GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins closed the door this morning on the Mets’ career of Oliver Perez, arguably one of the most scored players in franchise history when they released the frustratingly erratic pitcher known as Coin Flip.
There were no 50-50 odds on Perez when spring training began and giving up back-to-back homers in a relief outing over the weekend was the final image of him in a Mets’ uniform.
I don’t begrudge Perez the money like some. Afterall, nobody put a gun to then GM Omar Minaya and forced him to offer Perez that contract. What was Perez supposed to do, turn it down?
What annoys me most about Perez is not that he lost his fastball, or never had command. That happens. It’s part of baseball. What was most upsetting about the Perez era was how things were handled last season. Perez said frequently this spring he is trying to get better every time he pitches. It’s the proper thing to say, but rings hollow after last summer.
When it became clear he was losing it, Perez refused to take the minor league assignment that could have helped his mechanics. There was no guarantee, but he had a better chance working things out in the minors than by languishing in the bullpen by himself as the Mets played with a 24-man roster.
Just because it was Perez’s contractual right to refuse the assignment, it doesn’t make it the right thing to do. And, it certainly contradicted Perez’s statements on self-improvement.
The Perez saga paralyzed a reeling team and he became a symbol of all that was wrong and subsequently a pariah in the clubhouse. Nobody denied Perez put the effort in, but there was groaning about playing short and he deprived another player a chance to play. As the losses mounted, it was hard to find supporters in the clubhouse, especially after the bullpen coughed up another game.
Perez made Jerry Manuel’s job more difficult, and with the manager knowing he’d be fired, his parting gift to the Mets – and the fans who booed him – was to give them one last glimpse of the erratic left-hander who put himself ahead of the team. After barely pitching in the second half, there was little doubt he would give it up one more time, and it was symbolically fitting Perez would lose the final game of a lost season.
After Luis Castillo was given his release – he has since been signed by Philadelphia – Alderson said the decision in part was made by the negativity that swirled around him and his perception by Mets fans. The perception of Perez is far worse because the sum is greater and that he represents wasted potential and the disaster that has been the last three seasons.
With both gone, clearly the Mets have rid themselves of two reminders of an inglorious past and can now embark on a new season and a new era.