Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
May 4, 2009
BASEBALL: The New Doug Sisk?
If there's been one constant for most of the three decades I've been a Mets fan, it is that there is nearly always at least one guy in the bullpen who is really, really unpopular with the fans, and usually for good reason. After he walked in the winning run in extra innings against the Phillies this Saturday, the early lead for this position in 2009 seems to have been cemented by Sean Green.
My original concern about Green was his pronounced tendency to run off the rails the last two months of the season, but at this rate, with an 8.76 ERA and 18 hits and 8 walks allowed in 12.1 IP, he may not make it that far.
Looking back, since 1980, a Mets reliever has walked at least a batter every two innings (4.5 per 9) 13 times, most recently Aaron Heilman in 2008. Doug Sisk and Armando Benitez each did it three times, but Benitez at least offset the walks with truckloads of strikeouts, and in the end his unpopularity had more to do with home run balls. Green could be the new Sisk.
Sisk in some sense got a raw deal from the fans - through his second full season with the team (1984) he had a 2.12 career ERA despite his nearly 2-to-1 BB/K ratio, thanks to not giving up home runs. And in 1986-87 he was modestly effective after getting his control under control. But the 1985 season, when he posted a 5.30 ERA on a team with no other pitching holes that lost a tight pennant race by 3 games, combined with general fan frustration with a guy who just couldn't throw strikes, earned him permanent infamy. Sisk's ERA+ of 66 that season is the second-lowest of the last 40 years among Mets relievers to appear in 40 or more games, with only Lee Guetterman in the lost season of 1992 being worse (the only other guy below 73 in a season when the team was competitive was Mel Rojas in 1998). (If you are wondering, the worst reliever ERA+ ever with at least 40 appearances is 49 by Ron Davis for the Twins and Cubs in 1986, narrowly edging Vic Darensbourg in 1999)
Green will need to turn things around pretty shortly if he wants to stay on the roster, much less stay above Bobby Parnell on the depth chart.