Oliver Perez always manages to fool the Mets.
Perez came from the Pirates with reliever Roberto Hernandez in 2006 after Duaner Sanchez hailed a taxi that got into an accident and sustained an injury that ended his effectiveness as a big league pitcher.
Then-general manager Omar Minya accepted what Pirates GM Dave Littlefield said of the 2-10 Perez: ``There were a number of teams interested in Oliver. Sometimes we tend to forget about things quickly, but it was just two years ago that he leads the major leagues in strikeouts per nine innings. We feel Oliver has a bright future, but we have a lot of pitching depth and we were able to use some of it to acquire a good young player [Zavier Nady].''
That statement will live in Mets infamy.
Pitching for a new contract, Perez put together a 15-10 record in 2007. This time, Minaya wasn’t buying it and wanted Derek Lowe, the Red Sox free agent. But Lowe went to the Braves for four years and $60 million. The Mets, with no other starters available, extended Perez for three years at $36 million and have been regretting it ever since.
Now, the new Mets administration will give Perez another look. Perez’ refusal to work on his pitching in the minors last season did not happen on their watch, so its like it never happened.
Perez is in a contract year and fighting for his career. Maybe he puts tougher and good spring training. Does that mean he deserves a starting job or even a spot on the roster at the expense of say, Dillon Gee?
If the choice is tossing away the $12 million Perez is owed, probably. But it could come at a larger expense if Perez reverts to form. And his history suggests that doesn’t seem to be a matter of if. Only when.