New York Mets: Oliver Perez Intent On Joining Rotation, What Are His Chances?

James Stewart-Meudt@@JSMeudtCorrespondent IIFebruary 15, 2011

NEW YORK - MAY 09:  Oliver Perez #46 of the New York Mets pitches against the San Francisco Giants at Citi Field on May 9, 2010 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

When Oliver Perez arrived at the Mets' Spring Training camp yesterday, he told manager Terry Collins that he wants to be successful again, to make the playoffs and regain some of the magic he had back in 2006.

When Collins asked Perez how he intends to make the team, Perez told him he'd do it as a starting pitcher.

For now, Perez is in camp, training and throwing alongside the other Mets starters. The odds of Perez regaining the team's confidence and making the starting rotation are slim to none right now.

If he has any role with the team, it's as a lefty specialist in the bullpen.

But he's as likely to make the bullpen as he is to land on the waiver wire at this point, so Perez would have to amaze and astound Terry Collins for him to even consider Perez as a starter.

To his credit, Perez feels he's stronger and ready to compete. And despite the numerous statistics showing Perez's inconsistency and the cries for his release from the fans, Collins said that people do change sometimes.

Well, Perez would have to become an entirely different person if he wants to make this team.

Perez started just seven games for the Mets last season, and was terrible to say the least. He posted a 6.80 ERA, a 2.07 WHIP and surrendered 54 hits in just 46.1 innings.

After battling a knee "injury" and refusing a minor league assignment, Perez was stashed away in the bullpen, where he made only six appearances after May 31.

Most recently, Perez continued to show his ineffectiveness in winter ball, posting a 5.18 ERA and walking 23 batters in 33 innings for the Tomateros of the Mexican League.

According to Perez, his stint in winter ball was more about regaining strength and confidence, but there is little to like.

If you are looking for something, you can look at his stats against lefties. Despite struggling in every other way last season, Perez was able to hold lefties to a .214 BAA.

And the Mets starting rotation is a bit short of lefties, with Jon Niese being the only one and Chris Capuano the leading candidate for the fifth starter.

But Capuano missed all of the 2008 and 2009 seasons and made just nine starts for the Milwaukee Brewers last season.

If Capuano doesn't display the strength and durability to pitch a full season for the Mets, he could find himself in the bullpen, leaving a spot open for Perez.

Honestly, Perez had better hope Capuano isn't up to full strength for the start of the season, because that's his only chance really.

Perez really only has two things going for him: his salary, and his ability to get lefties out. Perez is entering the final year of his three-year contract and is set to make $12 million this season.

But if he cannot contribute anything beneficial to the team, the Mets may be just as apt to pay him NOT to pitch for the team.

Perez did hold left-handed batters in check last season, but his BAA jumps to .314 against righties.

If Perez doesn't show improved velocity, control and an ability to get righties out, his only chance of making this team is as a lefty reliever in the bullpen, but even that isn't an easy task.

He'll have to compete with Taylor Tankersly, Tim Byrdak, Mike O'Connor and Pat Misch, all of whom are more than capable of holding left-handed batters in check and none of them come with the reputation of Perez, one of disappointment and squandered opportunities.

It's going to be a long road for Perez during Spring Training. If he can show improved velocity and an ability to get right-handed batters out, and Capuano doesn't show the necessary durability, Perez might be able to win a spot in the starting rotation, at least to start the season.

Otherwise, Perez has to beat out four other lefties to pitch out of the bullpen.

It's not going to be easy, but because of his salary, Perez will be given every possible chance to make this team.

For now, despite the obvious red flags and protestations from the Mets fan base, Perez isn't going anywhere.


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