The New York Mets and Oliver Perez are basically what the New York Yankees and Carl Pavano used to be. In reverse.
Maybe Yankees fans wanted Pavano gone, but team management always wanted Pavano to pitch during his tumultuous tenure in New York. Pavano, though, just wanted the Yankees' money. And, seemingly, to find ways to avoid actually getting on the mound to earn it.
With Perez, the Mets want the useless left-handed pitcher to go away. They are willing to give him the rest of his $36 million contract to go to AAA and get out of their hair. And he won't go.
Even the players want him gone.
A day after watching Oliver Perez implode in a relief appearance against the Brewers, two disgusted Mets players told The Post yesterday it’s time management drew a line in the sand with the putrid lefty.
"You tell him you go to Triple-A or that’s it, you are finished," one Mets player said, well aware that Perez (0-3, 6.25 ERA) is still owed about $20 million on the three-year contract he signed before the 2009 season.
A second Mets player echoed that line of thinking.
"At some point you have to cut bait," he said. "You owe him a lot of money, but for what?"
The Mets made it rain on Perez under the guise of paying a "15-game winner" his market value. Winning 15 games in one season doesn’t make you a 15-game winner. Greg Maddux is a 15-game winner because he did it over 15 times.
Oliver Perez is a 58-67 pitcher with a 4.59 career ERA. That’s what the Mets gave $36 million. It’s his agent’s job to sell fantasies; it’s Omar Minaya’s job to parse and debunk them.
This is what sends Mets fans to Shutter Island. It’s opening the vault for a pitching schizophrenic and closing the vault for Roy Halladay. It’s changing David Wright’s swing when there was nothing wrong with it. It’s misdiagnosing Jose Reyes’s back, hamstring, and thyroid. It’s beating the Yankees and Phillies and then getting smoked by the Brewers.
The Mets have implored Perez to take his exhausting act to the minor leagues. Perhaps he can reflect, refine and return a new man – and provide the Mets a chance to fill his spot on the team with someone who cares.
And that’s the problem with Perez: he doesn’t care. Each time he refuses a demotion he is being hostile toward his team and his town. He’s been buried in baseball’s basement, the sporting version of a third wheel. You almost prefer the player who produces and disappears on crack binges. Doc and Darryl were still loveable because when they resisted the demons they played like demons.
The Mets are in a black hole with their portly pitcher, caught between the $20 million they still owe him and a contractual convenience that gives him veto power. A shame there isn’t an apathy clause in his contract. He’s 28-years-old and acts like this is his final deal. At this rate, it will be.
This one is going to get even uglier, I would think.