Let’s talk left-handed relief, shall we?
The Mets enter the offseason with Tim Byrdak, last season’s best lefty reliever, still recovering from shoulder surgery. Can he pitch in 2013? If so, not until much later in the season.
This week, they removed Justin Hampson from their 40-man roster, and Hampson became a free agent.
Robert Carson struggled in his big league time.
Josh Edgin was impressive at times, but he’s essentially all they have, and he allowed righties to post an .831 OPS in his rookie year.
So typically, a team should probably look at add a lefty reliever, right?
Well, couple things. Mets probably don’t have enough money to add a starting outfielder, and they need three of them. Then there’s catcher, where Josh Thole was simply not acceptable after coming back from his concussion, and Kelly Shoppach is a free agent. So lefty reliever is down on the list, and there probably won’t be much money for one.
But as you probably can tell from my headline, there is a lefty reliever hitting the market who could be a low-cost option for the Mets: Oliver Perez.
Briefly: I argued for the Mets dealing for him last summer. They didn’t, and instead, the renewed Perez pitched to 2.12 ERA for the Mariners. And as you may remember, the Mets bullpen… didn’t have a 2.12 ERA. Not only could things have gone better with Perez in tow, it is hard to argue they could have gone any worse.
What is interesting about Perez is that the very thing that kept him from succeeding with the Mets in 2009-10, a precipitous drop in fastball velocity, has disappeared. He averaged 93.7 MPH with his fastball in 2012, which is on par with his 93 from 2004, the breakout season he enjoyed with the Pirates.
If you’d like to argue that Perez failed in New York in 2009-10, which is true, I’d point out that he was a better than league average starter for the 2007-08 Mets.
Ultimately, beggars can’t be choosy, and there probably isn’t a better lefty option out of the bullpen that the Mets can afford than Oliver Perez. That he’s likely to be affordable because of his struggles until 2012 makes him an ideal buy-low candidate. That those struggles came with the Mets is what makes it hard for Mets fans to swallow. But is the fact that he lost his fastball here any more relevant than if it had happened in St. Louis or Chicago?
Not to me. So Oliver Perez, back to the Mets. Who is with me? And if not, can you argue why not in baseball terms, rather than by making psychological diagnoses you are in no position to make?
Have a good weekend.