Should You Be Concerned About Oliver Perez?

That headline is giving me a feeling of deja vu all over again …

Luckily, spring training games don’t count. Luckily, spring training stats don’t matter.

Unluckily, a pitcher who has shown zero progression through six weeks of spring training is unlikely to suddenly switch into a Cy Young candidate.

Oliver Perez allowed three homeruns in his first two innings of work, including a blast against the wind off the bat of Brendan Ryan.

Brendan Ryan.

The same Brendan Ryan who has hit a total of 7 homeruns in nearly 850 MLB plate appearances. The same Brendan Ryan whose career path more resembles Fred Stanley than Fred McGriff.

BTW, Albert Pujols did not make the trip to Port St. Lucie.

Beyond the numbers marking this outing as ugly, there are other concerns regarding Ollie Perez. First, his mechanics remain an inconsistent disaster. He’s over-rotating, resulting in committing his hips too early, resulting in lack of command and velocity. He’s keeping his glove down around his waist during his entire motion, so the batter is getting a nice clean look at the ball. His aforementioned lack of velocity is alarming — he’s barely cracking 90 MPH. Because of the over-rotation and premature hip commitment, his breaking ball release point is way too high and early, so they have no, um, “break”. Perhaps because of all these issues and the poor performance, he looks scared on the mound. His body language emits negativity, resignation. In contrast, the body language of opposing hitters yesterday was the exact opposite — they looked like they couldn’t get into the batter’s box fast enough, licking their chops and expecting to rip Ollie’s offerings to shreds.

So the question is, should you be concerned about Oliver Perez? Nah … I’m sure he’ll “flip the switch” and immediately revert to the guy that won 15 games in 2007. “No question,” as Jerry Manuel might say.

The Good News

The good news is that Jose Reyes appeared in a minor league game yesterday and didn’t suffer any setbacks. Johan Santana pitched in that same game and didn’t drop dead or have his arm fall off, so it was a positive outing. Additionally, Daniel Murphy collected a few hits in the Major League contest, upping his average and OBP near the Mendoza Line. So there were some bright spots in Port St. Lucie on Tuesday afternoon.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. isuzudude March 31, 2010 at 8:54 am
    Joe, I found myself thinking in a very similar manner after Ollie’s latest fiasco. Less than a week to go until the start of the regular season, and we are still hearing the same old, regurgitated lines from the Mets that spring training games don’t count and preseason statistics don’t mean anything because players – especially pitchers – are still “working on things” and “determining what works and what doesn’t.” Hey, I’m well aware that a 9-4 drubbing at the hands of the Cardinals on March 30th means nothing. But what I want to know is, just how close to the regular season are these pitchers going to at least pretend an exhibition game is a regular season game and see if their best is good enough to beat the opposition’s best? And when do we finally determine what pitches, arm angles, wind-ups, grips, mechanics, pre-game meals, uniform numbers, shoelace colors, hairstyles, warm-up themes, toilet paper brands, and bed time stories to read aren’t working and get scrapped for the things we know will help and be of success once the regular season comes? Midnight on April 5th? I would figure those types of decisions should have been ironed out during the first half of ST; and that now, a mere 5 days away from first pitch, should be the time we’re perfecting our best ‘stuff’ and making sure we are in the proper condition for the start of a long 162 game season. But no, we’re led to believe everyone who gets knocked around – from Johan, to Ollie, to Igarashi, to Mr Met – is still fooling around with new methods and practically throwing batting practice, concentrating on just making it through their session with head still on shoulders and arm still in socket. What is this, pee-wee t-ball?

    Realistically, I (and hopefully many others) can see through the hogwash and realize that this team is only using the preseason schedule as an alibi for their struggles and snafus, and that these poor results are a product of a bad team rather than of a playoff contending team choosing to give it just 50% because the games don’t count. Yeah, because that’s the type of mentality this team needs to be harboring after mailing in the 2009 season by Independence Day. At this pace I doubt the team will have an eye on playing “meaningful games in September” by Mother’s Day – unless those meaningful games are referring to the clubhouse card games, or the early season NFL pick’em pool.

  2. Walnutz15 March 31, 2010 at 9:42 am
    Spot-on, fellas….and really, I’m at a point where the only thing I can do is laugh — and hope that the (stuffing’s) shocked out of me….for the good….this season.

    What really pisses me off about Perez, more than anything else – is that you rarely ever see anything resembling true “progression” from him. There’s always that “good start/bad start”-type mantra about him… the point where it’s a nuisance to even follow — and nauseating to know that $24MM is still committed to his bank account over the next 2 seasons.

    You start analyzing his mechanics, his release point, his velocity — but then come to your senses, and realize…’s the fact that he doesn’t have much of a mind for the game that will always be his undoing.

    With the recent lack of success, and so much of a negative vibe surrounding him since he signed the contract last winter — it’s almost like he’s expecting to fail.

    I know that I sure do….Hallmark Moment of 2009 was entering Citi Field for the 2nd time in an Saturday exhibition vs. the Red Sox — sitting in miserable traffic, hung-over from the previous night’s game/activities afterward — getting to our seats directly behind home plate….bases already loaded in the 1st, mind you…..and watching him leave a stinker right over the heart of the plate to the immortal Jed Lowrie for a grand salami.

    4-0 before we even sat down.

    If this kind of season occurs for Mr. Perez in 2010, then I have no use for him whatsoever. It’s not even like you can throw him into the bullpen — to become the most expensive lefty specialist in the history of baseball…..he’s that erratic, where you can’t even “expect” the same results from him in a relief-capacity.

    What does this guy expect to accomplish with a flat 90-mph-ish fastball (and I am being generous here, seeing as he touched/topped 90 maybe 3-4 times), and a $0.10 head?

    Unfortunately, with Perez, there’s no clear “solution” for the many issues he has in taking the mound. It’s just “cross your fingers and hope for the best” — and from the start, we could have always done better in looking for someone to replace him for the rotation.

    My honest to goodness question here is: how does he plan on getting those additional mph’s on his fastball back? If he’s going to be this flat, velocity-wise — then he’s going to get titted around.

    To my eye, the Mets have run out of excuses with Ollie. He’s unjustifiable at this point in time.

  3. Tandy #3 March 31, 2010 at 10:29 am
    “Titted around”…Nice!

    It’s hard not to go gallows on this stuff, but on the flip side, John Maine has a unique opportunity this season to show us something. Just sayin’!

  4. Walnutz15 March 31, 2010 at 12:27 pm
    Funny thing with Maine….he’s the guy I think is the most overrated.

    Perez, you knew what you were dealing with from the time he was acquired — hoping he’d turn it around. That sentiment hasn’t changed, so it’s hard to say he’s much more than he is.

    Pelfrey — a guy who obviously could’ve used more time in the minor league ranks to develop a repertoire/learn a bit more about “pitching”.

    Maine is one of those guys, who just can’t seem to get it all together. He’s a nibbler, suffers from “dead-arm” far too frequently for my liking, tinkers with his mechanics to deal with it all — inevitable surgery — and when he does figure out what he wants to do…….typically leaves the ball to up in the zone for anything to matter.

    He gives up more rockets than anyone I’ve ever seen, live and in person during their starts.

    The Mets have tried selling Maine as a “#2”-type for awhile now. And you’re right…it’s up to him to change this perception I have of him.

    No more bullpen-burning, 5 inning-100 pitch type starts. He needs to be more efficient.

    (I’m sorry, but I just don’t have confidence in any of these starting pitchers.)

  5. joejanish March 31, 2010 at 10:50 pm
    Well, luckily pitching isn’t that vital an element to winning baseball games. Oh wait … this ISN’T an aluminum-bat league, is it?

    Gonna be a long, long season ….