This is #1 of 5 Key Mets Players for the 2010 season.What, you're surprised?
It seems like every season we go through this ridiculous speculation about Oliver Perez and which one will show up. You could try the every other year argument, except that Perez blew that out of the water with a beyond putrid 2009 season that began with him getting shelled and lambasted by me, and ended with him on the DL, where he might have done the Mets a greater good.
2006, 2007, 2008, whatever. It's more like an every 3-year thing with Perez, when he goes out and somehow is focused and hits his spots and the numbers fall into place for him. Then, we start to believe that he's somehow worthy of the praise that's heaped upon him.
Of course, he usually goes out and runs a 7-11, 4.86 season to follow it up.
I said it last year and I'll say it again here: Oliver Perez is a loser. And he's the worst kind of loser, because he's a loser with talent. He has a fine array of pitches, but no real head for when or how to use them, and what ends up happening is he just rears back and throws, and when that happens, he usually ends up missing with all his breaking pitches, and relies on his fastball. And when you see Oliver Perez's fastball 2-3 times per at bat, eventually, you'll be able to get around on it. And most Major League hitters have.
Oliver Perez is like the Elephant in the Room for the 2010 Mets. There's a lot of pressure to succeed being placed on a guy who amounts to a giant question mark. Moreso than anyone else, they're stuck in a position where they have to use him. There's no particularly suitable replacement to be found, or at least not one who's any more or less trustworthy (Nelson Figueroa, anyone?) The reports are solid, at least from what you've heard. He's worked hard to stay in shape and keep focused and consistent on the field. The result, through one spring start against the Nationals, however, was not encouraging. Only the Mets could somehow seem to find a silver lining. Sure, Perez got lit up for 5 runs and 7 hits in 2+ innings, but, hey, he sure looked good out there!
I'd like to see that line fly in late April when Ollie gets lit up by the Dodgers.
At some point, this charade is going to have to end. I'm not sure why there aren't more people putting more heat on Perez, because, again, the Mets are placing a large share of their chances for success on him. And I'm not at all confident in their ability to survive if he's the Ollie of any other year that isn't 2007. If you needed to feel any less confident, there's the little nugget I heard on Sunday while listening to Ollie's start on WFAN. It was either Howie Rose or Wayne Hagin talking, but one of them mentioned that even Scott Boras had yelled at Perez over his performance last season. When your agent, especially someone as client-driven as Boras, is riding you, you know you need to step it up.
I mentioned to El Guapo last week that someone out of these 3 middle of the rotation guys has to come through this season. Someone has to come through, because if they don't, the entire season may as well be flushed down the toilet. I keep saying it, and I think I may be repeating myself a lot this season, because there's no safety net. The 2010 Mets basically hinge on the performance of these 3 pitchers, and we all know who they are, and they all have their own issues, be they injury or head-related, and Oliver Perez is front and center on that list. Be a man, come through, show your talent, then the Mets do well. Be the same loser we saw over and over again, and we're in for another long season.