Hampton comes alive
Mets' new ace willing to discuss long-term deal
Posted: Tuesday January 18, 2000 02:11 AM
Mike Hampton went 22-4 with a 2.90 ERA last season. AP
NEW YORK (AP) -- Mike Hampton was traded from Houston to New York because he wouldn't negotiate a contract extension with the Astros. He hasn't placed the same limitation on the Mets.
"I wanted to make sure we would have a chance to win the World Series," Hampton said Monday. "I was going to play the season out see what direction they were going. I wanted to see if the revenues would increase and they would add the players necessary to win the World Series."
Hampton has no such worries about the Mets, who have added the ace pitcher they needed to a team that lost to Atlanta in the NL championship series last season.
"They have everything a player could want in a World Series contending team," the left-hander said. "They have the best infield defense in baseball, speed in the outfield, the best hitting catcher in the league, a starting rotation that is second to none, and a bullpen that closes games out. They have everything it takes to win the World Series. That's my first goal and has always been my first goal."
That is why Hampton is so willing to sign a deal with the Mets before exploring other possibilities on the open market.
Hampton said he hasn't discussed a timetable for negotiations for the Mets and isn't ruling out talking with the team during the season.
"I've never been through anything like this," he said. "It's something I want to talk about with some people and determine what I want to do."
|Armed & Dangerous|
| Mike Hampton's 1999 NL ranks |
| || || |
|Wins ||22 ||1st |
|GDPs induced ||38 ||1st |
|HR per 9 IP ||0.45 ||1st |
|Quality starts ||27 ||2nd |
|ERA ||2.90 ||3rd |
|Hits per 9 IP ||7.8 ||4th |
|Innings pitched ||239.0 ||4th || |
Mets general manager Steve Phillips wouldn't discuss an extension, though he said he will talk to Hampton and his agent in the coming weeks about a deal.
Phillips, who said he has nearly completed his offseason retooling, is hopeful that the acquisition of the 22-game winner has narrowed the gap in the NL East with the Braves.
"I think we're better," Phillips said. "I think they've made changes too that they think made them a better team. Whatever it looks like on paper, it doesn't matter until we play the games."
The biggest remaining question for the Mets is figuring out who will be their fifth starter. The addition of Hampton, gives New York a solid top of the rotation with Al Leiter and Rick Reed.
Bobby J. Jones, coming off a shoulder injury that sidelined him much of last season, is slated to be the fourth starter. The fifth starter will be either Bobby M. Jones, acquired last week from Colorado, Pat Mahomes or Glendon Rusch.
The Mets are confident that Hampton's addition will ease the pressure on the rest of the rotation.
"Any time you add a quality pitcher like that, it helps the rest of the staff," pitching coach Dave Wallace said. "Everybody feeds off one another and becomes better pitchers."
| || |
|Mets' 20-game winners|
|Year ||Pitcher ||W-L |
|1969 ||Tom Seaver ||25-7 |
|1971 ||Tom Seaver ||20-10 |
|1972 ||Tom Seaver ||21-12 |
|1975 ||Tom Seaver ||22-9 |
|1976 ||Jerry Koosman ||21-10 |
|1985 ||Dwight Gooden ||24-4 |
|1988 ||David Cone ||20-3 |
|1990 ||Frank Viola ||20-12 |
Bobby M. Jones and Hampton were joined Monday by Derek Bell, who came to New York in the trade with Hampton, and reliever Jesse Orosco, acquired from Baltimore in December.
Bell, who slumped to .236 with 12 homers and 66 RBIs last season, feuded with manager Larry Dierker after he was dropped to sixth in the lineup. Bell expects no problems with the Mets.
"No one is happier to be here than me," Bell said. "People misunderstood what happened in Houston. I'm a team player. All I care about is winning."
Notes: Phillips said he is trying to reach deals with his five remaining players in arbitration before each side exchanges numbers Tuesday. ... Bell said he will live on his 63-foot yacht while the Mets are in spring training. ... The Mets signed RHP Paul Wagner and C Alan Probst to minor league contracts and invited them to spring training. ... The Mets also invited C Jason Phillips to spring training.
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