Dec 5, 2015

2000 N.L. Champion Mets Regular Season Left Fielder: Derek Bell (2000)

Derek Nathan Bell was born December 11, 1968 in Tampa, Florida. The right handed hitting six foot two Bell, was selected in the second round of the 1987 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. He was 18 years old right out of high school.

In the minors he won a batting title at the A ball level batting .346 at Myrtle Beach. He later won the International League MVP at AAA Syracuse batting .349 with 93 RBIs & a .424 on base %. He was one of the minor leagues top outfield prospects by 1991 making his debut in Toronto that September.

Bell spent two brief seasons in Toronto before getting traded to the San Diego Padres for Darrin Jackson. Bell became a regular outfielder in San Diego hitting 21 HRs with 26 stolen bases & 72 RBIs in his first season there.

Drama: In 1994 although he hit .311 with a .354 on base % while stealing 24 bases he was involved in some highly publicized drama, in New York City before a Mets, Padres game at Shea Stadium. Bell & Scott Sanders were arrested for trying to pay an undercover police woman to perform oral sex. The Padres organization was totally embarrassed and Bell was gone at the end of the year.

He was involved in a huge 12 played deal sending him to the Houston Astros with five other players in exchange for Ken Caminitti & Steve Finley. Bell had his best seasons in Houston, as one of the “Killer B’s” getting to three straight post seasons there.

In 1995 he hit a career best .334 (4th best in the NL). The next year he hit 40 doubles, driving in 113 runs, striking out 126 times. The next year he hit a career high 22 HRs batting over .300 (.314) for the third & last time in his career, posting a .364 on base %.

The troubled Bell acted up again in Houston when he criticized manager Larry Dierker for dropping him to the sixth spot in the lineup. It came on the night Dierker had returned, from emergency brain surgery after passing out in the dugout earlier in the season. His team mates were not happy & the Astros fans were furious with him as well. Bell had worn out his welcome in Houston & his days were numbered.

Just before Christmas 1999 the Astros agreed to trade pitcher Mike Hampton to the Mets. They said the only way the deal would be made, was if the Mets took Bell as well as Hampton, in exchange for Roger Cedeno & Octavio Dotel.

Bell was thrilled to come to New York, "Christmas came early for me. I'm very happy” he told the press that week. He started out 1999 as the Mets regular right fielder, batting in the sixth spot on Opening Day in Japan at the Tokyo Dome. Six days later he was a Shea Stadium Opening Day hero, hitting a game winning 8th inning HR off Donnie Wall & his former Padres team mates.

The next week he had 12 hits in a five game span winning the NL Player of the week award. He hit safely in 15 of the next 18 games, collecting 36 hits during that span, with 13 multi hit games getting his average near .400.

On May 5th he had a game winning hit off Byung Hyun Kim to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks in the bottom of the 9th inning.

In the subway series on June 9th, Mike Piazza hit a grand slam HR off Roger Clemens. That day Bell had an RBI single & then a two run double both off Clemens piling up the runs. Later in the game he hit a three run HR off Todd Eros as the Mets went on to a 12-2 romp. 

In the first week of July he hit three HRs while driving in 14 runs, including three games with three or more runs driven in. On July 1st he doubled in two runs & hit a two run HR in a 9-1 win over the Braves at Shea Stadium. Later that week on the road trip to Florida he hit HRs & drove in runs in back to back games. He then drove in a run in three straight home subway series games. It was his best overall month with five HRs 19 RBIs & six multi hit games.

He kept himself over the .300 mark until early August. On August 7th in Houston he hit a 9th inning HR off Octavio Dotel to break a 5-5 tie & win the game for New York against his old Astro team mates.In September he slumped off driving in just five runs in the month.

Bell ended up the Mets 2000 NL Pennant season hitting .266 with 18 HRs 31 doubles 68 RBIs & tied for the team lead with 8 stolen bases. He led the team in at bats (546) as well as strikeouts (125).

Post Season: In Game #1 of the NLDS, Bell sprained his ankle and went down for the rest of the post season. The injury opened the door for Timo Perez who enjoyed some brief success during the playoffs. Bell's contract expired at the end of the season, and the Mets didn’t peruse him.

He signed on with the Pittsburgh Pirates but only hit .173 in Spring Training. He was told he needed to compete for an outfield position & the troubled Bell erupted again. He claimed he was going into Operation shutdown, saying he hasn't had to compete for a starting job since 1991.

The Pirates paid him his salary but released him and the troubled soul of Derek Bell never resurfaced again.

In his 11 year career he hit .276 with 1262 hits 134 HRs 668 RBIs 232 doubles 15 triples a .336 on base % & 170 stolen bases.

Drama: In 2008 he was arrested again on drug charges in Tampa Florida.

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