After searching for most of the 1990′s the Mets seemingly found an ace when, in December of 1999, GM Steve Phillips traded for LHP Mike Hampton. Hampton, 27 at the time, was coming off a Cy Young caliber campaign (22-4, 2.90 ERA) and was supposed to be the last piece of New York’s championship puzzle. In 2000 the Mets made it to the World Series, in part due to Hampton’s 15 wins and 3.14 ERA, but when the season was over they were not world champions and their ace left as a free agent.
The subplot to the story involves a 25-year old rookie that was the centerpiece of the trade to bring Hampton to New York, Octavio Dotel. In 1999, as a rookie, the young Dominican fireballer was 8-3 with a 5.38 ERA in 14 starts and five relief appearances, striking out 85 in 85 1/3 innings. Then Houston GM Gerry Hunsicker had this to say about Octavio at the time of the trade:
Dotel is a young dominating pitcher. Because of his talent and his power arm he was pushed rather aggressively through the Mets’ system and thrown into a pressure packed pennant race this season in a pressure city. This kid gave us an exciting look at what we can expect.”
Hunsicker’s look into the future was a good one, as Dotel went on to become one of the best relievers in all of baseball over the next 4 years. Since leaving Houston in the middle of 2004 Dotel has made stops in Oakland, the Bronx, Kansas City, Atlanta, Chicago, and his current address of Pittsburgh. Now 36, Dotel has 19 saves on the year for the last place Pirates and is sporting a 4.28 ERA. Those numbers are somewhat misleading when you consider that he finished April with a 10.61 ERA. Since the start of May he has converted 16 of 17 save opportunities including 7 straight. He hasn’t allowed a run in any of his last 9 appearances and since May 1 his ERA is a minuscule 1.85 (24 1/3 IP, 29 K). Octavio Dotel has been healthy, he has been effective, and (depending...TO READ THE REST OF THIS POST AND OTHERS LIKE IT HEAD OVER TO METSZILLA.COM BY CLICKING HERE: http://www.metszilla.com/?p=3512