Look, I understand your natural revulsion to Oliver Perez. When you last saw him as a Met, he was utterly terrible.
There’s a real simple reason why, by the way. His fastball velocity dropped precipitously. He’d been at 93 MPH in his glorious 2004 season, even as high as 91.2 in his serviceable 2008 season with the Mets.
By 2010, he was down to 88 MPH. A below-average fastball isn’t death to a pitcher with good command. But Oliver Perez was never accused of having particularly good command. So add a very hittable fastball to consistently getting behind in the count, and the results are pretty clear.
So goodbye, good riddance, Perez gone forever. Right?
Ted Berg pointed out that the Seattle Mariners’ head scout was in Buffalo on Wednesday night.
Now bear with me here. This could well mean nothing. It could be simple due diligence. There’s absolutely no reason to believe that the Mets are looking to acquire Oliver Perez, and plenty of reasons to think they wouldn’t (see the fan revulsion, for instance). I’m really hoping the bolded statement allows me to avoid a bunch of people reporting that I’m perpetuating a rumored deal between the Mariners and Mets for Oliver Perez. I am not.
But allow me to make the baseball case for such a move, and not just because I enjoy writing about Oliver Perez more than perhaps anyone should.
1. Oliver Perez has been effective this year. That fastball is back up to an average of 93.4 MPH– a more than five MPH increase over his 2010 average with the Mets.
2. Oliver Perez has been especially effective against lefties throughout his career, and especially this season. In Triple-A, he struck out 24 lefties in 13 2/3 innings of work against them, posting a 1.98 ERA against lefties overall.
3. The Mets’ bullpen needs help, especially from the left side. Justin Hampson could be an answer, but that’s asking a lot from a guy who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2008 and has fringe stuff. The newly-rediscovered Perez certainly doesn’t lack for a major league fastball anymore.
4. Acquiring Perez wouldn’t take much. The Mets don’t have a ton of prospects to spare, while in-season relievers usually cost a premium. They don’t necessarily have the means to add a reliever available for bloated salary reasons, like Huston Street. This is an acquisition that wouldn’t cost much either way, and they could cut bait on Perez if he doesn’t perform in New York.
So there it is. I’ve got a mixed record on Oliver Perez. I wrote back in 2007 that I believed he’d give the Mets 16 wins and an ERA of between 3.50-3.70. He checked in at 15 wins, 3.56 ERA. I also wrote, however, that re-signing him as a free agent after the 2008 season was a very good idea, even at the price they paid. Obviously, that one didn’t work out.
Think of this: if he comes back and helps this unlikely Mets team in the second half of 2012, after performing well in the 2006 NLCS and solidly in 2007 and 2008, will he be forgiven?
More to the point: if he’s a useful lefty the Mets can add to a bullpen in need of help for relatively little in salary or prospects, should Sandy Alderson really avoid acquiring him because he didn’t perform well while his primary weapon was compromised?