If you are a Mets' fan, you're probably frustrated by starter Oliver Perez's pitching in 2009. And there were times when you weren't too happy about his performance in 2008.
But if he runs true to past form, Oliver Perez will be a great pitcher in 2010. Call it the three-year cycle.
In the past, Perez has had one great year, one terrible year, and one "transition" year sandwiched in between, every three years. The great years were 2004 and 2007. The bad years were 2003 and 2006. Small wonder that 2009 is shaping up in a similar fashion. But next year, 2010, "figures" to be great.
In a good year, Perez will go 6-8 innings most games, with only a handful of bad starts. In a bad year like this one, there will be a handful of good starts mixed with mostly bad ones. In a transition year, about half-and-half.
Innings pitched per season is another reliable indicator. In a good year, Perez will pitch about 190 innings, no sweat. In a transition year, 160 innings, lots of sweat. In a bad year, 110 innings, soaked in sweat.
Averaging just over four innings a start, Perez is on a 110-inning trajectory this year.
Why is is this? Maybe he needs a year or two of rest after a banner year, and some time to work off his issues, hopefully in the minors.
Maybe it is the result of contract negotiation cycles. Maybe it has something to do with his life off the field that we don't know about.
The Mets just signed him to a three year contract at $12 million per year: a high, but fair, price for one of Perez's good years. A huge overpayment for a performance like that of 2009, something like the Pittsburgh Pirates' Matt Morris' $10 million payout for a "busted" year in 2008.
So "how do you solve a problem like Oliver Perez?" A Nebraskan once asked master investor Warren Buffett what to do about a horse that was fine on some days and limped on others. Mr. Buffett reportedly answered, "sell him on a day that he is fine."
With regard to Perez, "Wait 'til next year." He will (probably) come back. Then trade him at his peak. Because, as the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier learned, we won't want to see 2012 with him. And 2011 might not be all that much fun, either.