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The Last Of The 1997 Astros

Clack mentioned the other day in a comment that Mike Hampton had been activated by the Diamondbacks. Of course, that made me chuckle at first, since Hampy was soo bad last year for Houston, but it also made me reminisce a little on the Astros first division champion team back in 1997, which Hampton was a part of.

See, the neat thing about those late 90's teams were they had a good bit of turnover. In fact, from 1997 to the World Series in 2005, only Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio remained continuously with the team. So, with my nostalgia fully in bloom, I thought we could look at who's left from the team who won the Comedy Central with an 84-78 record.

Brad Ausmus - It's kind of remarkable that the catcher is one of the longest tenured members of this team, especially since he was 28 in 1997. Ausmus played that year and 1998 with the Astros before being traded to Detroit. He then made a return to Houston in 2001 and played there for the next seven years. Ausmus has said he's going to retire after the season, meaning he won't be on this list for long.

Bobby Abreu - Bobby only got 210 plate appearances with the '97 Astros, and didn't do anything remarkable in that time. He had a line of .250/.329/.372 with 15 extra-base hits and 21 walks, but was only 23 at the time. The next season, he was selected in the expansion draft and sent to Philadelphia, where he hit over .300 with a .400 on-base percentage in six out of the next seven seasons. He's currently having his worst season since his rookie year, but has another guaranteed year on his contract plus a 9 million dollar option for 2012. Looks like he'll probably end up the longest-lasting of the '97 bunch.

Mike Hampton - The latest edition to this list, Hampton was toiling away in the minors or as a street free agent for much of this season before Arizona signed him. He played for Houston for six seasons beginning in 1994 before being traded to the Mets and bouncing around to four different teams over the next decade. He, of course, signed that ridiculous contract with Colorado, but redeemed himself somewhat with the Braves, winning 34 games in four seasons. He never quite matched his brilliance from the 1999 season when he went 22-5 and finished second in the Cy Young voting to Randy Johnson. Hampy has yet to appear in a game for Arizona and may be forced to retire after the season (due to a lack of interest in his services).

Billy Wagner - Billy the Kid will be retiring after the season, having established himself as one of the premier closers of his generation. He was also the longest-tenured Astros of this group, staying with the team through 2003 before being shipped off to Philadelphia. He's tied for the single-season Astros saves record with 44 and owns the career record with 225 saves.