Ooooh, this was a Sunday column, too.
And it starts like this:
To believe in Mike Hampton at this point is to take a giant leap of faith.
“Right now, I’m kind of at a loss. I don’t know exactly what to do. I would think that he’d probably continue to get the ball. We’ve just got to make some kind of adjustments with him. We can’t just lay it on Mike. From a starting staff standpoint, we haven’t done a very good job. We haven’t done a good job in the bullpen. Some of the excuses will be that we haven’t had the guys we need to have in there. You guys know where that’s at.”
Justice takes a different turn on Hampton's lack of pitching. Whereas my thought was "at least he'll be rested," Justice says:
Hampton teases the Astros with a decent inning here and there, but he has been unable to put a string of quality starts together. For the Astros, the ques-tion is a larger one. Because he’s 36 and has pitched so little the last four years, there are questions about what he’s still capable of.
So here's how the Hampton signing happened, according to the column, which is less than complimentary:
Ed Wade wanted to resign Wolf.
Had Wolf taken Wade's offer, Wade would have had to trade Valverde.
Wade preferred a first-rate closer than a #2-3 starter.
Wade pulled the offer to Wolf.
Wade signed Hampton on the cheap, gambling he'd stay healthy.
That part paid off - Hampton hasn't been injured, save for the Soap Dispenser Massacre of 2009. But he's been erratic. And let's be honest, Wade isn't one to publicly admit mistakes. Bourn was run out there for OD09 because not to would admit that maybe the Lidge trade wasn't such a good idea. That one - so far - has paid off.
To release Hampton would indicate the same thing, so when Backe comes off the DL this week, expect him to take Paulino's place, not Hampton's. Hampton will get chances to prove he was a good signing all the way to September.