(Long Island, N.Y.) It was the offseason before the 2009 campaign when Oliver Perez found himself out on the open market. The inconsistent southpaw – who went 10-7 with a 4.22 ERA the year before – was far from the only starting pitcher available but still found himself receiving a three-year, $30-million offer from Mets general manager Omar Minaya. Instead of jumping on it and being thankful for his good fortune, Perez turned it down and held out for more money.
Although he could have played hardball with Perez and went after someone better (and cheaper) than him such as Randy Wolf, Minaya came back and sweetened the pot by $6 million. Ollie just couldn’t say no twice and has been an anchor practically ever since.
He fully imploded this season and now has become more of a hindrance by refusing a demotion to Triple-A, which is allowed in his contract. He had such a bad spring that he went up north as the fifth and final starter in the rotation and then found himself relegated to the bullpen by early May.
Mets manager Jerry Manuel has had his fill of Perez and has publicly stated that he will only be seen in situations where the team needs a “long reliever” or in “extra innings.” On Perez’s stance on staying in the major leagues, Minaya said to reporters, “That’s a decision that I guess he has earned the right to make. My job is to manage what I have.”
In his last two relief appearances, Perez has allowed three and two runs, respectively. Not exactly ringing endorsements and now his presence has taken on even more importance with the pending return of Jon Niese. The young lefthanded starter is ready to come off the disabled list and take his turn in the rotation on Saturday and the Mets need to open a roster spot for him.
But so far, Perez hasn’t budged and feels that the best remedy for his troubles rests at Citi Field. “I just have to keep working,” he told reporters. “When they give me the opportunity, I have to be ready.” But that attitude is hurting the club and there has already been reports that unnamed teammates have stated that he is in fact doing just that.
If Perez keeps holding his breath, then the Mets will have no other choice but weaken an already shaky bullpen by sending either Ryota Igarashi or Raul Valdes down. They can always release Perez and eat the remainder of his contract, but that would be hard to swallow.
Since inking him to that ridiculously high deal, Perez has gone 3-7 with an ERA near seven. He has not earned a win since last August and the best thing for him right now would be to get out of the newspaper and straighten out down on the farm.
Back in 2007 when Perez won 15 games, everyone was praising Minaya for getting him as a throw-in the year before from Pittsburgh. The Mets would have finished ahead of the game by not re-signing Perez because they already had gotten the best out of the 28-year-old.
And what about Wolf? The Met killer is 15-11 combined since last year and gets the ball every fourth day with no issues. And he didn’t even hold out for extra cash.