Oliver Perez – 2008 Bowman
December 14, 2010
“Oh, No. Not HIM!”
Look at him, he can’t even high-five properly.
Oliver Perez is the wrong player on the wrong team in the wrong city at the wrong time.
If he was laboring (and I mean laboring) in Kansas City, Houston or Colorado, he wouldn’t be a ripple. He wouldn’t be looked upon with derision.
He probably wouldn’t be due $12 million this year.
What in the name of Ed Whitson happened here?
Let’s go back to 2004. After being called up in 2002 (at age 20) by the Padres, they shuffled him off to Pittsburgh in the Brian Giles trade. The Pirates also got Jason Bay in that deal. After struggles in 2003 (which, being a 21-year old lefty playing for Pittsburgh, were expected), Perez was lights out in 2004. An ERA+ of 145. 239 Ks, which was 11 K/9. A 5.1 WAR.
Nice season. And he was only 12-10 thanks to buffoons like Tike Redman, Jose Castillo, Randall Simon, Abraham Nunez, and most of the rest of the Pirates miserable offense.
Then came 2005, and the saga of Oliver Perez begins in earnest.
His ERA shot up to 5.85, his control went away, his velocity was down and he supposedly copped an attitude. He was sent down to Indy to regain his composure but went 0-3, 9.90 there.
The next year, after a promising start, was even worse. 2-10, 6.63 for Pittsburgh, and even after another mind-clearing stint in Indianapolis (complete with 5.62 ERA) the Pirates finally gave up and shipped him to the Mets with veteran Roberto Hernandez for Xavier Nady. He was bad at Norfolk and bad with the Mets (1-3, 6.38). But the Mets had no choice. 97 win teams don’t use 13 starting pitchers and 27 pitchers total unless they have injuries, and the Mets were so desperate Perez had to start a post-season game! The other choices were probably Geremi Gonzalez, Royce Ring or Bartolome Fortunado (I kid, but Mets fans may commence hitting themselves in the head with anvils now).
He started Game 4 of the NLCS and won 12-6 and then had to start Game 7 in place of Steve Trachsel. I remember watching that game, thinking that St. Louis would set a record for runs off of a Game 7 starting pitcher, but Perez pitched his heart out, leaving with the game tied at 1. The Mets lost 3-1 on what will always be known as the Yadier “F-N” Molina game. (Molina’s OPS that season? .595. Not even .600. .595. Mets fans are now trepanning themselves.)
Off of that great post-season, Perez had two decent seasons in the rotation. He certainly wasn’t a pariah. The only concern was that his control problems resurfaced in 2008. He also had a problem with giving up crooked numbers. But all-in-all it was an OK season. And of course, being a lefty, and only being 27 going into 2009, and being a Scott Boras client, Perez was going to cash in.
The Mets allowed him to, big time.
And that’s when the fun began.
Certainly, he was hurt a bit in 2009. Knee problems can make your delivery go all catty-whompus and patella surgery confirmed his struggles. 3-4, 6.82 and a lot of walks signal that there was something wrong.
Now, we go to 2010. Perez is supposedly cleared to go after Sept. 1 surgery. But something is amiss. After seven starts he’s 0-3 with a 5.94 ERA. He’s only pitched 33 1/3 innings in those starts. He’s taxing the bullpen. The Mets put him into the pen. He’s still…well…bad. In four appearances, his line looked like one of his starts:
5 1/3 7 5 5 5 3.
The Mets asked Perez to go to the minors, not once but twice.
He said no. His teammates would rather he be designated for assignment on Pitcairn Island.
They put him on the DL with knee problems. The NL thought it was curious that Perez was put on the DL right after he refused a minor-league assignment.
When he got healthy, and made it through minor-league rehab, they activated him. They had no choice really, or so the Mets said. Perez pitched less than a fringe Rule V player, with just six appearances in three months. Three of them were in total lost causes and the other three were extra inning games. He lost two of those – one on a walk-off homer by James Loney and the second when he walked in a run after filling the bases with two other walks and a hit batter.
The fans hate him. His teammates hate him. Management doesn’t really want him. GM Sandy Alderson said that the Perez has ‘no market’, so he’s going to go to Spring Training with the Mets.
My question is, why does he have to go? Why, when he refused a minor league assignment last year, didn’t they just DFA him and let him go. Yes, they’d be on the hook for this years salary, but wouldn’t the Mets be better if he were OFF the team anyway?
Bill James once said that every player has value – no matter how small. However, I think with the WAR metrics it’s pretty cut and dried that if you have someone like Perez, take the financial loss and call up a AAA pitcher. It hard to have a -1.5 WAR in so few innings, but Perez managed to do it.
It’s called sunk costs. It’s part of running a business. Don’t let a bad deal affect the rest of your operation. The money is gone no matter what.