CHRIS PUMMER: No. That should have been the short and direct answer the Mets gave Oliver Perez with the lefty with hefty paychecks and reluctance to accept coaching when he said he wanted to again be considered for the team’s rotation.
Here’s the problem with letting Perez into the battle for a rotation spot: The Mets already have a lot of guys they’ve got to sort out for what looks like one job. That’s me assuming the front four spots go to Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, R.A. Dickey and Jon Niese.
Even with Santana set to miss the first part of the season, the Mets still have Chris Capuano, Chris Young, D.J. Carrasco and I guess Dillon Gee. That’s if I haven’t forgotten anyone.
I don’t see the upside in giving Perez another go. He’s very unlikely to win the battle. On top of that, even if he did, I doubt he’s going to last very deep into games as a starter, both because of the rumored conditioning issues, and his lack of economy with pitches. Why wait for him to get blown up while dragging down your bullpen?
And if he loses, why endure another tantrum before having to release him? That probably is the end game of this situation, anyway.
The chances of him recapturing his form of two or three years ago are just too remote to make it worthwhile screwing around with him. Especially when there are guys who appear to be much better options.
Right now it looks like the Mets have offered Perez a chance to win a spot in which he might succeed. That’s exactly what they should be doing. The only rationale against that would be a stubborn attempt validate the last year of his albatross contract.
HOWARD MEGDAL: There are many reasons to let Oliver Perez prepare the season as a starter, but the best of them is simple: the only way he regains even the tiniest bit of trade value is if he regains velocity this spring while starting.
Yes, Perez has a better chance of winning a job as lefty reliever, but only because the distance from zero-to-LOOGY isn’t nearly as wide as zero-to-starter. And with his control as awful as it was in 2009-10, along with a fastball well below average in velocity, Oliver Perez simply wasn’t a major league pitcher.
Ah, but in 2007-2008, he was an above-average starter, thanks mostly to a fastball he could throw without a guarantee that someone would crush it. So allowing him to prepare as a starter, should that velocity return, could make him a useful flyer for someone. This doesn’t mean anyone is likely to pick up his salary, mind you, or trade something huge- but perhaps $1 million of the $12 million and a C+ prospect could be his reward for a strong spring. For a team with a weak farm system and strapped for cash, don’t think that won’t matter.
Alternatively, what other options do the Mets have? If Capuano/Young should get first crack at rotation spots, so should Taylor Tankersley/Tim Byrdak/Mike O’Connor at the lefty relieving spots. The point here isn’t that Oliver Perez is about to unleash a story of redemption. The point is, starting pitchers are scarce. The Mets should see, in the huge number of innings available to them this spring (split squad games, etc.) if they can squeeze any last bit of value out of this empty toothpaste of a contract.