The Many Shades of Green

February 12, 2009

When the Mets orchestrated a three-team trade to acquire the Seattle Mariners’ closer, J.J. Putz, they were forced to give up and thus replace two of their other right-handed relievers. Perhaps the most unpopular player with Mets fans by season’s end, right-hander Aaron Heilman had the audacity to demand that the Mets either start him or trade him. See ya! The trading of Joe Smith was a tougher loss to bear, as he started with the Mets and was well on his way to becoming a fan favorite. When the dust finally settled, the Mets were compensated for their loss of Smith with the acquisition of right hander Sean Green, a player considered to be of equal value.

Green began his career with Seattle in 2006. For three seasons, he was primarily used as a right-handed specialist coming out of the bullpen. In 2007, his best season on record, Green appeared in 64 games. He finished that year with 68 innings pitched producing a 5-2 record and a 3.84 ERA. According to his former manager Jim Riggleman, Green was “outstanding” and his coaching staff that season gave him the title of “Unsung Hero.” The most impressive statistic for Green was his ability to hold opposing hitters to a .255 batting average including a .234 mark against right-handers.

Coming off such a solid and consistent performance in 2007, the Mariners were safe to expect much of the same for 2008. Unfortunately for Green, it did not end up that way. According to Riggleman, there were “periods where he [Green] was going through a kind of a dead-arm stage.” Critics site that the sinkerball pitcher’s best qualities began to suffer after the 2008 All Star Break. Prior to the break, Green was impressive. In 48 appearances, he had a 2.72 ERA and opposing batters were hitting .224 against him. After the break, his arm lost its sizzle. In 18 games, his ERA was a whopping 8.31 and opposing hitters were having their way with him by producing a .300 BA.

“I haven’t been able to make a good pitch when I’m ahead in the count,” Green said. “It’s one of those things that when I get ahead in the count, I can’t finish them off. I feel good. I just haven’t been able to put guys away.”

In 2008, a common theme among Mets relievers was their inability to close out an inning, let alone a game. Although Mets GM Omar Minaya has gotten high praises for resurrecting the Mets bullpen, fans should still be skeptical when skipper Jerry Manuel heads out to the mound to make a pitching change.

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