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April 13, 2009 at 8:32 am ET
Fixing Oliver Perez

Only in New York…

Only in this insane town could a team spend $36 million on a pitcher, then decide after his first (disastrous) start that he needs to go back “to square one.”

But that’s exactly what Mets’ pitching coach Dan Warthen exclaimed after watching Perez get shelled for 8 runs in less than 5 innings last week.

Eight runs…
4 2/3 innings…
$36 million

Someone pass the caviar-flavored Tums.

One of the tried-and-true platitudes of early season baseball is that results do not matter, because there remains a “whole season to play.” It’s more important that the pitchers get their work in and hitters become comfortable at the plate.

Oh, the hitters in Cincinnati certainly looked comfortable to me.

For Oliver Perez, his debut results in Cincinnati did matter. They mattered a lot.  He was not in optimum condition, could barely break 90 on the gun, and did nothing to alleviate concerns about his inability to stay in shape following his three weeks at the World Baseball Classic.  After his poor showing on an international stage, Warthen questioned Perez’ work ethic and essentially blamed the W.B.C. for his being about 10 days behind his fellow starters.

“If you want to run with me, we can run,” Perez said arrogantly in response to Warthen’s comments, while catching his breath after combing his hair.

Looking back, the Mets’ decision to let Perez play in the W.B.C. does not look like a good one. As supportive as they have been, Perez is one of only a few participants who could have strongly benefited from remaining with the team during spring training, and not just because he is a starting pitcher, but because he’s now a long term investment.

They haphazardly spent millions on him during the offseason (shunning other free agents), knowing full well what a headcase he can become when faced with in game pressure. When a standard pitcher throws warmup sessions, he is typically there alone, occasionally discussing mechanics with a coach. When Perez warms up, a boatload of officials, coaches, media and players is on hand watching, and waiting for the inevitable problems to surface.

The Mets may not have expected Perez to return out of shape or as behind as he is, but they also had to have known that sending him away for nearly three weeks without supervision certainly wasn’t a wise move.

Is Perez a loss? Of course not, especially with the Mets monitoring his every move. But his performance was an ominous development for a team with not one but three or four question marks in its rotation. Livan looked so good the other day, but that 5+ ERA haunts us all.  Pelfrey recovered nicely after a very rough start the other day. John Maine, for all the feel good that followed his rise into the rotation a few years back, can be as erratic as Perez when his fastball doesn’t move.

However, only one of these three Mets starters has repeatedly been labeled as having a “million dollar arm” with a “ten cent head.”

Yeah, you guessed right…

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2 Responses to “Fixing Oliver Perez”
  1. Drano says:

    Yup. It’s looking crazy to give Oliver Payraise all that money when even at his best he always seemed to follow a decent performance with a lousy one. Now all we can do is hope…

  2. Jorge Cantu skin graft says:

    I have something to fix him,that would include some rope,and a crowbar.

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