit I’m not that optimistic about Hudson, but let’s assume that he gets back to something approaching his old form and that James continues to be solid. With Smoltz, Hudson, and James, the first three spots in the rotation would still be more solid that last year and probably more solid than the Mets. If they have three solid starters, they can mix and match and still contend and maybe pick up a cheap number four. The point is, it’s not even the second week of spring training and it’s not like Hampton is Sandy Koufax. The Mets lost Pedro Martinez, the Braves lost Mike Hampton–who is worse off? Let’s wait and see what happens. And, for god’s sake, don’t trade any prospects for some aging, mediocre fourth starter. That’s the road to destruction.

  42. with Hampton’s history of injuries i don’t think you can count on him for this season, at least i’m not.

    best case scenario hampton returns in 2 months but even then it will have been nearly 2yrs since his last start. sorry, but after seeing how inconsistent he can be when he doesn’t have full control of his sinker i have to believe that both Cormier and Villareal could better his production this season (which obviously isn’t saying much). if hampton does come back, i think he will get rocked.

    at this point, i think the braves have to find a solid long term solution and whatever they might get from hampton in the future needs to be viewed as a bonus. now how they go about acquiring that solution… i don’t know. but to have a team that is this close to being a serious contender and not pony up the dough to make acquiring that missing piece (one solid starter) a possibility is an absolute waste of all of the other $ they have spent.

  43. from Ben Maller…


    That explains why the Rockies planned to let the Atlanta Braves know Byung-Hyun Kim and Josh Fogg are available in a trade. Braves’ starter Mike Hampton strained his left oblique muscle and is out until at least May, leaving Atlanta with a potential void. A Braves’ official predicted his team would look from within first and seemed lukewarm to Fogg and Kim. The Rockies won’t consider moving Kim to the bullpen, meaning he makes the team as a starter or not as all.

  44. I don’t think acquiring Haren would be a panic move at all. I think it would be a good idea even if Hampton was healthy. Haren still has three years of arbitration left and he’s an excellent starter. Hell, I think I’d rather have him than Hudson.

    That said, I’m almost positive it’s a pipe dream; no way Oakland moves him for anything less than top-teir pitching prospects, and even then, no real reason to move him at all.

  45. Dirt,

    What other dollars have they spent? The Braves haven’t increased the payroll one cent; one could argue that they have decreased it given necessary pay raises and so forth. It’s pretty clear that while ownership (either TW or Liberty) would like to see the team remain competitive, they aren’t going to lose one dime to make it a championship team. They expect JS to perform alchemy.

  46. Marc- Liberty doesn’t even own the Braves yet. My hopes aren’t high, but at least give them a chance to not raise payroll. ;-)

  47. I just don’t see the attraction for Haren. Those HR totals are scary!
    Bobby’s gonna come North with about 17 Pitchers anyway (Smoltz pinch-hits, by the way).

  48. I agree that Penny is the best of the bunch, but it’s not gonna happen—not at those prices.

    Just heard an interesting radio report from WFAN Mets reporter Ed Coleman (I’m a big fan of the guy b/c he’s a real straight-shooter). He says that Mets reliever Duaner Sanchez has been “sent home” for a couple days.

    Apparently, the Mets have been less than pleased with his rehab efforts. He still hasn’t thrown off a mound. He’s been consistently late to show up for spring sessions. Omar Minaya chewed him out about it all and told him not to show up at the park until he gets his head on straight and “decides he wants to be here.”

    Coleman: “I mean if you’re late once, hey, it happens. But if it keeps happening and you know the organization isn’t happy and you still keep doing it? Well, then you’re an idiot.”

  49. marc,
    not doubt that thus far they have been pinching their pennies and i agree that they expect JS to turn s**t into gold but enough is enough. what does it say that they merely want to remain competetive? is that they way that they look at their corporation as a whole?

    now i’m not saying that they need to go out and spend like the yankees/redsox/cubs/etc. but when JS has put together a team as solid as everyone believes this team to be at such a low cost then it shouldn’t be an issue to increase payroll by 7-8 mill.

    and aren’t the braves one of the highest grossing teams in the majors? at least in the top quarter of all clubs? if this is the case i don’t think a small increase in payroll is going to put them in danger of lossing money. if fact it could increase earnings considering it could be the difference btwn making the playoffs.

    i know this topic has been beaten to death so i’ll move on. it just pisses me off.

  50. OK, folks, I’m in the airport about to get on a plane to New York, and then to Ireland. It’s gonna be a sweet trip. Hopefully I’ll come back to some good news concerning a rotation. Count me as another that would give up a lot of talent for Dan Haren. He’s sick.

  51. Hampton hasn’t made a start in 2 years, and now he has a strained oblique. That’s almost a death sentence for a pitcher, like a back injury for power hitter – it lingers, takes forever to get back to 100% and it isn’t really something that you can pitch through effectively.

    If somebody offered an over/under at 5 starts this year for Hampton I’d take the under. And I’d probably take the over on a 5.00 ERA.

  52. Dirt,

    I’m not saying I agree with TW’s outlook but that is how I think they see it. What you say makes sense, but the fact is they haven’t even increased the payroll enough to keep up with salary inflation. I would like to be surprised by Liberty, but I have some knowledge of the company and I seriously doubt that they are panting for the Braves to win the World Series.

  53. @63 – exactly what i’m thinking.

    @64- marc,
    i completely agree with you. i don’t expect it to happen. i was just venting. hopefully redman will work out. wonder how much they had to pay.

  54. I am betting we could have kept Big Red for less.

    Anyway, it’s better than trading away Campbell or Salty for a low-quality, short-term rental.

  55. Mark Redman! Whee!

    I’m actually very happy with this signing. Mark Redman is an extremely affordable, more than passable 5th starter. At worst, he’ll be Sidney Ponson; at best, he’ll be slightly worse than Ted Lilly. He’ll probably be about as good as Horacio would have been, though less injury-prone; and we still get to keep Rafa Soriano. Hooray for John Schuerholz!

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