When the Colorado Rockies did not sign even one major league free agent this past offseason, it was a reminder they had once invested $172.5M in two starting pitchers.
It was December of 2000 and less than three years later, neither would be seen in purple pinstripes ever again.
Mike Hampton (eight-years, $121M) and Denny Neagle (five-years, $51.5M) were signed to much fanfare in the 2000-01 offseason. Hampton had started games the previous four postseasons, including winning the 2000 National League Championship Series MVP, and Neagle bolstered the Yankees rotation to the 2000 World Series Championship.
Entering the game in San Diego, Hampton held a 4.43 earned run average after three starts, one of which was 8.1 innings of shutout baseball on Opening Day 2001.
Facing a lineup featuring Padres’ great Tony Gwynn – not to mention Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson as a pinch-hitter – the 29-year-old southpaw gave up just four hits in eight shutout innings. Rookie Kane Davis came on for the final three outs.
The next afternoon, Neagle spun a gem of his own, firing six frames of three-hit ball before the bullpen – John Wasdin, Gabe White and José Jiménez – closed the door on the shutout.
Hampton would eventually be traded with Juan Pierre and cash to the Florida Marlins in a package that included center fielder Preston Wilson and catcher Charles Johnson following the 2002 season. Deferred payments to Hampton would last until December of 2018, ten years after his contract expired and eight after his retirement.
Neagle missed the entire 2004 season before being arrested for soliciting a prostitute. Citing a morals clause, Colorado voided the final year of his contract. Ultimately, he would be fined and sentenced to 40 hours of community service following a guilty plea.
While Hampton and Neagle may have helped record the last consecutive shutout wins on the road nearly two decades ago, their signings have served more as a cautionary tale for the Rockies franchise than as a recipe for success.
On This Day
Tyler Chatwood gave up a run in the fifth inning on singles to the eighth hitter in the lineup Cody Asche and pinch-hitter Jayson Nix (one-time Rockies player in 2008) in the 12-1 over the Philadelphia Phillies.
Coincidentally, it would be Cody Asche who also broke up Chad Bettis’ no-hit bid a year later in Philadelphia.
Chatwood’s two-hitter in 2014 is one of only 29 starts surrendering two or less hits in a game. Of which, only 11 were complete games started and ended by the same man.
The offense was provided by Charlie Blackmon and Drew Stubbs as the outfield duo notched three hits apiece; Troy Tulowitzki doubled and homered in a three-hit performance that resulted in five runs batted in.
Also of note, Nolan Arenado made his third error in just the 18th game of the season.
On This Day in Baseball History
In 1899, a 26-year-old John McGraw makes his managerial debut with the Baltimore Orioles of the National League in a 5 – 3 victory over the team he’ll later manage for more than 30 years.