Results tagged ‘ Mike Hampton ’

Dissecting the Astros and arbitration/free agency

The free agent filing period began Thursday, with outfielder/infielder Darin Erstad, outfielder Jason Michaels and pitcher Mike Hampton filing for free agency. Shortstop Miguel Tejada, closer Jose Valverde and reliever LaTroy Hawkins are expected to file in the coming days.

The Astros have a 15-day exclusive negotiating window with their own free agents and are hoping to get something done soon with Hawkins. Tejada and Valverde will certainly test the free agency waters.

Tejada, Valverde and Hawkins have been classified by the Elias Sports Bureau as Type A free agents, which means simply they are among the best in baseball at their positions. It also means the Astros could receive an additional first-round draft pick next year if they offer them arbitration and they wind up signing with another team.

Of course, offering arbitration is tricky. Tejada made roughly $15 million last season, so if they offer him arbitration and he accepts, he could wind up making a ton of money after leading the team in hits and driving in 86 runs. But if they don’t offer Tejada arbitration and he signs elsewhere, they get nothing.

The same is true with Valverde, who made $8 million last year and is likely headed for a raise. If the Astros offered arbitration to both Valverde and Tejada and they both accept, they could make a combined $25 million next year. That would put a choke hold on the payroll. Houston already owes Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt, Carlos Lee and Kaz Matsui a combined $54.5 million next year, and several players are due for large raises in arbitration.

“We have to keep our eye on both balls,” Astros general manager Ed Wade said. “We have to pay attention to the short term, and if there’s a free agent out there we feel we can’t walk past and is costs us a draft pick then we have to deal with that. At the same time, there’s nothing more valuable to the overall long-term picture than draft picks.

“Whether it’s sacrificing draft picks or picking up additional draft picks by offering salary arbitration and run the risk of having the player accept, we have to evaluate the different variables involved. When it comes down to it, if there’s a Major League free agent we think we can’t live without and we have a chance to sign them and them are faced with losing a second-round pick in the process.”

Elias ranks all Major League players numerically based on their stats from the last two years. The players are grouped by five positions by league – first base/outfield, catcher, second base-shortstop-third base, starting pitching and relief pitching. The top 20 percent at each position are considered Type A free agents, and the next 20 percent are Type B.

Teams that lose a Type A free agent receive the first-round draft pick from next year’s First-Year Player Draft from the signing team (provided it’s not in the Top 15) in addition to a supplemental pick between the first and second round. Teams losing a Type B free agent receive a supplemental pick, with the signing team keeping its draft choice.

The good news for the Astros is their pick in next June’s First-Player Draft is in the first half of first round (No. 8), so they will keep their first-round pick even if they sign a Type A free agent. They would give up their second-round pick instead of their first-round pick in that case.

Teams have until Dec. 1 to offer salary arbitration to their own free agents, and the players have until Dec. 7 to decide if they’re going to accept.

In case you’re wondering, Randy Wolf is a Type A free agent.

Hawkins on waivers, Hampton throws and other Astros news

Astros relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins, who was reportedly claimed off waivers recently before being pulled back by the Astros, said he was unaware he had been put on waivers. The majority of players are put on waivers this time of year and those pulled back can’t be traded until the season is over.

Upon being told he had reportedly been pulled back off waivers, Hawkins, who will be a free agent at season’s end, started text messaging Wesley Wright, currently pitching to Triple-A Round Rock, to jokingly tell him he was stuck with Hawkins for the rest of the season.

Astros general manager Ed Wade doesn’t comment on specific players and the waiver process, but it’s safe to assume that nearly every Astros player has been on waivers at some point this year.

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Left-hander Mike Hampton, who’s been on the disabled list since Aug. 14 with a left shoulder strain, threw a baseball Thursday for the first time in 12 days and said he felt somewhat better. Hampton has said that if his shoulder isn’t drastically improved by the end of the road trip next week, he’ll have season-ending surgery.

“I didn’t expect to feel great, but I’ll probably try it again in Arizona [this weekend] and see how I feel,” he said. “I threw probably 50 throws, just trying to get it going. Some felt good and some didn’t. We’ll give it a couple of more days and see how we’ll feel and go from there.”

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The Astros met Thursday morning and voted to approved Michael Weiner to replace Donald Fehr as the head of the Major League Baseball Players Association. Weiner was appointed last month, pending a vote of the entire MLBPA membership.

Fehr announced his intention to retire on June 22 and recommended Weiner get the job. A clerk to a federal judge who became the top lawyer to union head Marvin Miller in August 1977, Fehr took over as acting executive director in December 1983 and got the job permanently two years later.

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T.J. Burton, right-handed pitcher at Double A Corpus Christi, collapsed Wednesday in the clubhouse in Corpus Christi. He was taken to the hospital and admitted into the ICU with a possible viral infection. He is still undergoing tests and remains in the ICU.

Hampton will decide soon whether he can pitch again in 2009

In a last-ditch effort to save his season, left-hander Mike Hampton on Monday underwent platelet rich plasma therapy, the same procedure Doug Brocail used on his injured hamstring earlier this year. Hampton has been on the disabled list since Aug. 14 with a left shoulder strain and has been diagnosed with a partially torn rotator cuff.

Platelet rich plasma therapy involves extracting a small amount of blood from the body and spinning it for approximately 15 minutes, a step that removes unwanted components of the blood that are not primarily responsible for healing. What remains is an increased concentration of platelets, which are injected into the injured area.

Hampton had never heard of the procedure until recently, but decided to try it at the suggestion of team medical director Dr. David Lintner, who had seen it show positive results on football players with hamstring and ankle injuries.

“I’m just trying everything I can,” Hampton said. “What I can do I’m trying, and that was the next step. I think I should know something by the end of this road trip. If I can’t throw in the next six, seven days, it’s pretty much going to be tough for me to come back. That’s the reality of it.”

Hampton said if he doesn’t have better range of motion and less pain in the shoulder by the time the road trip ends Sept. 2, he’s going to opt for surgery and look forward to next year.

“The next thing will be the voodoo doll, the snake charmer or the witch doctor,” he said. “I’m open to anything. I would definitely explore the options and surgery would be one of them.”

Hampton, who is 7-10 with a 5.30 ERA in 21 starts this year in his return to the Astros, wants to play next year.

“I’ve reached my boiling point when it comes to injuries and surgery and stuff like that, but right now my intent is to continue to play,” he said. “I’m open to relieving. Forty innings is less than 200. I still like putting on a uniform. I’m doing everything I can to get back. Before the road trip is over, I’ll have a good indication if I’m going pitch again this year or not.”

Astros' draft pick Keuchel shines again in CWS

Arkansas pitcher Dallas Keuchel, selected by the Astros in the seventh round of last week’s First-Year Player Draft, won his second game for the Razorbacks in the College World Series on Wednesday night.

Keuchel came on in relief for the first time in his career and threw four scoreless innings, escaping a bases-loaded jam by getting a double play in the ninth inning. Arkansas won 4-3 in 12 innings.

“I tell myself I’ve been through this before,” he said. “I didn’t want to let them go out like that. They kept swinging through the slider and missing.”

Coincidentally, Arkansas scored twice in the ninth to tie the game on a two-run homer from Brett Eibner, who was drafted by the Astros in the fourth round in 2007 but didn’t sign.

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Astros left-hander Mike Hampton, placed on the disabled list following Tuesday’s game with a strained left groin, doesn’t think the injury will keep him out more than one or two starts. He’s eligible to return from the DL on June 29.

“Hopefully, I’ll just miss two starts and this isn’t something that lingers on instead of taking a chance and trying to pitch and battling mechanics,” he said. “It [stinks] and it’s something you don’t want to do, but I’d rather get it taken care of as soon as possible.”

Make-or-break start for Backe?

With Mike Hampton going on the disabled list with a strained groin, Brandon Backe will make his first start of the season in Thursday’s series finale against the Rangers. Simply put, this could be Backe’s final chance to show the Astros he can be a capable Major League pitcher.

Backe struggled last year, going 9-14 with a 6.05 ERA in 31 starts in his first full season since undergoing Tommy John surgery. He led the league in earned runs (112) and home runs (36), but signed a $1.55 million contract and was competing for a spot in the rotation before missing two months when he injured a ribcage muscle in early March.

As a reliever, Backe hasn’t distinguished himself so far this season in four appearances. He’s pitched nine innings and allowed 17 hits and 12 runs while striking out 10 batters. He’s 1-2 with a 7.77 ERA in six career games (three starts) against the Rangers.

Hampton can come off the disabled list on June 29, but don’t be surprised to see the Astros reach down to Triple-A Round Rock at some point soon and summon Bud Norris. He’s 3-4 with a 2.34 ERA in 12 starts, allowing 62 hits and striking out 72 batters in 73 innings.

 

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