What To Do With Oliver Perez
Perez pitched into the fourth inning only because of a combination of great defense, sheer luck, and illogical managing by Bruce Bochy. In truth, Perez never should have made it out of the second frame.
Ollie has now walked 25 batters in 30 innings, and looks completely lost on the mound. His presence on the mound has reached comical heights, marked by Gary Cohen’s reference to Nuke LaLoosh after one of his pitches sailed a good 15 feet wide of home plate.
Perez’s mechanics are inconsistent, and never optimal. As a result, his release point is all over the place and his command is nonexistent. His confidence is shot. When he does throw a strike, it is such a surprise that the home plate umpire is baffled into calling it a ball.
To top it all off, his velocity is now hovering barely above 85 MPH — so you can’t even hope that somehow he’ll find the plate, because if he does, the opposing hitters will feast on those BP fastballs and send them long distances.
So what can the Mets do with their Thirty-Six-Million-Dollar Man?
The obvious step is to send him down to the minors so he can “figure it out”. But what exactly is it that he will be able to “figure out”? Will a mechanics makeover bring his velocity back into the low- to mid-90s? Will it give him pinpoint command — something he never had even when successful? If such a thing is possible, do the Mets have a guru who can make it happen? Can Ricky Bones, Rick Waits, or Al Jackson fix Oliver Perez, or would the Mets have to find someone outside the organization?
Worse … what if he CAN’T be fixed?
That might be the reason the Mets don’t send him down to the minors — the fear that he’ll never show enough down there to justify returning to the big leagues. Translation: $36M down the drain.
Oliver Perez pitched his best — in a Mets uniform — under the guidance of Rick Peterson. Say what you will about “The Jacket”, but his hands-on approach was the right one for the all-over, undisciplined, unfocused Ollie. Peterson is now in Milwaukee, but clearly, Perez needs someone to tell him exactly what to do, and exactly how to do it. And Perez needs to buy into that person’s shpiel 100%. A guru needs to come in and be Oliver Perez’s personal pitching coach, to remake his mechanics, change his mindset, and force him into a disciplined routine. It may sound ridiculous that the Mets should install anyone as a “personal coach”, but the expense will be negligible compared to the $24M left on Perez’s contract.
Or, the Mets could keep sending Perez out to the mound every five days, cross their fingers, and hope for the best. So far, though, that strategy is not working.