Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…


Posted by JD on May 9, 2010

It was inevitable: all good things must come to an end, and the Mets’ ten game winning streak at Citi Field was no exception. Oliver Perez was largely to blame, walking seven Giants and hitting another over three and a third innings, digging the Mets into a four run hole before departing. The hitters rallied, thanks in no small part to some seriously incompetent fielding from Jose Uribe, but the bullpen was unable to hold the lead. And so it goes.

Unfortunately, Ollie is no stranger to disastrous outings: he’s had eight other starts where he’s walked seven or more batters*. Strangely enough, he’s won four of those games, which just goes to show how irrelevant a stat pitcher wins can be at times.

*If you’re wondering, and I know you are, his career high is eight walks. On May 23, 2008, Ollie walked eight Colorado Rockies in a 6-5 loss.

Today’s game is over and done with. John Maine will take the mound tomorrow against the Nationals, and we’ll go from there. Ollie will sit in the dugout and stew over his performance and hopefully he’ll have a better showing in his next start.

What’s that you say? We should listen to Bobby Ojeda and DFA Perez before he throws another pitch for the Mets? I understand your frustrations, but that’s not the right move.

Before we go any further, yes, I’m an Oliver Perez supporter. I’ve made no bones about it: just click on the “Oliver Perez” category on the left for all the evidence you could possibly want. I know I’m not an unbiased source, but you have to trust me on this: Bobby Ojeda is not right on this point.

I know, Ojeda is a former professional pitcher who’s experienced sustained success at the Major League level. He was a key cog on the ’86 Mets and arguably their best pitcher that season. What’s more, he experienced true adversity while with the Cleveland Indians (the tragic boating accident that killed Steve Olin and Tim Crews and almost claimed his life) and bounced back from it. He’s way more qualified than I am to assess left-handed pitchers.

Perez has shown little of the fortitude that Ojeda displayed throughout his career, and it must irk him to no end to watch a pitcher with Ollie’s talent squander it away through repeated failures to concentrate. I get it. I understand where he’s coming from. But there’s a reason why he’s on SNY instead of coaching pitchers somewhere in the Mets’ organization. It’s easy to say the Mets should cut Perez, but who, exactly, would Ojeda replace him with?

I like R.A. Dickey, Tobi Stoner, and Dillon Gee as much as the next guy. Heck, I even sponsor Dickey‘s and Stoner‘s Baseball Reference pages (and I’d sponsor Gee’s if I could). I think they’d be great short-term replacements, but I don’t think they’re ready for 20-plus starts for a Wild-Card contending team. Do you?

Jarrod Washburn and Pedro Martinez are the only viable free agent alternatives, but there’s no evidence that either would pitch for the Mets. Washburn has stated his preference to pitch for a team close to his Wisconsin home. Pedro has stated that he wants to pitch for a contender, but he strikes me as reluctant to return to the Mets*. Regardless of their intentions, neither Washburn nor Martinez is physically capable of taking Perez’ next turn in the rotation. They would need a few weeks in Port St. Lucie to pitch their way into game shape and by the time they’re ready, the whole exercise might be moot.

*And is it wise to bring him back? There’s a lot of history there, not all of it pleasant. I don’t have an answer and I’m open to trying it, but Pedro would bring his own set of unique issues.

The best answer might be to send Ollie down to Buffalo, skip his next turn in the rotation and use Stoner to take his place for a start of two after that. After all, a similar approach worked for Steve Trachsel once upon a time. Of course, Oliver Perez is an entirely different animal. Sending him down to Buffalo might stimulate and re-energize him, but it’s just as likely to demoralize him and ruin him once and for all. You run the risk of losing him entirely if you send him down to the farm.

You might be fed up enough to go that route and I can hardly blame you. Forget my inner fan for now (I’ve parked the bandwagon in the garage), but don’t forget this: one run through six and a third innings against the Cardinals and two runs through six innings against the Reds. Two quality starts in six outings (and one mediocre one against the Cubs). There’s a capable starter in there somewhere. Cutting ties with Perez may seem like the best option tonight, but keeping him (and dealing with days like today) is actually in the Mets’ best interests.


5 Responses to “Meltdown”

  1. Paul said

    I’m glad there’s someone who’s being realistic about Oliver Perez.

    If we had a young Dwight Gooden waiting in the wings, I could see cutting ties with Ollie. But with what the Mets have to work with, they should really be trying to figure out how to fix him.

    I really hope that Ojeda is not back on SNY next year. He sounds too much like a WFAN caller to allow me to take any of his analysis very seriously despite his credentials as a former major league pitcher.

  2. JD said

    I could not agree more about Ojeda. I respect everything he’s done for the franchise, but he doesn’t offer much as a studio analyst. Have him chime in on Loud Mouths or the Wheelhouse or whatever, but find somebody new for the studio show.

    Darling was excellent in that role. Too good, actually: they had to move him to the booth. Even though Ojeda is an improvement over Lee Mazzilli, SNY can do better. It will be interesting to see if they try after the season.

  3. Ceetar said

    It’s hard to have a legitimate discussion about Ollie without many fans resorting to “He sucks. He shouldn’t shown something by now, blah blah”

    I agree with you. There is something worth keeping in Perez. In at least two starts this season he’s been crafty and even masterful. He’s thrown a bunch of different pitches, all at different speeds. In a way, he’s learning a lot more about pitching than he ever did before. I don’t know what happened to his velocity, it seems very odd to me, but velocity is one of those things that’s very inaccurate in overall measurements and it’s hard to really narrow down why and what’s causing it.

    There is good and bad in demoting Perez, but it really depends on what you think of your AAA pitching coach. If Manuel and Warthen don’t know how to coach and lead Perez (something he needs, for better or worse, is guidance), do what theoretically is the ‘lesser’ guys in Buffalo know what to do with him? Or is it going to be yet another voice in Perez’s head that bounces around when he’s out their on the mound trying to figure out what to do next.

    Not to excuse it, but let’s get Perez some starts in warm weather. The wind and cold play a huge factor, especially for a guy that’s been readjusting how he pitches. Couple that with lack of confidence, and lack of confidence from the dugout who refuse to come out or show any faith in him, and it gets bad.

    One thing that can’t be good for Perez, or Maine, is the implied pressure from Manuel that suggests that they are basically pitching for their careers with every start. After every flub it seems Jerry has something to say about “thinking” about if they’re going to make their next start. I don’t see how any of this pressure can be a good thing.

    • JD said

      You made two especially important points:

      1) “Not to excuse it, but let’s get Perez some starts in warm weather. The wind and cold play a huge factor, especially for a guy that’s been readjusting how he pitches.”

      The weather today was horrible. Let’s see how Ollie does in a more forgiving climate.

      2) “One thing that can’t be good for Perez, or Maine, is the implied pressure from Manuel that suggests that they are basically pitching for their careers with every start.”

      If, as you mentioned, there was a Dwight Gooden (or a Paul Wilson, for that matter) waiting in the wings, Jerry could be excused for putting that type of pressure on Maine and Perez. But there isn’t. There’s Dickey, Stoner, and Gee…not exactly a slew of qualified candidates. Increasing the pressure on Maine and Perez can’t really help, but Manuel shows no signs of stopping.

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