Getting Down With Oliver Perez

I for one do not usually believe in everything I see. Statistics though, are quite difficult to overlook and push aside. In baseball, they prove to be solid numerical proof to almost tell a story of how a player has performed. Since the conclusion of last nights 9-3 victory over the Washington Nationals, I have dissected carefully any and all statistical information pertaining to the turnaround of the birthday boy, Oliver Perez.


Omar Minaya and his brass arrived at the critical decision to relieve Willie Randolph from his managing duties of the ball club on June 17. Along with Randolph, pitching guru Rick Peterson was handed his pink slip and terminated from his position and replaced with Triple A New Orleans pitching coach, Dan Warthen.


On June 17, Ollie’s statistics would have told you that he had been a disappointment thus far in 2008, than again, so had the entire ball club. On the day Peterson was let go, Perez had a record of 5-4 with an ERA a slight shade under five. Before that date, his ERA had risen in eight consecutive starts and he failed to endure at least six innings on the hill on six different occasions.


The Mets victory over the Yankees on June 29 has since proved to be the undeniable turnaround of Perez’s season, and quite distinctly, his entire career. Since that start in which the Mets emerged victorious by a score of 3-1, Oliver has emerged from the depths of mediocrity. His ERA has dropped in every start and he has gone at least six innings in each and every outing since that juncture in time. Prior to Warthen’s tutelage, Perez had gone seven innings just twice, since than he’s done that on four occasions.


Whether the tweaking of Perez’s delivery by Warthen can be credited to the remarkable about face remains to be seen. But one thing is for certain, the talent and stuff has never been the issue with Ollie. You knew every time he skipped out to the mound he had the ability to toss a shutout. What prevented him from doing that however were his mental tools. A walk to the pitcher, a base hit to a below average hitter, things of that nature would nag Perez to the point where the flood gates would open and he could not control the storm.


Since Warthen has come on board, not only does Ollie have a full beard and a rocking back pitching motion, but for the very first time in his Mets tenure, he is mentally controlled. Perez is absolutely more mature than he was just three short months ago, when it seemed as though the Mets were headed for another disastrous season and Perez would be allowed to walk in free agency come this winter.


Sitting here mid-August the Mets sit alone a top the NL East and Perez is coming off a start in which he earned his ninth victory of the season and lowered his ERA to 3.91. He is well on his way to cashing in with a huge contract this offseason in free agency. If I am Omar Minaya, there is absolutely no way I can let Perez bolt town and leave behind a glaring hole in the Mets otherwise stellar rotation. Money can be no object.


There is no doubt Perez will become extremely wealthy this winter, it is just a matter of which team he will be playing for at that juncture. To put into perspective, his agent is Scott Boras, which is death to the ears of any general manager. He is only 27 years of age and is left handed, both youth and south paws are premiums in today’s pitching market. No pitcher has ever recorded as many strikeouts as Perez has by the age of 27 aside from fellow free agent to be CC Sabathia.


If I am going to commit a tremendous sum of money to finding a replacement for him regardless, may as well give it to a 27 year old lefty who you know can make it on the grandest stage of all, and is the hired gun to defeat your stiffest competition in the likes of the Braves, Phillies and Yankees. Locking Perez up long term gives you four solid starters in Santana, Perez, Maine and Pelfrey all secured as a long term options and eliminating the need to acquire starting pitching in the expensive free agent market for several years ahead.