The Lunatic You’re Looking For

Everywhere you turn, you can’t miss a story relating to Oliver Perez, Mr. Futility himself. On top of the symbolism of him being locked out when he tried to get into the complex on Valentine’s Day, to Terry Collins saying that he has a shot to make the fifth place in the starting rotation (competing with about five other guys). It seems like out of the 300 lb gorillas in the room — or more aptly the two drains on the Mets payroll, Luis Castillo and Perez himself — Perez seems to be the dark horse candidate who might have a shot to have a moderately successful or bounce back year. Castillo desperately wants to start at second base this year, and that seems highly unlikely due to his

Some of you might think that thought is crazy. Some of you may think that him even pitching out of the bullpen (as a “lefty specialist”….getting paid $12 million for 2011) is insanity. Well, that I would agree with because then it would be evident they are keeping him around simply because of his high paycheck. Some of you may just think that nothing short of his outright release is the only thing that the Mets have going for them regarding Oh Pea. I would have agreed with that one awhile ago. Right now, however, if Sandy Alderson, Terry Collins and the rest of the Mets management want to extract any value from him and the other drains on the payroll (I’m looking at you, Luis Castillo), the best course of action is to see what Perez has going on with him.

But what if…a big IF, I know…he actually proves us wrong and this so-called new pitch works out for him? Honestly, I wonder if Oliver Perez is bat guano crazy enough to have a comeback? He just might. In fact, even though his numbers in the Mexican League left a lot to be desired, the fact is he has one thing going for him that wasn’t there in the first two years of his contract: his walk year.

I may be right, I may be crazy, but I have a thought that may just be the craziest of them all: what if he defies us all and gives us something worth cheering?

I remember the first time I saw Oliver Perez pitch for the Mets in 2006. Famously during that season, I spent many a game drunk due to the starts wasted by Jose Lima and any other fifth starter thrown to the wall. In fact, I had to be carried out of Shea the night Lima gave up a grand slam to pitcher Dontrelle Willis. It was THAT ugly.

So when I see this guy who never seemed to have his shyte straight was starting a Saturday night game I was attending, I thought, well…okay. Worst case scenario, I’ll just get hammered. He had a slow start but I saw something in Oh Pea that I hadn’t seen in a long time in a Mets uniform.

He had cojones.

We’ve been discussing recently what we’re looking out for, what players have caught our eyes and how we’re going to look into with Spring Training. I think the fight for the starting second baseman job is going to be interesting to pan out, but all of a sudden, it looks like the fate of Oliver Perez has been drummed up a bit in recent days. In fact, you’d think Oliver Perez was the only story line to come out of PSL these days, bypassing the Wilpon’s financial troubles, Castillo showing up late, Jason Bay and Carlos Beltran not showing up early to camp (well, it IS called “mandatory” for a reason), and the future of Jose Reyes as a Met.

I think Oliver Perez’s story might even parallel the Mets’ parable in 2011. Oliver Perez is in a walk-year; several of his teammates are as well (Jose Reyes, Beltran and Castillo even). Oliver Perez at the end of the day IS a proud man…or so I’d like to think. This could be the New Mets that Beltran famously promised in the winter of 2005, the one last time for the Promenade Seats at the top run for it while people actually have something to play for.

Now, trust me, it does boil my blood that playing to win games or beating your division rivals, even truly believing you have at least a Wild Card run-worthy team at the forefront should be enough to play for. However, we’ve had a bunch of “24 + 1″ guys on the team in previous years, this year, each of those “+1′s” are eager to prove something, finally, and it could pay off for the Mets as a whole.

Could Oliver Perez be one of them? I think he’s certifiable enough to do that. Of course, I’ve tried to give him the Benny Agbayani of the doubt for years now. It hasn’t happened. But the walk year can prove interesting. Just look at Beltre, Adrian and Burnett, A.J.

I know this is the lunatic you’re looking for. I’m sure I’m going to hear about how crazy I am to even suggest that Perez could have a decent year and something to prove/play for. However, for a guy who has been as selfish as a team player can be, a guy who feels like he needs to prove something, this could be the year. Plus, out of the two drains who could be cut and no one would shed a tear — Castillo and Perez — Castillo is the odd man out since they could easily write his $6 million due this year off more so that $12 million due to Perez. Perez has more to gain from playing well.

And thank goodness after 2011, we no longer have to hear his name. Unless he pitches the first Mets no-hitter. And that, my friends, would be truly insane. But it would be just our luck, right?

One response to “The Lunatic You’re Looking For

  1. Interesting, Taryn, but for my money, Perez’s only potentially helpful role is as a lefty specialist. Lefties have struggled against him, and what’s the harm in trying?

    Meanwhile, Castillo should be our 2B, with Murphy learning on the bench. What’s to lose? If he flops, you can bench him or cut him and start Murphy or one of the kids. Perhaps Luis’ll be motivated and at least the players who like him will see the Mets gave him a shot.

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