Capuano Sharp, Ollie Not
In the Mets’ spring training contest against the Nationals on Saturday afternoon, Chris Capuano threw 5 2/3 innings of shutout ball. His outing included 6 ground ball outs, 3 flyouts, and 5 strikeouts; he allowed only 3 hits and walked none. We don’t put too much emphasis on the numbers in the spring, but the bottom line is that he had good command of his pitches, changed speeds well, and overall looked like he could pitch in a regular MLB game and do well.
On the other hand, there was Oliver Perez. Ollie was brought into the middle of an inning: no outs, men on first and second, lefthanded hitter coming to bat. Once Ollie was announced, Nats manager Jim Riggleman replaced the scheduled batter with a righthanded version — Toms River native and Rutgers alum Jeff Frazier. This move flummoxed Perez, who proceeded to allow Frazier to blast an 800-foot, 3-run homer. A minute later, he allowed another homerun that went a quarter mile further to another righthanded batter, someone by the name of Bixler. Or perhaps it was Bixby, as in Bill, as in, to hit the ball that far one would presumably be as strong as the Incredible Hulk.
A few other things happened during Ollie’s outing, including a four-pitch walk to Roger Bernadina — the lone lefthanded hitter Perez faced. Since Ollie’s best chance of making the team is his potential to retire lefthanded batters, this was not a good thing for him to do.
No doubt, many will assume that Perez will be cut before the end of the weekend. I’m not so sure. As awful as Ollie was, he can’t be judged on one bad performance. My guess is he’ll be given at least one more opportunity, if not two.
Ironically, AA LOOGY Roy Merritt came in relief of Perez to strike out the righthanded-hitting Ian Desmond to end the inning.
My wife quipped:
So, Perez is getting twice as much money as Luis Castillo? And Castillo was cut, even though he has some value and Ollie is completely useless?
Yeah, honey, that’s the way it works in Metsville.
One other note from the game: Jason Bay displayed yet another batting stance. The “man of a thousand stances” was in slightly more of a crouch, and alternated between keeping his bat 45 degrees and 90 degrees. He walked three times and is hitting .303 in the spring, so few will make much of his startling inconsistency in approach. Regardless, I remain concerned. On the bright side, Bay did finally hit a baseball into the air — a long, high fly ball down the left field line that veered foul. Hey, it’s progress.