Well, that just happened. The Marlins swept the Mets in a four game series at Dolphins Stadium and the rotation was torn apart in the process. Jon Niese injured himself fielding a bunt (@StevePopper tweeted the following during today’s game: Niese aggravated his right proximal hamstring. He will return to NY for further evaluation). John Maine imploded on Saturday, and Oliver Perez was Oliver Perez on Friday. For a such a mediocre club, the Mets sure seem to deal in extremes. Well, where do we go from here?
In the short term, let’s call up R.A. Dickey to start on Wednesday. The beat writers’ post-game tweets seemed to indicate that this is the most likely course of action, and I heartily endorse it. His 4.63 K/BB and 5.5 K/9 ratio are most likely unsustainable at the major league level, but what’s the harm in giving him a shot?
I understand the calls for Dillon Gee: he’s earned his shot, too. But there’s a bigger picture to consider. Win, lose, or draw, Dickey can take the long-man spot in the bullpen, which may come in handy if Hisanori Takahashi winds up taking Niese’s spot against the Yankees on Friday. H-Tak has been a life saver an inning-eater as the long man in the bullpen, and Dickey is far better suited to that role than Gee (or Oliver Perez, for that matter). Tobi Stoner is also on track for a Wednesday start and the Mets have already used his option for this season, so that’s on the table, too. His development is better served by getting a regular turn in the Buffalo rotation but then again, I’ve said that about Jenrry Mejia, so what do I know?
A patchwork quilt of Dickey and Takahashi will have to due because, unfortunately for us, the Wilpons’ irrational inability to understand the concept of sunk costs has irrevocably tied us to Oliver Perez. If the Mets can’t bring themselves to eat the $2 million owed to Gary Matthews, Jr., why should we expect them to take the necessary actions with Oliver Perez?
As soon as that $36 million contract was signed, Perez was ours until July of 2011, at the earliest. That contract a gamble from jump: either he would succeed (in which case, he would be well worth the $12 million a year) or he would go down in flames, rendering him virtually untradeable. It’s now clear that ownership won’t step up to to back the gamble: they’re simply incapable of admitting that it didn’t work out, cutting ties, and moving on.
Listen; I know I’ve been an Oliver Perez apologist. I’ve consistently argued that he might someday (somehow) achieve the consistency needed to harness his underlying talents (I like Ollie and, unlike most, I find his personality quirks endearing). But even I understand that he’s shown nothing to indicate that he can pull himself together. We’ve moved well past the point of hoping for a miraculous breakthrough: Oliver Perez must be removed from the major league roster, for his good, and the team’s.
Someone in the front office should be on the phone to Scott Boras’ offices right now. Jeff Wilpon, Omar Minaya, or John Ricco or some other suitable proxy should be pressing the super-agent to get Perez to admit that his best interests will be served by a stint in Buffalo. The Mets would be better off starting R.A. Dickey, Dillon Gee, Tobi Stoner, or Pat Misch, and Perez would be best served by experiencing success of any kind. Perez will get paid either way, and perhaps Boras can be convinced that, at the very least, success in Buffalo can increase his trade value.
For all I know they’ve already tried it. If they have, they need to try it again. And again and again and again, until it works. If they won’t cut Perez, or trade him at a deep discount, their only hope is to get him to accept an assignment to Buffalo.
I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I doubt very much that Perez will accept assignment. And I doubt very much that the Mets will eat their loses on him, which means that we all need to get used to the fact that Ollie will be on the mound for the foreseeable future.
On a side note, the Mets’ starting pitchers have now gone 15 straight starts without a win, a feat that was last accomplished in 1982. The Mets visit the Braves tomorrow to start a three game series, and Mike Pelfrey and Johan Santana are starting the first two games. It could get real ugly, real quick, if they can’t end the streak. At the very least, we might be talking about a new manager. Stay tuned: the next week is going to be interesting. To say the least.