05.31.10

The “O” Is For “Unusable”: Is This The End For Oliver Perez With The Mets?

Posted in Baseball at 10:11 am by

Ha ha, no it is obviously not. I’m just kidding with you. Sorry.

I mean, sure, the Mets $36 million long man has been every bit as terrible this year as he was last, and has now walked an astonishing — and actually kind of Hindenburgianly impressive — 90 batters in 102 innings since re-signing with the Mets before the 2009 season. No one is arguing that. But while Perez’s most recent implosive pitching appearance was primarily given over to making lit-up spot starter Fernando Nieve’s effort look slightly less awful, the damning anonymous quotes Ollie’s teammates gave the New York Post’s Mike Puma suggest that the team didn’t appreciate Perez’s team-first willingness to draw fire from the overmatched Nieve.

Instead, Perez’s teammates have a notably less charitable reaction to Ollie’s unwillingness to accept a Minor League assignment. While it’s hard to argue that Buffalo pitching coach Scott Radinsky (or anyone else) could fix the lefty in the proverbial 15 minutes, Perez’s unwillingness to give The Guy From 10-Foot Pole a shot and manager Jerry Manuel’s inability to come up with a situation in which he might use Perez out of the ‘pen has clearly put the Mets in a tough spot. The only person whose Mets-related job has been made easier by Perez’s presence would be Puma, whose Post article was basically written for him thanks to some unusually frank quotes:

A day after watching Oliver Perez implode in a relief appearance against the Brewers, two disgusted Mets players told The Post yesterday it™s time management drew a line in the sand with the putrid lefty.

œYou tell him you go to Triple-A or that™s it, you are finished, one Mets player said, well aware that Perez is still owed about $20 million on the three-year contract he signed before the 2009 season.

A second Mets player echoed that line of thinking. œAt some point you have to cut bait, he said. œYou owe him a lot of money, but for what?

Before the Mets™ 10-4 victory over the Brewers, manager Jerry Manuel was hard-pressed to name a scenario in which he would consider using Perez. œThat™s really a tough question, Manuel said. œ[Maybe] extra innings or something like that, but it™s going to be tough to find spots for him.

When told that Manuel™s plan is to save Perez for extra-inning games, one of the Mets players laughed.

œWhat, we need another 20-inning game and then use him after we™ve used all our pitchers and if a position player™s sinker isn™t biting? the player said.

Puma goes on to report that “management” — a vague term that in this case could include GM Omar Minaya, any number of Wilpons, Dave Howard, Mike Glavine and any of the team’s assistant GMs — was loath to cut Perez loose because of the fear that he would rediscover his stuff elsewhere. Since the Mets already have one reliever they use like a Rule 5 pick — that would be prized pitching prospect Jenrry Mejia, currently being groomed as a sixth inning specialist in tri-monthly appearances — it could be argued that the prospect of having Perez on the team is far scarier than him somehow reinventing himself with the Pirates. I think I’m kind of arguing it right now, in a passive-aggressive way.

But the Mets front office that brought back nearly the organization’s entire 2009 Monster Squad on the condition that they’d all hit the bricks shortly after their first big fuck-up had to know that this sort of panicked, defensive mismanagement would result. It’s tough to imagine the Human Definition Of Chinstrap-Bearded Sunk Cost leaving the Mets before the guy who signed him to a contract does, and it says a lot about the organization that it might just be easier to hide Perez from the less-than-watchful eyes of the Wilpons for another season and a half than to deal with the fallout from finally and justifiably deep-sixing this extravagantly sunken cost. Maybe they could deal him for the DFA’ed Dontrelle Willis? Or replace him with sainted castoff (and also just-DFA’ed) Nelson Figueroa? Or not. There’s always that.

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