Oliver Perez Released and 10 Reasons It Benefits New York Mets
After months of speculation, the New York Mets finally released their erratic lefty Oliver Perez.
The release appeared inevitable at some point this offseason, but the Mets decided to give Perez an opportunity to prove himself during spring training.
Perez auditioned as both a starter and a left-handed specialist, but failed to impress. The Mets will be on the hook for the $12 million he’s owed.
Perez’s career highlights for the Mets are rather brief. He pitched six innings of one-run ball against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS (Mets lost).
He tied John Maine for the team lead in wins with 15 in 2007.
Other than that, Perez’s Mets career has been filled with issuing walks, surrendering big hits and refusing to improve his game in the minors.
Here are 10 reasons why the Mets released Perez at the right time.
10. Both Headaches Are Gone
Just three days ago, the Mets released second baseman Luis Castillo after giving him a chance to win the heated second base competition.
Castillo had lost his range at second, so the Mets cut ties with him.
Now that Oliver Perez is gone, the Mets have rid themselves of their two major offseason headaches. It took a little longer than expected, but the new regime did what’s best for the team.
The Mets can now focus on fine tuning their roster with the players that deserve to be there rather than hoping two expensive players can return to form.
9. Perez Will Likely Latch on Somewhere Else
Oliver Perez is only 29-years old, so he is likely content with the timing of this release.
Another team is bound to give Perez a shot, since he has shown flashes of being a serviceable pitcher in his career.
Luis Castillo recently signed with the Philadelphia Phillies. Mets fans probably look forward to seeing Castillo make all the blunders he made with the Mets for their hated rivals.
Perez will find a home somewhere, but he will have to prove himself in the minors before a team hands him a starting gig.
Met fans will enjoy watching Perez struggle elsewhere. Then again, he could figure it all out for another team, far away from the bright lights of New York.
8. Last Year's Refusal to Be Sent to Minors
Midway through the season last year, the Mets asked Oliver Perez to accept a minor league assignment to refine his mechanics, increase his velocity and locate the strike zone.
However, Perez’s contract gave him a clause that said he would have to approve a trip to the minors.
Perez refused to be sent down and wound up clogging up a roster spot for the Mets. For the final few months, the Mets basically played with a 24-man roster.
This incident started the downward spiral that has resulted in Perez’s release. He put himself above the team last season, and this year’s ownership wanted no part of that.
7. Traces of Omar Minaya Disappearing
With the release of Oliver Perez, it cuts ties with one of the final major traces of the Omar Minaya era in Flushing.
Though players like Carlos Beltran, Jason Bay, Johan Santana and Francisco Rodriguez were all signed by Minaya, these players at least somewhat produced or, in Bay’s case, have some sort of ceiling.
Signing Luis Castillo to a four-year deal when he was already on the decline was a curious move.
Castillo and Santana were good friends when they played for the Minnesota Twins, so Minaya figured he could lure Santana by locking up Castillo.
While that plan worked, was it really worth four years, especially since Santana has spent much time on the disabled list anyway?
As for Perez, Minaya was basically the only bidder for Perez’s services. How the Wilpons let Minaya spend $36 million on a pitcher who had only won 45 total games is mind-boggling.
While the Mets will still have to bear the brunt of Minaya’s costs, at least the team won’t have to be constantly reminded of his flaws.
6. Other Players Have Performed Better
In spring training thus far, other Mets pitchers have outperformed Oliver Perez, which made this release even easier for the Mets.
Chris Young and Chris Capuano have solidified rotations spots behind Mike Pelfrey, R.A. Dickey and Jon Niese, so Perez had no spot in the starting rotation.
Jason Isringhausen, Taylor Buchholz, Pedro Beato and D.J. Carrasco have all competed well for a bullpen spot.
From the left side, Mike O’Connor and veteran Tim Byrdak have cast Perez aside.
If Perez had actually impressed, this decision would have been much harder.
5. Perez Was Given Plenty of Chances
According to the NY Post, Oliver Perez acknowledged that he was given plenty of opportunities this spring, but failed to earn a job.
“They gave me an opportunity—they were fair with me,” Perez said. “When I came here they were going to give me the opportunity to be a starter, and I didn’t do anything great. They moved me to the bullpen, trying to be a lefty specialist, and the last game that was a real horrible job.”
Perez gave up back-to-back home runs to minor leaguers in his last relief outing which spelled his fate.
The Mets were true to their word in giving him a chance, but Perez disappointed.
4. Perez Understands Move Was Best for the Team
Oliver Perez was very calm when talking to reporters about his release.
He said that this was the best move not only for the team but also for him.
Perez had been inundated with questions and speculation about his future and will now have the chance to start fresh in a new environment.
The Mets meanwhile can construct their team with the best 25 players and not have to worry about appeasement or bad contracts.
It seems to be a win-win for both sides—especially because Perez will still get the $12 million whether he pitches again or not.
3. Fans Were Fed Up
Mets fans were fed up with Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez.
At least with Castillo, the fans could sympathize with the fact the he was simply aging and, as a result, lost his range and speed on the bases.
However, with Perez, fans were disgusted that he would not accept a minor league assignment to help the team. It’s not like Perez was pitching well at the time the Mets offered him that proposal.
Some fans talked about boycotting this season if one or both of Castillo and Perez were on the roster.
Fans should consider the recent releases as a new beginning and a valid excuse to rally behind their team.
2. New Regime Going in a Different Direction
The Mets new front office said they would shake things up, and that’s exactly what they did.
While they didn’t add any big time free agents, the team brought in some pieces that can help immediately.
However, Sandy Alderson and company seem to have operated on the “addition by subtraction” principle when dealing with Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo.
These moves show that the organization is heading in a different direction and will not tolerate dead weight.
This attitude should light a fire under some of the other players with large contracts, since the Mets do not appear afraid to eat a player’s salary if he underperforms.
1. Mets Can Focus on Baseball
For the first time all spring, the Mets can focus on baseball rather than answering questions regarding the future of Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo.
Though Opening Day is less than two weeks away, the Mets will attempt to gel as a team now that they are basically free from distractions.
Solving the Perez and Castillo issue was not the only theme of this offseason, so the Mets will have to address their other problems to recapture winning baseball.
However, with these moves, the team appears to be on the right track.