Results tagged ‘ Oliver Perez ’

The final word on Oliver Perez

Don’t believe players when they say that personnel issues aren’t distractions. They are, plain and simple. Whether such distractions are generated by the media, by fans, by management or by the players themselves often varies from case to case, but a distraction is a distraction is a distraction.

ollieshrug.jpgOliver Perez was a distraction.

Contrary to popular belief, Perez was genuinely liked in the Mets clubhouse. “It’s one thing if a guy comes in and he doesn’t do anything,” teammate Mike Pelfrey said after Perez’s release Monday. “That pisses guys off. But he continued to work.”

The roots of Perez’s charred reputation in New York probably stemmed from February of 2009, when he reported to camp out of shape mere weeks after inking the largest contract of his life, the three-year, $36-million pact that runs through this season. Before that spring, Perez was enigmatic, with electric stuff and a frustrating inability to harness it. After it, he was overpaid and lazy. Perceptions can change just that quickly.

And reputations can be difficult to shed. In the wake of Perez’s release, several players admitted that the left-hander’s presence in camp had indeed become a distraction, regardless of their personal opinions of the man. That does not mean that inviting him to Spring Training was a mistake — with $12 million on the line, the Mets had every right to exhaust all options before cutting him lose. All it means is that now, with Perez officially gone, the club can move on. Can really, honestly, genuinely move on.

Manager Terry Collins spent a solid five minutes Monday raving about his other bullpen options (remember them?), something that would have carried little interest one day earlier. Over the past week in particular, thoughts of Perez and Luis Castillo have so dominated camp on a day-to-day basis that nothing else seemed to matter.

Now, everything else matters.

“At the risk of sounding bad, there’s a little bit of closure,” said Jason Bay, a teammate in New York and Pittsburgh who, like so many others, referred to Perez as a likable teammate.

“We love those guys,” shortstop Jose Reyes said of Perez and Castillo. “It’s not like they were bad teammates. Everybody loved those guys in the clubhouse.”

Perhaps that’s another reason why closure is important. Over the last four and a half years, for good and for bad (and admittedly, mostly for bad), Perez had been an integral part of the Mets. Now he is an ex-Met. Now the Mets can move on, without making any allowances, without making any exceptions and — perhaps most importantly — without answering any more questions.

Now, in other words, the Mets can play baseball.

That’s important.

“It’s time to move on,” Collins said. “It’s time to turn the page, and now let’s talk about who is going to be here and what this club’s going to be about right now.”

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

In case you missed it: 2/28

It’s easy for stories to get lost in the shuffle down here in Spring Training, with so much going on daily. Each Monday, I’m going to try to recap what happened on Mets.com and the greater world of baseball over the past week.

Monday, Feb. 21: The first new addition I profiled in camp was D.J. Carrasco, a versatile reliever from the D-backs by way of Northern California. Ostensibly trying out for the team as a starter, Carrasco will most likely fill the jack-of-all-trades role left vacant by the departed Hisanori Takahashi. He also has a sweet collection of vintage cars. Also Monday, new manager Terry Collins summoned some brimstone and fire in addressing the team prior to the first full-squad workout.

Tuesday, Feb. 22: Marty Noble filled in for me this day and interviewed Willie Harris and Scott Hairston about their history of beating the Mets with spectacular catches. Harris and Hairston are the two favorites to win backup outfield jobs this spring. Noble also provided union chief Michael Weiner’s take on the Francisco Rodriguez contract situation.

Wednesday, Feb. 23: Known for their diversity, the Mets draw many players from Latin America and Asia. But Germany? I wrote Wednesday about Kai Gronauer, a rare European prospect looking to hook on with the Mets. Also making news was Collins’ admission that had it been his choice, he would have kept Jenrry Mejia confined to the Minors last season.

Thursday, Feb. 24: Mets fans know Luis Castillo, they know Daniel Murphy and, to some extent, they even know Justin Turner. (They also know Jason Isringhausen, who is working on a new pitch in camp — but that’s beside the point.) But most do not yet know Brad Emaus, the fourth candidate in the second base competition and perhaps the favorite for the job.

Friday, Feb. 25: Some troubling off-the-field news surfaced Friday, when the Mets confirmed that Major League Baseball loaned them money to deal with a “short-term liquidity issue.” On the baseball front, things went smoother, with top prospect Matt Harvey discussing his offseason and Hairston homering twice in an intrasquad game.

Saturday, Feb. 26: Grapefruit League play began Saturday with a 5-5 tie against the Braves. Starting pitcher Jenrry Mejia, whose future remains conflicted, hit 94 miles per hour on the stadium radar gun. The Mets also announced that single-game tickets will go on sale March 14.

Sunday, Feb. 27: Oliver Perez’s bid to make the team began sourly, when the lefty allowed four runs in two innings against the Braves. Noble had the report from Orlando. Back home at Port St. Lucie, the Mets beat the University of Michigan, 7-1, in an exhibition at Digital Domain Park. With Sandy Koufax in attendance, Chris Capuano started and pitched two strong innings. Some sad news also broke Sunday, however, when Koufax’s former teammate with the Dodgers, Duke Snider, passed away at 84.

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Mets have not offered contracts to Young, Francis

Contrary to recent media reports, the Mets have not yet offered contracts to free agent pitchers Chris Young or Jeff Francis, general manager Sandy Alderson said Friday. But the team is currently in negotiations with both players.

Some other nuggets from Alderson:

  • Despite their budget, the Mets expect to leave next week’s Winter Meetings in Orlando with new players — though not necessarily any big-ticket players. If all else fails, Alderson joked, the Mets will select someone in the annual Rule 5 Draft.
  • Alderson fully expects Oliver Perez to still be with the club come Spring Training. The start of the regular season, however, is another matter.
  • Alderson said he would be “surprised” if the Mets made long-terms commitments to any player — Jose Reyes included — prior to Spring Training. The new front office is anxious to take a thorough inventory of its own assets before taking any long-term risks.
  • Non-tendering Sean Green and Chris Carter was more a function of needing to free up roster spots, Alderson said, than it was of monetary compensation.

Expect plenty more Mets coverage from the Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. beginning Sunday evening.

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Ollie makes Mexican League debut

Oliver Perez made his winter league debut today for Los Tomateros of the Mexican League, striking out two batters in a perfect inning of relief.

Perez, of course, is famously owed $12 million next year on the final third of his three-year, $36 million contract. It’s unlikely he’ll ever throw another pitch in a Mets uniform — but it’s not impossible, either. A strong winter and spring could afford him one last shot with the Mets, who lack depth both in the rotation and their bullpen.

Then again, the Mets could just as easily cut Perez loose, an action that former general manager Omar Minaya never urged ownership to consider. Certainly, new GM Sandy Alderson will explore every option — orthodox or original — before taking any action regarding Perez.

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Good Ollie, Bad Ollie, Minors Ollie?

For Oliver Perez, decision day has arrived. Until now, Perez’s refusal to accept a Minor League assignment was little more than a nuisance for the Mets — they wanted him to go down, but they did not necessarily need him to.

olliep.jpgNow, they need him to.

If Perez does not accept a Minor League assignment before the Mets activate Jon Niese from the disabled list on Saturday, he will handicap the team in a new and troubling way. Rather than demote Perez, who is not being used in any high- or even medium-leverage situations, the Mets will have to option Jenrry Mejia, Ryota Igarashi or Raul Valdes to Triple-A Buffalo, or perhaps even designate Elmer Dessens for assignment. All of those pitchers are useful to the Mets. Perez, right now, is not.

The benefits of a Minor League assignment go beyond that, also. Unlike in New York, where Perez has little opportunity to pitch, a stint at Buffalo would allow him to start every five days and, in theory, improve. Perhaps, weeks or even months from now, the Mets could extract something useful from his $36 million contract.

Otherwise, the Mets will have to start thinking about eating the money and releasing him. And that helps no one at all.

—–Follow along on Twitter @anthonydicomo.

If not Ollie, then who?

Though wasn’t ready to come out and say it, Jerry Manuel seemed all but committed to removing Oliver Perez from the Mets rotation after Perez’s latest stinker Friday night in Miami.

But who might replace him?

THE FAVORITE: Hisanori Takahashi, LHP
You know Takahashi for his versatility out of the bullpen, giving the Mets everything from three innings of stellar relief to some one-batter reprieves. But Takahashi, 35, was previously a rotation stalwart in Japan, going 10-6 with a 2.94 ERA last season for the Yomiuri Giants of Japan’s Central League. Two years earlier, he was 14-4 with a 2.75 mark, throwing 186 2/3 innings. Could Takahashi replicate those numbers with the Mets? Of course not. Major League hitters are stronger and more advanced. But once stretched out, a process that would take a few weeks, Takahashi could certainly act as a serviceable fifth starter — something Perez was unable to do.

THE SAFE BET: Pat Misch, LHP
Giving the injury-ravaged Mets 59 valuable innings down the stretch last season, Misch, 28, proved that he could (somewhat) hang with the big boys, going 3-4 with a 4.12 ERA. Given another opportunity, Misch — who has a 2-0 record and 4.15 ERA through six starts for Triple-A Buffalo — would probably give the Mets more of the same. It’s unlikely that he would thrive in the Majors, but it’s equally unlikely that he would get blown out of the stadium. Those aren’t bad traits to have for a fifth starter, which is precisely what the Mets need. But his raw stuff is not as good as that of Takahashi.

THE DARK HORSE: R.A. Dickey, RHP
He’s a knuckleballer, which tells you all you need to know about Dickey, really. Born without an ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow, Dickey reinvented himself with the fluttering pitch earlier this decade, and has seen some tangible success at Triple-A this season: a 4-2 record and 2.23 ERA, including a complete game one-hitter last month. It would be a neat story if Dickey returned to the big leagues and flourished as a knuckleballer, even for a while. But the Mets have more dynamic (Takahashi) and safer (Misch) options, so it’s unlikely they will go down this route, even despite Dickey’s recent success.

Igarashi nearing rehab assignment

Ryota Igarashi has thrown off a mound on multiple occasions and “is getting close” to a rehab assignment, according to Mets assistant general manager John Ricco.

igarashi.JPGIgarashi, who went on the disabled list April 21 with a strained left hamstring, posted a 1.35 ERA in seven games before the injury. Inked to a two-year, $3 million contract this past offseason, Igarashi spent early April working his way into the Mets’ late-game plans.

When he returns, he will open up several options for the Mets. Assuming Igarashi falls back into a setup tandem with lefty Pedro Feliciano, his presence would free the Mets to:

  • Stop overusing Fernando Nieve in late-game situations
  • Move Jenrry Mejia to Triple-A, where he could stretch out as a starter
  • Move Hisanori Takahashi into the starting rotation in place of Oliver Perez

Don’t get too excited, though — the Mets have shown zero desire to do any of those things, and don’t appear close to doing any of them even with Igarashi in the fold. But Igarashi’s presence, assuming it comes this month, will provide the Mets’ pitching staff with a modicum of flexibility.

Mets poll: If you were GM for a day

Time to try something new here at Mets Cetera. Based on your comments both on this blog and MLB.com, I can tell there’s a certain amount of restlessness within the Mets fan base right now. So I’ll leave it up to you: if you could alter only one aspect of this team, would you…

Replace Gary Matthews, Jr. or Frank Catalanotto with Chris Carter
Drop Oliver Perez from the rotation, promote R.A. Dickey
Move Jose Reyes back to the leadoff spot
Stretch Jenrry Mejia out as a starter in Triple-A
Dismiss Jerry Manuel as manager
  

Remember, you can only choose one. Choose wisely.

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