If one was forced to pick a single, all-encompassing characteristic of the New York Mets as a franchise, it would have to be the team’s incredible knack of enlisting truly mediocre players. “A Look Back at Mediocre Mets” will be an on-going series exploring these types of players that fans loved, hated, but were regardless forced to watch. Today’s mediocre Met is pitcher Jeff D’Amico.
Although it might not seem that way now, there was some optimism heading into the 2002 New York Mets season. The team nearly pulled off a miraculous postseason push the year prior, and General Manager Steve Phillips spent much of the offseason wheeling, acquiring big bats such as Mo Vaughn and Roberto Alomar and bolstering the rotation by adding Shawn Estes and Pedro Astacio. OK, so those guys didn’t live up to their expectations, and neither did another acquisition: Jeff D’Amico.
Selected by Milwaukee in the first round of the 1993 draft, D’Amico had great success at a young age in the Brewers’ farm system, leading to his Major League debut in 1996. During his rookie season, the twenty-year old righty went 6-6 with a 5.44 ERA and 1.384 WHIP in 17 starts. He improved the next season, making 23 starts and compiling a 9-7 mark with a 4.71 ERA and 1.342 WHIP.
After missing the entire 1998 and 1999 seasons, D’Amico turned in his best season in 2000. In 23 starts, he went 12-7 with a 2.66 ERA, 1.164 WHIP and 2.20 K/BB, finishing third in the National League in ERA and fourth in WHIP while compiling an fWAR of 3.3. He battled in the injury bug in 2001, making only ten starts, before being shipped to New York.
The deal that brought D’Amico to the Mets was quite large. As part of a three-way deal, the Amazins also received slugger Jeromy Burnitz, Ross Gload, Craig House, Lou Collier and Mark Sweeney, while Todd Zeile and Benny Agbyani were sent to Colorado and Glendon Rusch and Lenny Harris went to Milwaukee. While Burnitz was the focal point of the trade, some (myself included) were excited about the prospect of D’Amico, just one year removed from his very solid 2000 season, joining the rotation. Like the rest of 2002, D’Amico was a disappointment.
Actually, things started out pretty well. Over the first two months of the season, D’Amico was 6-4 with a 3.03 ERA, having allowed just 51 hits and 12 walks while fanning 50 in 68.1 innings; he even tossed a complete game shutout. The rest of the season was not quite so productive. Over his next twelve starts, D’Amico was just 1-6 with a 7.86 ERA, surrendering 86 hits and 21 walks in 60.2 innings while striking out 40. D’Amico spent the rest of the season in the bullpen. Overall, D’Amico was 6-10 with a 4.94 ERA (4.38 xFIP), 1.297 WHIP, 6.2 K/9 and 2.73 K/BB.
While his numbers weren’t atrocious, D’Amico certainly didn’t live up to expectations. In rotation void of a number two starter (and an ace, unless you include Al Leiter), D’Amico had a chance to step up, but couldn’t quite return to his 2000 form. After the season, he was granted free agency, and after spending ’03 with the Pirates and ’04 with the Indians, never returned to the Major Leagues.
Tags: 2002 Mets A Look Back At Mediocre Mets A Look Back At Mediocre Mets Jeff D'Amico Amazins Jeff D'Amico Jeff D'Amico Mets Jeromy Burnitz Matt Kaufman Mediocre Mets Mets Mo Vaughn New York New York Mets Rising Apple