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Minutiae Break: Worst Mets Relievers

It occurs to me after 79 straight walk-off related posts and some fatigue still remaining from Saturday's finish that I did promise to bring Metspective on other issues related to the Flushing 9, so I offer this posting up as a "Minutiae Break." This came about after several discussions related to the offhand Dick Tidrow/Danny Graves remark the other day, the conclusion of which indicated that it would be fun to create a list of the worst Mets relievers of all-time.

I don't want to step on the territory of other bloggers, like "Faith and Fear in Flushing,"Mets Guy in Michigan" and "Metstradamus," so I'll tread carefully here, aided by their influence. Should any friends, family members, or fans of these pitchers visit this site, I mean no harm. I'm just here to have a little fun with this topic.

The ground rules are as follows: The pitcher must have had a Mets stint as long as Dick Tidrow's (11 games, 15 2/3 innings), for whom we shall name the list in his honor (or rather, in honor of my mom's interpretation of his name); and the pitcher must have had no redeeming qualities as a Met (hence Doug Sisk and Neil Allen are exempt, because at one time, they were good pitchers for the team). Feel free to chime in with your comments.

Without further ado, I present "The Don De Darrow List" It is a very dirty dozen that make the initial grouping.

Wilmer Mizell (1962) Picking the pre-1980 guys is tough because I didn't get to see them pitch, other than on highlight tapes (hence I only listed four), but selecting the pride of Vinegar Bend, Alabama is not too tough. He had a 7.34 ERA and allowed more than 17 baserunners per 9 innings over a 38-inning tenure that marked the end of the career for a former All-Star. His was a tough choice over the likes of Sherman "Roadblock" Jones, Willard Hunter and Ray Daviault as a representative of the gory days of Mets baseball.

Chuck Estrada (1967) Estrada won 33 games in his first two big league seasons, for the 1960-61 Orioles, but by the time he became a Met, those All-Star days were long since past. In nine games (two starts), he posted a 9.41 ERA (yielding 45 hits+walks in 22 innings)

Brent Strom (1972) Strom pitched six games in relief, five as a starter, so he and his 6.82 Mets ERA barely qualifies, but survives on sentiment. In my previous career as a New Jersey-based journalist, a colleague named Barry Federovitch and I composed the "(Bleep)y Mets list" upon which this presentation is partly inspired. He turned it into a poem "The Mets Stiffo Rap" and the lyrics of such have since been forgotten, other than the final line of "I'm gone, I'm gone. Like a ball from Brent Strom."

Paul Siebert (1977-78) Ever see the Peanuts comic strip where Snoopy quizzes Woodstock on baseball trivia and the little bird is sharp enough to know of former minor leaguer Ollie Beijma? Poor Snoopy was disappointed he couldn't come up with a stumper. That was kind of how I felt one day, when I asked a fellow Shea Stadium tour guide (best summer job ever) named Mike Duggan (he also works in the luxury suite) to name the other player included in the deal that sent Dave Kingman to the Padres for Bobby Valentine (June 15, 1977). How was I supposed to know he'd remember Paul "4.50 ERA in 56 games" Siebert?

Dick Tidrow (1984) The man for whom the list is named has to be included. How did we know Tidrow was finished? Perhaps this was a clue: the last six games in which he pitched, the Mets were outscored, 63-19. Neither he nor Craig Swan, both of whom had their Mets careers conclude on the same day (May 7, 1984), were capable of being anything more than mop-up men for a staff on which the younger pitchers were emerging the leaders. The departure of Tidrow and Swan marked the end of an era for them, and bad Mets relievers (although you could surely include the likes of Bob McClure, Gene Walter and Don "Opening Day Save" Aase" on your own list if you so desired), which is why we skip ahead several years for our next pick.

Paul Gibson (1992-93) For my money, the best baseball action video game was Accolade's "Hardball" primarily because it is the only one I ever played in which the primary perspective for the batter-pitcher matchup came from the centerfield camera, rather than one behind the plate. That made it feel like you were watching a real game on TV, as you played.

There were a couple of flaws in "Hardball" (only two teams to choose from; baserunners could only advance and not retreat), but it was fun to go up to the plate against fictional pitchers like Tony Frisina, Doc Tompkins and Tommy Euler. I mention this because Paul Gibson had a "Hardball" equivalent in video immortals Lefty Wright and Pepi Perez. Each threw four pitches, none faster than 70 miles-per-hour, and each was routinely and repeatedly pummeled. Gibson had slightly better numbers than those counterparts, but a 5.22 ERA in 51 ugly appearances made me hunt for the "Escape" key when I watched him work.

You might notice that I skipped a potentially easy choice in Doug "Rule V Draft, 5.19 ERA" Simons, but I'm not going to do anything to besmirch the family name. One funny aside...In 1991 I won a trivia contest on WFAN's airing of Mets Extra (I believe the correct answer was Chico Walker) and host Howie Rose remarked "Our winner is Mac Simons...I wonder if he's related to Doug?" Howie blamed his producer for the bad handwriting that led to him saying my name wrong. By the way, there's no relation.

Dave Telgheder (1993-94) What does Telgheder have in common with Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, and Steve Trachsel? They are among the 26 pitchers who have given up four home runs in an inning. Telgheder did it with the Athletics in 1996, shortly after his 30-game, 5.04 ERA career with the Mets had reached a climax. Thanks to regular reader, Gus from Plantsville, CT for suggesting his addition, without which I might have been tempted to list Barry "9.39 ERA" Jones .

Eric Gunderson (1994-95) To show that we don't have a statistical bias, Gunderson and his 2.70 ERA in 49 appearances makes the list. If Gunderson was so good, why did the Mets let him go on waivers? Besides, listing Gunderson allows me to tell a brief story about my 10 week stint as a Shea Stadium tour guide in 1994 for the failed Nickelodeon venture beyond the right field bullpen. One of the games set up for little kids was a "toss a ring on the milk bottles" contest, which was virtually impossible. No one ever won. To enter the ballpark, players had to walk through the mini entertainment complex and one day, Gunderson wandered in, and called for one of the game attendants to toss him a ring. Gunderson took the ring and nonchalantly flicked his wrist without even looking at the target. Bullseye. Guess he had a special skill, but one we didn't see much on the mound. For that he makes the list, over the likes of fellow lefties Ricardo Jordan and Rich Rodriguez.

John Hudek (1998) I celebrated Hudek's arrival along with the departure of Carl Everett before I realized the existence of a very significant law of baseball physics: "If you trade an everyday player for a middle reliever, you will regret it." I didn't learn from the trade of Rico Brogna for the previously mentioned Jordan and Toby Borland, but the Everett-Hudek deal was the last to sucker me in. The 1990s/2000s are the glory days of Tidrow-esque relievers, which is why we feel compelled to list so many, yet still managed to leave others, like Takashi Kashiwada, Satoru Komiyama and Mike Maddux off the list.

Billy Taylor (1999) Got into a discussion with someone at work regarding where Braden Looper ranked among the current 30 MLB closers (this was after Saturday's game). I rated him in the top 14. This individual informed me that Looper was 18th, at best, and that the only "gimmes" that Looper was clearly better than were Fernando Rodney (Tigers) and Mike Macdougall (Royals). You ever come up with the perfect line after it was too late? This was a classic example. The guy walked away and it came to me.

"This coming from someone who once tried to convince me that Billy (8.10 ERA) Taylor for Jason Isringhausen was a good trade????"

Tom Martin (2001) Among the pitchers who meet both Tidrow qualifications, none had a higher ERA than Tom "10.06" Martin, according to the fine tool "The Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia (lefty Bobby Jones should be happy...that note kept me from selecting him as representative of this era). The frightening thing is that 10.06 isn't even his highest season ERA. In 1998, prior to becoming a Met, he had a 12.89 ERA in 14 appearances with the Cleveland Indians (we'll discount the 16.20 ERA with the 2002 Devil Rays since it came in only two outings)

Danny Graves (2005) Remember a year or so ago when the Mets were accused of padding the roster of the playoff-bound Brooklyn Cyclones at the end of the season, giving them a shot at a championship. It will be interesting if they do the same thing with the Norfolk Tides, and if so, Graves would be a prime candidate to become a temporary resident in Virginia.

All right? Who else did I miss ? Post a comment, or e-mail. Please follow the Tidrow rules...


Metstradamus said…
Outstanding!!! It looks like you mentioned just about everyone; either on the list, or via honorable mention.

The only one I will nominate is Donne Wall. Traded for Bubba Trammell after the 2000 season, Wall is infamous for giving up a HR to pitcher Jason Jennings in Jennings' first major league game (and earning himself a thourough heckling from me, which prompted laughter from none other than Lenny Harris...that's a story for the off season.) Wall was 0-4 with a 4.85 ERA in 42 and 2/3 innings before winning a World Series ring with Anaheim the following season, proving there is absolutely no justice in baseball.
Metstradamus said…
In fact, you know what I just realized? Today (August 23rd) is the fourth anniversary of that infamous Jason Jennings game.

You know what, screw the offseason. I just may have to blog it now!
Hmmm. I'll have to do some research, but I have dark memories about Butch Metzger.
Anonymous said…
You're very thoughtful to tell the families of these gentlemen that you mean no harm, but honestly, what were Mr. & Mrs. Hudek doing creating such a monster?
Eagle said…
I can't think of any reliever to add right now, but I just thought I'd let you know that Brent Strom is the only Met whose autograph I ever got. I got it outside Shea Stadium in 1972 when I was 8. I'm pretty sure it's still in my parents' house.
Anonymous said…
Anyone remember Rich Rodriguez ???....uggh !!!

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