As somebody who thinks Omar Minaya (along with Jerry Manuel) need to be fired so that this franchise can move forward and start with a fresh slate, I am however, a rare commodity. I think the signing of Oliver Perez is NOT one that should cost Minaya his job.
I read it on this site, other sites, and hear it on talk radio from fans. To quote directly from a fan post today on this site, “Why can’t they see we need starting pitchers? Ollie was NOT the answer.”
First, I don’t think anybody, not Minaya, not anybody ever said that Oliver Perez was, “the answer.” (Not picking on the person who made this statement. This is something more than one person has said in the past.) Oliver Perez was an investment in the bottom half of our starting rotation, and the only (yes the only,) free agent starting pitcher who was available and worth a multi-year deal.
Cross A.J. Burnett off your list, we all know the Mets couldn’t have competed with the Yankees for him, and until over the course of his 4 year contract he proves everybody wrong and proves he’s a legitimate #2 starter in this league year after year, I won’t believe it.
After Burnett, Derek Lowe was probably the most available and accomplished starting pitcher. I like Lowe, what I don’t like is 36 year old pitchers who give me 6 innings of work per start asking for 4 year deals. I also do not like hearing fans get on the Mets for signing Luis Castillo to a long-term contract at his age, but then ignoring his current season, while at the same time ignoring the fact that Derek Lowe has regressed. At age 36, in 8 less starts than he had last year, Lowe has already matched the number of earned runs he gave up in 2008. To date, he has already walked 4 more batters in 26 starts than he did in 34 starts last year. Furthermore, if Lowe was to have 8 more starts this year, he is on pace for 44 LESS Strikeouts. Also, Lowe is on pace to give up almost 30 more hits than he did last season.
If the Mets signed Derek Lowe to a 60 million contract until he turns 40 years old and he posted the same exact 2009 stats, Minaya’s critics would be all over him for it. When a 36 year old pitcher is on pace to give up more hits, and strikeout the least amount of batters he’s ever done in a season as a starter, that means he’s lost something. If he’s lost something at 36, what do you think is going to happen at 38? 39? He isn’t Tommy Glavine, Jamie Moyer or Greg Maddux, those guys had the skills to pitch in the late years of their career because of their ability to paint corners, and out think hitters. That’s not Lowe’s style. I’m sorry but to say the Mets should have signed Derek Lowe over Oliver Perez is ridiculous. Especially coming from the people who want the Mets to get younger, and stop wasting money on veteran free agents.
No other free agent pitcher signed a multi-year deal (nor were they worth one). Sabathia, Burnett, Lowe and Perez. That’s it. Furthermore, only two free agent pitchers were under the age of 30. Jon Garland, and Oliver Perez.
Garland would have been a decent 5th starter option, but again, if you look at his numbers, Garland doesn’t exactly have the best stuff. He gives up more hits per inning pitched, and hasn’t been the same since the 2006 season which he was average at best. He’s having a career year don’t get me wrong, but he signed a 1 year deal for a reason … he was a fill-in. There is no evidence that the Mets or any team for that matter should have given Garland more than a 1 year deal.
Oliver Perez is a head case, no doubt about it, no denying it. He has the pure stuff to be a great pitcher, but he constantly gets in his own way. The days of thinking he can be a top of the line starter are gone. However, he is capable of being a solid #4/5 starter, with the potential to maybe do more.
Quite frankly, if the Mets would have signed Derek Lowe, it would have handicapped them even further moving towards the future, including this off-season. They would have been FORCED to pen Derek Lowe into the #2 or 3 spot for at least the next two years, which would mean they’d have no room to go after any top flight free agent pitcher this year like a John Lackey, or a Rich Harden.
Omar Minaya cannot turn water into wine when it comes to players being available to him in the free agent market. Last year was a weak year, and great timing for Oliver Perez to hit the market. Mets fans need to start accepting the fact that Perez was the best option available to the Mets in the free agent market, and the best investment for the future of the pitching staff.
Today, I look for a strong outing from Oliver Perez, and hope that Pedro Martinez’s last NY start ends just like his Mets career did. In disappointment.