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Pittsburgh vs. Atlanta, 3 April 2008

Zach Duke vs. Mike Hampton, 7:00 on FSNP and WPGB.

Hampton is making his first start since 2005; good for him.

Amazingly, Hampton's still on that massive $121 million contract the Rockies signed him to after the 2000 season. He got a $20 million signing bonus after that deal, he's making $15 million this year and he's got a no-brainer $6 million buyout coming on his $20 million 2009 club option before he even throws a pitch next year. (And let's be honest, he probably won't. Throw a pitch next year, that is.) Three teams (the Rockies, the Braves, and the Marlins, who took on a bunch of money before sending Hampton to Atlanta without his throwing a pitch for them) have paid at least $20 million of that contract. Since signing the contract, Hampton has just 53 wins and two full seasons with an ERA below league average.

Most teams are understandably unwilling to hand out eight-year contracts for pitchers now, but the big problem with a lot of these big contracts for pitchers is that teams just aren't picking the right pitchers. Three of the worst and most expensive contracts ever given to pitchers - Hampton's, Barry Zito's, and Chan Ho Park's - were given to guys who allowed more than 90 walks in the season before the contract. If you're going to give a huge contract to a pitcher, give it to Johan Santana, not the guy with the Kip Wells-like walk totals. Some of these contracts probably could have been avoided if teams had understood DIPS better at the time.

Anyway, I should be in the comments for a good portion of this one. Here's the box.